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20 Smallest Dog Breeds

Written by Khalil
Khalil is passionate about all sorts of domesticated pets. They have written dozens of articles across the web.
Published on
Monday 3 May 2021
Last updated on
Tuesday 9 May 2023
smallest dog breeds
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You can have your best friend close at hand if that best friend is your dog. But it isn’t always possible to have a dog bounding around, especially if you live in a tiny space. However, there is a simple solution. Going for the smallest dog breeds allows pet parents to have a constant companion. It gives you the chance of having someone to love and cuddle at all times and not spend tons of money on food, supplies, or larger space.

But there are far more benefits associated with adopting miniature dogs. You see, small dog breeds are tiny only in size but have sizable personalities. Not only can a smaller dog be at ease in your tiny apartment, but it is also happy to be in your backpack or designer tote. It fits snugly in your lap and adores you just as you are. Moreover, it brings loads of laughter into your life with its adorable tricks and antics. Now that we’ve praised smaller dog breeds, let’s take a look at some of the smallest dog breeds across the globe. And, if you continue to read on, you will also discover some intriguing facts about dynamite pooches contained in pint-sized frames.

There are literally about a hundred breeds of small dogs acknowledged by the American Kennel Club. But, we’ve hand-picked twenty that rank amongst the tiniest dogs in the toy dog category. Some of these dogs are also the most popular in the world.

1. Yorkshire Terrier

Nothing beats a Yorkie when you talk about cuteness in a tiny package. A Yorkie by the name of Tiny Pinocchio made it straight to Oprah and the Today Show for its miniature size. On the other hand, Sylvia the Yorkie from England was reportedly only four ounces and the smallest dog in recorded history.

Minute creatures ranging from 8-9 inches and weighing from 4-7 lbs, Yorkies are bundles of fun. However, early socialization is a must for the Yorkshire Terrier. You have to understand that though Yorkies are small, they have the spirits of a Terrier. So, training will ensure that your loyal Yorkie accepts others in its territory, too.

2. Shih Tzu

With its long luscious locks and round brown eyes, the Shih Tzu holds a special place in the hearts of many dog lovers worldwide. It is called the ‘Chrysanthemum dog.’ According to the Chinese, chrysanthemums represent nobility. And, it is clear to see that the Shih Tzu is nothing if not regal.

It usually weighs around 4-8 kgs and stands 7-11 inches high on average. The Shih Tzu is a fiercely loyal beast and affectionate to boot. But, it isn’t the most pliant. So, it is best to train a Shih Tzu as a pup, or you’ll have an unruly monster on your hands.

chrysanthemum dog
Chrysanthemums represent nobility.

3. Scottish Terrier

Guess who stands next to the Franklin Roosevelt statue in Washington DC? It’s Fala, his Scottie, and best mate. Here’s a dog that has been a great favorite of the Western monarchs. King James IV of Scotland to the former Queen Victoria of England loved Scotties.

Bred to hunt and fight, Scotties are natural diggers. Thus, this playful and alert dog can land itself in a lot of trouble around your rhododendrons. But, Scotties make ideal companions of apartment dwellers and don’t bark that often. Yet, they make a superb watchdog. Scottish Terriers are wary of strangers and make it a point to let their owners know of approaching potential threats.

4. Pomeranian

Like the character of Gidget from the cartoon, Secret life of Pets, Pomeranians are irresistible. With soft, fluffy coats to ultra cuddly nature, Poms are sensitive animals with superior intelligence. Pomeranian is one of the few dog breeds considered safe around babies. Because of their fantastic aptitude for training.

Pomeranians have a life expectancy of 12-16 years. And usually weigh 3-7 pounds and stand 7-12 inches tall. Poms descend from the German Spitz. Unlike its predecessors, Pomeranians make excellent guard dogs owing to their high-pitched bark and ninja-like stealthiness.

And, Poms are made of sturdier stuff than you’d realize. You see, very few survived the sinking of the Titanic. Yet these dogs witnessed and survived it all.

5. Papillon

One of the smallest breeds of dogs but incredibly intelligent, the Paillon is a marvel to behold. It stands 8-11 inches in height and weighs 8-10 pounds. But, if you ever train a Papillon, you’ll realize that this dog can master any trick in half the time any other breed would take. And it seems to challenge you to present it with more.

