Top 10 Small Dog Breeds

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Dogs come in all different sizes, from the Great Dane all the way to the Chihuahua. Small dogs are not for everyone, but it’s often hard to deny the cuteness of something so small. These tiny pets come in all different colors and vary in the amount of work it takes to care for them.

Small dog breeds can be classified into different groups including:

  • Toy Group: Toy dogs are the smallest of the bunch, often can be referred to ‘teacup’ dogs.
  • Sporting Group: Sporting dogs are active and aim to please their owners
  • Terrier Group: Terrier dogs were originally bred to hunt and kill vermin, so they have a naturally high prey drive. Terrier dog personalities are fiesty and spirited.
  • Hound Group: Hound dogs have an incredible innate sense of smell and are very athletic.
  • Working Group: A working dog can be big or small! Small working dogs, thought tiny, are mighty and are always happy to help their owners out.
  • Non Sporting Group: Non sporting dogs include a wide range of dogs from different backgrounds, shapes and sizes. Some dogs in this group include the lhasa apso, shiba inu, chinese shar-pei, and bichon frise.
  • Herding Group: A herding dog is known to learn quickly and being very adept

Just because a dog breed is small and cute does not mean that raising them is any less work. Here is our list of the 10 small dog breeds, and what to expect if you are considering adding one to your family.


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The Chihuahua is often the first breed that comes to mind when people think of small dogs, and is generally thought of as the smallest of all dog breeds. Chihuahuas, which originated in Mexico and date back centuries, weigh in at just four to six pounds and stand only six to 10 inches tall. Some can be a bit larger, but for the most part, they fit within this size range.

Although there is only one breed of Chihuahua, there is great variation within the breed. Chihuahuas can have long or smooth coats, can come in many different colors, and have two distinct head shapes, one apple-shaped and one deer-shaped.

Even though they are low maintenance when it comes to grooming, Chihuahuas can be quite difficult to train. They will often become completely devoted to their owner and also become very protective, which can make things difficult for anyone else. Chihuahuas can still make great family dogs, but it will take a lot of training and patience.

And despite their small size, they will often pack a big bark and a powerful little bite. They are good for any size home and don’t require much exercise. They can often get it just by running around the house or apartment.

Yorkshire Terrier

As one of the most popular toy breeds, Yorkshire Terriers are beloved for their big personalities and long, silky hair. They typically don’t weigh more than seven pounds and will stand somewhere between six and 11 inches. Their size and temperament allow their owners to take them along almost anywhere.

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A Yorkie’s temperament will depend on the training and socialization he gets as a puppy. When well-trained, Yorkies are confident, courageous, and bold animals. They are better suited for apartment living, as they can’t withstand too cold or too warm weather and do not have high energy levels.

Like many of their small breed counterparts, Yorkies are known to bark at anything. Therefore, you will need to dedicate some time to training your dog not to bark. They are not overly fond of children, strangers, or other dogs, but this can be changed with training. Their coats, though long, do not shed much.

Bichon Frise

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Another tiny and cute dog breed is the Bichon Frise. Originating in Spain, the term ‘Bichon Frise’ translates to “curly lap dog.” These fluffy little white dogs look like stuffed animals, but are a joy to be around and are true people pleasers.

Bichon Frises are very happy dogs by nature, and are also playful, cheerful, friendly and intelligent. They are typically under a foot tall and weigh in the range of seven to 12 pounds.

Naturally social and great with children and other pets alike, Bichon Frises are great dogs for families. In fact, they love people so much that they are often prone to separation anxiety. Therefore, if you get a Bichon Frise, it is important that you spend a lot of time with him. Otherwise he may suffer from canine depression.

Bichons are fairly easy to train but can sometimes be difficult to housebreak, so crate training is recommended for this breed. They are also hypoallergenic, meaning they don’t shed, making them a great breed for people with allergies. Bichons are high-energy dogs that require daily exercise. They also love to be challenged, so they will be great dogs to teach tricks.

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Shih Tzu

Originating in China, the term ‘Shih Tzu translates to “little lion” in English. This name was bestowed upon this tiny breed of dog because the long hair around their head resembles that of a lion. Generally hovering somewhere in the 10- to 15-pound range, Shih Tzus are frequently seen being toted around in handbags and doggy strollers. Although they are known for their long, silky coats, Shih Tzus surprisingly do not shed their hair. However, their coats should be routinely brushed to keep them clean.

Another small breed that does not require much exercise, Shih Tzus are great apartment dogs, although they are not good guard dogs, and will usually cower from confrontation. They require patience with training as puppies, but with considerate care, they can be affectionate, loyal dogs.


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Pugs are happy little dogs that are known for their smushed faces. Pugs are great family pets that can grow to be as large as 14 inches tall and 20 to 25 pounds – although must Pugs are typically smaller than that.

As puppies, Pugs are very attuned to their owner’s voice, which often makes them easy to train. They are honorable watch dogs despite their small size and are very devoted to their family. Despite this, they typically get along with other animals and strangers. Pugs are a very popular breed of dog because of their happy disposition and their reputation as low-maintenance pets.

Their short hair does shed, but requires little grooming. Pugs also make great apartment dogs because they don’t require much exercise. However, they will appreciate it when given the opportunity. A strict diet is required, as pugs can gain weight easily if they are overfed and sedentary.

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If you like dogs with big ears, the Papillon is for you. Papillons are toy dogs known for their comically oversized ears, which are usually upright but will sometimes droop. The name ‘Papillon’ actually translates to “butterfly-eared”. An affectionate, friendly, and smart dog breed, the Papillon can reach a maximum height of 12 inches and usually weighs seven to 10 pounds.

Papillons have a good temperament and are highly energetic. Owners will need to walk them daily to keep them happy and healthy. Some will even enjoy agility training and will be very devoted to their owners.

Socialization is also important for these charming dogs, and they are generally quite friendly with children, strangers, and other animals. Great apartment dogs, Papillons will require routine combing for their long coats to keep them clean and looking healthy. Although known as barkers, Papillons can still make great pets due to their loyal and friendly nature.

Toy Poodle

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The next breed on our list is the smallest version of the Poodle. In fact, the Poodle is the only breed that has three official size designations: standard, miniature, and toy. The Toy Poodle typically weighs as little