Top 60 List: Small Dog Breeds
Our favorite part of owning a dog is their puppyhood. Nothing would make us happier than our dog forever staying young and cute like they were when they were a puppy. That is of course impossible, but what we can do is get a dog that, even when it matures, will stay small.
There are many advantages to getting a small dog breed. They are usually cheaper to maintain, you don’t spend so much money on dog food, they are fantastic cuddling buddies, and you don’t need that much space for them. Small dogs can pack a huge character in a small package. These little furry buddies can be active, happy, friendly, curious, great for singles and families, they will love all your adventures, but most of all, they will love you with all their hearts until the moment they die.
Small dog breeds have a bit of a bad reputation. They are described as being “nippy”, moody, and hard to care for. Some small dog breeds can be like that, but it is completely unfair to generalize ALL small dog breeds and put them in the same basket. For some of them, the only thing they have in common is their size, and their character could not be more different.
To show you exactly what we mean, we have prepared a list of our 60 favorite small dog breeds, so if you are thinking of getting one, you can be sure you will find it here.
The Whippet is a small hunting breed from the sighthound family and they came to life in an interesting way. They were bred as greyhounds but were too small to hunt large prey so they were “discarded”. English peasants took back these dogs, bred them, and used them to hunt rabbits and rodents in their farms. Today, the Whippet is an elegant companion that loves spending time with its family.
The Affenpinscher is a very interesting German dog breed that has a beautiful black coat. It is not a breed that you will come across easily because it is quite rare, even in their native land. It is a breed that has over 450 years of history and they were trusted with rodent control in German farms, pantries, and kitchens since the 1600s.
58. English Toy Terrier
The English Toy Terrier or ETT, is a small but feisty dog breed that came to life by crossing the Manchester Terrier and the Old English Black and Tan Terrier. These dogs have a bloody history because they were often used for the bloodsport called Ratt pit.
57. French Bulldog
The French Bulldog is one of the best small breeds you can get if you live in an apartment. They are not the most active breed out there and their favorite activity is laying in a soft bed. The only thing they might like just as much is eating. They are prone to obesity so make sure that their diet is balanced and controlled.
56. German Hunt Terrier
The German Hunt Terrier, or Jagdterrier, as it is called in their native Germany, is a small hunting breed that specialized in hunting and driving wild animals such as boars and foxes into open spaces where hunters can have a clear target. These days they are family companions that need proper guidance and training to help them balance their strong hunting instinct.
55. Griffon Belge
The Griffon Belge is a small, toy dog breed that was named after their country of origin - Belgium. These hearty little dogs are proud family companions that will love going on different adventures. This lovely little breed was also used for guarding carriages and keep Belgian stables and farms free of rodents.
54. Italian Greyhound
The small Italian Greyhound is a part of the sighthound family. They are great to show competitors and family pets. These dogs have a glossy coat that doesn’t shed much. They were extremely popular during the Middle-Ages, especially among Italian nobles. They are often called “Italian”, or IG.
The Havanese is a small dog breed from the Bischon family that was bred for the sole purpose of being a lap dog and a companion. It was a popular Cuban royal lap warmer and that is still the role they feel most comfortable in. They are extremely friendly and have a calm disposition.
52. Japanese Chin
The Japanese Chin is one of the oldest dog breeds in the world. They were bred by the Chinese and they got their modern-day look in the ancient Japanese royal court. They were highly praised and no commoner was allowed to own this dog. Eventually, they made their way to the West, and slowly their popularity started rising.
51. King Charles Spaniel
Like their cousins, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, these toy Spaniels are known to be great active family dogs. It is believed that they have originated in the far East, either Japan or China, and gifted to European royals and nobles that continued to develop the breed further.
The Pug is regularly one of the top members of the most popular dogs lists. Their silly, wrinkly faces will melt your heart. They are not too active and barely require any grooming and that might be the reason why they are so popular. These dogs love being in the company and absolutely hate being left alone for too long.
49. Australian Silky Terrier
The Australian Silky Terrier, or as it is mostly called - Silky Terrier, is an Australian dog breed that is known for its silky smooth coat that needs proper care. They don’t shed much, but brushing their coat two to three times a week will keep their coat healthy and beautiful.
