Small Dog Breeds (Top 10)

No matter your lifestyle, you can find the right dog breed for you with research and knowing your specific needs.

And if you're thinking of getting a small dog, choosing from the Top 10 Best Small Dog Breeds that we've compiled here might just make deciding easier for you.

So without further ado, let's jump right into the world of tiny dogs and why they could be the best fit for you.

Small Dog Breeds Infographics

What Defines Small Dog Breeds?

Like the mighty Chihuahua, what smaller breeds lack in size, they make up for with their large personalities.

However, the jury’s still out on what labels a dog as small.

Some individuals believe that for a breed to be genuinely considered small, it must fall under the American Kennel Club Toy Group classification.

This means that the dog would have to weigh around the 10-pound mark.

Yet, most pet owners accept that any breed under 21 pounds is still deemed small.

But, like larger breeds, tinier dogs still need daily stimulation and exercise to have a long healthy life by your side.

girl playing with small dog breed jack russel terrier in grass

So What Benefits Do Small Dog Breeds Bring to the Table?

Smaller breeds do very well in tight living spaces, making them convenient traveling companions.

Their tiny size also means there's less to groom and clean compared to larger breeds.

Bigger dogs also are known for their appetite, and that means spending more on dog food.

On the other hand, more petite breeds don't need nearly as much food to keep them happy and healthy.

Lastly, smaller species tend to have fewer health difficulties making their average lifespan range from 10 to 15 years, giving you plenty of time to love and care for them.

Top 10 Best Small Dog Breeds of 2023

1. Shih Tzu Shih Tzu


A Shih Tzu is not really concerned when it comes to exercise.

These dogs enjoy a short daily walk or some indoor playtime.

Thus, they are ideal for busy pet owners who can't afford to take multiple walks per day.


Grooming can be very different depending on how long you'd like your Shih Tzu's fur to be.

Longer coats demand more attention with daily brushing and keeping the hair away from their eyes with bows/ribbons.

In comparison, shorter coats don't need nearly as much hands-on work.

They only require an occasional brushing with a fine-tooth comb.  But make sure you groom them monthly.


The Shih Tzu is considered one of the best lap dogs a family can get.

With their friendly and mild nature, they are extremely good with kids and other pets.

They are always willing to give their owners kisses and cuddles.

Shih Tzus are also hypoallergenic, which means they cause fewer allergic reactions around people.

2. Pomeranians Pomeranian


Pomeranians are little fireballs of energy that also want to be part of the action.

Regular exercise is needed when it comes to this unique breed.

Engaging in daily play and runs happen to be a great way to make sure your like buddy is healthy.

Having plenty of toys around the house will provide him with plenty of playtime and excitement.


This small dog breed needs to get brushed at least two or three times a week due to constant shedding.

This changes during times of heavy shedding.

Throughout this period, they need to be brushed once a day at least.


Pomeranians are known for their attempts to be the center of attention.

Their friendly and playful attitudes typically make them great with other dogs.

They're also quite intelligent and curious little guys, always looking for an adventure.

However, it's important never to allow them to become too rowdy or to run away.

These small dogs are known to be quite protective of their owners.

Thus, making them excellent watchdogs around the house.

They're fast, curious,  and always ready to play.

They always want to make each experience count.

3. Maltese Maltese Dog Breed


Maltese do not require much exercise to keep themselves healthy.

However, activities like playing fetch in the backyard and a daily walk around the block are plenty to keep these small dogs happy.


When it comes to this specific small dog breed, one might see them with either long smooth coats or shorter, well-managed ones.

Most pet owners like to keep their fur on the shorter side, given it's easier to manage and clean.

However, Maltese breeds with long-haired coats need to be brushed and bathed weekly to keep them looking fresh.


Maltese are known for their bravery and fearlessness.

These dogs get recognized for being loyal companions to their owners.

All Maltese dogs come in at under 12 inches (30cm) at the most, presenting them as great lapdogs.

