Small Dogs: The Perfect Tiny Dog Companions for You

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Chihuahua Running Outside

When you’re a dog person, your heart melts a little bit with every pint-sized wagging tail and puppy-dog eye you encounter. Your friend's Chihuahua? Fashion icon. Your cousin's Pug? Living meme. The neighbor's Bichon Frise? Escapee from a stuffed animal factory. It's enough to make you want to scoop them all up... but then you remember, you probably only have room for one. If you’re looking for the perfect pup of your own, it can be difficult to consider all the small dog breeds out there and narrow that list to just one type of dog. 

Not to worry, we’re here to give you a breakdown of the most popular lap dogs, toy pups, and other miniature canines. You can use this information to find a dog with the right personality and energy level for you and your loved ones. These factors and several others are musts to consider before adding a furry new member to your household!  

We’ll cover things like which small canines make the best dogs for seniors and which ones are perfect for rambunctious kids. No matter what your living situation is, there’s a tiny dog that’s sure to work its way into your heart. 

Characteristics of Small Dog Breeds: What Makes Them Special 

Some people gravitate toward large dogs, but there's a undeniable charm to the compact canine companion. Why do so many animal lovers prefer a pint-sized ball of fluff? The reasons are endless! 

A big draw for many people is their lovable personality. While no two dogs are the same, it’s not at all uncommon for small ones to love curling up with their owners for an afternoon snooze. These canines can develop strong bonds with their human parents since they can accompany them just about anywhere. 

Another perk of having a little dog is that they’re just as clever as larger breeds. One study has suggested small and large dogs have equal intelligence, meaning your compact canine will pack as many smarts into its tiny frame as a larger pup. 

Of course, their size itself is often the number one reason people want a breed like a Shih Tzu or Havanese. Smaller dogs need less space to run around, and this fact makes them especially suitable for apartment living. They also need less food and smaller toys, bedding, and treats, so their accessories won’t take up much room. But size isn’t the only perk! 

If you love a good dog makeover, then a small dog is for you! Whether you adopt a poodle or a Shih Tzu, many small pups need to be groomed regularly. Regular maintenance is a must, but fortunately, you can use the grooming time to bond with your pooch. 

Top Ten Popular Small Dog Breeds 

Here’s a list of small dog breeds that pet owners around the world adore. From energetic bundles of joy to sophisticated lap warmers, these miniature marvels offer an abundance of love and loyalty in a compact, convenient package. Which one will capture your heart?  


When people think of tiny dogs, the mighty Chihuahua is often the first that comes to mind! Originally hailing from Mexico, this canine is small but fierce. With large, round eyes and big ears, they look every bit as sweet as they are. Chihuahuas become deeply attached to their humans, offering a constant source of companionship and love. 

Weighing only up to six pounds on average, these guys are perfectly suitable for elderly and young ones alike. Many Chihuahuas even enjoy going for a swim every now and then, but it’s safer to keep their water exercises confined to depths such as those in a child’s plastic pool. 


Papillons are named after the French word for butterfly, and there’s a good reason. Their characteristic ears are immediately recognizable since they’re shaped in the form of butterfly wings. The Papillon is as playful as their appearance makes them seem. You’ll need to have plenty of pep to match their energy levels, so this breed isn’t a good match for a sedentary family. 

These dogs can also be difficult to housetrain, so be sure to invest in plenty of training time as soon as possible. Papillons love being around other dogs, but keep in mind they think they’re bigger than they are. You’ll need to keep an eye on them to make sure they remember their bark is much bigger than their bite! 

Yorkshire Terrier 

The Yorkshire Terrier is a classic toy dog that was originally used to hunt. However, rather than nabbing impressive prey like coyotes or hares, Yorkshire Terriers were bred to hunt rats. Now, these once somewhat-mighty hunters are mostly found hunting treats out of their owners’ pockets! 

Yorkshire Terriers have cute, button-shaped eyes that make them look like fuzzy teddy bears. Showing off their luscious locks that resemble human hair, Yorkshire Terriers need regular grooming to keep them looking their best. 


When a spunky Pomeranian bounds into your life, you’re sure to have your hands full. Although these little ones weigh only three to seven pounds, they pack plenty of energy and personality. These toy dogs are known for being exceptionally hyperactive, so they’ll need lots of exercise. While they may not be the best fit for seniors, these dogs are typically good with children. As with any dog, little ones should be monitored around Pomeranians since these pups are fragile.  

