27 Best Small Dog Breeds

Two adorable small, fluffy, brown dogs playing together on leash. An excellent representative for best small dog breeds.
Image by Collins Lesulie

Are you navigating the bustling city life or cozying up in a charming apartment and longing for a four-legged companion to complete your home? As a seasoned dog expert with extensive experience across a spectrum of breeds, I understand the unique dynamics of compact living spaces and the canine companionship that enriches them.

Envision a small dog breed that not only fits into your living space but also adapts seamlessly to your lifestyle. These breeds bring the same vibrancy and love as larger dogs, with the added benefit of being more manageable and less demanding. Let me guide you through the delightful world of small dog breeds with insights and tips tailored from years of expertise. Uncover the perfect petite partner for your life, and get ready to embark on an incredible journey of friendship. Read on to find your ideal small dog breed that promises big adventures and even bigger love.

Best Small Dog Breeds


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The Löwchen, also known as the Little Lion Dog, is an underrated dog breed with loads of versatility and athleticism. Known for their biddability, Löwchens are highly developed learners with excellent trainability. These adorable creatures make great family dogs; their spunky personalities and passion for play ensure a fun-filled atmosphere wherever they go! Whether it’s agility competitions or snuggles on the couch with their loved ones, Löwchens deliver both excitement and love every single day.

brussels griffon wearing an outfit, sitting politely
Image by okssi68

Brussels Griffon

The Brussels Griffon is a charming small dog breed with a loving, loyal personality. The Brussels Griffon is known for being the ultimate lapdog, but they also have plenty of energy and spunk too! These small dogs are highly intelligent and often have a distinctive sense of humor that can be rather comical. Brussels Griffons make great companions to those who crave attention and affection at all times. If you’re looking for a cute and devoted best friend, look no further than the Brussels Griffon!

brown miniature poodle
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Toy and Miniature Poodle

Toy and Miniature Poodles make for wonderful companions, as they have many good qualities. They are smart, loyal, and non-shedding, making them an ideal breed of dog for those looking for a quality pet without the shedding and dander. Their hypoallergenic coats are a huge benefit to those with allergies or asthma. Many miniature poodle owners can testify to the joy their pet has brought to their lives- miniature poodles truly are excellent companions!

three italian greyhounds on leash with owner
Image by o1559kip

Italian Greyhound

Italian Greyhounds are one of the most beloved breeds of dogs around. These small and sleekly built animals are speedy sight hounds that love nothing more than to sprint after a toy or rabbit. They also have an immensely loyal nature, enjoying a proper snuggle with their people on the sofa. It’s not difficult to see why this breed is so popular and makes the cut as one of the best small dog breeds.

cute, happy japanese chin dog lying under a pile of colorful blankets
Image by koldunova_anna

Japanese Chin

The Japanese Chin is a breed that effortlessly merges the elegance of a feline with the devoted nature of a canine. They are known for their amiable and engaging personalities, and their coat care is refreshingly straightforward, ideal for a low-maintenance pet option. While quietness is rare in the canine world, the Japanese Chin tends to be more reserved, offering a serene presence in the home. They are the epitome of grace and affection, a perfect match for those seeking a peaceful and loving pet.

two tri color rat terriers looking at camera
Image by Angel LeBlanc

Rat Terrier

The Rat Terrier is a charming little pup who loves nothing more than to be with their human. This small and active breed is known for its smarts and its spunk, making them an ideal pet for those looking for a lively companion. Rat Terriers are up for anything: they can run for miles or just relax in the home while chillin’ on the couch. With Rat Terriers, a day full of fun is guaranteed! On top of being endlessly fun-loving and independent, Rat Terriers are also highly intelligent dogs that learn quickly and enjoy learning new tricks. All in all, Rat Terriers make exceptional friends that will keep you company.

