Best Small Puppy for Children

Updated on August 06, 2015
J.B. asks from Mount Laurel, NJ
16 answers

My children want a puppy. I grew up with golden retrievers and love their personality, but would prefer a smaller, less hyper puppy. We are thinking of a cavalier king charles spaniel or bichon frise (or bolognese/coton de tulear). Does anyone have any opinions? We have also hear that cavachons make good pets. Thanks for the help!

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answers from Chicago on

Pretty much all puppies are hyper. And small dogs are often more hyper. If you are looking for a puppy that doesn't jump/nip/bark/pee everywhere, then you probably won't find one.

I love dogs but I've never been a fan of puppies. I've always gotten my dogs from rescue organizations that have them in foster homes so you know how they are with other pets and kids.

No matter what you do, sign up for training the day you bring him/her home. Most dogs end up in shelters because they aren't properly trained/socialized and people get mad at them for acting like dogs/puppies of all things!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I'm kind of partial to beagles....good dispositions and good with kids...and smaller than retrievers ... And they don't always howl; the one we used to walk never ever barked -- except on the random occasion we'd run into the neighborhood bunnies and, well, makes you wonder who was walking who...

good luck

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Boston on

A lot depends on the ages of your children. I think you have to prepare your children for getting a DOG, not a puppy. The puppy stage only lasts for a little while, so make sure you get a dog that fits into your lifestyle. If you are outdoorsy people who like to hike and swim in dog-friendly places, then get a golden or a lab or any other dog that loves to exercise. If you are homebodies who like to hang out at home and play board games, then get a house-type dog. If your kids are little and on the rambunctious side, get a very sturdy dog that can take the roughhousing.

Whatever dog you get, it will be entirely your responsibility after the 2nd day. Kids don't walk, brush, feed or play with a dog once the novelty wears off. They are too tired, too occupied, too burdened with homework and activities, too entrenched in the TV show or video game that is occupying them. If they are in school all day and you are at work, you need to have another plan because you cannot crate a puppy for 8 hours a day (and it's cruel to an adult dog too).

Do you want a thoroughbred? Would you be open to a mixed breed that has great qualities that fit with your family? I think you might do better with a young dog from a shelter where the staff can really clue you in to the animal's personality, which doesn't always have to do with the breed. 3 dogs from the same litter can have very different personalities. For example, I wouldn't consider a bichon to be laid back or particularly good with active children. Goldens are great, not all are hyper, but you will be vacuuming every day. Small dogs are often much more nervous around children because they can be so easily injured. So there's a lot to consider beyond how hyper the dog is as a puppy.

Also consider what time you have to train a dog - they all take time, and puppies take the most because it's like having an infant again (up at 3 AM, cleaning up pee and poop, watching them all the time to see what they get into).

And then of course there's the investment - a pure breed, especially an unusual breed, will run you a lot of money. You also have to look at the health problems of various breeds so you budget appropriately for medical expenses on top of the food, training, accessories, usual shots/upkeep, license, spay/neuter costs, and boarding if you ever plan to take a vacation. When we adopted our dog from a shelter, we filled out a lengthy questionnaire that asked a lot about our lifestyle, how we would train, where the dog would sleep, what areas of the house it would be allowed in, what would happen if we traveled or moved to a place that didn't take dogs, how much we thought it cost per year to own a dog, and so on. I recommend that you at least go to a good shelter and take a look at the application, even if you get a dog elsewhere, so you are prepared for everything. Shelters are full of dogs abandoned by people who didn't think it through. You'll do much better as a family if you choose the best sort of dog, breed as well as personality, for your needs now and for the next 12-14 years of the dog's life.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Milwaukee on

Puppies are adorable, soft, fluffy, cute little balls of energy. Every Breed. Even mixed breeds. If you get a puppy that is NOT like I described, there is something wrong with it. If you are worried your children will not be able to respond well & play nicely with an energetic puppy, DON'T get one.

If on the other hand, you were referring to the dog once it is mature, then you need to consider the personality traits & purpose of the breeds you are considering. Some breeds are naturally good with children, & have become popular as family pets. This includes the Golden Retriever, Labrador, and many other Spaniels.

Cavaliers are great dogs, and even though they are a small breed, they have "mighty dog" syndrome. I hear from many people that it is one of the only small breed that truly acts like a larger dog, and in fact they are a member of the Spaniel family & were bred to do work in the field.