Pet owners who live in multi-family housing want to think twice before adopting one of these, as they tend to bark frequently.  


If you remember the character Slinky from the Toy Story movies, you already know what a Dachshund looks like. These sweet pups are beloved by many because of their curious resemblance to hotdogs. Their quirky appearance includes long, thin torsos and short, stubby legs. 

Dachshunds, also called doxies or sausage dogs, often catch children’s eyes because of their funny shape, but these canines prefer to be the only little one in the house. While lovable, dachshunds can be somewhat aggressive and are notoriously stubborn. They can be trained with some effort, yet they have a rebellious streak and are best suited for a pet owner who has a lot of patience. 


It’s easy to see why the Havanese breed has a substantial following of fans. These beauties have it all: lovely coats of fur, high intelligence, and agreeable dispositions. Just about anyone living in a small apartment will want to bring one of these tiny cuties into their home! 

Beware that a Havanese pup needs plenty of grooming time. In fact, it’s recommended to brush their coats once a day. On the upside, they aren’t heavy shedders, so you won’t need to spend too much time vacuuming those stunning locks from your carpet. 


If there’s one small dog breed that’s known for being charming, it’s the Pug. Their wrinkly faces and snub noses are impossible not to love. They are highly aware of this fact and use it to their advantage! That’s why they know they can get away with constantly snuggling with their owners and following them from room to room. 

Because Pugs feel entitled to being pampered, they can quickly pack on the pounds if given too many treats or large meals. This breed is usually at its healthiest when under 20 pounds, so keep their nutrition in mind. Another thing to consider before adopting a Pug is that they are prone to breathing and neurological problems. These conditions are a result of poorly managed breeding over the years, so be sure to look for a responsible breeder

Shih Tzu 

The models of the dog world, Shih Tzus, are prized for their human-like hair. Whether they’re showing off their new “lion cut” or sporting a fashionable top knot, Shih Tzus are always glamorous. Most people who own this breed prefer to keep their hair short for minimal maintenance. 

Living up to their prima donna appearance, the Shih Tzu displays some catty attitude every now and then. Because of this tendency, they’re probably best suited for homes without children or seniors. However, this toy breed is a perfect match for an adult who wants to devote lots of attention to an energetic pup!  


Love dogs but despise cleaning up their fur? The Maltese just might be for you! These snowy white charmers have no undercoat, so you can breathe a sigh of relief when it comes to chore time. However, you’ll need to schedule some doggy dental visits since this breed is prone to tooth decay and gum infections

A little extra toothbrushing aside, the Maltese is generally low maintenance. Exceptionally small pups, these guys almost always weigh under ten pounds, making them great fits for older individuals who may have difficulty managing larger breeds. 

French Bulldog  

What’s there not to love about the French Bulldog? These pompous pooches like to think they’re the tough guys in charge, but really, they’re sweethearts when it comes down to it. While virtually any dog will bark around strangers, Frenchies aren’t exactly the type to go on long runs to chase the mail carrier. They’re not very active, making them especially suitable for people with limited mobility. 

Although Frenchies aren’t as boisterous as some other small breeds, they can still get testy around other pets, including cats. French Bulldogs like being the star of the show, so expect them to require lots of attention throughout the day. 

Miniature Schnauzer: Small Dog Breed

Hypoallergenic Small Dog Breeds 

Allergy-sufferers can rejoice knowing that certain small dog breeds are hypoallergenic! 

Bichon Frise 

Bid farewell to sniffles with the Bichon Frise. These stylish-looking puffballs are as tame as dogs come, at least when it comes to spreading fur and dander. Ranging from 10-20 pounds, the Bichon Frise is the ideal dog to have in the house when you want a lap dog without the extra sneezes. 

Bichon Frises are intelligent and eager to please, making them generally easy to train. While Bichons aren't known for excessive barking, their alert nature and desire for attention can sometimes lead to barking spells. Early socialization and consistent training using positive reinforcement methods can help minimize unwanted barking. Their playful spirit makes them well-suited for families with children or active individuals who enjoy daily walks and adventures. 

Miniature Schnauzer 

The happy-go-lucky Miniature Schnauzer breed is also hypoallergenic. These pups don’t shed, meaning their furry eyebrows and beards are always in tip-top shape. They make great watch dogs but because of their tendency to yap, they’re better off in a single-family home far away from neighbors. 