In addition, their small size and gentle-mannered demeanor make them great for little children to play around with all day long.

Their dainty looks make them ideal pets for parents who are less confident about handling big dogs.


4. Yorkshire Terrier Yorkshire Terrier


Being one of the more active small dog breeds on this list, Yorkshire Terriers don't have a problem with exercise.

The Terrier side of them loves to hunt for toys around the house or in the backyard.

They also love to accompany their owners on errands or walks around the neighborhood.

Thirty minutes a day of these activities is plenty to keep this breed healthy.


Pet parents have two options when it comes to grooming their Yorkie.

If they prefer less maintenance, keeping this breed's coat shorter simplifies the grooming experience.

However, if one chooses the more extended fur style, brushing them daily and maintaining the hair around the dog's face is highly recommended.

In addition, a topknot is an excellent way to keep a Yorkie's face clear.


Yorkies tend to be intelligent dogs that are easy to train.

As with most terriers, the Yorkie is quite tough and fearless when it's around other dogs.

This bold nature makes them excellent watchdogs for your home and family.

Their strong sense of loyalty makes it difficult for them to be alone for long stretches of time.

These small dogs thrive outdoors chasing squirrels,  rabbits, or other smaller animals.

With their energetic spirit, Yorkies try and get as much playtime in as possible.

5. Dachshund dachshund dog breed


Multiple daily walking around the square is perfect for this breed.

However, these walks shouldn't be too labor-intensive, given their small stature.

Jumping onto pieces of furniture around the house is also a prominent way to get their hearts pumping.

Thirty to sixty minutes of exercise a day is recommended for this small dog breed.


Although not very common to see, long-haired Dachshunds involve much more work to keep their coats looking fresh and clean.

Using a bristle brush is a great way to deal with the shedding problem long-coated Dachshunds have.

Smooth-coated Dachshunds don't require as much attention and upkeep.

Thus, giving their owners one less thing to worry about in the long run.


This small dog breed has an almost stubborn sense of loyalty to its pet parents.

Dachshunds are spirited little guys with a playful attitude to match; because of this, they make great pets for almost any family.

Second, only to their loyalty is how clever these dogs can be.

Intelligent and easy to train, Dachshunds don't have trouble expressing themselves.

6. Pug pug dog breed


It's necessary to have Pugs active throughout the day.

Keeping these little guys moving is vital for them to live healthy and comfortable lives.

Multiple short walks throughout the day are an excellent way to make sure they don't overheat.

Playtime, on the other hand, keeps their brains active and alert.

Walks and playtime should add up to around an hour a day.


Maintenance for these small dogs doesn't demand much care.

Pug's short coats are easy to keep clean and look fresh.

However, shedding is a small problem for these dogs.

Therefore,  someone might have to spend some time vacuuming the house.

Lastly, pugs need to have their eyes cleaned at least once a day.

Being so low to the ground attracts dirt and dust around the pug's eyes.


When it comes to pugs' attitudes, they are a worldwide favorite.

Being great with kids, adults, and other dogs is just the beginning.

The American Kennel Club Toy group has called them the clowns of the small dog breed community.

Showing off their great sense of humor is just one of the things that makes them so endearing.

These dogs love showing affection by cuddling up to their owners and getting some well-deserved shuteye.

7. Chihuahua teacup chihuahua playing with pink ball


Chihuahuas have more energy than you might think.

Going on daily walks for around twenty to thirty minutes will help calm them down.

Also, watching over them to ensure they don't burn themselves out is important, especially when they're puppies.

Another way this small dog breed gets their exercise in is by following their owners around the house all day long.


Chihuahuas can either have long hair or short hair, depending on one's preference.

Longer-haired Chihuahuas must get brushed regularly to keep their coats clean.

While shorter-haired dogs only need brushing a couple of times a week.

Dogs closer to the floor need to have their eyes cleaned periodically, and Chihuahuas are not an exception to the rule.


Small or not, Chihuahuas have some of the biggest personalities in the canine community.