Bichon frise, Coton de tulear, & any other dog with a fine, downy coat will require a LOT of attention to grooming. This means daily brushing, as well as grooming expense every 6-8 weeks. I am not as familiar with these breeds insofar as their temperament, but given the "cuteness" factor, these (as well as Cavaliers) MUST be obtained through a reputable breeder, to avoid health & temperament issues. And I'll be honest, none of them are cheap. Litters are small, and demand is great. Expect to pay over $1K for a puppy.

An alternative to getting a puppy is to contact a breed rescue. Almost every breed has a rescue organization that works to keep the breed dogs out of the shelters, & place them into good homes. Sometimes there are puppies available, many times there are young adult dogs. Most rescues also work with foster homes, so the dog you get has been home-evaluated, and it is known if the dog is good with children, cats, other dogs, etc.

Cavachons - that is a mutt. It is taking 2 dogs of different breeds, letting them create a litter, & assigning a cutesy name to it to generate interest. I'm not going to say all mutts are bad, because we know they aren't. Many of us grew up with a mutt as our first dog, & still have them. But, if you are looking to get a dog with specific attributes, and any type of health and temperament guarantee, you will NOT get into a designer breed like this.

The reason most breeds are known for X-Y-Z trait, is because they have been bred for generations, and are able to carry those traits & temperament forward in their lineage. So if you are going to get a mixed breed, don't pay through the nose for it, thinking you are getting something "special". Go to the humane society, or local shelter & adopt.

Please, think about why you want a dog. This is a commitment for the next 10-15 years. Puppies become dogs, and dogs have needs. Make sure the puppy you get will become a dog whose needs can be met by your family, and who will become a cherished member. T.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

i don't think there's any such thing as a non-hyper puppy, especially if you move to the smaller breeds. if you don't want hyper, why not just adopt a slightly older dog?
instead of going for one breed or another, in your situation i'd look for just the right dog, and a good shelter or pound will be able to give you tips as to which dogs are the best fit for your needs, as well as giving you the opportunity to meet and play with your prospective dog several times before deciding.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Lakeland on

I would avoid a puppy altogether if you don't want a hyper dog. Check out the rescues for a slighter older one that is god with kids, house trained, etc..

I like Pugs, they are great family dogs and if kept in shape (not over fed) are just the right size. They are also short haired and easy to groom. Do a Google search small family dogs. I have read many articles about different small breeds that would be good with families, Pugs usually top the list.

I have a Boston Terrier, but she can be hyper. She is the best family dog IMO.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I think it depends on the temperament of the puppy, age of your children and the needs of a puppy. It's like bringing a new baby home from the hospital for a while until everyone is trained and used to schedules.

We've had 2 American Cocker Spaniels.... Great loyal loving dogs. Both died around age 15.

We've had 2 English Cocker Spaniels ( still have the 10 yr old). These 2 were overall healthier than the American Cockers, very loyal and playful, love to chase tennis balls, squirrels and swim.

We also currently have a 9 yr old Toy Poodle. I love him to pieces and would get another poodle. He is very protective.

Our daughter was raised with our dogs. The youngest, poodle has never been around small children and we have to make sure he stays away. He is fierce and brave and has been eye to eye with a coyote in my back yard. He's also the most lovable.

Idk what to suggest as any breed is time consuming when you make the commitment to bring a pet into the family.

I can't see our family without a couple of dogs because we adore them. Our daughter loves the dogs as well but for her in her condo, it would not be fair to one of our dogs to live with her. They'd go from a huge house and free range in iron fenced yard to a 1800SF condo. She rescued a cat and I swear... She is s cat dog. She fetches, begs for food and lives on attention, posing for the camera and antics.

Good luck to you, it's a big decision and commitment

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

Many smaller breeds can be much more energetic and aggressive them larger ones. Make sure to do your research. You do not say the age of your children and that makes a huge difference in which breeds are safest.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Try an older but young dog from a shelter or rescue, so you know the dog's personality. Dogs a few years old won't destroy your house like a puppy and you'll be able to know more about them. I grew up with miniature (not toy) poodles.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

I'm pretty sure that *most* dogs are fairly hyper as puppies. So what they are like as puppies isn't really the concern. It's what they are like for the other 90% of their lives that is the major concern. If you think you are interested in the breeds you listed, do your research on those breeds.
Or go to one of the online "about dogs" type sites and fill in what you are looking for in a breed, what your lifestyle is like, etc and see what it spits back out at you.
There is nothing in your post that indicates what dog would actually be best for your household. You want a less hyper puppy. That's it. That's all we have to go on.