48. Jack Russell Terrier
The Jack Russell Terrier is one of the most famous little Terrier breeds and one of the most active. These dogs are fairly intelligent and you will need to invest time and patience in their training. They are named after the man the bred them, reverend Parson John “Jack” Russell.
The Schipperke is a Belgian dog breed that is known for its beautiful black coat and a mane-like hair around their neck and shoulders. They have an interesting nickname “Little Black Devil” or LBD. Their creator wanted to create a small herding dog but instead got a dog breed that excelled at vermin control and patroled Belgian and Dutch boat canals.
46. West Highland White Terrier (Westie)
The West Highland White Terrier is a popular Scottish dog breed that is one of the best picks for active families. They love playing, cuddling, and it seems like they have endless amounts of energy. They form a strong bond with their owners and love being showered with love and affection.
45. Volpino Italiano
The Italian Volpino is a Spitz-type dog that is known for its incredibly fluffy snow-white coat. These dogs started being popular among the Italian elites over 500 years ago. Apparently, the famous Italian sculptor Michelangelo had one of these lovely small dogs.
44. Tibetan Spaniel
The Tibetan Spaniel has a bit of a misleading name because these dogs were never bred nor used for hunting or flushing prey as other Spaniel breeds did. They originated in the mountainous regions of Tibet so they had to have thick coats that are able to keep them well insulated and warm in a cold and harsh climate.
43. Scottish Terrier
The small black Scottish Terrier is one of the dogs you probably think of when somebody mentions small, show Terriers. They are attractive little dogs and like other Terriers, the Scottish Terriers are great watchdogs. They might be small but they are agile and fast so think about getting them into agility competitions.
42. Skye Terrier
The Skye Terrier is a small breed that was originally bred for hunting larger prey like foxes and badgers. To do that successfully, these small dogs had to be brave, but these days, they are mostly pets that are shy when meeting new people. They were named after the Isle of Skye in Scotland.
41. Shih Tzu
The Shih Tzu is a small Chinese dog breed that is developed for Chinese royals and nobles in the time of the famous Chinese Ming dynasty. These little dogs have coats that don’t shed much and a friendly personality that will grab your heart. They are one of the most popular small pets and that is most likely because of their great characters that get along with everyone.
The Basenji is one of the oldest dog breeds in the world. They are famous for their cat-like behavior and self-cleaning. These dogs are obsessed with cleaning and that is why they bearly shed. Most of the hair that sheds, they take care of themselves. It is a fairly active breed so keep that in mind before you decide to get one.
39. Basset Hound
The Basset Hound is another scenthound on this list. It is known for its long body, short height, incredible nose, and long ears. Even though they are hunting dogs, they are not the most active and will enjoy a peaceful night at home. If you are looking for a small dog breed that is not so active, look no further than the Basset Hound.
The Beagle is one of the top 5 most popular family pets. They are one of the smallest hunting dogs whose nose is very sensitive. They have a friendly character and they love being around their family and friends. Just keep in mind to always walk them on a leash because they will most likely follow an interesting scent, no matter where it takes them.
37. Lhasa Apso
This Tibetan small dog breed is a great watchdog. Their original purpose was to guard and stand watch over Tibetan monasteries and these lovely little dogs usually worked together with their big brothers - Tibetan Mastiffs. These days the Lhasa is a wonderful family companion that will notify you about any suspicious activities around your house.
This small dog breed had an unfortunate title in the 1970s as being the rarest dog breed in the world. This small companion breed is very intelligent and even though it was bred to be a companion, the Löwchen can be an awesome competitor in dog sports like obedience or agility.
The Maltese is another member of the Bichon family and one of the most popular small dog breeds that doesn’t shed much. Their most famous feature is their silky white hair that barely sheds and that makes them great for people with allergies. It is a friendly breed that can become overly sensitive.
34. Manchester Terrier
The Manchester Terrier is an English breed that originated in Manchester as their name suggests. It is a fairly old breed whose history stretches over 500 years. They were proficient ratters and often used for blood sports such as ratting pits. These days they are not the most common breed out there, but they make wonderful companions.
33. Miniature Bull Terrier
This fearless small dog breed is an English breed whose existence was first documented in 1872. They have a shiny, short coat that is fairly easy to maintain. The Bull Terriers have a unique physique and cannot be mistaken for other breeds. They are extremely funny so you can be sure that your new Miniature Bull Terrier will make you laugh.
