Having a small dog comes with plenty of perks. Small dog breeds thrive in all kinds of environments, including apartments. They also eat less, so your food bill won’t rocket. Many have gentle personalities that allow them to segue into family life with young children.
Best of all, smaller breeds can curl up on your lap when you’re ready for a cuddle. Get ready to discover the perfect pint-sized pooch for your home.
If you have limited outdoor access and seek a pet who loves to sit in your lap, the Shih Tzu may be your perfect match. Chinese royalty bred this elegant dog for centuries. Most people love the Shih Tzu for its luxurious, long, double coat that often sweeps the ground. Shih Tzus love children, have happy temperaments and are hardy little canines. If left unattended in the yard, they will likely dig holes everywhere. But they prefer to be with their humans. Outside of its need for regular grooming, the Shih Tzu is easy to take care of and an excellent choice for first-time owners.
City dwellers love this affectionate breed, so much so that French Bulldogs rank #4 overall on the AKC list of popular breeds and are the top choice among small breeds. The bat-eared French Bulldog grows to a height of 11 to 13 inches and weighs under 28 pounds. They may have a white, cream, or fawn coat, or a combination. These little charmers are the ultimate companion dog for those who live in apartments or have little outdoor yard space because they don’t require a great deal of exercise. Frenchies are extremely loyal and intelligent, and despite their laid-back temperament, they are excellent watchdogs.
Beagles have expressive faces, long, floppy ears, excellent scent capabilities, and a curious personality. This intelligent breed adapts well to modern lifestyles. The Beagle is a pack dog and loves being with its human or family group. They’re great with children and other dogs, but are energetic and require regular exercise. Beagles range in size from 13 to 15 inches at the shoulder. They weigh between 20 and 25 pounds. In the late 1400s, there was a smaller version of the beagle, the nine-inch Pocket Beagle. However, this type of beagle is extinct. Smaller Beagles sold on the market are may have health issues due to poor breeding practices.
With an average shoulder height of eight to 12 inches and an average weight of three to 10 pounds, the Papillon is one of the tinier breeds. Its coat is long and silky, yet doesn’t mat easily. This elegant little dynamo with the large furry ears isn’t high-strung or nervous and despite its dainty appearance, is surprisingly more sturdy than dogs of similar size. Whether you live in an apartment in the city or a rural farmhouse, Papillons make excellent companions and do well in both warm and cool climates. Many owners train their Papillons in agility and tracking sports. Owners will love the fact that this breed doesn’t have the typical “doggy” odor. Papillons also have a longer life span of up to 15 years.
Most historians agree that Japanese nobles developed the Japanese Chin that we see today between 500 and 1000 years ago. The breed originated in China, however. This charismatic canine exhibits cat-like behaviors including its climbing abilities and its preference to sit in their owner’s lap. They weigh between 7 and 11 pounds and grow to a height of between 8 and 11 inches. The Japanese Chin is highly intelligent and affectionate, but they tend to be a bit stubborn. Their luxurious coat doesn’t require extensive grooming. However, Chins are prone to obesity, so it’s important that they have regular exercise to stay fit.
Although some types of American Eskimo Dogs grow to a height of 19 inches, there are smaller versions of this versatile breed as well. The toy type is between 9 to 12 inches and weighs only 6 to 10 pounds. The miniature version grows up to 15 inches in height at the shoulder and weighs up to 20 pounds once it reaches adulthood. The American Eskimo Dog is one of the most trainable of any dog breed. It’s intelligence, and friendly personality are just two traits that make it a perfect family dog. If neglected or untrained, however, Eskies can quickly become a handful.
For those seeking a small dog who thinks he’s a big one, the Schipperke is a great choice. There’s a good reason this tiny black breed is called the “little captain” in its home country of Belgium. The breed is feisty and strong-willed and will quickly take over the house without proper training. Despite their small stature of under 13 inches, Schips have powerful jaws. They’re agile and stealthy and are good at catching rodents. Schips love children and are loving and protective watchdogs for their family, but stand-offish to strangers. Dog behavior experts do not recommend this breed for first-time owners or those with a less active lifestyle.
One of the most graceful breeds, the Italian Greyhound is a coursing hound, similar to the Greyhound in appearance, but much smaller. Once it reaches adulthood, it weighs no more than 14 pounds and is between 14 to 15 inches at the shoulder. Italian Greyhounds crave attention. They are sweet, gentle, and affectionate, and an excellent companion for those who have quieter households. If you scold them, you’ll see how sensitive they really are. This is an indoor breed that requires protection against the cold temperatures during the winter months. Although playful, IGs don’t do well with children in rambunctious environments and they are aloof with people they don’t know.
