Small dog breeds have won the global love for their irresistible cuteness and playfulness. These cuddly pups come in a variety of types that differ in personality and activity needs, making it easy to find a breed that will perfectly match your lifestyle.
If you’re eager to become a tiny dog parent, this guide is for you. We’ve gathered 22 most popular small dog breeds to help you make a more informed choice.
Pros and Cons of Having Toy Dog Breeds as Pets
There’s no surprise you’re considering a small dog: apart from being great family dogs and delightful running companions, these cuddly little friends come with other obvious advantages:
- They don’t require much space — a small dog will feel comfortable even in a studio apartment;
- They are less expensive to feed compared to larger dogs and easier to take care of;
- Small dogs usually get along well with other pets;
- Small pups live longer than representatives of bigger dog breeds;
- It’s easier to travel with a small dog since you can always carry it in a bag or backpack. In addition, small dog breeds are allowed in many hotels.
Still, living with a small dog is also associated with some disadvantages:
- Toy dog breeds are rather fragile and vulnerable to illnesses or injuries;
- They sometimes cause problems with excessive barking: each little pup has a big personality and does its best to protect its home;
- Some small dog breeds may be tough to housetrain.
Now that you know what to expect from small dog breeds at large, look at the most popular ones. Chances are high, you won’t be able to say no to such cuteness!
1. Yorkshire Terrier. The Yorkshire Terrier, nicknamed the Yorkie, is a toy-size terrier (weighing no more than seven pounds) with a glossy, long silky coat of steel blue and golden tan. Yorkshire terriers are hypoallergenic, which makes them one of the most popular small dog breeds in the US.
Although they can be aggressive toward other dogs, Yorkshire Terriers are very affectionate and love spending time with the family. They need a lot of attention and hate being alone. The adorable Yorkshire Terriers don’t like the cold and tend to be picky eaters.
2. Toy Poodle. With an average weight of around 4-6 pounds and no more than 10 inches of height, the Toy Poodle is the smallest representative of the Poodle family. Their curly fur coats come in a dazzling variety of colors, including black, brown, yellow, and white. There are also bi-colored Poodles; however, they are not very common.
Toy Poodles are especially loved for their intelligence: they easily learn tricks and are always eager to please their parents. As devoted family pets, Toy Poodles can play with kids for hours. At the same time, these cute small dogs can develop common stress behaviors when left alone for too long and become aggressive.
3. Shih Tzu. The elegant Shih Tzu is easily recognized due to its long, silky hair that can come in a stunning array of colors: black mask gold, black and white, gold and white, red and white, solid red, solid black, solid liver, liver and white, and many others. With the weight ranging from 9 to 16 pounds, the Shih Tzu is a bit longer than tall.
These perky, affectionate pups make great companions. They love playing with children and get along well with other animals. Known as lap dogs of Chinese emperors, Shih Tzus proudly maintain this status — you won’t have any trouble with walking them since they need minimal exercise and prefer staying indoors.
4. Chihuahua. The smallest dogs in the world (3 to 6 pounds), the Chihuahuas vary in appearance a great deal. These super cute small dogs can have either short and smooth or longer coats. Chihuahuas can be solid-colored black, chocolate, white, fawn, or gray, and can also be tricolor.
This little dog is renowned as a loyal companion. Although Chihuahuas are considered lap pups, they are high-energy dogs and enjoy being occupied. The representatives of this small dog breed are great family pets, but, like many other toy breeds, this tiny dog can snap at strangers or small kids who may seem threatening to them. In addition, the temperamental Chihuahuas often seek to dominate their owners.
5. Pug. The Pug is the sturdiest dog among small dog breeds, with a wrinkly, short-muzzled face and a curled tail as its most distinctive physical features. This little dog can weigh from 14 to 18 pounds and has a dense, glossy coat that comes in a wide range of colors, most frequently light brown or black.
Pugs are not as lively as most small dog breeds. Instead, they are relaxed and serious — not into digging and chewing at all; they prefer to spend their time sleeping. Although quite stubborn, Pugs are usually affectionate and want to please their owners. The representatives of this laid-back dog breed typically get along well with other dogs and kids. If you’re looking for a barkless dog, consider a Pug — due to their nature, they don’t bark much.
6. Maltese. The Maltese is a toy breed famed for its straight, silky pure-white coat. This adorable small dog doesn’t have an undercoat and sheds little, which makes these pups virtually hypoallergenic. Never taller than 12 inches at the shoulder, these tiny dogs usually weigh no more than 7 pounds.
The Maltese is intelligent and full of energy. This dog is easy to train: your Maltese pup will learn very fast if you generously reward it for its efforts. Like many other toy breeds, the Maltese was originally bred as a companion dog, meaning that it needs constant attention from its parents. These sweet pooches can’t stand being alone — leaving your Maltese for long hours without your attention can result in separation anxiety and destructive behavior.
7. French Bulldog. The French Bulldog has a small (11 to 13 inches at withers) muscular body and is easily recognized by the signature wrinkled skin around its face and shoulders. Most often, French Bulldogs come in cream, fawn, and white colors and sometimes sport brindle patterns or black masks.