Papillon is an ancient breed starring as a companion in the painting of Venus Of Urbino by Tiziano Vecelli in 1538. And, the Papillon is famous for being in Mary Antoinette’s arms while heading for the guillotine. Fortunately, the dog survived.

Also, if you’re wondering what Papillon means, “Papillon” in french means “butterfly”. The iconic feature of the Papillon is its ears. It is the butterfly wing-like appearance of its ears that inspired its name. But, it is not just the ears that can melt the sternest of hearts.

6. Alaskan Klee Kai

Resembling the Alaskan Husky, only shorter and cuter, the Alaskan Klee Kai is a perfect companion for city dwellers. This highly keen, fun-loving, and independent breed of dogs come in three different sizes. Just to let you know, Klee Kai means ‘little dog’ in the Inuit language.

The Toy Alaskan Klee Kai and Miniature Klee Kai can be of similar height. The standard Alaskan Klee Kai can be 15-18 inches tall and weighs 17-23 pounds.

Unlike other smaller breeds of dogs, the Alaskan suffers no dependency issues. And make far better friends because of its unwillingness to cling.

7. Chihuahua

Currently holding the record for the smallest dog in the world, the Chihuahua is a force to be reckoned with. It may look small, but it is mighty, personality-wise. Milly, a Chihuahua, is only 3.8 inches tall and recognized by the Guinness Book Of World Records as the tiniest dog alive today.

On average, a Chihuahua can be 6-10 inches tall and weigh 4-6lbs. It isn’t a dog that requires tons of food or grooming. But, it demands tons of attention and love. Here’s a dog that is a symbol of fame. So, if you happen to belong to the showbiz world, you’d better have a Chihuahua to prove your worth. Everyone from Madonna to Reese Witherspoon, and from George Lucas to Aston Kucher is friends with Chihuahuas.

Moreover, Chihuahuas don’t hold much for training. If a Chihuahua does adopt you, you’d better be happy to put up with all its little quirks.

smallest dog breed
Chihuahuas are the smallest dog breed.

8. Rat Terrier

Acknowledged as a rare breed by the United and the American Kennel Club, Rat Terriers are very faithful companions. These dogs were initially bred, as ratters, that is to say, these dogs were in charge of pest control on farms. But, Rat Terriers have come a long way.

Yet, no dog can boast of winning an award for the best documentary based upon its life. Laurie Anderson, musician and artist, directed a documentary. The movie Heart of A Dog is about her deceased Rat Terrier, Lolabelle.

On average, it can weigh from 10-25 lbs and stand 10-18 inches. It is intelligent enough to understand even the slightest nuances of its human. And loving enough to be near babies as well.

9. Japanese Chin

Everyone from the British Royalty to the Japanese Monarchy and Ozzy Osburn owns and loves the Japanese Chin. No one can date when the Japanese Chin came into the limelight. But, it wins hearts wherever it goes.

The Japanese Chin breed has rounded broad heads and large wide-set eyes giving it a distinctive expression. It is too cute to resist with its ear feathering, short muzzle, and evenly-patterned facial markings.

Japanese Chins are more cats than dogs. You see, they clean their face and paws very much like felines. Moreover, they face zero dependency issues. Thus, Japanese Chin owners claim to have adopted the best pet in the world, with the loyalty of a dog and the free spirit of a cat.

10. Yorkiepoo

The Yorkiepoo is both a dog and a designer breed. It’s a designer dog that mixes Yorkshire Terriers and Mini Poodles. It blends the best qualities of both breeds. So, you have a dog that is pint-sized, hypoallergenic, and free of many health problems faced by small dog breeds.

Furthermore, you have a pup who loves its family deeply. It’s unbelievably easy to train. It loves to show tricks and puts on an epic performance in most dog shows. And, it serves as a cuddle-able companion and softest lap cushion in winters.

Little over 7 inches and weighing no more than 14 lbs, Yorkie Poos are the ultimate choice for tiny living spaces. It is easy to transport back and forth to the vet. And, with early training, it shows off zen-like qualities with new surroundings and barking tendencies.

11. Pekingese

Favored by the Chinese Imperial Court, the Pekingese gets its name from Peking (Beijing). Pekingese were one of the few pets inside the Forbidden City. In China, its name translates into “the lion dog”. It’s a petite dog but parades a mighty mane much like a lion—hence, the name.

