25 Small Dog Breeds To Fit Any Lifestyle

Emily Sanders
By

Emily Sanders

. Reviewed by Barri J. Morrison, DVM
Updated Nov. 22, 2023
small yorkie dog sitting outside in grass in front of a flowering bush

Cute and compact, there’s a lot to love about small dog breeds. But there are also lots of different types of small dogs, and no two are exactly alike. Here are some of the best toy and small dog breeds that can fit into your family.

1. Chihuahua

small gray chihuahua propped up on a person's legs
Photo credit: iStock/Ziga Plahutar

Weight: 6 pounds or less

Height: 5–8 inches

Chihuahuas are charming little dogs who make adorable companions thanks to their sassy personalities and spunky nature. One of the longest-living dog breeds, Chis are full of energy and liven up any room they’re in—which is usually whatever room their beloved pet parents are in.

2. Pomeranian

red pomeranian on a leash looking at the camera and smiling
Photo credit: iStock/romaset

Weight: 3–7 pounds

Height: 6–7 inches

With their cute strut and beautiful coat, Pomeranians are a popular lap dog. But they weren’t always the little dog breed we know today—Pomeranians are actually descended from sled dogs, and their predecessors weighed around 30 pounds. But once they captivated Queen Victoria and became more popular, Poms were selectively bred to be the tiny, cute dogs we know today.

3. Yorkshire Terrier

small yorkie dog running through grass
Photo credit: iStock/STOWEN SETO

Weight: 7 pounds

Height: 7–8 inches

The Yorkshire Terrier, or Yorkie, is a playful, energetic, and affectionate dog. Like other small dog breeds, Yorkies don’t handle the cold well and may be prone to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

4. Shih Tzu

small gray and white shih tzu with hair in a scrunchie
Photo credit: iStock/vitapix

Weight: 9–16 pounds

Height: 9–10 inches

Small but mighty, the Shih Tzu was bred by Buddhist monks in Tibet to look like a little lion. These tiny, cute dogs are very attached to their pet parents and their long and luxurious coats need lots of attention to stay tangle-free. This breed does best with an attentive family who will brush them a few times throughout the week.

5. Papillon

small brown and white papillon dog standing in a car seat
Photo credit: iStock/Oleksandra Vyshnova

Weight: 5–10 pounds

Height: 8–11 inches

Elegant and stylish, Papillons are named after their wispy ears that resemble butterfly wings (papillon means “butterfly” in French). This small dog is also highly intelligent and needs ample activity and mental stimulation to ward off boredom. Some of the Papillon’s favorite pastimes are taking long walks, running an agility course, and playing with their favorite people.

6. Toy Poodle

small white toy poodle looking at the camera
Photo credit: iStock/gollykim

Weight: 4–6 pounds

Height: 10 inches or less

Toy Poodles are the smallest of the Poodle breeds (the other two being the Standard and the Miniature). Like their larger cousins, Toy Poodles are smart and playful, and they probably don’t mind bath night (which should be every two to four weeks).

7. Affenpinscher

small black affenpinscher dog sitting outside
Photo credit: Adobe/Ilona Didkovska

Weight: 7–10 pounds

Height: 9–12 inches

German for “monkey terrier,” it’s easy to see how the Affenpinscher got their name: Their distinctive flat, bearded face makes this small dog breed look more like a monkey than a pup. Like other little dogs, Affenpinschers have a long lifespan that can reach 15 years or more.

8. Maltese

small white maltese dog standing on a bed with a person in the background
Photo credit: Adobe/Eva

Weight: 7 pounds or less

Height: 7–9 inches

The Maltese is a small white dog known for their straight, sweeping curtain of fur. Despite their long coat, this toy breed isn’t a heavy shedder and is often labeled as “hypoallergenic” (although there’s no truly hypoallergenic dog).  Still, Maltese can be a good choice for people with allergies.

9. Bichon Frise

white fluffy bichon frise dog profile
Photo credit: Adobe/Pepsona

Weight: 12–18 pounds

Height: 9–12 inches

Another small white dog is the Bichon Frise. But what these dogs lack in size, they make up for in heart. Bichons are known for being curious, friendly, and eager-to-please, which makes them easy to train in both basic commands and fun tricks.

10. Biewer Terrier

small biewer terrier happily running down a trail
Photo credit: iStock/VSFP

Weight: 4–8 pounds

Height: 7–11 inches

Pronounced “beaver,” Biewer Terriers are cute dogs that are small and love their family, making them ideal lap dogs. Originating from Germany, they are descendants of Yorkies, but with a unique genetic twist: they carry the rare piebald gene, resulting in white fur with patches of color.

11. Brussels Griffon

brown brussels griffon dog standing in grass and head tilted
Photo credit: Adobe/otsphoto

Weight: 8–10 pounds

Height: 7–10 inches

Brussels Griffons are adorable and sociable companions. Their wide-set eyes give them a childlike, expressive face that adds to their endearing “Velcro dog” personality. These small dogs are equally happy to exercise and be a little couch tater tot. Here’s a fun fact: Griffons were the inspiration for Ewoks in Star Wars.

12. Alaskan Klee Kai

small black and white fluffy alaskan klee kai with one blue eye and one brown eye
Photo credit: iStock/Mary Swift

Weight: 6–25 pounds

Height: 12–17 inches

The Alaskan Klee Kai is a small dog breed that comes in three variations: Toy, Miniature, and Standard. They are a new and rare breed that began with one small Siberian Husky in the 1970s. Like Huskies, Alaskan Klee Kai dogs have an independent, talkative, and determined spirit.

