Pet Keen is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

15 Miniature Dog Breeds

Yorkshire Terrier dog sitting on the sand

Dogs are cute by nature, but many people find tiny dogs even more adorable! Miniature dogs (sometimes called “purse dogs”) are growing in popularity since they’re more adaptable and can be happy in our ever-shrinking homes.

The genetic marvel that miniaturized a dog breed is usually the product of hard work by breeders within an established breed standard. However, the definition has been expanded to include dog breeds that have always been small in more recent years.

Would you like to learn more about miniature dog breeds? Read on!

divider-dog paw

What Is a Miniature Dog Breed?

Miniature dog breeds are dog breeds that stay small through all stages of life. Generally, they are 10 inches or less in height and 3-12 pounds at their adult size. However, miniature dog breeds can get as tall as 18 inches and weigh up to 22 pounds without moving out of the miniature classification.

Some miniature dog breeds are also smaller versions of larger dog breeds. Breeders selectively breed these dogs to produce consistently smaller versions of dogs that otherwise fit into the breed standard of the larger breed.

Here are 15 miniature dog breeds that are the product of selective breeding!

divider-dog

Top 15 Miniature Dog Breeds to Know:

1. Alaskan Klee Kai

Miniature Alaskan Klee Kai
Image Credit: Kelsie Taylor, Shutterstock

Alaskan Klee Kais are a relatively new dog breed. The American Kennel Club did not recognize them until 1997. Alaskan Klee Kais appear to be smaller versions of the Alaskan Malamute or Siberian Husky. Like the Malamute, the Klee Kai belongs to the Spitz family of dogs!


2. Miniature Pinscher

miniature pinscher standing on tire
Image Credit: Dorena Beckendorf, Pixabay

While the Miniature Pinscher appears to be a smaller version of the Doberman Pinscher, the Miniature Pinscher breed predates the Doberman. Since the Miniature Pinscher has a similar body structure and coloring to the Doberman, many people believe that the Doberman is the ancestral breed. This myth is mainly perpetuated because the Doberman Pinscher was exported to the United States before the Miniature Pinscher’s introduction.


3. Miniature Poodle

Miniature Poodle on grass
Image Credit: everydoghasastory, Shutterstock

The Miniature Poodle is a smaller version of the Standard Poodle. Like its larger siblings, the Miniature Poodle grows hair, not fur. The difference is that hair grows indefinitely until cut, while fur grows to a specified length, then falls out.

Poodles were initially bred for waterfowl hunting, and no matter what size they are, they love to swim and will happily get in the water with you!


4. Miniature Schnauzer

Miniature Schnauzer
Image Credit: Debra Anderson, Shutterstock

There’s no better example of fantastic selective breeding than the Miniature Schnauzer. The Miniature Schnauzer is a ⅓ the size of the Standard Schnauzer and a ⅕ the size of a Giant Schnauzer. However, don’t let their size fool you! They’ve retained the guardian instincts of their Giant cousins and will guard your house with their lives!


5. Italian Greyhound

Italian Greyhound
Image Credit: Linn Currie, Shutterstock

The Italian Greyhound might bear the Greyhound name, but these pups are less than half the size of the Standard Greyhound. Despite their small size, Italian Greyhounds were still used as sighthounds for hunting small game. The Italian Greyhound name is often shortened to “I.G.” and may sometimes be pronounced “Iggy” by fanciers.


6. Pug

pug in a harness
Image Credit: maniablack18, Pixabay

Pugs have captured the hearts of people with their unusual appearances and adaptability. Their unique appearance comes from their brachycephalic or flat-faced snout. While cute, brachycephalic snouts cause severe long-term breathing problems for pugs. Brachycephalic snouts are associated with exercise and heat intolerance. So, pugs often have issues with gaining excessive weight.


7. Papillon

papillon in the autumn
Image Credit: AndyBir, Shutterstock

It’s hard to miss a Papillon when you see one because of their iconic “butterfly” ears. The word “Papillon” is French for “butterfly” and refers to the fluffy, feathery fur on their ears that resemble a butterfly’s wings. Papillons are also known as “Continental Toy Spaniels” by some fanciers.


