Chapter 4

What are the smallest dog breeds?

If you’ve been dreaming about a dog, but for various reasons you can’t have a big dog, getting one of the small breeds might be a great option for you. Take a look at our list and see if you can find the dog of your dreams there!

A female owner with a Maltese

Reading time : 5 min


Why choosing a small dog?

Three longhaired Chihuahuas.

There are various reasons why some people decide to adopt a small dog. The small dog breeds are amongst the longest-living ones, which is great for someone looking for a canine companion for long years. Moreover, the maintenance of small dogs is less demanding, both time- and money-wise. Generally, small breeds need less exercise than the bigger dogs, but you have to remember that no matter the size, all dogs need training in order to live a happy life without behavioural problems. Apart from that, small dogs are the best option for people living in apartments, as they don’t need that much space inside, nor a lot of time spent outdoors.

Although a lot of the small dog breeds are typical lap dogs that love snuggling with their owners on a sofa, not all of them have low energy levels. Some breeds preserve an energetic and playful nature and are thus a perfect option for families with small children, who will play with them.

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The list of the smallest dog breeds

An Italian Greyhound puppy.


It’s impossible to write about the smallest dog breeds without mentioning a Chihuahua, as this breed is generally acclaimed to be the smallest in the world. Although these tiny dogs might often have aggression issues, these problems are usually a result of a lack of appropriate training and can be solved with socialisation. Once socialised, Chihuahuas make amazingly lovable companions that can adjust very easily to family life.

Average size

Height: 5 - 8 inches

Weight: 4 - 6 pounds


One of the most characteristic breeds, the Dachshund has a long body, stubby legs, and goes by many names that allude to their sausage-like look. These dogs were originally bred to hunt for small prey, and some of them are still used for this purpose today. That said, the majority of the Dachshunds are just lovely companions that are perfect for family life and cherish a relatively long life.

Average size

Height: 7 - 9 inches

Weight: 11 - 32 pounds


Originating from Cuba and being the country’s only native dog, the Havanese first arrived in the US during the Cuban Revolution, and it was recognised by the American Kennel Club in 1996. This breed is very intelligent, sociable, and thrives when in the centre of attention. They are also highly trainable and able to perform a wide scope of tasks, for example working as therapy, assistance, or signal dogs.

Average size

Height: 8.5 - 12.5 inches

Weight: 7 - 13 pounds

Japanese Chin

Believed to originate from China, but mostly brought to Europe from Japan, the Japanese Chin is an adorable lap dog and a cuddly companion. The breed was recognised by the American Kennel Club in 1888, and not much is known of it from the times before Japan opened trade with the western world. The Japanese Chin has a soft and straight coat and a curved tailed, and they love snuggling with their owners on a couch or sleeping on their laps.

Average size

Height: 8 - 11 inches

Weight: 7 - 11 pounds


Although some stories link the origin of this breed’s name with the Mediterranean island of Malta, there’s not much proof to support this claim. However, the evidence shows that the Maltese most probably originated in south-central Europe from dogs resembling the Pomeranian. No matter their roots, the Maltese is an extremely adorable and lovable dog. Their long white silky coat gives them a distinguished look, and their friendly personality makes them great companions. Apart from that, the Maltese is easily trainable and performs really well in agility competitions.

Average size

Height: 8 - 10 inches

Weight: 5 - 7 pounds

Miniature Pinscher

Also referred to as Min Pin, this breed originates from Germany and is a mix of Dachshunds, Italian Greyhounds, and German Pinschers. Despite their tininess, the Miniature Pinscher has a lot of energy, and they’re perfect companions for those who look for a jogging partner or wish to have a dog ready to compete in agility competitions. Because of their possessive nature, it’s very important to start the training very early. Once socialised, the Miniature Pinscher can be a great family member.

Average size

Height: 10 - 12.5 inches

Weight: 8 - 10 pounds


The name of this breed is believed to come from their most striking feature, namely big, plumed ears that resemble butterfly wings (“papillon” being a French word for “butterfly”). Their soft and silky coat combined with the dog’s friendly nature makes them amazing cuddle partners. That said, the Papillon is also a great tricks-lover, has a high energy level and is always eager to play.

Average size

Height: 8 - 11 inches

Weight: 5 - 10 pounds


The Pomeranians weren’t always such a tiny breed, but after years of breeding they ended up as small fluff balls with friendly nature that makes them a perfect companion dog. They love being in the centre of attention and creating a strong relationship with their owners. Thanks to these traits, Pomeranians can be people’s best friends with no doubt!

Average size

Height: 5 - 8 inches

Weight: 4 - 6 pounds

Toy Poodle

The smallest of the Poodles, the Toy Poodle is among the longest-living and the smartest dogs in the world. They are also one of the hypoallergenic breeds and their curly coat doesn’t shed a lot, which makes them a good choice for allergy sufferers. Toy Poodles are great and friendly companions, but they are also highly trainable and can be up to many challenges and a variety of tasks.

Average size

Height: 9 - 10 inches

Weight: 4 - 6 pounds

Yorkshire Terrier

Similarly to the Toy Poodle, the Yorkshire Terrier is a hypoallergenic breed and the smallest of the terriers. Although tiny, these dogs preserve a lot of the character traits typical for terriers, so their feisty and energetic nature still makes them good hunters, just like their bigger cousins.

Average size

Height: 7 - 8 inches

Weight: 5 - 7 pounds

Italian Greyhound

Also known as the Italian Sighthound, these small dogs need a lot of exercises and are very athletic. Moreover, the Italian Greyhounds might be difficult to train and as they’re very sociable and energetic, they benefit from having a companion from their breed at home to play with and to prevent separation anxiety. They are also very intelligent and affectionate, so you don’t have to worry about them not wanting to cuddle with you.

Average size

Height: 13 - 15 inches

Weight: 7 - 14 pounds

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

This breed native to the United Kingdom is very affectionate and playful, as well as intelligent and attention-seeking. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel thrives on affection, and they’re known to be very devoted to their owners. They also get along well with other pets and with small children, and as their exercise and maintenance needs are rather low, they’re also a great choice for older people who look for a calm and patient companion.

Average size

Height: 12 - 13 inches

Weight: 13 - 18 pounds


If you’d like to become a dog owner, but you don’t have enough space or time for a big or middle-sized dog, adopting one of these small breeds might be the perfect choice. Remember, however, that having a small dog still comes with certain responsibilities.

Continue reading our guide

This article is a part of a complete guide on the subject. Do not miss the next chapters.

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Choosing a dog that matches your personality and lifestyle will ensure your well-being and his!

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