13. Cairn Terrier

black cairn terrier dog standing on a tree stump
Photo credit: Adobe/ksuksa

Weight: 13–14 pounds

Height: 9–10 inches

Cairn Terriers are shaggy, athletic dogs bred in Scotland to hunt foxes and other small mammals. The breed saw a boost in popularity after 1939, when a Cairn Terrier named Terry starred as Toto in The Wizard of Oz.

14. Japanese Chin

brown and white japanese chin standing in front of a red door
Photo credit: Adobe/jenngarcia

Weight: 7–11 pounds

Height: 8–11 inches

An ancient dog breed with a noble past, Japanese Chin were once popular among Japanese aristocracy. With a long, silky coat and expressive eyes that give them a look of wonder, Chin are regal and elegant while still being tiny, cute dogs.

15. Bolognese

white bolognese dog sitting in grass
Photo credit: Adobe/SasaStock

Weight: 6–10 pounds

Height: 10–12 inches

Hailing from Bologna, Italy, Bolognese are small, fluffy dogs with wild white hair. Another ancient breed, these pups were often given as gifts among European nobility. Today, they’re a good-natured, easygoing lap dog.

16. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

brown and white cavalier king charles spaniel face
Photo credit: iStock/Nigel Wiggins

Weight: 13–18 pounds

Height: 12–13 inches

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a toy dog bred to keep laps warm. These sweet puppies were especially beloved by King Charles I and his son, Charles II, and were eventually named after them. Clever, friendly, and eager to please, CKC spaniels are the perfect choice for first-time pet parents.

17. Italian Greyhound

woman holding a gray italian greyhound wearing a sweater
Photo credit: Adobe/veera

Weight: 7–14 pounds

Height: 13–15 inches

Don’t be fooled by their name—unlike Greyhounds that can reach 70 pounds, Italian Greyhounds are a little dog breed. Standing just over 1 foot tall at the shoulders, Italian Greyhounds are sociable and sensitive. They are best suited for families with older children who know how to safely play with these small, slender dogs.

18. Chinese Crested

hairless chinese crested looking up
Photo credit: Adobe/SuperStock

Weight: 8–12 pounds

Height: 11–13 inches

The Chinese Cresteds is an ancient breed that comes in two varieties: powderpuff (with silky hair all over their little body) and hairless (with hair only on their head, tail, and ankles). With either type you choose, your Crested will need a lot of care to stay in tip-top shape, with powderpuffs requiring attentive grooming and hairless dogs needing special skincare.

19. Havanese

havanese dog standing outside
Photo credit: iStock/Dorottya_Mathe

Weight: 7–13 pounds

Height: 8–12 inches

The only dog native to Cuba, Havanese are small, fluffy dogs who bounce through life. They are highly affectionate and get along well with children and other dogs, making them excellent family pets. These happy dogs are very sociable and love the company of people, so pet parents should be ready to give them lots of attention.

20. Lhasa Apso

white lhasa apso dog looking out a window
Photo credit: iStock/Capuski

Weight: 12–18 pounds

Height: 11 inches or less

Lhasa Apso roughly means “bearded lion dog,” and it’s not hard to see why. With their graceful mane-like coat, these elegant toy dogs resemble small lions. Lhasa Apsos originated in Tibet, where they were bred to be watchdogs and are considered sacred and symbols of good fortune. These dogs are affectionate and loyal to their family but may be wary of strangers due to their breeding history.

21. Miniature Schnauzer

salt and pepper miniature schnauzer posing in a park
Photo credit: Adobe/everydoghasastory

Weight: 11–20 pounds

Height: 12–14 inches

Of the three types of Schnauzers, the Miniature Schnauzer is the smallest. These intelligent and charming dogs need lots of exercise due to their history as farm dogs. Give them a job, and these bearded puppies will have the time of their life. Mini Schnauzers also don’t shed much, making them good pets for families with allergies.

22. Border Terrier

border terrier puppy playing in grass
Photo credit: Adobe/bob

Weight: 11–16 pounds

Height: 12–15 inches

The scruffy and scrappy Border Terrier is the smallest of the long-legged terriers. These little dogs are bursting with energy and will thrive with at least an hour of exercise every day. Border Terriers have a distinctive “otter head” that pet parents may find irresistibly cute.

23. Miniature Pinscher

black and brown miniature pinscher wearing a denim jacket
Photo credit: iStock/mgstudyo

Weight: 8–10 pounds

Height: 10–13 inches

Hailed as the “king of toy breeds,” the Miniature Pinscher doesn’t let their small size slow them down. The Min Pin packs a bold personality despite their stature and needs plenty of action to stay happy. This German toy breed sports a short coat that needs minimal maintenance.

24. Toy Fox Terrier

tricolor toy fox terrier standing in grass
Photo credit: Adobe/Vincent

Weight: 4–9 pounds

Height: 8–12 inches

Standing less than 1 foot tall, the Toy Fox Terrier is feisty and playful. Their mischievous antics are typically a great source of entertainment for pet parents. These terriers overflow with energy and will benefit from regular outdoor exercise before coming home and running around your living room.

25. Silky Terrier

gray and tan silky terrier looking up
Photo credit: Adobe/Dixi_

Weight: 10 pounds

Height: 9–10 inches

Though they look a lot like Yorkies, the Silky Terrier is a separate breed that is native to Australia. This little dog is surprisingly energetic for their size and loves having a job to do. Pet parents need to provide Silkies with plenty of exercise to keep them happy, and Silkies also have a long, luscious coat that needs to be brushed every day.

Featured Image: Adobe/annaartday


Emily Sanders

WRITTEN BY

Emily Sanders

Freelance Writer


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