Miniature Schnauzers are one of the few terrier breeds that are hypoallergenic. This makes them a great choice for allergy sufferers who still dream of having a spunky and loyal canine companion. Their distinct eyebrows and beard give them a permanent and expressive look, making them instantly recognizable. 

West Highland White Terrier 

The West Highland White Terrier is originally from Scotland and still likes to show off the digging skills his ancestors first learned there. While this trait might mean you’re bathing them more regularly, you can find some comfort in the fact their dirty coat is still hypoallergenic. Westies do shed, but a professional groomer can remove the dead topcoat to keep them looking their best.  

Despite their independent streak, West Highland White Terriers are known for their loyalty and affection. These charming pups love spending time with their families and thrive on positive reinforcement training. While their digging instincts can be a challenge, they can be redirected to appropriate outlets like puzzle toys or designated digging pits. 

Chinese Crested 

Possibly the silliest looking breed on our list, the Chinese Crested is still as captivating as they come. This toy breed is often hairless, although a variant known as the Powderpuff exists. Pet parents who adopt a hairless Chinese Crested need to take precautions to guard their bare skin against damage. This means stocking up on doggy sunscreen, moisturizer, and clothing. 

The Chinese Crested's unique looks come with a touch of exclusivity – they're not as common as other toy breeds. Owning a Chinese Crested is like having a living piece of art, with their unique hairless bodies and tufts of fur on their head, tail, and feet.  

Italian Greyhound 

The Italian Greyhound might look like it can be knocked over with a feather due to its skinny frame, but he likes to stand his ground. These defiant-but-lovable dogs need extra housetraining to keep their behavior in check. On the other hand, their beautiful gray coats require a lot less grooming than many other toy breeds.  

Despite their initial defiance during housetraining, Italian Greyhounds are known for their gentle and affectionate personalities. These sensitive souls thrive on companionship and love to curl up on laps for a cuddle. Their sleek build makes them surprisingly fast, but they are content with short walks or indoor playtime sessions. Italian Greyhounds are well-suited for calm and quiet households where they can receive plenty of love and attention. 

Tips for Choosing the Right Small Dog Breed 

Choosing the right dog for you comes down to a few factors. 

You’ll need to take an honest look at your lifestyle. If you’re not already an avid hiker, you’re probably not going to become one just because you adopted a dog. Instead of choosing a highly active breed, your best bet will be a less energetic one. 

Consider your living situation. Families that live in apartment complexes will want to make sure they adopt a small breed that’s less prone to yapping. Otherwise, you can expect a whole lot of complaints from sleep-deprived neighbors. 

Research health issues. Some dogs are more susceptible to health issues than others. For instance, the Italian Greyhound is high risk for broken legs due to their slender builds. If your finances can’t cover serious, and possibly recurring, health issues, you’ll need to think twice before adopting specific breeds. 

Meet adoptable dogs in person. A picture might be worth a thousand words, but one-on-one time is priceless. Before committing to a breed, meet some of them. Spend time playing with them and seeing their behaviors and personality for yourself. 

Consider adopting from shelters and rescue groups. Before heading to a breeder, stop by your local animal shelter. The perfect toy dog might be there already, simply waiting for a new home! Likewise, rescue groups can pair you with a small dog that deserves a wonderful parent just like you. 

After adopting, invest in pet insurance. One of the best things about small dog breeds is their long life spans. Your new friend will be at your side for years to come! Throughout the years, health issues will certainly pop up here and there. Even minor health concerns can add up quickly. Invest in good dog insurance before the fees begin accumulating. How much is pet insurance? It’s more affordable than you think! Don't wait until a health crisis hits! Invest in pet insurance today and ensure you can afford the best care for your furry companion throughout their long life. 

Small in Size But Big in Personality 

Small dog breeds offer a lifetime of love and joy concentrated into an adorable, portable package. These furry friends become cherished members of the family, showering you with affection and playful antics for years to come. Imagine all the adventures you'll have together – cozy movie nights, walks in the park, and endless cuddles on the couch. 

Little dogs rarely seem to realize how much smaller they are compared to the world around them. This means their personalities remain just as vibrant and larger-than-life as those of the bigger breeds. Do your research, and you’ll soon find the perfect pocket-sized pup for your family!