They say that the best things come in small packages. And that philosophy is especially true with pets, as dog breeds small in size often have big personalities. We set out to prove this maxim and show you how some small dogs can be even more outgoing, spirited, fearless, and loyal than their larger relatives.
Types of Small Dogs
Small dogs range from 2 to 22 pounds in all shapes and colors. Our small dog breeds list covers several categories and displays the best fluffy representatives of each.
Smallest Lap Dogs
Meet two of the smallest dogs on earth that will take up little space in your apartment but a huge space in your heart.
Chihuahuas weigh three to six pounds and are regarded as the smallest dog breed worldwide. Teacup Chihuahuas can even weigh as little as two pounds. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the approximately one-pound Chihuahua named Miracle Milly is the world’s smallest dog. The pup also holds the record for the most cloned dog in history.
Some Chihuahuas have a short, smooth, and shiny coat, while others are long-haired with wispy fur around the ears, neck, and tail.
Tiny dog breeds are more than just “purse pets,” and Chihuahuas are the perfect example of that. They’re loyal, sweet, and affectionate companions that can be excellent watchdogs once trained to bark only when needed. Chihuahuas have a long lifespan of up to 20 years and require little grooming and exercise. So they’re perfect apartment dwellers.
2. Yorkshire Terriers
The ideal Yorkshire Terrier weight is between four and six pounds, making them one of the smallest lap dogs globally. If you have children, make sure you teach them to avoid rough play as Yorkies can be easily injured.
Regardless of their petite size, Yorkies are energetic, playful, and devoted companions who will follow you wherever you go. But their frequent barking might pose a problem for your next-door neighbors. Other than that, they’re suitable pets for apartment living.
Yorkshire Terriers aren’t easy to care for. Unless you brush them daily, their hair can get tangled, and you might have to shave it down. To be on the safe side, keep their hair short.
Most dog breeds, small or big, develop a dental problem by the age of two. Unfortunately, a Yorkie is more likely than other dogs to have bad teeth. That’s mainly because of their tiny jaws, which lead to overcrowded teeth.
Long Haired Small Dog Breeds
If you want to take pride in the looks of your pooch, pick a breed with a beautiful, long, silky coat.
3. Shih Tzu
If you’re interested in cute, small dog breeds, you must have seen the Shih Tzu. These little pups with a beautiful long coat and adorable dark eyes are absolute stunners. They’re most recognizable for their long mustaches and the topknots on their heads that help avoid eye irritation.
But Shih Tzus aren’t just beautiful from the outside. They’re affectionate, friendly, and outgoing dogs who love to cuddle. It’s not a surprise given that for centuries they lived exclusively with Chinese royalty, who admired and pampered them. Recently, the Shih Tzu also started taking part in dog sports, competing for obedience and agility.
A mixture of good looks and personality, Shih Tzus are among the best small dogs to own. Plus, they don’t require much exercise. A short daily walk or some indoor playtime is enough for these fluffy pals.
4. Cotons de Tuléar
Coton de Tuléar is French for “cotton from Toliara.” As the name suggests, Cotons originate from Toliara, a city in Madagascar. Also, they have quite a cotton-like coat. They were probably bred from a mixture of small fluffy dog breeds, among which the Bichon.
Cotons have an energetic and clownish personality. They love to perform and show off and get along well with all family members, including other pets.
These small dogs are easy to look after. All it takes to keep their fur fluffy and healthy is a weekly brushing. And you can even minimize this with the best dog grooming clippers and a regular trim.
Cotons rarely bark. But when they do, it’s because they saw something interesting, and not just for the fun of it.
Small Dog Breeds Short Hair
Short-haired dogs are a perfect choice if you hate picking up fur from furniture or you’d like to avoid grooming chores and visits to doggie salons.
5. Miniature Pinschers
Miniature Pinschers were developed in Germany to hunt rats. Because of their similar appearance, many believe they’re descendants of Dobermans. Indeed, they look like miniature versions of Dobermans, but each breed has unique characteristics.
Miniature Pinschers are small indoor dogs with an incredible lack of body fat, making them sensitive to low temperatures. If it’s very cold, put a sweater on your pet before going for a walk.
