Top 10 Popular Small Dog Breeds

The Best of the World's Smallest Dogs

small dogs - pomeranian
@chanut.anthony / Twenty 20

Small breed dogs are extremely popular for several reasons. First, they are considered "portable," meaning they can fit in little carriers and go with you many places. In general, they require little space and many do well in cramped homes and apartments. Most of all, these little ones are absolutely adorable! What other reason do you need?

Tip

A little dog can be as much of a handful as any other dog. Small dogs make up for their size with huge personalities, which means they will benefit from a special approach to training, and don't forget plenty of exercise and activities.

If you think a small breed dog is right for you, check out this list of the most popular small dog breeds. You don't have to go to a breeder for a small dog, though. If you desire a specific breed, you can contact local breed-specific rescue groups. Otherwise, your local animal shelters and pet rescues have plenty of small mixed breed dogs.

1:13

12 Tiny Dogs That Make for Great Travel Buddies

  • 01 of 10

    Yorkshire Terrier

    Yorkshire Terrier
    ©Natasha Japp Photography / Getty Images

    One of the most popular of all dog breeds, the Yorkshire Terrier is a favorite among fans of small dog breeds. This beautiful little dog is known for its blue and tan colored silky long hair. The Yorkie is the quintessential "purse dog," rarely touching the ground and often seen with a bow in its hair.

    But make no mistake, this is not a wimpy dog. The Yorkie makes up for its small stature with a huge personality. Believe it or not, this breed can be quite the watchdog, vocally alerting you to the goings-on around the house. However, the Yorkie is not really cut out to do a job; this breed is meant to be an affectionate companion.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 8 to 9 inches

    Weight: 5 to 7 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Petite stature; standard color combinations are black and gold, black and tan, blue and gold, and blue and tan; long, straight, and silky coat

  • 02 of 10

    Dachshund

    Mini dachshund
    Jessica Shaver Photography / Getty Images

    Another highly popular dog breed, the Dachshund is a little hound beloved by many. The Dachshund has many nicknames: doxie, wiener dog, sausage dog, hotdog, etc. Of course, they mostly relate to the breeds distinct appearance. With its short, stubby legs and a long, round body, the Dachshund is easy to spot.

    Dachshunds are seen in standard or miniature size, the latter being ideal for the small dog enthusiast. This breed comes in three coat types: smooth, long or wire. The Dachshund is sweet and affectionate to its trusted family members but can be a bit wary of strangers. However, once you fall for this little cutie, you'll never go back.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 8 to 9 inches (standard); 5 to 6 inches (miniature)

    Weight: 16 to 32 pounds (standard); up to 11 pounds (miniature)

    Physical Characteristics: Long muzzle and droopy ears; coat varieties include smooth (shorthaired), longhaired, and wire-haired; colors include (but not limited to) black, tan, fawn, beige, blue, chocolate, and red with various markings

  • 03 of 10

    Poodle

    Poodle
    Consuelo Almaz?n Carretero / Getty Images

    The Poodle is a popular dog breed that is known for its tight curls and specific haircut (the "pom-poms" over the joints). The breed has a rich history as a favorite of the aristocracy. Poodles have also been known as entertaining performers.

    Possibly due to its fancy and dainty appearance, many people don't realize that the Poodle is a highly intelligent dog breed. Perhaps one reason the breed is so popular is that it comes in three sizes: toy, miniature, and standard. The standard is a medium to large-sized dog, but the miniature and standard are ideal for one seeking a small dog. Plus, much to the delight of their enthusiasts, the smaller Poodles are known for their longevity.

    Breed Overview

    Height: Standard: over 15 inches; Miniature: 10 to 15 inches; Toy: 10 inches and under

    Weight: Standard: 45 to 70 pounds, Miniature: 15 to 18 pounds, Toy: 5 to 9 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Graceful appearance and proud chest; curly, dense single coats that may be one of many solid colors, including but not limited to white, black, grey, brown, and apricot

  • 04 of 10

    Shih Tzu

    Shih tzu dog lying on a newspaper
    Geri Lavrov / Getty Images

    The Shih Tzu is yet another highly popular dog breed. This member of the toy breed group is basically the poster child for lap dogs, which is no surprise since the breed originated strictly as a companion.

    The Shih Tzu is a small dog with long, silky hair that often includes a bow. However, many owners like to keep the coat trimmed to a shorter length that is easier to maintain. The Shih Tzu is a pampered pet with an alert and confident disposition. Yet, despite its size, the breed is actually quite hardy and can hold its own.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 8 to 11 inches

    Weight: 9 to 16 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Tiny and silky; long double coat in nearly any color, most commonly in black, white, blue, gold, liver, or combinations

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Miniature Schnauzer

    Portrait Of Schnauzer Against Wall
    Adi Wong / EyeEm / Getty Images

    The Miniature Schnauzer is an energetic little dog with a friendly but tough personality. Easily recognized by its signature bearded haircut, this Terrier has remained among the most popular dog breeds for many years.