8. Pomeranian

pomeranian dog outdoor
Image Credit: KristinaSh, Shutterstock

Pomeranians are another miniature Spitz. Poms are the smallest Spitz in the family, known as a “Zwergspitz” or “Dwarf Spitz” in German. Don’t let their diminutive size fool you, though! Their tiny bodies house huge, lovable personalities that will capture just about any heart.


9. Rat Terrier

Rat Terrier Smiling
Image Credit: Emily Ranquist, Shutterstock

Rat Terriers are a breed developed right here in the United States of America! They were designed for hunting and controlling rat populations and come in two sizes, miniature and standard. Despite their hunting origins, they’re very affectionate and playful dogs. Their small stature doesn’t prevent them from being brave! These loyal dogs will protect their homes and families without a second thought!


10. Chihuahua

chihuahua lying on a couch
Image Credit: Svitlana Sandberg, Shutterstock

It’s hard to have a list of miniature dogs without the world’s smallest dogs, chihuahuas. While they’re often regarded as yappy and annoying, they remain the 11th most popular dog breed in the United States. They capture hearts with their sweet faces and prominent personalities in a purse dog frame.


11. Chinese Crested

Chinese Crested dog
Image Credit: Veronika Andrews, Pixabay

Chinese Crested dogs are partially hairless, giving them a unique appearance. They’re known for being snuggly and will fall asleep in their owners’ laps. However, these dogs require special care because they don’t have a comprehensive coat to protect them from the sun! If they aren’t adequately protected from the sun, they will get sunburned.


12. Dachshund

dachshund by the beach during sunset
Image Credit: Masarik, Shutterstock

Dachshunds are famous for their unique long-body-short-legged appearance. Despite their tiny size, dachshunds have big, loud barks that make them excellent watchdogs! They’re not very athletic because of their unusual body proportions. So, they’re not as suited to a life of vigorous sports. However, they’re extremely playful and will love to play alongside you all day.


13. Pekingese

Pekingese
Image Credit: T.Den_Team, Shutterstock

The Pekingese was initially bred as the chosen companion dog of the ancient rulers of China. Nowadays, these Pekingese are their home’s rulers, letting their human companions attend to their every whim. Pekingese are loyal and friendly companions with a thick, compact frame that makes them undeniably adorable.


14. Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkshire Terrier standing on the pavement
Image Credit: Josep Monter Martinez, Pixabay

The Yorkshire Terrier was bred as a ratting dog. Despite their transition from work to companionship, they retain a lot of their hunting instincts, which can sometimes be troublesome for their owners! A famous World War II war dog named Smoky is credited for renewing interest in the Yorkshire Terrier breed with her many heroic deeds. Smoky once ran a telegraph wire through a pipe by carrying the wire attached to her collar. She did in just minutes what would have taken a team of men days to complete!


15. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

cavalier charles king spaniel
Image Credit: Krissi Lundgren, Shutterstock

The Cavalier King Charles is another dog that suffers from inbreeding poor breeding outcomes. King Charles Spaniel’s Cavalier almost went extinct, prompting breed fanciers to revitalize the breed. Unfortunately, they did so by inbreeding existing dogs to achieve a breed standard. As a result, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels come with a host of health problems, including cardiomyopathy, present in almost 100% of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels by 10 years of age.

divider-paw

Final Thoughts

Even though miniature dog breeds come in tiny packages, they have unique personalities and can become a loving family member for many years. Miniatures can adapt better to a small home or apartment living and make excellent travel companions due to their small stature. They are intelligent, loyal, and playful. It’s no wonder they’ve captured the world with their adorable faces and prominent personalities!


Featured Image Credit: Digoarpi, Shutterstock

Our vets

Want to talk to a vet online?

Whether you have concerns about your dog, cat, or other pet, trained vets have the answers!

Our vets
Did you know: an average of 18 dog foods are recalled every year?

Get FREE Dog Food Recall Alerts  exclusive content, insider pricing, care guides, sale alerts & more…
Sign up for our Doggie Club!

Get FREE Dog Food Recall Alerts Get alerts