It's a lifelong commitment (their entire life), so please do some solid research which includes taking care to consider how compatible with your lifestyle (and anticipated lifestyle) any particular breed would be with your family. How many kids do you have? Are they school aged? About to start middle/high school and be gone with social activities and sports engagements all the time? Do you travel a lot? Camp on the weekends? Fly? How will the dog (because it won't be a young, immature puppy forever) fit into those plans?

Good luck with your hunt. I hope you discover the perfect fit. :)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

Right now we have a border collie/Brittany spaniel mix. She's incredible, but not for you as both breeds are high, high energy. We took a lot of time to train her and work with her regularly.

The dogs you've mentioned are middle of the road on intelligence. Trainable, but don't have high expectations. If it were me, I'd consider a Pembroke Welsh Corgi. Smart dogs, very trainable, funny and cute, not super hyper.

Check this out for some perspective on the intelligence and trainability of the breeds you are considering.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

Cockapoo. I have one and she is wonderful. She is smart, great with the kids, and she doesn't shed. She has energy to play and go for walks, but she can also be calm--easily adapts to the vibe around her. She has the sweetness of a cocker spaniel and the smarts of a poodle. My dog is a mini and weighs 15 lbs.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

It is funny, I can't stand little dogs and without any prompts neither can any of my kids. We like bigger dogs that are hyper as puppies turn out to be rugs as adults. Of course I have no idea if they are annoying because people tend to not train them or they are just bred to be annoying.

I digress. I had goldens while my kids were growing up. Obviously you have to check out breeders because any dog poorly bred will not have the temperament of the breed. Although I did not allow my kids to do anything that would hurt the dogs when I caught them doing something questionable the dogs would just be looking at me like 2 was the perfect number of kids, this three and four were unnecessary.

My daughter's fiancee is allergic to dander so she looked at the golden doodle. They not only make doodles with standard poodles but also the miniature and tea cup versions. My daughter thought that would be cool right up until I pointed out you get the personality and intelligence of both parents and the miniature versions of poodles are just not to bright as a rule.

Well Leggy McLegston is about 5 months now. Looks like you took a golden head and stuck it on a standard poodle and painted it a golden color. Her hair is hysterical, mostly poodle but with tufts of long golden hair especially on her head. But the temperament, quieter and calmer than my goldens were at that age. So yeah, big dog, but very calm.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boca Raton on

i have a two year old maltipoo. does not shed. super loving. cuddly and loves to sleep. not a barker unless out and about and sees a 100lbs dog he wants to take. he is sooo good with my kids.


answers from Santa Fe on

I have had good luck with this method: When I meet the puppies I spend time with them and watch them. There are always the leader puppies...leading the pack. There is often a shy puppy who hides. There are hyper puppies...constantly wanting to jump on you. When you see the puppy who seems mellow, calm, and not shy...this is your puppy. As far as breeds go...I dislike goldens bc they are so hyper and they just don't seem smart. But overall larger breed dogs most of the time seem to be less hyper than smaller breeds. My mom always gets small breeds and they are always hyper and bark at everything. She has had a bichon frise and hers was hyper and yappy. I guess depends on the personality of the particular dog, how much attention it gets, if it gets walks, and if you do training classes. So, no matter what dog you choose...if you can meet the puppies and sit and play with them to watch their personalities it might be helpful. Also...make sure the dog gets at least one walk a day. And third, make sure you do a puppy training class as well as an adult training class. Personally, I think mutts have the best genetics and less health issues.



answers from Minneapolis on

I suppose it ultimately comes down to the individual temperament of each animal. Although some breeds claim to be "calm" - that doesn't mean that the one you get actually will be :)

We have had papillions for the last 15 years. They are a small dog - they do shed, though, but do not require much in the grooming department. Our first one was "debarked" by the breeder - our second one was not (I do not necessarily agree with debarking - she was already like that when we got her). Neither of our dogs were/are big barkers. Neither were hyper even when they were puppies. Neither have bit any of our 6 kids, but the one we have now we do watch around the grandbaby. She is getting older and doesn't like to be pulled on. However, I would be very very surprised if she actually bit/nipped.

Both our papillions were/are very smart dogs and can be trained to do just about anything, including using a litter box if you wish as long as you get them started young on that.

Good luck with your decision.

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