Best Small Dog Breeds: A Comprehensive Top 10 List (And More)
Dog Care

Best Small Dog Breeds: A Comprehensive Top 10 List (And More)

Small dogs are among the most beloved dog breeds in the world. Many pet owners prefer smaller dogs because they are generally less expensive to own. Other advantages are that small dogs live longer and are more suited to apartment living. However, not every small pup is cut out to be a lap dog or is appropriate for families with young children.

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), however, there is a perfect breed for every little dog lover, depending on a particular breed's temperament, coat type, and activity level. 

The importance of selecting the right small dog breed to match your lifestyle and preferences can not be overstated. When choosing the newest member of your family, research a variety of small dog breeds and consult your vet or other experts before you commit. 

Let us explore the universe of small dogs and get started down the road to choosing your new companion. We will look at the best small dog breeds, including a top ten list and a selection of other breeds, from the precious and the floofy to the simply adorable.

The Allure of Small Dog Breeds

These small dogs are popular choices among pet owners in the United States. However, it's important to note that any breed's popularity can wax and wane over time. Choices are influenced by personal preferences and local trends. When you are choosing a dog breed, consider factors such as temperament, activity level, grooming needs, and the breed's compatibility with your lifestyle. 

a brown and white dog on a leash
a brown and white dog on a leash

Factors to Consider When Selecting a Small Dog Breed

Many small dog breeds do not have lots of excess energy to work off, making them a good fit for apartment living. But not all small breeds are laidback lap warmers. Some can have strong personalities that belie their small size. 

Certain breeds of small dogs, including Dachshunds and terriers, love wide open spaces to run around. If you have young children, be sure your pup has their own space to escape to or consider breeds that are a better fit for your family’s particular needs. Not all small dogs are physically strong enough to withstand rough play. 

Some small breeds have specific grooming requirements, so be willing to commit to your chosen breed's health and beauty regimen. 

Top 10 Small Dog Breeds

To help you narrow down your options, here is a list of small dog breeds and their basic characteristics, including temperament, energy level, and any special grooming requirements. 


The simply adorable Pomeranian is referred to as the ideal canine companion. With their gorgeous coat, sweet, fox-like face, and upbeat personality, Poms are among the world's most beloved toy breeds. The luxurious double coat extending over the pup's chest and shoulders is a definite show-stopper. 

Pomeranians are intelligent dogs so they are easy to train and also make good watchdogs. Poms are perfect for families with older children who understand a toy dog isn't a toy plaything.

French Bulldog

French Bulldogs are known for their charming and affectionate temperament as well as their distinctive, large bat-like ears. 

Frenchies are among the world's most popular small-dog breeds, particularly for urbanites. This breed is playful, adaptable, and utterly irresistible.

Frenchies are not big barkers, but their alertness makes them superb watchdogs. They easily adapt to life with individuals or families, and get along well with other pet. Frenchies require less outdoor exercise than other small breed dogs. They also enjoy meeting and making friends with new humans.  

Yorkshire Terrier

Most people associate Yorkies with the long, luxurious coats they show off to great effect at dog shows. That gorgeous, silky fur has an additional upside too: It's hypoallergenic!

According to The Pioneer Woman, this breed has a humble past as they were once used as ratters in mines and mills. Today Yorkies are one of the most popular dog breeds in the U.S., and their owners adore their spunky personalities that belies their diminutive size. 

They are also intelligent and playful and get along with the family cat as easily as they lord over the home's larger dogs. Although feisty and friendly, they are also tiny and delicate, so Yorkies may not be the best choice for families with very young children.

Cocker Spaniel

The impish Cocker Spaniel, with their big, beautiful eyes and impossibly plush ears, is one of the world's best-loved breeds. This breed was intended to act as hunting dogs, but Cockers achieved their immense popularity because they are superb companions. Cockers are also excellent playmates for children and are easily trained. They love to frolic and take brisk walks with their favorite humans. 

A Cocker requires extra grooming time, but the spectacular results make your efforts well worth it. 


These purse dogs are one of the oldest dog breeds in the Americas, tracing their line back to the pre-Columbian era in Mexico. Chihuahuas are loyal, alert, and charming with big-dog swagger. In fact, if you don't train your Chihuahuas they will more than likely train you. Such is the power of the small but mighty chihuahua. 

Chihuahuas are the perfect city breed, as they are well-suited to indoor life. They are sensitive to cold weather, which gives you a reason to buy your nugget adorable little doggy winter wear.

Chihuahuas have a reputation for being loud and demanding, incessantly barking, and even nipping at children. But Chihuahuas are loving companions and a perfect choice for an older person living alone.


The Maltese breed is famous for their sweeping, silky, floor-length coat. Maltese dogs are loving, playful, and adaptable canine companions. The beyond-adorable Maltese face with soulful dark eyes and too-cute gumdrop-shaped nose is absolutely precious.

