Look, I love all dogs.
I love big dogs, small dogs, and every dog in between. But I will admit that I have somewhat of an affinity for the pocket pooches. I love the ease of a portable pup who can travel anywhere I can travel and who can fit comfortably into a shoulder bag or, most importantly, on my lap during road trips.
Most of the dogs I have ever had since childhood have been miniature somethings. My first pup was a teacup Poodle and my current fur baby is a six pound Maltipoo named Axelle. (I also like unique names for a little dogs.)
So, what is my favorite thing about Axelle? Aside from the fact that everything she does is adorable, I love that she is tiny.
And while there are amazing benefits to big dogs – and I’ve got a thing for big dogs too – I get that sometimes you just want all that furry little bark packed into a four-legged package you can carry around under one arm.
That’s why today’s article is all about my favorite 15 small dog breeds. Whether you are looking for a tiny family pup who will go with the flow or a miniature one-man companion to take with you on backpacking trips, I’ve got you covered.
Read on and prepare to fall in love with 15 small dog breeds we can’t get enough of!
1. The Maltese
The sweet and gentle Maltese was bred for companionship!
Weight: 7 Pounds
Temperament: Playful, Sweet, Family-Oriented
Lifespan: 12-15 Years
Common Health Issues: Obesity, heart problems, joint issues, metabolic disorders, digestive disorders, back issues.
Pros: Maltese are great family dogs and enjoy snuggling and playing. They are friendly to all they meet and enjoy adventures while also maintaining a calm nature.
Cons: Maltese can become very attached to their owners and are known to suffer from separation anxiety and destructive behaviors when left alone for long periods of time. They are best suited for families who are able to spend lots of time with them.
Let’s Learn More About the Maltese!
Originally from the island of Malta, the Maltese was bred primarily for companionship. He is known as a charming little lap dog who can go with the flow when needed but also knows how to play!
This is a wonderful family dog for older, more respectful children. He is patient, gentle, and adores his family.
Smaller children should be supervised around the Maltese, however, as he can be prone to injury if handled roughly.
2. The Toy Poodle
Toy Poodles are both intelligent and eager to please.
Weight: 4-6 Pounds
Temperament: Intelligent, Active, Funny, Outgoing
Lifespan: 10 – 18 Years
Common Health Issues: Hip dysplasia, epilepsy, progressive retinal atrophy, Addison’s disease, hypoglycemia, collapsed trachea, bloat, and thyroid issues.
Pros: Toy Poodles are super smart and very eager to please. They love to learn and play and have lots of energy!
Cons: Because Poodles are so intelligent and energetic, they require lots of training as well as constant mental stimulation and daily exercise or they can become bored and destructive.
Let’s Learn More About the Toy Poodle!
Toy Poodles are both brainy and beautiful. They make great family pets for families with children of all ages, of course, like all small dog breeds on this list, they should be supervised around young kiddos who may be tempted to pick them up or play with them a little roughly.
Energetic and intelligent, the Toy Poodle is known as the clown of dog breeds. He is funny, athletic, and enjoys water, running, and games of all sorts.
This is a breed who can be taught to do a number of tricks and will enjoy learning new tricks throughout his lifetime.
Of course, along with his intelligence comes lots of energy and drive, and he can be prone to boredom and destructive behaviors if left to his own devices.
3. The French Bulldog
Frenchies are smarter than many people think!
Weight: Under 28 Pounds
Temperament: Playful, funny, intelligent
Lifespan: 10 – 12 years
Common Health Issues: Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome, skin fold dermatitis, spinal issues, allergies, heat stroke, eye disorders and disease, joint disease, and heart issues.
Pros: There is no dog quite like the French Bulldog. He has a unique and fun personality that is wonderful for families of all ages.
Cons: French Bulldogs are especially prone to serious and expensive health issues and many question the ethics of continuing to breed a dog with such serious genetic health problems. Frenchie dogs can also be “bullish” and hardheaded, so they require lots of socialization and positive reinforcement training throughout their lifetime to help them maintain good manners.
French Bulldogs can also be more prone than other dogs to heatstroke and digestive issues, so they need to be watched carefully during extreme weather and may require a special diet.
Let’s Learn More About the French Bulldog!
Frenchies are hilarious, there is no doubt about it. They have unique personalities and love to play. Their sturdy build makes them great dogs for families with kids of all ages, however they will need consistent training and socialization throughout their lifetime to maintain good manners.
