The Best Small Dog Breeds

small pomeranian dog

@chanut.anthony/Twenty 20

Small dog breeds are popular for several reasons. First, they're considered "portable," meaning they can fit in little carriers to accompany their owners on trips. Many also do well in homes and apartments with limited space. And they typically have lower food and medication costs than large breeds.

Here are 10 of the best small dogs to keep as pets.


Small dogs make up for their size with huge personalities, which means they benefit from a special approach to training. And they still need plenty of exercise and activities.


12 Tiny Dogs That Make for Great Travel Buddies

  • 01 of 10

    Yorkshire Terrier

    Yorkshire terrier on grass

    Natasha Japp Photography/Getty Images

    Yorkshire terriers are the quintessential "purse dog," often seen being carried in their owners' arms. But they're not a wimpy dog. Yorkies make up for their small stature with huge personalities. They can be excellent watchdogs, vocally announcing any movement around the house. Still, they're first and foremost affectionate companions.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 7 to 8 inches

    Weight: 7 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Compact body; silky coat; colors include black and tan, blue and tan, and more

  • 02 of 10


    A dachshund

    ​The Spruce / Kevin Norris 

    The dachshund has many nicknames: doxie, wiener dog, sausage dog, hotdog, and more. Of course, they mostly relate to the breed's distinct appearance. Dachshunds come in standard or miniature size, the latter being ideal for the small-dog enthusiast. They're sweet and affectionate with their families but can be wary of strangers.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 5 to 9 inches

    Weight: Up to 32 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Low, long body; short legs; colors include chocolate, black, red, and more

  • 03 of 10


    Poodle walking on grass

    Consuelo Almazan Carretero/Getty Images

    Poodles come in three sizes: toy, miniature, and standard. Standards are fairly large while miniatures and toys fall into the small-dog category. The smaller poodles are known for their longevity, along with their intelligence and trademark curly coats. They can be loving companions but need activity to keep them entertained.

    Breed Overview

    Height: Miniature: 10 to 15 inches; toy: up to 10 inches

    Weight: Miniature: 10 to 15 pounds, toy: 4 to 6 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Curly, dense coat; colors include white, apricot, black, brown, and more

  • 04 of 10

    Shih Tzu

    A Shih Tzu

    ​The Spruce / Kevin Norris

    The Shih Tzu is basically the poster child for lap dogs, which is no surprise as the breed originated strictly as a companion. These dogs sport long, silky hair, though many owners trim the coat short for easier maintenance. They tend to be fairly hardy with an alert, confident disposition.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 9 to 11 inches

    Weight: 9 to 16 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Long double coat; colors include black, blue, silver, and more

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Miniature Schnauzer

    Schnauzer looking alert

    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 a strong sense of loyalty and protectiveness toward its family. It's also known to be an active, vocal breed and needs a solid foundation of training.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 12 to 14 inches

    Weight: 11 to 20 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Bushy beard and eyebrows; colors include black, silver, and more

  • 06 of 10


    Chihuahua under blankets

    SuperflyImages/Getty Images

    Chihuahuas are some of the world's tiniest dogs and are often seen toted around in carriers, but they have huge personalities. While lovable and loyal, chihuahuas are also highly active and sassy with major "tough dog" attitudes. Many bond closely with their favorite humans but are wary of anyone else.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 5 to 8 inches

    Weight: Up to 6 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Alert expression; smooth or long coat; colors include black, tan, and more

  • 07 of 10


    Pug lying in meadow with dandelions

    Alf Jönsson/Getty Images

    These little, round dogs are jovial souls. Pugs were once the pets of royalty and companions of Tibetan monks. Affectionate and even-tempered, they can fit into many different living situations. But they do have a tendency to develop breathing problems and eye issues, so regular health checkups are a must.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 10 to 13 inches

    Weight: 14 to 18 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Square body; short legs and face; colors include black and fawn

  • 08 of 10


    Pomeranian sitting on a couch smiling

    Andrew Fladeboe/Getty Images

    Pomeranians look like a cross between a stuffed animal and a tiny lion, thanks to their long, fluffy coat. They tend to be energetic and sometimes bossy dogs with an intense loyalty to their loved ones. But they need consistent training and boundaries to keep their strong-willed spirit in check.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 6 to 7 inches

    Weight: 3 to 7 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Compact body; fluffy coat; colors include black, orange, and more

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Boston Terrier

    A Boston Terrier

    The Spruce / Kevin Norris

    The Boston terrier is cheerful, loyal, and even-tempered dog. The breed originated from crossing an English bulldog with a white English terrier and was named after the city in which it was created. Bostons tend to be playful and energetic, and they love to spend time in their owners' laps.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 15 to 17 inches

    Weight: 12 to 25 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Short face; smooth coat; colors include black and white, seal and white, and more

  • 10 of 10


    Maltese portrait
    Photo © Medvedev

    The Maltese tends to have a gentle yet brave disposition. This dog is generally playful and energetic, and it bonds closely with its family. The breed can be traced back to ancient times, where it was the beloved companion of royalty and nobility. Today's Maltese still loves to be pampered.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 7 to 9 inches

    Weight: Up to 7 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Dark, alert eyes; silky, white coat

Breeds to Avoid

It might seem obvious for small-dog lovers to avoid breeds such as German shepherds and Siberian huskies. But it's just as important to rule out any undesirable characteristics, including high energy or the need for vigorous exercise, before deciding on a breed.