Keep in mind that their elegant, eye-catching coat needs regular grooming to keep that luxurious mane in tip-top shape.  

Maltese are good watchdogs who are real tough guys in that cute tiny dog way. This breed doesn't shed much, is very sociable, and enjoys a long lifespan. They can also be willful and obstinate, but Maltese respond positively to a rewards-centered training program. 

Shih Tzu

Shih Tzus are lovable, playful, and charming canine companions. This breed is loyal and gentle-mannered but can have a pronounced stubborn streak. Perhaps this is due to their royal pedigree, as Shih Tzus lived large on the laps of Chinese emperors and their families for centuries. It is believed that emperors lavished gifts upon the breeders of Shih Tzu pups because they provided the most attractive and affectionate dogs.

Shih Tzus are celebrated for their long, beautiful coat that requires daily brushing. Invest in a good-quality wire brush, and be sure to reach the pup's skin. Give your fur baby a bath every three or four weeks to keep their beautiful coat shiny and clean. Do not forget to comb your pet's adorable mustache and topknot every day!

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Toy spaniels had been all the rage for European aristocrats from the Renaissance era to today. Two English monarchs, King Charles I and his son Charles II, were fans of a black and tan toy spaniel variety that was later named in Charles ll's honor.

This breed possesses a sweet and gentle disposition making them the perfect family pet. This dog is very empathic and provides their humans with unconditional emotional support. 

Miniature Schnauzer

Miniature Schnauzers are small, intelligent dogs with sweet little bearded faces and wiry coats. In general, the Miniature Schnauzer is a healthy, low-shedding, hypoallergenic companion with a long lifespan. They are also excellent watchdogs. 

This breed was intended to serve as farm and is fearless but not aggressive. The Miniature Schnauzer is bright and easily trainable, and easily adapts to apartment living while being energetic enough to guard large expanses of farmland. They get along well with other animals and kids. Minis are sturdy dogs and like playing hard. 

Add an engaging and charming disposition, and voila! You have found the perfect family dog.


Dachshunds, also known as "wiener dogs," are instantly recognizable by their long body and very short legs. That iconic silhouette, alert countenance, and outgoing disposition have made the Dachshund a fast favorite among dog owners for generations. 

Dachshunds are not particularly athletic, so strenuous activities aren't ideal. This breed is intelligent, vigilant, and barks like the big doggos, so they make great watchdogs.

This breed was intended to be a solo hunter of badgers, so they can be brave to a fault and quite stubborn. However, their endearing personalities and unmistakable appearance have earned them a spot as one of the most popular breeds of small dogs. 

Boston Terrier

Boston Terriers are solid, muscular dogs with a friendly and people-oriented disposition. They make excellent city pets and enjoy taking walks with their favorite humans.  

The Boston retains many traits from their Bulldog ancestors, but in a smaller, streamlined version package that makes a stellar companion. This breed's short coat with its distinctive tuxedo markings gives the Boston Terrier an almost dapper appearance.   

Cute and Fluffy Small Dog Breeds

If you're really ready to embrace the floof, you may want to investigate the variety of cute, small, fluffy dog breeds available for your consideration. These sweet little furballs are bound to steal your heart. 


Also called the Continental Toy Spaniel, the Papillon is one of the oldest toy spaniels. Its French name derives from its unique butterfly-like long, fringed ear hair. This small pup dog has "big dog" energy, with the strength and endurance to effortlessly keep up with the larger doggos. Train your Papillon early on and keep them engaged, or they may become bored and yappy.

Bichon Frise

These good-natured dogs are known for their happy and loving dispositions. They are also very intelligent and possess a bit of a stubborn streak.

Even though Bichons aren't big shedders, puppies shed frequently while they grow their adult coat. Brushing your pup weekly helps remove the shredded hair stuck to their coat, and keeps your furbaby looking their very best. 


When choosing from these top small dog breeds, remember to keep your lifestyle and living situation in mind. To ensure the future happiness of the owner and the prospective pup, always research any breeds you are interested in to ensure the dog will mesh well with your particular situation. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

What are some common small dog breeds?

There are many small dog breeds, including Shih Tzu, Chihuahua, Maltese, and French Bulldogs. 

What are the most popular small dog breeds?

Yorkies, Frenchies, and Cocker Spaniels are among the most popular small breeds.

What are the advantages of owning a small dog breed? 

Small dogs are less expensive to own, and generally live longer than larger dogs. Small breeds are often more suited to apartments or other small living spaces. 

Are small dog breeds good with children? 

Many are excellent companions for kids, but different small dog breeds are more suited to a home with children than others. For example, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are excellent family dogs, but so are other breeds are as well. Chihuahuas and kids usually aren't the best mix. Be sure to do your research before adding a new dog to your family. 

How much training do small dog breeds need? 

A good training method can help different small dog breeds learn your commands, but working with a breed already known for their trainability potential will obviously be less taxing.