Legend has it that the smallest Pekingese traveled with the Emperor in his sleeves. Thus, the Toy or Mini Pekingese is often referred to as ‘Sleeves.’ Pekingese have flat faces and huge round eyes, enough to make your heart dissolve into pulp. It stands about 6-9 inches and weighs less than 6 kgs.

You have to remember, though, that the Pekingese are accustomed to royal treatment and demand pampering. Not one for exercise or the great outdoors, the Pekingese likes nothing better than to rest upon its lush throne with its human by its side.

12. Maltese

A gift from Napoleon to his beloved Josephine, the Maltese are one of the first ‘fad’ dogs. Even Aristotle, who studied the basics of nature, could not escape its charms. He called it ‘perfectly proportioned.’ Here is a dog that has seen the rise and fall of many empires and survived. The Maltese is a breed of dogs that has even flourished in dire times like the Plague.

Just as Maltese rolls with the rich and famous of recent years, so it did in ancient times, where no lady of high birth was complete without a Maltese clutched in her arms. Right from the legendary Elizabeth Taylor to the uber-hot Halle Berry—all are smitten with their companions, the Maltese. Maltese is one of the most adorn cutest small white dog breeds in the world.

13. Brussels Griffon

The First Wives Club, As Good As It Gets, and Gosford Park are just a few blockbuster movies where Brussels Griffons take the lead. There’s no denying that this dog demands attention from every person it meets. No one is strong enough to resist the charm of a Brussel Griffon.

Although it’s rather dainty in size, the Griffon is highly intelligent, extremely observant, and sensitive. You will not guess from its size that it would like much exertion either. But, once again, the Griffon would prove you wrong.

It loves its family and adores playing with all. With early training, your Griffon is going to be comfortable with most people and animals. Only, the Griffon doesn’t know it’s a small dog. So, you have to be careful about it around larger animals, or it may wind up getting hurt.

14. Silky Terrier

With a life expectancy of 12-15 years and weighing 8-10 pounds, the Silky Terriers make for a faithful companion. It was bred to hunt vermin. And, the Silky Terrier loves its job. But, you can easily replace vermin with chew toys around your apartment to keep your Silky Terrier busy.

The Silky Terrier is the perfect example of great things that come in small packages. This little dog weighing no more than 11 lbs is clueless about its stature. It loves having adventures and is always up for a challenge.

And, if you’re wondering why it is called the Silky Terrier, then run your hand down the soft and luscious mane of the Silky Terrier to figure out the answer.

15. English Toy Spaniel

Some experts believe that the English Toy Spaniel originates from Japan and China. In theory, these Spaniels are a cross between the Japanese Chin or Pugs with the Spaniels. So, you find that English Toy Spaniels have well-doomed heads, long ears, and a plush, chubby look.

It does not have the smallest dog name, but you can not refute facts about the superior levels of cuteness attached to English Toy Spaniel. It walked right up to the executioner’s block with Mary Queen of Scots. Although, it did not suffer from the fate of ‘off with its head’. The loyal friend of Mary died from heartache soon after.

Another interesting detail about the English Toy Spaniel is that it has different names for various color coats. So, King Charles is the black and tan variety. The black, white, and tan coloring is called Prince Charles. The red and white kind is known as the Blenheim, and the red colored English Toy Spaniel is known as Ruby. And, you are welcome to give it a dozen other names. Yet, it will remain irrefutably adorable and affectionate.

16. Miniature Pinscher

Take an Italian Greyhound and mix it with a German Pinscher, and you get a pint-sized doggie resembling a Doberman. The Miniature Pinscher is a smooth-coated and well-balanced dog. It has a height of 25-30 cm and weighs 4-5 kgs. But, it is a proud beast, fearless, and committed.

Min Pins make superb companions. They do great with families and older folks, too. However, it is too fragile to be allowed to be handled by toddlers. The Zwergpinscher has a natural aptitude for training. So, you’ll see that Min Pins make A-grade hunters as well as watchdogs.

17. Dachshund

The Dachshund is a dog apart; that is to say, it’s long, stretched body with short legs is easily recognizable. Hence, it is called the Sausage or Weiner Dog. A little over 13 inches and weighing about 16-32 lbs, the Dachshund is a devoted companion that requires little grooming. And this breed is too mature to suffer separation anxiety.

It is a pretty accessible dog available in multiple colors, with smooth, wiry, or hairy coats. And it loves to play or cuddle in equal measure.

If you look at its worldwide appeal, you’ll realize that more movies are starring Dachshund than any other breed of dog. Toy Story, Open Season, and Secret Life of Pets are examples of animated films with Dachshunds.

