Smaller sized dogs are perhaps the most popular canine pets for families, especially for those living in urban areas, in apartments or condos or for those families that have limited space for a pet. The wonderful adaptability of most small sized dogs combined with their compatibility with children and their ability to self-exercise indoors makes them a very good match for many families.
It is important to realize that a smaller sized dog doesn't necessarily mean less work or less cost to the pet owner. While smaller sized dogs do eat less, they still require the same health care routines as the larger breeds. This includes regular vet visits, vaccinations, routine worming and monthly flea and heartworm treatments if applicable. In addition smaller dogs still need daily walks, lots of love and attention and time to run, play and just be dogs.
Smaller dogs, especially those with long coats, tend to be more likely to be clipped to keep shedding and coat maintenance to a minimum. Groomers are more than happy to do this work for you and most breeds only require a full clip three to four times a year. Some breeds that are higher maintenance may require additional clipping or trimming every two months, however often owners can do this themselves with a bit of practice and training. Taking a grooming class or using one of the home study programs is often a great cost saving idea.
Smaller breeds can be a good match for children of any age or size. Since they are physically smaller than the large or giant breeds these dogs are easier for children to manage on a leash plus they less threatening to children that may be new to dogs. Like large breeds they will need proper training and socialization to be well-adjusted family dogs. The adults and the children in the household need to continue to work with the dog throughout its life on both socialization and training issues.
Some examples of family type of small dog breeds, which will be limited to dogs larger than toy breeds but under 25 pounds at maturity include:
Border Terrier this is a short coated, somewhat scruffy looking very lively terrier that simply adores children and being involved in an active family. The coat color varies from browns and reds through to grizzle type colorations. The head is very terrier like in appearance and they have moderately stocky body, maturing at about 14-18 pounds. The Border Terriers have the very easy to care for terrier coat, a lively, friendly expression and a gentle temperament towards new people, other dogs and cats when they are raised together from young ages. Some may be rather rambunctious as puppies but do mellow out as they mature. An ideal dog for walking, romping with the kids and even going on jogs or long hikes, the Border Terrier is a true companion pet. Unlike other terriers they are not prone to barking but may still have a tendency to dig around in the yard.
Boston Terrier is one of the more recognizable dog breeds with its distinctive black coat with white markings and the short, flattened muzzle. They have dark, large, wide set eyes and short, very triangular ears. The coat is short and shiny, requiring once a week grooming with a soft brush or a grooming mitt to stay in top condition. The Boston Terrier should be raised with children as a puppy and will also get along well with other house pets including cats when properly socialized. They are gentle and affectionate but also very spunky and playful all through their life. The Boston Terrier requires room to exercise which can be completed through a long, brisk walk once or twice a day. They can adjust to a wide variety of living conditions but are not a good dog for very cold or very hot climates. With their short muzzles some are prone to respiratory problems and heat stroke so carefully monitor these dogs and select puppies carefully to minimize the risk of breathing problems. Some may snore when sleeping, however owner's often see this as just one of the traits of the breed.
Pocket Beagle while not recognized as a breed by any Kennel Clubs, the Pocket Beagle is a very popular downsized Beagle, similar in appearance to the Fox Hound. They have the same colorations including tri-colors and parti-colors, plus they also have the Beagle temperament, energy and unfailing good sense of humor. Most Pocket Beagles will mature at 10-15 pounds and are generally very healthy small dogs. They will be very active in the house and may have the baying cry of the Beagle despite their small size. When properly socialized and trained excessive barking is not typically a problem. This smaller sized dog is good for all types of living conditions but will need significant outdoor time, especially as a puppy.
Keep in mind that as with any size dog it may be possible to find the perfect match for your needs through a shelter or rescue rather that going directly to a breeder. If you aren't concerned about a pedigree or you want to select a mature dog that is already trained, adopting is a great option. If you are adopting be sure to ask the shelter or rescue staff about the dog's socialization and if he or she gets along well with children, other animals or in your specific living conditions. By finding out the answer to these questions in advance you can then select the dog that is going to fit right in to your family.
Small dogs are great for city life, but they also can do very well in rural areas. Many of the smaller dogs such as Corgis and even some of the smaller types of working dogs do very well as family pets and companions for children. As with any type of dog it is important to socialize the puppy with kids, provide lots of education to the children and ensure that they are off on the right foot in handling, training and working with the dog.
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