These quirky small dogs are equally relaxed and playful. They never mind both snoozing on their parents’ laps and having fun with children. The happy-go-lucky Frenchies are ultimate fun lovers, and they are effortless to train if the training looks more like a game. These lovable pups have a keen sense of curiosity and hugely enjoy exploring the outside.
8. Pomeranian. The Pomeranian is a toy breed characterized by a lush double coat and foxy face. Although red and orange are their most common colors, Pomeranians can also be black, blue, cream, fawn, and white. These pooches are usually 8 to 11 inches tall and weigh no more than 7 pounds.
The Pomeranian belongs to lively and active small dog breeds and needs regular exercise to be happy. These dogs are typically affectionate and get along well with kids. Poms are friendly with other pets too, but you need to be cautious when introducing your Pomeranian to a big dog to avoid accidental injuries. One of the most intelligent representatives of the toy group, Pomeranians also make good alert and alarm dogs, meaning they can be excessively vocal.
9. Dachshund. The Dachshund is a short-legged, long-bodied dog breed native to Germany. These cute hunting dogs originally bred to hunt small animals come in a variety of colors and can be smooth-haired, wire-haired, or long-haired. Actually, Dachshunds come in two sizes: they can be standard-sized (from 16 to 32 pounds) or miniature (11 pounds or under).
These dogs are known for their brave nature, meaning they can behave aggressively toward strangers and other dogs. Since they were bred as hunters, be ready that your Dachshund will never miss an opportunity to dig. Dachshunds are intelligent and playful; they make great companions and reliable watchdogs. They are generally good with kids but might be a bit difficult to train.
10. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. One of the largest of the small dog breeds, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels typically weigh from 13 to 18 pounds. They boast long, silky coats that come in four color combinations: red and white, black and white with tan points, ruby, and black and tan.
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a playful and intelligent dog breed. These adorable small dogs like playing with children and make devoted companions. This intelligent dog will never give you trouble when it comes to training. Cavaliers are always eager to try whatever you’d like them to do, and a delicious reward can help you reach incredible training success. On the downside, like most small dog breeds, these pups can have issues with housetraining.
11. Bichon Frise. The Bichon Frise dogs are typically just under 12 inches tall and weigh from 7 to 12 pounds. These cute small dogs have silky and curly white, cream, apricot, or gray coats. According to the American Kennel Club, the Bichon Frise is a merry and curious dog.
These fluffy pups are extremely sociable, intelligent, and friendly to kids and other pets. They are active and enjoy outings. Bichons don’t tend to bark a lot, which makes them a great option for apartment residents. Don’t rely on a Bichon to guard your home though. In addition, be prepared to devote considerable time to their coat care.
12. American Eskimo Dog. If you’re looking for toy versions of the Husky, consider the toy American Eskimo Dog that weighs around 8 to 11 pounds and is 10 to 12 inches tall. The Eskies have a thick white or buff coat and erect triangular-shaped ears.
The American Eskimo is an intelligent, well-mannered, eager to please, active, and fun-loving dog. Because of their Spitz heritage, these dogs love running and can snap at strangers. Eskies need a moderate amount of exercise, however, they always need something to entertain themselves, so if you don’t provide your pup with enough games and outings, be ready that your bored Eskimo will dig or chew.
13. Boston Terrier. The Boston Terrier is a compactly built dog easily recognizable due to its characteristic tuxedo appearance. They are white in proportion to black, seal, brindle, or a combination of the three — any other coat color isn’t accepted as a Boston Terrier by the American Kennel Club. These dogs are categorized into three groups: under 15 pounds, 15 to 20 pounds, and 20 to 25 pounds.
If you decide on the toy version of the Boston, you’ll get a devoted pooch, well-mannered but often cheeky and playful. Although a bit stubborn, Boston Terriers are clever and learn fast.
14. Jack Russell Terrier. The Jack Russell Terrier is one of the most popular dog breeds developed for hunting. Somewhat bigger in size than other small dog breeds, Jack Russell Terriers stand 12 to 14 inches tall and weigh 13 to 17 pounds. These adorable dogs have a double coat, primarily white with black, tan, or black-and-tan markings.
Remarkably energetic, Jack Russell Terriers are intelligent, bold, and outgoing small dogs that feel happy together with their moms and dads. They are incredibly bouncy and can never get enough of jumping up on people and things. Since this dog was bred to “go to ground”, it loves to dig, so a fenced yard looks like a perfect environment for a Jack Russel. They’re quite impatient, which makes teaching them no easy task.
15. Italian Greyhound. With a height from 13 to 15 inches and weight ranging between 7 and 14 pounds, the Italian Greyhound is the smallest of the sighthounds. This graceful dog is renowned for its slender, muscular body and lean, powerful legs. The Italian Greyhound boasts a glossy, velvety short coat that comes in various colors and marking patterns, blues and grays being the most common.
Agile and athletic, this dog retains its hunting instinct and tends to chase anything that moves, so a frisbee is always a great idea to make walks interesting. These small dogs have lots of energy and love to exercise, which earned them the status of ideal jogging companions.