    The Miniature Schnauzer has a strong sense of loyalty and protectiveness towards its family. This is also known to be a "barky" breed and needs a solid foundation of training. However, this active Terrier can make a wonderful companion.

    Breed Overview

    Weight: 11 to 19 pounds

    Height: 12 to 14 inches

    Physical Characteristics: Bushy beard and eyebrows; salt and pepper, black and silver, and solid black color combinations; double coat with the outer coat being wiry and soft undercoat

  • 06 of 10

    Chihuahua

    Cute little Chihuahua looks at camera from under blankets
    SuperflyImages / Getty Images

    Chihuahuas are some of the world's tiniest dogs, but they have some of the biggest personalities. These little dogs are often seen being toted around in the designer bags of certain celebrities. Their hair coats may be smooth or long.

    While lovable and loyal, Chihuahuas are also highly active and sassy dogs with major "tough dog" attitudes. These are amazing dogs, but they are not for everyone. However, with serious training and socialization, the Chihuahua can make a wonderful companion.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 6 to 9 inches

    Weight: 2 to 6 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Apple-shaped heads and pointed muzzles; smooth or long coats; come in black, tan, fawn, cream, white, blue, silver, chocolate, and red

  • 07 of 10

    Pug

    Pug lying in meadow with dandelions, Sweden, Europe
    Alf Jönsson / Getty Images

    Cute as a button and sweet as candy, it's no surprise that the Pug is a popular dog breed. These little round dogs are jovial and playful souls. Pugs were even once the pets of royalty and the companions of Tibetan monks.

    Despite their reputation for breathing problems and eye issues, Pugs make delightful pets. Affectionate, energetic and even-tempered, they can be a lovely match for nearly anyone. It has been said that the Pug is "a lot of dog in a small space" and this is the truth. Pugs are active yet compact dogs that make wonderful companions for all kinds of families.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 10 to 13 inches

    Weight: 14 to 18 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Stocky and square-proportioned; flat face; smooth, short double coat in fawn or black

  • 08 of 10

    Pomeranian

    Pomeranian
    Andrew Fladeboe / Getty Images

    The Pomeranian looks like a cross between a stuffed animal and a tiny lion. Its distinct long, fluffy coat and bright personality make this an unforgettable dog breed. Poms are energetic and sometimes bossy little dogs with an intense loyalty to their loved ones.

    Owners of Poms need to take special care to ensure that their dogs do not gain the upper hand. This may be easier said than done, though. It's not easy to say no to that adorable smiling ball of fluff! These are precious dogs, but they are not for everyone. Poms are great for people who want a little lap dog that also has the energy to run and play, plus a bit of strong-willed spirit.​

    Breed Overview

    Height: 6 to 7 inches

    Weight: 3 to 7 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Foxy face, alert ears; long, double coat that comes in many colors, though the most common are red, orange, cream, sable, black, brown, and blue

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Boston Terrier

    Boston Terrier dog standing near pink rhododendron
    Tereza Jancikova / Getty Images

    The Boston Terrier is cheerful, smart, loyal and even-tempered--a true pleasure to be around. One of the more popular dog breeds and a true all-American dog, the breed originates from the crossing of an English Bulldog with a white English Terrier. The result was a dog that would eventually become known as the Boston Terrier (named after the city in which it was created).

    Bostons are playful and energetic, yet they love to spend time in their owner's laps, too. Overall, this breed makes an excellent companion.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 15 to 17 inches (to the withers)

    Weight: 15 to 25 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Compact and well-proportioned body; smooth, short coat; white muzzle and chest with the rest of their body being either black, seal or brindle

  • 10 of 10

    Maltese

    Maltese Dog Breed Photo - Picture of a Maltese Dog
    Photo © iStockphoto.com/Andrey Medvedev

    The Maltese are a soft little white dog with a gentle yet brave disposition. At under seven pounds, this toy breed is often seen as a "purse pooch," something these dogs likely enjoy. The Maltese are a playful and energetic dog that bonds closely with its owner.

    The breed can be traced back to ancient times, where it was the beloved companion of royalty and nobility. Today's Maltese is just as pampered and is also relatively popular. While the breed can be vocal and prissy and times, the Maltese is a brave little breed that is tougher than it looks!

    Breed Overview

    Height: 8 to 10 inches

    Weight: 4 to 7 pounds

    Coat and Color: Big, dark, and alert eyes; white color with a long and silky single-layer coat without an undercoat

illustration of the most popular small dog breeds
Illustration: Grace Heejung Kim. © The Spruce, 2018

Breeds to Avoid

While it may seem obvious for small breed dog lovers to avoid breeds like a German Shepherd and Siberian Husky, it's just as important to rule out any particularly unwanted characteristics like high energy or need for vigorous exercise before deciding on a dog.