The 10 Best Dogs for a Family....
Smaller dogs, 10 to 40 pounds, have a reputation as being yappy, fussy and nervous. However, if selected wisely and raised correctly, a small dog can be as stable and as 'normal' as a larger dog. They can also be great family dogs - here are ten breeds you might want to consider.
10) SHETLAND SHEEPDOG - 14 to 27 pounds
A great companion dog, intelligent, sensitive, loyal and gentle, they are very willing to please. They are good watchdogs, but can be wary of strangers, especially new children - they need thorough socialization when young. They are working dogs, so they need to be kept busy - perhaps minding the children.
9) WEST HIGHLAND TERRIER - 13 to 22 pounds
Westies are sturdy, self-assured, lively and can be very willful if not trained. They love to play! In some bloodlines they are temperamental - check with a good breeder if you have very small children. They are a good family dog, but need well behaved children, and need to be socialized with other animals. They make good, if very vocal, watchdogs.
8) MINIATURE POODLE - 15 to 17 pounds
Exceptionally intelligent and quick to learn, Poodles love to be at the center of the action. Many are great with children, but check with your breeder, and ask to see parents and grandparents too. Poodles are friendly with strangers and other animals, but need to be well socialized when they are puppies. They are also dedicated watchdogs and can be a bit noisy.
7) HAVANESE - 7 to 13 pounds
Affectionate, playful and intelligent, Havanese are very sociable, getting along well with people, cats other dogs and children. They are good watch dogs, but need to be encouraged not to bark excessively. They're also busy-bodies, and don't want to be left out of the action. Havanese are very healthy and tend to be even more long-lived than most small dogs.
6) PUG - 13 to 20 pounds
Affectionate, perky, happy and mischievous, Pugs are very social and enjoy the company of other dogs, pets and people. They are very good with children. Pugs are good watchdogs, but aren't vocal, so they are suitable for apartment life if they get sufficient exercise.
5) BOSTON TERRIER - 10 to 25 pounds
Intelligent, enthusiastic and easily trained. Very good with children, Bostons are playful and love to be a part of the family. They can get along with other pets, but males tend to fight with other dogs. Friendly with strangers, but they can also be very good watchdogs. Their 'buggy' eyes are cute, but are also prone to injury.
4) BICHON FRISE - 7 to 12 pounds - (Pronounced BEE-shon free-ZAY)
Quiet, affectionate, charming and just plain adorable! They are incredibly sociable and love to be a part of the family. In the 80's they were too popular, and some lines tend to be snippy, so find a good breeder. If you have children with allergies, a Bichon may be a good choice, but there are no guarantees - make sure before you make bring a dog into your home.
3) PIT BULL - 22 to 45 pounds (some may be larger)
Despite their undeserved reputations as vicious killers, Pits are loyal, happy, affectionate and very good with children. They are excellent watch dogs, so you will have a vigilant guardian for your family, but Pits need to be well socialized and properly trained, or there can be problems with strangers. They aren't for the faint of heart, but they are eager to please, and need only basic training to make them exceptional pets.
2) BEAGLE - 20 to 25 pounds
They are keen hunters, and lose track of everything else if they are on a trail, including you! However, they are great family dogs, happy and sociable - consider getting two, especially if they're going to be left alone regularly. Their bark is distinctive, and difficult to control - don't let them annoy the neighbors. Beagles are very sturdy little dogs, and can stand up to the pace of an active family.
1) AMERICAN MUTT - weight varies
In all shapes, sizes and colors, they can be loyal, affectionate, easy to train and eager to please. If they are still with mom, her size and temperament will give you an indication of the dog the puppy will become. Look at the feet too - large feet, large dog.
There are two great benefits to a mutt - many need good homes, so you don't need to pay hundreds for the privilege of owning a dog AND you will have the satisfaction of knowing you helped to save a life.
Pointers for Parenting Small Dogs:
- Small dogs can be tricky to housebreak, but not impossible. If you are in an appartment, piddle-pads may be a solution.
- Small animals are fragile (even if they don't know it), so your children AND their friends need firm ground-rules when handling your dog.
- Most little dogs at least 15 years, so they will be a member of your family for a very long time.
- All dogs KNOW they are wolves, and that includes little dogs. They have no fear of launching themselves at larger dogs, so keep them under control to protect them from themselves.
- Don't let their cuteness be an excuse for bad manners - basic obedience training is a must.
- Regardless of size or breed, dogs should never be left alone with small children.
Go to a reputable breeder and DON'T make an impulse purchase - many of the smaller breeds suffer from excessive popularity and are too easy for puppy mills to churn out. Try a breed rescue group if you are willing to adopted an older dog - they will help you find the right dog and help you get over any issues.
The Dog Breed Info Center site is a great resource on temperament, grooming and health problems: