There are few people that would argue that a child and a dog are an almost perfect match for each other. Toy breeds, just as any other dog, thrive on attention from children just as they thrive on attention from adults as well. The key in adjusting a toy breed to a family with children has a lot to do with the age of the children and the specific toy breed you are considering. In general most breeders of toy dogs don't recommend a toy breed in a household with children under the age of six and some breeders won't sell a puppy to families with young children.
Perhaps the two biggest concerns with toy breeds and children are the risk of injury to the dog and the temperament or lack of tolerance for children that some toy breeds seem to have. The size issue is a real concern as dropping a toy dog or toy breed puppy even a foot or two can result in very serious injuries and broken bones. Generally children that are young have a hard time handling the smaller puppies, many which are just a few ounces and a few inches in length, posing a serious health risk for the puppy. Younger children also may not understand what is appropriate play for these tiny dogs and puppies and may become too rough. It is very important to understand this is not caused by an mean intentions on the part of the child, they simply don't understand how delicate these tiny puppies really are.
The negative or snappy temperament of many toy breeds towards young children has to do with several different factors. The first one may be an injury or frightening experience the toy dog had with a child. Dogs do generalize and they will see all children as potential threats. The dogs will often bark or respond aggressively as a way to defend themselves against what they see as a threat in the child.
The second issue that often causes toy breeds to be intolerant of children has to do with how children, especially younger kids under the age of six, tend to behave and act. These kids are very loud, very spontaneous and given to making sudden, erratic noises and movements. Even the shrill crying of a baby can be very unsettling to some of the more nervous and timid toy breeds. This can be related to the long history of the toy breeds as companion dogs but it can also be due to the sheltered life that some toy breed dogs live.
As a general statement any toy breed can adjust to living with older children, typically over the age of six to eight years, provide the children are taught how to interact with the small puppy and dog. Kids need to have constant adult supervision for a period of time until the parents or adult feels that the child understands the physical limitations of the small pets as well as how to appropriately pick up, play with and interact with the dog. This parenting time spent with the children or child and the puppy or dog is a terrific way for parents to share their knowledge of the dog and help the child and dog bond.
Older, calmer and interested children can bond very well with a toy breed dog and can learn a lot about dog care, training and even showing. There is really no reason that any breed of dog, at least in the toy group, cannot spend positive, loving and enjoyable time with an older child. Many children that are nervous or uncertain around larger breeds will have no trouble interacting with a well behaved adult toy dog or a young puppy.
The first thing that children have to learn when a toy puppy is brought to the house is that they should not pick the dog up unless an adult is there to supervise and support the child and the puppy. Many toy dogs end up in emergency treatment because of drops and falls from being picked up and wiggling or squirming at the wrong time. This not only affects how the dog sees the child but it can really impact on the child as well, especially if the puppy or dog is hurt. Parents or adults can teach the child the correct support of the hindquarters and the support of the neck when picking up a toy puppy.
Kids also have to learn how to walk and feed the toy dog, especially if the child will have these responsibilities. It is important to routinely check in with your child and make sure they are able to care for the dog in an appropriate fashion. Toy dogs do need special attention and should be carefully monitored for any health conditions known within the breed. Children may not be attuned or astute enough to see the signs of ill health as early as an adult would.
There are several breeds of toy dogs that are recommended for families with children. These include the Havanese, Silky Terrier, Pug and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. These toy breeds are lively and playful but also not as small as some of the others in the group. The rest of the group can do well with older children but are not recommended for households with younger kids. There are some breeds such as the Chihuahua, Toy Poodle, Papillon and the Maltese and Japanese Chin that can make excellent pets for families with children, especially if the puppies are raised with older kids.
Some breeds such as the Italian Greyhound, Pekingese, Pomeranian and the Chinese Crested are often rather sedate dogs that are intimidated by loud noises and sudden movements by children. Since they are rather nervous to start with adding these elements to their household can cause significant behavior changes in the dogs as they become more stressed in the home. Some toy dogs, such as the Pomeranian, are rather dominant and may be difficult for children to handle as they do have a mind of their own. Often this is not a good combination however some Poms are great companion pets for kids. As with most issues of temperament both the temperament of the parent dogs as well as the training routine and home environment will have a huge impact on the overall attitude of the dog.