cute white bichon frise looking at camera outside
Image by Olga_Ovcharenko

Bichon Frisé

Bichon Frisés are amazing little dogs; they have bubbly personalities and are always excited to begin whatever new adventure awaits. They love spending time with their owners but don’t require constant attention or cuddles. These gentle dogs have uniquely sweet temperaments and get along well with both other animals and people. If you’re looking for an active, loving companion who is eager to be part of the family, a Bichon Frisé is your perfect match!

two papillons looking away from camera
Image by anytka


Papillons are wonderful family companions. Small in stature but big in spirit, Papillons are highly intelligent, sweet, and adaptable. With minimal grooming requirements and being both spunky and playful, Papillons make excellent dogs for active homes. One caveat is that these active dogs may be small but they do need to be worked – mentally and/or physically – to thrive. Highly versatile and biddable, Papillons can fit into almost any environment with the right guidance from their owners.

long coated fawn chihuahua sitting in grass, looking away from camera
Image by radilaradilova


Chihuahuas are an incredibly versatile toy breed, adapting to any kind of lifestyle! When well-bred and carefully socialized, Chihuahuas often have sweet temperaments that make them easily lovable companions. They are also remarkably intelligent, so teaching these dogs is no difficult task. Loyalty to their family is a key characteristic Chihuahuas often have, and these adorable dogs make perfect companions.

cute brown fawn pomeranians looking up
Image by byrdyak


The Pomeranian is a highly popular dog breed due to their spirited personality. Small in stature with a fluffy coat, the Pomeranian is sociable and intelligent, making them highly trainable and obedient. Poms need minimal space and appreciate the comforts of the home, making them excellent apartment dogs.

cute pug running towards camera in field
Image by Chibelek


Pugs make excellent family pets; they’re loyal and affectionate and often form strong attachments to their owners. They thrive on companionship and are not known to be independent. Pugs are also intelligent and quick to learn, making them great candidates for training.

cute shih tzu standing, looking away from camera
Image by jura_felix_jrs

Shih Tzu

Shih Tzus are intelligent, loyal dogs that make great companions for anyone looking for a low-maintenance pet. A Shih Tzu doesn’t need much in terms of exercise to stay healthy and happy, preferring short bursts of activity surrounded by plenty of cuddles and naps – making Shih Tzu ideal for those with busy lifestyles or limited outdoor space.

adorable black and white havanese lying down with head tilted
Image by GoodFocused


The Havanese is an ideal breed for someone looking for a small, loyal companion. Havanese are very intelligent, happy-go-lucky dogs who tend to stick close to one person. They are well-natured, friendly dogs that make ideal house pets. There’s nothing like having a Havanese around to bring some added joy into your life!

tri colored cavalier king charles spaniel standing still in a field
Image by Vikotikk

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is an enchanting breed of dog known for their warm and loving nature. These gorgeous dogs have a long history of being companions to nobility and make wonderful family pets. They are relatively low-maintenance, intelligent, devoted companions to their humans, making them one of the best small dog breeds.


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Whippets are a great breed for those looking for a low-fuss pet. They don’t require much grooming, which makes them ideal for families who don’t have the time or inclination to groom often. Whippets also make great family dogs – they get along well with both kids and other dogs. However, whippets do have a few traits that may be less than desirable. Their high prey drive and lack of biddability and handler focus means they could be difficult to work with off-leash. Whippets love to relax and are renowned couch potatoes – so you won’t have any trouble keeping them busy indoors!

Chinese Crested

chinese crested dog cantering, side shot
Image by tristana

The Chinese Crested is a loyal companion that loves to be around their person, making them one of the best small dog breeds to add to any family. Known for being an incredibly versatile breed, these dogs can be active and agile when necessary but can also curl up on the couch for a good snuggle session. Whether you love a long run or simply curling up in bed with a movie, the Chinese Crested will surely keep you on your toes – ensuring any day with them is memorable.

