Dear AKC: Our family is searching for the right breed of dog for our family. We have two sons at home, 12 and 13 years old, and are looking for a small family pet of 35 lb. or less in weight fully grown. Any advice you can give would be appreciated. — Looking for Mr. Good Dog
Dear Looking: There are a variety of dog breeds under 35 pounds. But rather than decide what type of dog to get based on weight, you should consider what your family and your sons' lifestyle is like before you start your breed search. You have two teenage sons which I'm sure are mature enough now to actually care for the dog rather than leaving all the dirty work to the parents.
What type of activities do your kids like to do to have fun? Are they most likely to sit in front of a computer or video games to enjoy themselves or would they rather build a fort in the woods and play adventurer? If they are of the couch potato variety, I would recommend something in the not needing much exercise category like a Bulldog, although they are larger than 35 pounds at 50 pounds, but they are compact. If you like the look but want to go smaller, then a Pug at 12 to 18 pounds or a French Bulldog at not more than 28 would be ideal!
Comrade to Explorers
If your boys are active, I would recommend one of the sporting, terrier, or hound breeds. From the Sporting Group there are some smaller breeds such as the English Cocker Spaniel or Field Spaniel, which are easily trained and have a wonderful temperament. The Beagle from the Hound Group makes an excellent pet, and is quite portable usually less than 20 pounds.
Originally bred to hunt vermin, terriers are feisty, smart and full of energy. Most terriers are under 35 pounds, but my favorites are the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier which comes in at 35-40 pounds, or the Miniature Schnauzer, which is great if the boys suffer from dog allergies at all, since their single coat sheds less and produces less dander.