French Bulldogs can also be prone to stubborn behaviors and sometimes have trouble getting along with other dogs of different breeds simply due to their inability to exhibit normal social cues, such as wagging or tucking their tails and making proper eye contact.
Frenchies can sometimes play roughly and will need to be consistently and properly trained throughout their life and it is especially important to supervise this breed around smaller children.
4. The Yorkshire Terrier
The Yorkie makes a great companion for older families.
Weight: 7 – 8 Pounds
Temperament: Spirited, Loving, Adventurous, Feisty
Lifespan: 11 – 15 Years
Common Health Issues: Tracheal collapse, Hypoglycemia, portosystemic shunt, luxating patella, Oral issues, Eye disorders, and Legg-Calve-Perthes disease.
Pros: The Yorkshire Terrier is as loving as he is cute. He is considered hypoallergenic, making him a great fit for those with allergies. He is super small but loaded with personality and makes for a great companion for families with older children or singles.
Cons: Yorkshire Terriers are feisty and are not always aware of their small size. Their bold personalities can get them into trouble with other dogs. They may be snappy with smaller children and can be easily prone to injury.
Let’s Learn More About the Yorkshire Terrier!
Yorkshire Terriers are perfect companions for singles or families with older, more respectful children.
They are adorable lap dogs who enjoy being loved and snuggled but can also show loads of energy and personality.
These pint-sized pups will keep their family members laughing, but they should be watched carefully around other pets and children as they can be prone to impatient snapping if handled too roughly.
The Yorkshire Terrier also requires lots of socialization at an early age and, despite his small size, will need a moderate amount of exercise to stay both physically and mentally happy.
5. The Jack Russell Terrier
Jack Russell Terriers are full of energy and intelligence.
Weight: 14 – 18 Pounds
Temperament: Intelligent, Energetic, Affectionate
Lifespan: 13 – 16 Years
Common Health Issues: eye disease, deafness, Legg Perthes, and dislocated knee caps.
Cons: Due to his incredible energy, some may consider the Jack Russell Terrier to be a handful. He requires lots of attention, time, and training to keep him from becoming bored and destructive in the home.
Let’s Learn More About the Jack Russell Terrier!
The Jack Russell Terrier is one of Hollywood’s favorite dog breeds for a reason! This pooch is highly intelligent and loves to learn new tricks!
However, he can be snappish with young children who handle him too roughly and has been known to be a bit, ahem, rambunctious.
The good news is that this is a breed who makes a great companion so long as his owners are able to properly train and socialize him.
Once he knows his role, he has the potential to be a great help around the home, with the ability to help load the dishwasher, bring in the newspaper, and even help sort laundry!
With that in mind, I would not recommend this dog to families with younger children or people who don’t have lots of time on their hands to train this pup.
6. The Scottish Terrier
The Scottish Terrier is said to have a human-like personality.
Weight: 18 – 19 Pounds
Temperament: Lively, Independant, Happy
Lifespan: 12 Years
Common Health Issues: Progressive retinal atrophy, cataracts, brain cancer, neurological problems, bladder cancer, bladder stones, vonWillebrand’s disease, hemophilia, deafness, Cushing’s disease, and hypothyroidism.
Pros: Scottie dogs are said to be almost human-like in their personality, with a unique and somewhat businesslike disposition. They are happy companions who make great dogs for families looking for a well-mannered, confident, and lively counterpart.
Cons: Scottish Terriers have certain terrier traits that can make them difficult for some. They are not fond of strangers and need lots of training and socialization. They are also known to be ill-tempered around other dogs.
Let’s Learn More About the Scottish Terrier!
The Scottish Terrier is famous for his Scottish heritage and his unique look, making him a show stopper of sorts!
If you are looking for a unique dog to add to your household then look no further! Of course, be prepared that while the Scottish Terrier makes a good companion to those he loves and is raised with, he can be standoffish with strangers and does not get on well with other dogs he does not know.
This is a dog best suited for families with older children who will know to treat him gently and respectfully.
7. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Sweet and affectionate, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels make for great family dogs.
Weight: 12 – 18 pounds
Temperament: Gentle, Loving, Playful
Lifespan: 12 – 15 Years
Common Health Issues: Canine Hip Dysplasia, entropion, deafness, epilepsy, weakened immune system, patellar luxation, syringomyelia, and ear infections.
Pros: The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a loving and affectionate companion who brings with him beauty, brains, and an eagerness to please.
