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12 Best Small Dog Breeds (with Pictures)

Oliver Jones

Big dog in a little body is often the thought about small breeds, which is quite true for some. Other small breeds are not nearly as aggressive and enjoy calm lifestyles. Small breeds tend to get a bad reputation, but most could make excellent pets for families and individuals alike. Big-dog syndrome isn’t a trait for all small breeds, especially if they’re naturally social and happy dogs. There are quite a few small dogs that could run circles around big breeds and have amazing athleticism. If you’re looking for a tiny canine companion, read on for the 12 smallest dog breeds in the world:

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The 12 Best Small Dog Breeds

1. Chihuahua

white chihuahua_Tamara Bellis, Unsplash
Image Credit: Tamara Bellis, Unsplash
Height 6–9 inches
Weight 2–6 pounds
Temperament Tenacious, devoted, alert

Chihuahuas are the smallest dog breed in the world, infamous for their feistiness and fierce loyalty to their owners. Chihuahuas can great family pets and excellent companions, but they need frequent and early socialization to prevent territorial aggression.


2. Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkshire Terrier standing on a wooden table
Image Credit: Mr. SUTTIPON YAKHAM, Shutterstock
Height 7–9 inches
Weight 4–7 pounds
Temperament Lively, affectionate, fiesty

Although their bodies are small, Yorkshire Terriers have big personalities and aren’t afraid to prove it. Yorkies are brave and will stand up to just about anything they deem a threat, usually through high-pitched barking to alert the household.


3. Pomeranian

pomeranian playing outdoors
Image Credit: Purplehorse, Pixabay
Height 7–12 inches
Weight 3–7 pounds
Temperament Upbeat, vocal, social

Few dogs are more recognizable than Pomeranians, famous for their fluffy coats and their spirited personalities. Poms need a lot of training to prevent excessive barking, but they’re great companions for many households and environments.


4. Toy Poodle

poodle playing outdoor
Image Credit: Alexas_Fotos, Pixabay
Height 9.4–11 inches
Weight 6–9 pounds
Temperament Obedient, agile, dedicated

While toy poodles tend to have a negative reputation for being aggressive and dainty, the truth is that toy poodles are natural athletes with extremely high intelligence. Poodles have some of the best obedience capabilities and can quickly learn any trick with time and patience.


5. Maltese

Maltese
Image Credit: monster_code, Shutterstock
Height 8–10 inches
Weight 6.6–8.8 pounds
Temperament Carefree but stubborn

Maltese dogs are happy-go-lucky canines that enjoy both the active life and the couch potato life, as long as their favorite person is around. Though notorious for being difficult to housebreak, Maltese dogs have high intelligence and can learn a wide variety of commands.


6. Pekingese

pekingese_No-longer-here_Pixabay
Image Credit: No-longer-here, Pixabay
Height 6–9 inches
Weight 7–14 pounds
Temperament Loyal, sensitive, independent

Pekingese dogs enjoy following their favorite person around and will become depressed if they’re left alone too long, so they’re great pets for families that are home often. Though they’re companion-type dogs and crave attention, they can also be quite independent.


7. Shih-Tzu

shih tzu with cone paws
Image Credit: Ihar Halavach, Shutterstock
Height 8–11 inches
Weight 9–16 pounds
Temperament Loyal, alert, regal

Shih-Tzus are aristocratic companion dogs that were bred for royalty, so they love nothing more than to be spoiled lapdogs. These noble, tiny dogs can be stubborn, but they’re somewhat easier to train compared to other toy-sized breeds.


8.Bichon Frise

Bichon Frise_Antranias, Pixabay
Image Credit: Antranias, Pixabay
Height 9–12 inches
Weight 6.6–11 pounds
Temperament  Cheerful, sensitive, clever

Bichon Frises have cheerful, playful demeanors and are generally great with children, making them a potential option as a family dog. Similar to Maltese dogs, Bichons can be hard to housebreak but can still learn obedience commands quickly.


9. Cairn Terrier

cairn terrier
Image Credit: Pixabay
Height 9–13 inches
Weight 13–18 pounds
Temperament Determined, fearless, active

Cairn Terriers are rugged and tough dogs, showing little to no fear or reservation in most situations. These uncommon terriers were bred to chase vermin around cairns in the Scottish Highlands, so they’re naturally fast and athletic.


10. Pug

Pug in harness
Image Credit: Bobby Bradley, Shutterstock
Height 10–14 inches
Weight 14–18 pounds
Temperament Playful, vocal, stubborn

Pugs are highly popular as pets for their clownish personalities and distinctive appearance, known for their brachycephalic faces and curly tails. Pugs are curious, playful, and feisty dogs that can be somewhat difficult to train, especially if they’d rather be napping.


11. Papillon

Papillon_sterou70, Pixabay
Image Credit: sterou70, Pixabay
Height 7.9–11 inches
Weight 7–9.9 pounds
Temperament Happy, energetic, intelligent

Papillons are upbeat and energetic dogs that enjoy doing things, not necessarily known to be snugglers or lapdogs. Their name ‘Papillon’ translates to ‘butterfly’ in French, which is due to their trademark ears that resemble butterfly wings.


12. Miniature Dachshund

shiney black dachshund
Image Credit: NORRIE3699, Shutterstock
Height 5–7 inches
Weight 8–11 pounds
Temperament Lively, mischievous, affectionate

Dachshunds are famously known as ‘wiener dogs’ due to their elongated bodies and stumpy, short legs. Dachshunds are very smart and clever, but they’re notorious for being difficult to train since they march to the beat of their own drum (stubborn).

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Featured Image Credit: SneakyElbow, Pixabay

Oliver Jones

Oliver (Ollie) Jones - A zoologist and freelance writer living in South Australia with his partner Alex, their dog Pepper, and their cat Steve (who declined to be pictured). Ollie, originally from the USA, holds his master's degree in wildlife biology and moved to Australia to pursue his career and passion but has found a new love for working online and writing about animals of all types.