If properly raised, this small dog could be one of the most loyal, loving, and caring breeds someone could buy.

Once you've earned their respect, there's almost nothing these little guys wouldn't do for you.

Their bold personalities make them excellent watchdogs/protectors.

Unfortunately, this also means that chihuahuas have a more challenging time following directions.

8. Boston Terrier Boston Terrier


Boston Terriers are energetic little guys who love to play as much as possible.

Experts recommended giving them an hour of exercise daily to keep them happy and mild-mannered.

Going on long walks or simply playing with them around the house will work.

However, if they become rowdier, try switching them to a car ride to calm them down.

Mental stimulation is critical for any small dog breed.


Boston Terriers are a smooth-coated breed which means bathing is necessary to maintain healthy skin.

These dogs should get bathed and brushed at least once a week.

In addition, wiping the area around the nose should be done to keep dirt and dust out.


These highly affectionate dogs get along with all members of the family.

They've also earned the nickname “American Gentleman” due to their gentle demeanor.

Alert at all times; this small dog breed will make you feel safe in your home.

However, you might lose some sleep, given their hilarious snoring.

9. Miniature Schnauzer Miniature Schnauzer lap


The Miniature Schnauzer is perfect for individuals who go on multiple walks per day.

This breed is a great dog to exercise with, given its resilience and strength.

Experts believe the correct number of walks per day is three to four.

In addition, a miniature Schnauzer would be outstanding for any athlete or hiker looking for a partner.


These small dog breeds should get bathed every week if possible.

Weekly bathing ensures healthy skin and fur.

Also, depending on how long you prefer their coats, Miniature Schnauzers should get brushed every other day.


Miniature Schnauzer happens to be a very obedient and loyal dog.

Training this breed can be a walk in the park compared to other small dogs.

Second, only to their intelligence is how friendly they can be around strangers.

Don't get the wrong idea; these dogs might be kind, but they can be just as fearless.

10. Miniature Poodle Miniature Poodle


With their high-energy levels, Miniature Poodles need a lot of stimulation.

Specialists say to plan an hour out of your day set aside for walks or playtime.

Walks are good for getting their heart rate going, and playtime is meant more for mental stimulation.


Miniature Poodles are under the hypoallergenic category of small dog breeds.

Also, alongside almost no shedding, these dogs don't require much care besides the occasional brushing.


No matter how big or small, Poodles are known for being brilliant trainable dogs that pull off some of the craziest hairstyles.

Puppies have a very high energy level, but older, more mature poodles become a little more docile and prefer a calmer atmosphere.

However,  some Miniature Poodles have been known to be quite timid and anxious, possibly due to the dog's upbringing or nature.

FAQs about Small Dog Breeds

1. What are some common health issues that affect small dog breeds?

Small dog breeds are prone to a variety of health issues, including dental problems, respiratory issues, and obesity.

They may also be at increased risk for certain genetic conditions, such as luxating patella, hip dysplasia, and heart disease.

2. What are some common behavioral traits of small dog breeds?

Small dog breeds are often known for their spunky and energetic personalities.

They may be more prone to barking, digging, and other forms of destructive behavior if they are not properly trained and socialized.

Small dogs are also often very loyal and affectionate with their owners.

3. Are there any training challenges specific to small dog breeds?

Small dog breeds can be more challenging to train than larger breeds, as they may be more prone to stubbornness and may have a harder time with obedience training.

It's important to use positive reinforcement techniques and to be patient and consistent when training small dogs.

They may also benefit from early socialization to help prevent behavioral issues later on.

small dog breeds playing with toy

Small Dog Breeds: Before You Go…

This list only scratched the surface of all small dog breeds out there, but I hope this narrows down the choices for you!

And one thing is for sure, though.

Whatever small dog breed you get, they'll surely be the best cuddle buddy and lap dogs you'll get for the whole family, especially if you have little kids.

Interested to learn more about these cute dogs? Check out our recommended reads below!

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Small Dog Breeds