18. Norfolk Terrier

An independent beast in nature, the Norfolk Terriers make excellent companions. Norfolk Terriers can get into trouble for their need to be active because they were initially bred for hunting. However, this particular breed seems to thrive with human contact.

Moreover, Norfolk Terriers are absolutely adorable. So, be prepared to hear all the ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ when you take your faithful pet out for a walk.

19. Norwich Terrier

The Norwich Terrier is the distant cousin of the Norfolk Terrier. What’s the difference between the two, you might ask? Norfolk Terriers are the drop-eared variety. Both are cuteness personified, and both are thought to be the smallest terriers in the world.

Norwich Terriers are free-spirited and fun-loving. So, making new friends with strange pets or humans is a superpower. But, having Terrier blood gives it the unique ability to sense and alert for danger way before anything appears out of the ordinary.

20. Cairn Terrier

Here you have a Terrier that comes straight from the Scottish Highlands. It’s an ancient breed. Cute, friendly, and stubborn to boot, Cairn Terriers make for fiercely loyal friends and family members.

You have to remember that the Cairn is a hunting dog and Scottish no less. The Terrier winded up, getting called Cairn as that’s where these dogs hunted for small prey.

Cairns have cute button noses, small mouths, and shaggy fur. Moreover, their coats seem to be water-resistant. All in all, it’s kind of a perfect pet for anyone who lives in an apartment.

Hold on, folks – our 411 on small canine breeds is far from over. Here are some pertinent FAQs related to the world’s tiniest pooches.

What are the benefits of getting a small dog?

To begin with, small dogs require less food, space, and grooming. It’s easier to carry small dogs to places also.

Furthermore, if you are a dog lover and are adamant about keeping a dog, it’s wiser to adopt a small dog. Because, even though small dog bites are painful, but they can’t cause extensive injuries. Large dog breeds may show aggression sometimes—that can lead to serious injury.

Yet, if you adore larger-sized dogs, then adopting an English Cocker Spaniel would make the most sense. It’s an extremely intelligent animal with a fun-loving disposition. And it is unbelievably mild-tempered too.

What are the common problems encountered by small breeds?

When it comes to drawbacks, smaller dog breeds tend to have more health issues. They also suffer adversely from anxiety problems. Some small dog breeds are even known to die from shock.

You also have to consider that a small dog means smaller organs. So, you may find small canines can develop tracheal collapse, mitral valve disease, and whelping conditions.

How did small breeds evolve to be the way they are today?

As far as doggy evolution is concerned, studies in the scientific journal of nature support that state dogs’ domestication began in the Middle East. Similarly, Robert Wayne, Professor of evolutionary biology at the University of California, says that dogs and cats were first domesticated and bred to reproduce smaller dogs’ breeds in the Fertile Crescent region.

Back in the day, most people didn’t have humongous living quarters – so the attempt to produce smaller canine breeds makes sense. Funny how things come back into fashion, isn’t it?

Which of the smallest dog breeds is the easiest to take care of?

Chihuahuas and Griffons are some of the easiest canines to take care of. Both these breeds have fewer grooming needs and are super loyal. However, they aren’t clingy. In short, Chihuahuas and Griffons are pretty stress-free when it comes to human effort and care.

Can small dogs be dangerous too?

The size of a dog is often irrelevant when it comes to aggression. If a dog does not feel threatened with its environment, it does not show aggression. The surest way to take care of the problem is to make sure that your pet feels relatively comfortable around people and other pets. Early training and socialization are the best tools to help any dog owner to rear mature canines.

What small breeds don’t bark a lot?

Unfortunately, smaller dog breeds are prone to barking more than larger dogs. But, if you adopt dogs bred for royalty such as King Charles Spaniel, then you’ll have a much quieter dog.

What is the smartest small dog breed?

Dogs are smart creatures. But, when you consider the degrees of intelligence in small canines – Pomeranians and Papillons take the cake. However, Corgis are also pretty dynamic and also have a much sweeter temperament.

Whether you live in a mansion or an apartment, your life can become far more rewarding and enriched with the presence of a canine. It sounds a bit over the top, but it is also the truth.

However, living accommodations can present some serious challenges when it comes to adopting a pet. Hopefully, the list you’ve been through will help you make your choice and allow you to develop a lifelong friendship with a miniature dog.

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