Like most types of small dogs, Min Pins are fragile, and you should play with them gently. But they’re strong, energetic, and alert. Without proper training, they can turn into real tyrants and take over your household. So early socialization and training are a must. You should also provide enough exercise, or they might get aggressive.
Pugs are among the most comical-looking of all miniature dog breeds with their deep wrinkles and huge, round eyes. They’re loyal and affectionate creatures that were bred to live with a human friend. Also, these dogs are highly sensitive and don’t like to be left home alone for too long.
Pugs can be mischievous and stubborn, making their training and housebreaking somewhat challenging.
These wrinkly pups can’t tolerate high temperatures and humidity. When it’s hot, keep an eye for symptoms of overheating. And overeating might be an issue. Pugs are greedy creatures that can quickly turn obese.
Small Dog Breeds That Don’t Shed
Short-haired dogs are usually low-shedders. But there are a few exceptions. For instance, Pugs have a short coat that sheds like crazy. Let’s explore the more favorable combination: long-haired dogs that don’t shed much.
Affenpinschers were bred as rat hunters but moved their way up to ladies’ companions. They’re still sturdy, alert, and fearless, making them excellent watchdogs.
These dogs are readily adaptable. If you’re the adventurous type, you can rely on them as great traveling buddies. Owners of this breed also appreciate their gentleness and sensitivity. Yet, they’re not typical lap dogs. Affenpinschers love their freedom, and you can’t hold them in your arms for as long as you want. They will jump down impulsively whenever they choose.
If you’re searching for perfect small dogs for kids, you’d better rule out Affenpinschers, as they prefer to hang out with adults. They don’t like rough play or chasing. Also, this breed is likely to bite children if provoked.
The Bolognese is a fluffy representative of the small white dog breeds. They have a long, ruffled coat that virtually doesn’t shed but requires a high-maintenance grooming regime. Daily brushing is best for these cuties.
The breed bonds closely with their human parents and dislikes being alone for long hours. The Bolognese are smart, but they can sometimes be stubborn. It’s important to train them with positive reinforcement rather than harsh reproaches. Housebreaking can be a long process, so arm yourself with patience.
Small Hypoallergenic Dog Breeds
People allergic to canines react to proteins found in a dog’s dander. Consequently, the less a dog sheds, the less dander it will leave around the house. So low-shedding dogs, like the Affenpinscher and the Bolognese, pose a less severe threat to allergy sufferers. Here are some of the best small dog breeds that will keep you free from coughs and sneezes.
9. Miniature Schnauzers
The shaggy mustache and eyebrows give Miniature Schnauzers a charming, almost comical appearance, which goes well with their personality. They’re intelligent, extroverted, energetic, and will love making you laugh.
To keep up with their energy, you need to engage them in lots of activities and exercise. Without physical and mental stimulation, they get bored. And a bored Miniature Schnauzer can get destructive and ill-tempered.
Like most small, hypoallergenic dog breeds, Miniature Schnauzers are low-shedding, but you need to clip their hair every five to eight weeks.
You should always keep them on a leash in open areas as they’re prone to chasing smaller mammals. And when they start running, calling their name won’t stop them.
Löwchens are a wonderful breed with a cheerful disposition. They’re active, playful, and highly affectionate. Raised to be companion dogs, Löwchens might suffer from separation anxiety when left alone for the day. So, think twice before adopting one if you work long hours.
Like most of the best small dog breeds, you should keep Löwchens indoors. Their tendency to bark might become a nuisance to the neighbors. Luckily, you can easily train them with positive reinforcement to reduce the noise alerts. Some Löwchens enjoy digging. But unlike barking, it’s a tough habit to break.
You must introduce these puppies to new people as often as possible. If not socialized at an early age, they might become fearful and timid.
Small Dog Breeds That Don’t Bark
A small dog doesn’t mean a quiet dog, quite the contrary. Smaller dogs are more fearful, thus, more likely to bark at strangers. Their barking can be an expression of anxiety or excitement. Some breeds, like the Coton de Tulear, Bolognese, Maltese Shih Tzu, and Basenji, aren’t as yappy.
11. Maltese Shih Tzu
The Maltese Shih Tzu is a cross between a Maltese and a Shih Tzu. The purpose of the crossover was to create as low-shedding dog as possible, which turned out to be a successful mission. Still, these dogs are so much more than just low-shedders.