32. Miniature Pinscher
The Miniature Pinscher, or Min Pin, is a small German breed that has a status of “King of Toys”. It has a color pattern that resembles the Doberman, pointy ears, and a very interesting personality. Though they might share Dobermans' looks, they are a lot older than them. Its original purpose was to hunt vermin in German stables and farms.
31. Norwich Terrier
The Norwich Terrier, as we mentioned, is the smallest working Terrier breed. They might be small but they are fearless and relentless. These days they are mostly family pets that love living an active lifestyle. They are known to have one of the nicest personalities of all Terrier breeds.
30. Norfolk Terrier
The Norfolk Terrier, alongside the Norwich Terrier, is the smallest of the working Terrier breeds. They have high energy levels and an active, friendly personality that will keep you entertained for hours. They were considered as a variety of the Norwich breed until 1964 when they got recognized as a separate breed.
29. Miniature Schnauzer
The Miniature Schnauzer is a small breed that has an awesome personality. They are active and affectionate and who wouldn’t love their mustaches? These small dogs are great watchdogs that will keep a watchful eye on everything that is going on in their proximity.
28. Parson Russell Terrier
The Parson Russell Terrier is closely related to the Jack Russell Terrier. Both of these breeds are descendants of the Fox Terrier and are very active and alert. The Parson Russell Terrier is a great companion for active individuals and families that love hiking, jogging, or cycling.
The Pekingese is one of the most popular small pets out there. This small Chinese dog breed was mostly kept by the Chinese royal and noble families. It is an ancient breed and largely unknown in the West until the 19th century. After that, the lovely Pekingese’s popularity skyrocketed and they are one of the most popular small dogs out there.
26. Petit Brabançon
The Petit Brabançon is a variety of the Griffon Bruxellois (Petit Brabançon, Griffon Bruxellois, and Griffon Belge). These dogs are great active companions that have a high prey drive so animals that are smaller than them are in danger. It is in their genes to hunt vermin as they did in their native land of Belgium.
The Pomeranian is an adorable little breed that is known for its fluffy coat and lovely personality. This breed is always at the top of the list of the most popular dog breeds in the world. They make great companions that are so small you can take them anywhere with you. They are adaptive and can live in all sorts of different conditions.
24. Miniature Poodle
The Miniature is the most popular variety of the Poodle family and one of the tops picks for the family pet role. Miniature Poodles are fairly active and can be great competitors at dog sports like obedience or agility. They are also fabulous family pets that will enjoy all sorts of different family activities and games.
23. Toy Poodle
The Toy version is the smallest of all Poodle varieties. These dogs have a healthy dose of self-importance and they make great dog show competitors as well as family pets. People often forget that all Poodles are extremely intelligent and just because they are so small, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have proper physical and mental stimulation and training.
22. Bichon Frise
The Bichon Frise is one of the most popular small dog breeds in the world. They have a lovely fluffy coat that barely sheds. The loose hair will remain in the coat and will not fall out until you brush it out. These small dogs require a fair amount of grooming so make sure you have enough time for that every week.
21. Toy Schnoodle
The Toy Schnoodle is a popular “designer” dog breed that is rapidly gaining popularity in the USA. It is a mix between a Toy Poodle and the Miniature Schnauzer. They are great small family dogs that don’t shed much so they make great house pets for allergy sufferers. They can also come in different size varieties, depending on how large the parent breeds are.
20. Manchester Toy Terrier
The Manchester Toy Terrier is a small breed with a glossy coat. It is a breed that is not recognized by the FCI but it is a popular breed in the USA and Canada. This small breed was primarily bred for vermin control and hunting rats.
19. American Hairless Terrier
The American Hairless Terrier, as their name suggests, is a hairless breed from the Terrier family. It is a native American breed and the only hairless breed that comes from the USA. They are active, alert, and brave. If you are getting an AHT, be prepared to have an active breed that needs a fair amount of exercise every day.
18. Biewer Terrier
The Biewer Terrier is closely related to the Yorkshire Terrier. It came to life by “accident” when two Yorkshire Terriers produced uniquely colored puppies. This breed was named after their breeder, Mrs. Biewer (pronounced like beaver). This is a great small family dog that has the same character traits as the more famous Yorkshire Terrier.