Boston Terrier

boston terrier lying down on couch
Image by MikeeRogers

The Boston Terrier is an athletic and intelligent breed with a bold and friendly personality. They are highly adaptive, making them suitable for most types of homes, but do require plenty of training and exercise to stay mentally stimulated. While typically good-natured, a poorly-bred Boston Terrier can be more prone to dog aggression. With proper socialization and training, Boston Terriers can make for wonderful long-living companions.

small yorkshire terrier sitting on bench, looking at camera
Image by Isindi22

Yorkshire Terrier

The Yorkshire Terrier, often affectionately called the “Yorkie,” is a breed that exudes affection and enjoys close bonds with family, including young children. Don’t let their small size fool you – they possess a robust terrier personality, full of zest and charm. Their beautiful, silky coat is hypoallergenic, making them a favored choice for those with allergies, though it does require regular grooming if kept long. Yorkies are owner-focused, keen to learn and display surprising agility and skill in canine sports, reflecting their intelligent and eager-to-please nature.

happy toy fox terrier running
Image by everydoghasastory

Toy Fox Terrier

The Toy Fox Terrier is a breed that brings a lot of heart and spirit to any home. They form strong attachments to their families, though they may need a careful introduction to young children and other dogs. With a bright and alert demeanor, these terriers are intelligent and friendly, often serving as delightful companions and attentive watchdogs. Their small stature holds a charismatic personality that’s sure to capture the hearts of those around them.

black and tan miniature pinscher wearing a dog jacket, running in snow
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Miniature Pinscher

The Miniature Pinscher, often dubbed the “King of Toys,” stands tall with a fearless and proud demeanor. This breed is known for its fun-loving spirit and affectionate nature with its family. Generally friendly with other dogs and suitable for families with older children, the Min Pin is sturdy and compact, boasting a sleek, low-maintenance coat. They are intelligent and possess an independent streak, which can be channeled through consistent and engaging training.

happy black and white alaskan klee kai trotting in field
Image by Kelsie Taylor

Alaskan Klee Kai

The Alaskan Klee Kai is a breed that embodies loyalty and intelligence, coupled with a vigilant nature. They typically get along well with other dogs but may not exhibit overt affection, especially with young children. This breed is alert, energetic, and curious, often reserved when encountering new people and environments. They have a double coat that sheds moderately, requiring regular grooming to maintain their neat appearance.

wet jack russell terrier carrying a stick
Image by fotyma

Jack Russell Terrier

Formerly known as the Jack Russell Terrier, the Russell Terrier is a breed characterized by its alertness, curiosity, and vivacity. They are good with families and generally get along with other dogs, though they may need supervision around young children due to their exuberant nature. True to their terrier roots, they have a compact, rectangular body and are medium shedders with a coat that is relatively easy to care for, making them a suitable companion for those who appreciate an active and engaging pet.

french bulldog lying down, looking at camera
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French Bulldog

The French Bulldog is a breed that combines a playful spirit with intelligence and adaptability. They are known for their affectionate nature towards family and are particularly good with children. A well-socialized French Bulldog typically gets along with other dogs, although they may sometimes show reactivity on a leash. They are medium shedders but require little grooming, making them a convenient choice for families or individuals seeking a low-maintenance but loving pet.

white american eskimo dog lying down in snow
Image by TonyTheTigersSon

American Eskimo Dog

The American Eskimo Dog is a breed that exudes loyalty and intelligence, with a versatile nature that adapts well to various activities. They are affectionate with their families, including children, but may be selective about their canine companions. Regular grooming is essential for this breed to manage their medium shedding and maintain their stunning long double coat. Their friendly disposition and striking appearance make them a favorite among dog enthusiasts willing to invest time in grooming.

brown miniature dachshund standing on a rock, facing camera
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Miniature Dachshund

Dachshunds are curious, friendly, and full of spunk, making them engaging companions. They bond well with their families and usually get along with other dogs. While they can be great pets, their interaction with young children should be supervised due to their bold personalities. The smooth-coated variety of Dachshunds is deficient maintenance when it comes to grooming, and they are known to be low shedders, which is ideal for keeping the home clean and for owners who may have less time for grooming tasks.

