Best small breeds for families

Feb 27, 2012 at 7:20 a.m. ET

When choosing an animal companion for your family, your top priority is likely your children's safety. Dogs might be man’s best friend, but some breeds have a difficult time getting along with kids. Jealousy issues may arise if dogs feel left out, and some dogs might not welcome your family’s newest addition. Reduce that fear with this list of the best small breeds for families with children.

Young boy hugging his yorkie puppy


These floppy-eared little guys are cute to look at and fun to be around. Their active nature means they have plenty of energy to play with growing children, and their good-natured spirit makes them the ideal small dog to keep around children. Loyal and noble, a beagle is willing to protect an owner from harm. Its happy nature makes it an animated and relatable animal.

Cocker spaniel

The two different breeds of cocker spaniel — American and English — possess very similar personality traits. They love to be around the spunky and innocent vibe of children because it matches their curious and cheerful personality. Super-smart and sweet, cocker spaniels aren't afraid to let their owners know when something is wrong. They're full of spunk, too, which is perfect for those playful days at the park or nightly walks.

Rat terrier

The name might not be the most attractive of dog monikers, but the rat terrier is an adorable and affable canine with cute, pointed ears and a multicolored short, silky coat that's easy to groom. They're known to live long, healthy lives between 15 and 18 years, so expect your new rat terrier to be a longtime pal for your child. They're extremely playful and, when necessary, protective.


These scrunch-faced canines know how to have fun. Their quirky looks and comical personalities make them great family dogs. Expect to get a few laughs from their snorts and snores, thanks to their compacted faces, but also know that their purebred genes make them susceptible to a few health problems and a rough time breathing.

Yorkshire terrier

Otherwise known as Yorkies, these super-smart, super-active tiny pups are also undeniably cute. Small in stature and big on personality, Yorkies are up for plenty of play — which is a perfect way to wear down an active child's energy at night and give her tons of fun.

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