17. Russian Tsvetnaya Bolonka
The Russian Tsvetnaya Bolonka is a really small dog breed that was created to be the best possible companion and lap dog there is. It has an extremely calm demeanor and these dogs form an incredibly strong bond with their owner. They are pretty small so make sure that your kids know they have to be careful around this dog.
16. Toy Fox Terrier
The Toy Fox Terrier is a direct descendant of the Fox Terrier and it has inherited much of their personality. They are fearless and active with a high prey drive. This small breed is amazing as an active companion that will just love the active lifestyle.
The Bolognese is already a popular small family companion and it is known for its fluffy coat and friendly personality. These dogs are a part of the Bichon family of breeds and they love nothing more than being surrounded by their family. They get along great with all family members as well as with other pets.
14. Border Terrier
The Border Terrier is a small breed originating in the UK. They were used for fox hunting and they haven’t yet become too popular around the world. They are smart and fearless with a high prey drive. They are also great watchdogs that will notify you if anyone is approaching your home.
13. Boston Terrier
The Boston Terrier is a famous small American dog breed. This lovely little breed has a popular nickname - “the American Gentlemen” because of its unique coat color that makes them look like they are wearing a tuxedo. How adorable is that?
Arguably the most famous of all small dog breeds, the Chihuahua is the national symbol of Mexico. It might be small but it has a huge personality. These dogs are great companions that are deeply devoted to their owners. Chihuahuas come with short or long coats, sometimes in the same litter.
11. Cairn Terrier
This is another one of the Scottish Terrier breeds that were developed for farm work. These feisty little dogs were trusted with keeping Scottish barns and fields free of vermin. They still have a high prey drive so make sure that you don’t have other pets from the rodent family because your active Cairn Terrier will see them as prey.
10. Brazilian Terrier
This small Brazilian breed is one of two native Brazilian dog breeds that has international recognition. They are similar to their famous cousin - the Jack Russell Terrier. This is a typical Terrier breed and they are brave, curious, and smart. You can be sure that this breed will be a great active pet to everyone living an active lifestyle.
9. Brussels Griffon
The Brussels Griffon is a small Belgian dog breed that was used as a vermin hunting dog. They are fairly active and they give a strong impression of self-importance. They can sometimes even seem fairly comical in the way they carry themselves. They are sure to make you laugh and they will be a great companion.
8. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The handsome small Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has a sporting history so don’t be surprised by the level of energy this breed has. These days, they are popular companions but that does not mean they will be peaceful all day long. Still, their favorite activity is sitting in your lap and being petted.
7. Cesky Terrier
The Cesky Terrier or Check Terrier, as it is often called, is one smart cookie. They are easy to train and were used for hunting vermin in the Bohemian region. They are moderately active and they are not hard to care for. They will easily adapt to different lifestyles and living conditions.
6. Dandie Dinmont Terrier
The Dandie Dinmont Terrier is a feisty small dog breed. They were used as working dogs on Scottish farms and they were in charge of rat and mice control. They might be small but they are very active. If you are looking for a proud little Terrier breed, the charming Dandie might just be the breed for you.
5. Continental Toy Spaniel
The Continental Toy Spaniel also has two varieties - the Papillon and the Phalène. The only difference between them is their ears. Both of the varieties are great and active family companions that love nothing more than being around family members and being showered with love and affection.
4. Chinese Crested Dog
The Chinese Crested is a small companion dog breed that is known as a hairless breed. Interestingly enough, these dogs can come in a hairless and a fully coated variety. The fully coated Chinese Crested Dog is called Powderpuff. They are bred to be the best possible companion and that is the role they love having the most.
3. Coton de Tulear
The Coton de Tulear is a tiny dog breed that originated on the island of Madagascar. They are closely related to the Maltese and the Bichon Frise, so as you can imagine, they have quite a similar personality. This lovely cotton-coated dog will make a great addition to you and your family.
The Dachshund is a popular German dog breed that is known for its low hanging, long body. These small dogs were used for hunting tunneling animals like badgers, rabbits, and foxes. These days they are far from great hunters and are mostly hunting for a soft spot to lay in and cuddle.
1. Yorkshire Terrier
Believe it or not, the Yorkshire Terrier is the most popular small dog breed in the United States. This gentle little dog is great for those that live alone as well as for large families and everything in between. They are loving family companions that are considered to be one of the smallest dog breeds in the world.
World Dog Finder team