cute white maltese lying down
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The Maltese breed epitomizes a playful, charming, and gentle companion. They are known for their affectionate nature with family members, though they may require careful introduction to young children and other dogs. This hypoallergenic dog boasts a beautiful, non-shedding, silky coat; however, maintaining its luxurious length does require regular grooming. For those who prefer a less demanding grooming routine, a shorter cut provides an equally adorable and more manageable alternative.

silky terrier standing on owner while owner is lying down in grass
Image by duallogic

Silky Terrier

The Silky Terrier is a breed that offers a combination of friendliness, agility, and an ever-alert disposition. They form strong bonds with their families, but like the Maltese, they may need supervision around children and other dogs. This high-spirited little dog, slightly larger than its Yorkshire Terrier cousin, has a low-shedding coat that, when kept long, will require a commitment to grooming. Their enthusiastic personality and elegant appearance make them beloved pets for those who appreciate an active and engaging small dog breed.

What is the most popular small dog breed?

The French Bulldog’s rise to the American Kennel Club’s popularity rankings in 2022 is a significant milestone, marking the end of the Labrador Retriever’s long-standing position as the most popular breed in the United States. The French Bulldog’s compact size, distinctive bat-like ears, and friendly demeanor have contributed to its growing popularity among dog lovers looking for a small, companionable, relatively low-energy breed. Their adaptability to various living situations and reputation as affectionate, easygoing pets have made them particularly appealing to many dog owners.

What to Look for When Choosing Your Breed

Selecting the right dog breed for your household is a decision that requires careful consideration and an understanding of your lifestyle and expectations from a pet. Here are some key factors to keep in mind during your search:

  1. Temperament: This is the most crucial aspect to consider. You’ll want a dog whose natural behavior fits well with your lifestyle, whether you’re looking for a laid-back companion or an energetic playmate.
  2. Size: While this article focuses on small breeds, size within this category can still vary significantly. Consider how much space you have at home and how the dog’s size may impact your daily life.
  3. Energy Level: Some small breeds have high energy levels and require lots of exercise, while others are more passive. Think about how much time you can dedicate to exercising with your dog.
  4. Grooming Needs: Small breeds can have very different grooming requirements. Some need regular haircuts and daily brushing, while others are low maintenance. Consider how much time and money you are willing to invest in grooming.
  5. Health Issues: Research common health problems associated with the breeds you’re interested in. Some species may require more veterinary care than others.
  6. Longevity: Small breeds often live longer than large breeds, but there is still variation. Consider whether you’re prepared for the long-term commitment of caring for a pet.
  7. Breed-Specific Legislation: Be aware of any breed-specific laws in your area that may affect your choice.
  8. Cost: Owning a dog goes beyond the initial purchase price. Consider expenses like food, grooming, veterinary care, and pet insurance.
  9. Breeder Reputation: A responsible breeder will health test their breeding stock for genetic diseases and breed for temperament and health, not just looks. They should be knowledgeable about the breed and willing to answer all your questions.
  10. Adoption: If you don’t want to purchase a dog through a breeder, consider adoption from a reputable breed-specific rescue that knows the breed they are adopting out. Many purebred and mixed-breed dogs await homes in reputable rescue organizations.

By taking the time to research and understand the specific needs and characteristics of different small dog breeds, you can make an informed decision that ensures a happy and healthy life for your new companion and your family.


In the quest to find the perfect canine companion, the sheer variety of dog breeds available can be overwhelming. The key to making an informed decision lies in thorough research and understanding your lifestyle, as well as the needs and characteristics of different breeds. It’s crucial to seek out a reputable breeder who prioritizes the health and temperament of their animals, ensuring that you bring home a pet that is well-suited to become a cherished member of your family. Investing time and effort in the beginning stages of selecting a dog will pay off in the long run, leading to a rewarding relationship with your new four-legged friend.

American Kennel Club. (2022). Most Popular Dog Breeds of 2022. Retrieved from https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/dog-breeds/most-popular-dog-breeds-2022/

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