Cons: This is a dog who sheds heavily despite his small size and can be prone to expensive health issues. Make sure you find your Cavalier King Charles from a reputable breeder you trust.
Let’s Learn More About the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel!
The Cavalier King Charles is a sweet, affectionate companion for any family. Although small, he is sturdy enough to join homes with young children, however he should always be supervised around them to ensure he isn’t handled too roughly.
Cavalier King Charles dogs are known to be gentle and playful, and they are eager to please and easy to train.
Their ears should be cleaned regularly to keep them from becoming infected and they require routine grooming to keep their skin and coat healthy.
8. The Havanese
The Havanese is as smart as he is cute!
Weight: 7 – 13 Pounds
Temperament: Smart, Clever, Cheerful
Lifespan: 14 – 16 Years
Common Health Issues: Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, eye issues, deafness, luxating patella, heart issues, and hypothyroidism.
Pros: The Havanese is a friend to almost everyone he meets and is surprisingly sturdy for being such a small breed, making him a great family dog. This is a happy-go-lucky companion who is down for most any adventure!
Cons: Some Havanese dogs have been known to suffer from separation anxiety and can have trouble when it comes to potty training. They are also quite vocal, so this is not the dog for you if you are looking for a very quiet household companion.
Let’s Learn More About the Havanese!
Havanese dogs are wonderful additions to households with kids as they are both small and sturdy! They enjoy playing and are easy to train, although they have been known to be difficult to housebreak.
One of the things we love best about the Havanese is their beautiful, silky coat. However, if left to grow long, their coat requires lots of grooming and commitment to help keep it from becoming matted.
Havanese do not require lots of exercise, like some of these smaller breeds on this list, although they should still be walked briskly each day to keep them happy and healthy.
Despite his small size, the Chihuahua is full of big personality.
Weight: Under 6 Pounds
Temperament: Human-like, Feisty, Affectionate, Spirited
Lifespan: 14 – 16 Years
Common Health Issues: Hypoglycemia, tracheal collapse, dental issues, and luxating patella.
Pros: Chihuahuas are loyal companions and are small and adaptable, making them ideal for small living situations. They require little exercise and enjoy being with their family.
Cons: Chihuahuas can be prone to injury due to their small size and they have little patience for being picked up, poked, and prodded by little ones. They would also prefer to be the only dog in the home as they don’t always get along well with other pets.
Let’s Learn More About the Chihuahua!
If you’re looking for a small dog, you’ll find no smaller than the Chihuahua! This pup is considered by the American Kennel Club to be the smallest pure breed on their registered list.
Coming in between two and six pounds, the Chihuahua is packed with personality and has no concept of his tiny size.
With that being said, these pups can be as feisty as they are affectionate and aren’t the best dogs for homes with little kids.
They tend to do best with singles or couples or families with older, more gentle children. Furthermore, Chihuahuas can be possessive of their owners and prefer homes with no other competing pets.
Chihuahuas are fun and energetic companions with a human-like nature and have developed a very loyal fanbase among Chi enthusiasts.
10. The Whippet
Whippets may be fast but they prefer the slow life.
Weight: 25 – 40 pounds
Temperament: Mild-Mannered, Loving, Playful
Lifespan: 12 – 15 Years
Common Health Issues: Cancer, autoimmune hemolytic anemia, cataracts, eye diseases, epilepsy, cancer, heart disease, and blindness.
Pros: Whippets are quiet companions who, despite being known for their speed, are actually quite mild-mannered in adulthood and enjoy lying about and relaxing with their humans. They are intelligent dogs who like to learn and are easy to train.
Cons: Young Whippets are highly energetic and active and need lots of exercise. Whippets can also be prone to destructive behaviors if they get bored. Whippets also have a very high prey drive and if a Whippet runs, you won’t be able to catch it.
Let’s Learn More About the Whippet!
As we mentioned above, Whippets make for great family companion dogs and get on well with just about everyone.
They are one of the largest smaller breeds on this list, but they are lithe, which means they can be prone to energy if handled too roughly.
Whippets should be supervised around younger children and should be taught a good recall early on in life as they have a very strong prey drive and can be prone to sudden bursts of speed.
This is a pooch who makes a good companion for both apartment and home living as he is adaptable, quiet and calm.
11. The Dachshund
Dachshunds are sweet and loving but can also be stubborn.