16. West Highland White Terrier. The West Highland White Terrier is one of the short-legged terriers, standing 10 to 11 inches tall and ranging from 14 to 20 pounds in weight. This cute dog is easily recognizable due to its dense white coat of fur filling out the face and giving it a rounded look.
Typical terriers, Westies are clever, independent, and a bit stubborn. They are prone to excessive barking and take great pleasure in digging. Westies don’t get along with other dogs and can be dangerous to small house pets because of their strong prey drive. Although this dog doesn’t require much exercise, your Westie will still need one or two daily walks.
17. Border Terrier. The Border Terrier is a British breed of small dogs (10-11 inches, 11-15 pounds) with rough coats in red, grizzle and tan, blue and tan, or wheat color.
The Border Terrier is not the same dog as most representatives of the terrier dog breeds: they are less aggressive toward other dogs and aren’t big barkers. Border Terriers are happy when they feel part of the family. When left alone for long hours, they become noisy and destructive. These charming small dogs are affectionate, obedient, and quick learners.
18. Cairn Terrier. The Cairn Terrier is a small Scottish dog breed (9-10 inches, 13-14 pounds) characterized by a round head, short legs, and small, pointed ears. These sweet dogs have coarse fur that mostly comes in cream, wheat, red, or gray.
Cairn Terriers are energetic, extroverted dogs that are strongly attached to their owners. They are smart and curious and love to get a lot of attention, which makes them great playmates for kids. Similar to other representatives of the Terrier dog breeds, Cairns tend to bark, dig, and chase.
19. Lhasa Apso. The Lhasa Apso is an ancient breed originating from Tibet. These small dogs stand 9 to 11 inches tall and usually weigh around 12-18 pounds. Their long, thick, and heavy coats can come in a fascinating array of hues, including black, dark grizzle, golden, blue, sandy, and white. Needless to say, the adorable Lhasa coat requires a lot of grooming.
This gorgeous pooch considers itself a big dog and loves doing its own thing, so pleasing its owners is not Lhasa’s primary goal. Although not the most obedient among small dog breeds, the Lhasa Apso is a fast learner. Lhasas are highly independent; they are leaders, and your Lhasa pup will eagerly become your leader if you don’t mind.
20. Pembroke Welsh Corgis. With a height of 10 to 12 inches and a weight of around 30 pounds, the Pembroke Welsh Corgis is one of the biggest representatives of small dog breeds. These cute dogs can be black and tan, red, fawn, and sable, with or without white markings. A double-coated pup, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi sheds all year round. Still, with regular brushing, their coat is quite easy to maintain.
The Pembroke is a smart, sensitive dog who loves playing with the family and is easy to train. Along with the Cardigan Welsh Corgis, a similar breed originally developed to move cattle, these pooches are lively, fearless, and excessively vocal. Pembrokes are renowned for their nasty habit of overeating, so their owners should closely monitor their meals.
21. Miniature Pinscher. The Miniature Pinscher is a well-balanced, sturdy dog standing 10 to 12 inches tall and weighing 8 to 11 pounds. It’s one of the most athletic and energetic small dog breeds. These muscular dogs have a short, smooth coat with no undercoat. The most common colors include solid red, stag red, blue stag red, chocolate stag red, and fawn stag red.
The Miniature Pinscher dogs are curious, playful, bold, and stubborn, reserved with strangers but affectionate to their family. Min Pins are very energetic and require several play sessions a day. Originally developed to hunt vermin, these dogs tend to attack small objects and pets.
22. American Cocker Spaniel. The American Cocker Spaniel is one of the bigger pups among small dog breeds: it stands a bit over 1 foot tall and can weigh up to 28 pounds. Cocker Spaniels have a medium-long, silky flat or slightly wavy coat that comes in a wide array of colors, from light cream to black.
They are playful, happy-go-lucky, friendly and sensitive pups, always willing to please their owners. Still, Cocker Spaniels belong to hunting dog breeds, so they will normally chase birds or other small animals. American Cockers are full of energy and need regular exercise.
What is the friendliest small dog?
The tiny Papillon, easily recognized by its distinctive wing-like ears, is the friendliest small dog, both toward people and other pets. Other popular friendly breeds include French Bulldog, Chihuahua, Miniature Schnauzer, English Toy Spaniel, Scottish Terrier, Pug, Yorkshire Terrier, Pomeranian, and Jack Russel Terrier.
What is the easiest small dog to take care of?
The Boston Terrier is considered the most low-maintenance dog. These dogs are infrequent shedders and don’t need much grooming. However, it’s not the only dog breed that is easy to take care of. Brussels Griffon, Chinese Crested, Dachshund, and French Bulldog generally require less care than other small dog breeds.
What is the most popular small dog pet?
Cute and affectionate, the French Bulldog is the most popular small dog breed.
Small dogs all have different personalities and features, which makes it easy to choose a little friend that will best match your lifestyle. Keep in mind that getting a pup, even a small one, means great responsibility, so make sure you’ll be able to devote enough time and attention to your new family member.