Mal-Shis are incredibly social and cooperative. They can be your peaceful lap dog or a ready playmate for kids.
To sum up, these dogs are low-shedders who rarely bark and get along with everyone. It’s definitely one of the best small dog breeds for a family in an apartment.
According to a scientific study, the Basenji, originating from Africa, is the oldest of all domesticated dogs. That’s probably the reason it’s not a barker.
But this doesn’t place Basenjis in the group of calm small dog breeds. They have a lot of energy that needs to get burned off. Otherwise, they can get destructive and chew almost anything they see. So, make sure you shower them with stimulation and attention.
Cheapest Small Dog Breeds
The price you pay for a dog isn’t the only aspect that makes it affordable. Other important cost factors include:
- Grooming requirements
- Need for professional training
- Susceptibility to health problems
- Food amount they eat
The last factor isn’t an issue for small dogs. But some of them won’t just eat anything, and we know how expensive dog food for picky eaters can be.
Here are some of the cheapest small dog breeds.
13. American Hairless Terriers
American Hairless Terriers lose their hair after eight weeks. So you’ll have no expenses for grooming or allergy medications if you’re a sufferer. The only thing you’ll have to spend extra for this fellow is sweaters as they don’t like the cold.
Also, they’re brilliant, curious, and love to please their humans. With some dedication, you can train them yourself and save even more.
Like most dog breeds small in size, American Hairless Terriers don’t eat much. But since they’re such low-cost pets, you could occasionally treat them to a can of the best wet dog food for small breeds. They won’t mind a little pampering.
Havanese are among the dog breeds that are small and will save you money on food. Although they have a long coat, they hardly shed. So, you won’t need to buy any special cleaning items. Plus, they’re one of the healthiest dog breeds, which lowers expenses on vets and medications, too.
Havanese dogs are intelligent, amazingly energetic, and eager to please. Many have been trained for dog sports, circus shows, or assistance to people with disabilities.
Healthiest Small Dog Breeds
Because of genetic pool variety, mixed-breed puppies tend to have fewer health conditions and a longer lifespan than purebred puppies. A study conducted by evolutionary biologist Cornelia Kraus also showed that small sized dog breeds tend to live longer than big dogs.
Here’s a list of the most long-living small dogs:
- Chihuahua: 16–20 years
- Yorkshire Terrier: 14–20 years
- Havanese: 14–16 years
- Shih Tzu: 12–16 years
- Pomeranian: 13–15 years
- Beagle: 12–15 years
- Miniature Schnauzer: 12–14 years
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel: 9–14 years
Most Affectionate Dog Breeds Small
Here are the furry pals most likely to cuddle up with you.
15. Alaskan Klee Kai
The Alaskan Klee Kai is a fairly new descendant of the much bigger Siberian Husky. Both are full of energy and demand plenty of exercise, but they differ in personality.
Unlike the working-class Husky, the Alaskan Klee Kai was bred as a companion and should only live indoors. They’re sweet and loving dogs that enjoy spending time with their family. Plus, they’re one of the most loyal small dog breeds. The Alaskan Klee Kaido does well with other dogs, too, but tends to shy around strangers. They’re not particularly yappy but will bark or whine when something displeases them.
Having a high prey drive, these dogs aren’t suitable for homes with smaller non-canine pets. Although they don’t require much grooming, the Alaskan Klee Kai shed heavily twice a year.
16. Bichon Frise
Bichon Frises are cheerful family dogs that need a lot of playtime and activity. But they have plenty of love to give back.
Although difficult to housebreak, they’re a smart small dog breed that’s easily trained. Bear in mind that they’re sensitive creatures who dislike harsh scolding. As long as you use gentle techniques, they’ll enjoy the time spent together and learn amazing tricks.
Bichon Frises are indeed small and easily injured. But you shouldn’t overprotect them as that can make them spoiled and fearful.
Small dogs can fill any home with love and fun.
If you live in an apartment or want a lower-maintenance, cheaper pet, it’s best to adopt a small puppy. And we hope our list will help you decide what’s the right breed for you. Dog breeds small in size can be equally friendly, brave, and energetic as their bigger counterparts.