Weight: 12 – 16 Pounds
Temperament: Curious, Outgoing, Loyal, Loving
Lifespan: 12 – 16 Years
Common Health Issues: Patella luxation, hip dysplasia, obesity, eye issues, intervertebral disc disease.
Pros: Dachshunds are highly social and love both people and other dogs. They are loyal to their families and make great companions for those who live in small apartments or homes as they require only moderate exercise.
Cons: This tiny breed can be powerfully hard headed, which can make training difficult. Due to their long torsos and small legs, they can often develop spinal issues and back pain. Dachshunds are also not great pets for small children as they can be prone to nipping. Also, those sensitive to excessive barking beware – Dachshunds are very vocal!
Let’s Learn More About the Dachshund!
Playful, funny, and fun-loving, there is no shortage of love to go around when it comes to the Dachshund. They come in several different varieties as well including short haired, long haired and wirehaired.
Dachshunds are adaptable pets and do great with other household dogs. They love to play so it’s actually great to make sure you have another four-legged companion to hang out with them when you aren’t there.
Due to their small size and stubborn disposition, Dachshunds are not the ideal family pet for homes with smaller children, as they can be impatient and don’t tolerate being handled roughly.
12. The Pomeranian
The Pomeranian is famous for it’s adorable, teddy bear look!
Weight: 3 – 7 Pounds
Temperament: Curious, Spirited, Courageous, Loving
Lifespan: 12 – 16 Years
Common Health Issues: tracheal collapse, dental issues, hypoglycemia, luxating patella, eye issues, and hypothyroidism.
Pros: Pomeranians are not only adorable, but they are pretty intelligent and eager to please and packed with personality. They become very attached to their owners and make adaptable companions for all types of living environment.
Cons: Poms can bring with them a few annoying habits, like lots of barking. They can also be pretty independant, meaning there may be a bit of a stubborn streak to their disposition. Pomeranians are not the best pets for those with young children and prefer adults to the little ones.
Let’s Learn More About the Pomeranian!
It’s easy to see why the Pomeranian is rising in popularity, but we should warn you that their sweet, adorable looks can be deceiving.
Not that Poms aren’t sweet and adorable – they are – but they are also packed with personality and have a mind of their own.
While they are loyal and loving companions, they can also have an independent streak and will let you know when and if they want to do something.
Most Pom owners will tell you that having a space in your home that is designated for your Pomeranian is a must so they have a place to retreat when they are ready to escape the family chaos.
Pomeranians should be socialized at an early age and should be supervised around children as they can be prone to nipping and snapping and won’t tolerate being handled by just anyone.
13. The Shih Tzu
Shih Tzus make adoring companions for the right family.
Weight: 9 – 16 Pounds
Temperament: Playful, Loving, Friendly
Lifespan: 10 – 18 Years
Common Health Issues: Hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, ear infections, eye issues, collapsing trachea, patellar luxation, intervertebral disk disease, allergies, and hypothyroidism.
Pros: Shih Tzus are friendly and loving companions who are for the most part quiet and snuggly lap dogs. They enjoy their family and are pretty low maintenance, requiring only moderate exercise.
Cons: This tiny breed can become jealous, and may not take too well to other household pets or children stealing your attention. They like to be the apple of their owners eye. Shih Tzus also require consistent grooming and need special attention paid to their ears and eyes. You should also note that, as they age, senior Shih Tzus require lots of care.
Let’s Learn More About the Shih Tzu!
When properly socialized, Shih Tzus are wonderful companions for families of all ages. If you have young children and are considering adding a Shih Tzu to your family, I would suggest getting a Shih Tzu during puppyhood or a young adult Shih Tzu that you can train or counter condition to being handled by children.
This is a happy, sweet, and affectionate breed who, when socialized and trained, will become an adorable and beloved addition to any family or home.
14. The West Highland White Terrier
If you are looking for a dog to keep you laughing, take a look at the Westie!
Weight: 15 – 20 Pounds
Temperament: Funny, Loyal, Happy, Spirited
Lifespan:13 – 15 Years
Common Health Issues: Craniomandibular osteopathy, Cleft palate, heart disease, hip dysplasia, kidney disease, inflammatory bowel disease, pyruvate kinase.
Pros: The West Highland White Terrier is a mild-mannered Terrier type who adapts well to busy and chaotic family lifestyles. He requires only moderate exercise and makes for a wonderful watchdog, although he is for the most part a friendly pup.
Cons: Westies can be very vocal and are prone to destructive behaviors like digging. They can also be susceptible to expensive health issues and have been known to be pretty stubborn.
Let’s Learn More About the West Highland White Terrier!
Westies, as they are fondly referred to, are popular and adored dogs by many who love the terrier types but are looking for a bit more mild terrier personality.
This breed adapts well to busy families and enjoys playing games and hanging out with his human counterparts.
He can be wary of strangers but is friendlier than most other terrier types. The West Highland Terrier does have a high prey drive, however, and can have issues with other dogs of the same sex.
A prospective owner of a Westie should make sure their dog is properly socialized and trained to ensure he grows up happy and healthy.
15. The Miniature Schnauzer
The Miniature Schnauzer is known as the family shadow.
Weight: 11 – 20 Pounds
Temperament: Loving, Playful, Smart, Eager to Please
Lifespan: 12 – 15 Years
Common Health Issues: Epilepsy, allergies, diabetes, pancreatitis, and bladder stones.
Pros: Miniature Schnauzers are very intelligent and eager to please, which makes them trainable companions. They are also incredibly loving and are known to shadow their favorite family members.
Cons: This is a breed who requires regular grooming and has a very high prey drive, so a good recall should be established early on. Miniature Schnauzers are also prone to stubborn behaviors and may be aloof with strangers.
Let’s Learn More About the Miniature Schnauzer!
We love Miniature Schnauzers for their big, playful personalities and loyal love for their family members.
They make great pets for children and love playing with other doggy friends. However, households with smaller pets like rodents and birds should reconsider introducing a miniature Schnauzer into their home, as this pup is likely to see those tiny pets as prey.
When properly socialized and trained, miniature Schnauzers make fabulous companions for families of all ages.
Of course, and like all dogs on this list, they should be supervised around younger children to ensure they are not injured due to their smaller size.
Is A Small Dog Breed Right For Me?
Just because you like small dog breeds does not mean a small dog breed is right for you, and it’s important to make sure you are able to properly care for a small dog breed and that you understand their unique needs.
For instance, smaller dog breeds may not be right for younger families. Young children may be unintentionally rough with smaller dogs and can cause them to become injured. Furthermore, some small dog breeds can be snappy with children.
You should also keep in mind that small dog breeds often live longer than large dog breeds so they are more of a commitment. Of course, I’ve never met anyone who was unhappy about the life expectancy of their pet being longer…I mean…our dogs are our babies after all.
And while each dog breed on this list and in the world are different in their own way, it’s especially important to do your research into the particular health issues and temperamental traits of the pup you are considering getting.
Certain small dog breeds may suffer from genetic health issues due to particular breeding practices over time.
If you are a very active family, or a family who has a very busy schedule, keep in mind that many small dog breeds are family oriented and will not do well if left home alone often.
Like many dogs, small dog breeds are notorious for becoming very attached to their people and can be prone to suffering from separation anxiety resulting in depression and destructive behaviors.
If you want to be a dog parent but have a busy lifestyle, you may consider investing in a dog walking service or hiring a pet sitter to stop by once in a while to keep your dog occupied, exercised, and happy.
Potty training can also be an issue with smaller dogs, however, this is not because they are more difficult to train than larger dogs, as some may claim. Actually, small dogs are just as eager to please and just as trainable as their larger dog counterparts.
The problem is that it is often more difficult to spot potty stains from smaller dogs, which means you may not always be able to spot where the potty accident happened, clean it up, and train your pup where the correct spot to go is.
With that being said, I suggest that you prepare to keep an even closer eye on your smaller dog in his puppyhood stage.
So, which small dog breed did you find yourself smitten with on this list? Tell us in the comment section below!
Madison Guthrie (also known as Sonny Mackenzi) is a pet care specialist and positive-reinforcement trainer who works most closely with anxious and reactive dogs. Born and raised in Littleton, Colorado, Madison developed a love for animals at an early age and spent most of her childhood outdoors rescuing stray pets and helping to rehabilitate injured wildlife. Along with animals, Madison also developed a love for writing and music. Over the past five years, she has worked to use her passions to help the pets and pet parents in her community build stronger bonds and live happier, healthier lives together. Currently, Madison lives in South Pasadena, California where she owns and operates Miss Madison LLC, a marketing company that focuses on helping privately owned veterinary establishments and pet care companies grow and thrive. She also works as a dog trainer at My Dog Spot, which is an award-winning pet care and training establishment in Pasadena, California.