Terrier breeds require an owner who is just as headstrong as they are, and the Scottish Terrier is no different. Many people may associate this breed with Lady’s scrappy neighbor, Jock, in the animated film, Lady and the Tramp. Scotties will tenaciously chase after neighborhood cats or unsuspecting vermin that happen to venture into their territory. Nicknamed “The Diehard,” this terrier is native to the Scottish Highlands and has a spirited personality and high energy levels. Once you’re a Scottie fan, you’ll be one for life.
One of the top breeds for obedience sports, the Shetland Sheepdog ranks among the top 25 most popular breeds. It resembles a much smaller version of the Collie. This herding dog is smart, fast, and athletic. They tend to be on the sensitive side and crave affection from their family circle. If the household is experiencing a change or there is stress in the air, the Sheltie will pick up on it. They are always in tune with their owner’s vibe and mood. Shelties require regular grooming. However, you can train them easily because they have a strong desire to please their owners. An environment providing mental stimulation and regular physical activity keeps them happy and well-adjusted. Their herding instincts are strong, so they do well in organized herding activities that you can find through local canine owner’s groups.
Originating from the Pomerania region of Germany and Poland, the Pomeranian is an entertaining dog with a big personality. If you’re seeking a small dog that’ll want plenty of quality time, a Pomeranian is perfect for you.
Although Pomeranians are small, they require up to two brisk walks per day. Bear this in mind if you already lead a hectic lifestyle.
Maltese dogs once held high favor with the royals of Europe. Today, they’re no less glamorous, but they’re far more accessible. Their long and silky coats give them a sleek appearance, but they’ll require regular grooming to stay that way. Weighing between two and seven pounds, they’re wonderfully petite.
Maltese dogs usually respond well to training. However, in their youth, they may need a little more patience than some breeds.
Originating from Yorkshire in England, Yorkshire terriers are ideal small dogs for city dwellers. They only require two small walks per day to thrive, allowing them to fit right into urban areas. They have lively personalities and feel equally comfortable enjoying time at home and exploring busy environments with their owner, to whom they tend to tightly bond.
Although Yorkshire terriers are easy to train, they have a tendency to bark. You’ll need to focus on tackling that habit early on if you want a peaceful life.
In their toy format, poodles reach anywhere between six and 15 pounds. As small and vibrant bags of energy, they usually need two walks per day, amounting to an hour in total. At home, they remain inquisitive and playful, making them ideal if you want a highly interactive dog.
Although poodles often appear proud, they’re people-pleasers at heart. Once a poodle is loyal to you, it’ll stay that way for life.
With their fluffy white coats and cheery demeanor, a typical Bichon Frise would once spend its days performing in a circus. Today, they’re a popular small dog breed that brings joy to owners worldwide. Overall, they’re comfortable living in a range of environments, so you can easily own one whether you live in a house or an apartment.
Full-grown Bichon Frises will be between six and 11 pounds. They don’t require long walks and could even thrive from bounding around a backyard each day.
As members of the Bichon family, Havanese dogs love being the center of attention. They’re natural show-offs, so they’ll offer hours of entertainment to any owner. This trait also means they need a lot of companionship. Because of this, owners can’t leave them alone for long periods.
Havanese dogs weigh anywhere between nine and 16 lbs. They’re energetic, so they need daily walks.
As a 19th-century cross between an English bulldog and an English terrier, the Boston terrier is energetic and engaging. They need at least one hour of exercise per day to stop them from becoming destructive. When you consistently help them burn off energy, you’ll find you have a delightful playmate.
Boston terriers usually weigh between nine and 25 lbs. They love cuddling, but they’re also prone to separation anxiety.
Daschunds have a strong history of hunting rabbits for their owners, using their powerful sense of smell to do so. In their miniature form, their excellent scenting capabilities still make them naturally inquisitive. They require a lot of stimulation but only 30 to 45 minutes of walking per day.
Miniature dachshunds weigh only eight to 11 lbs. Because of their strong prey drive, they distract easily and require patience when training.
Life is never boring when you have a cairn terrier around. They’re fearless and really know their own minds. Because they’re so strong-willed, they need an owner who can give them a lot of time. If you can train a Cairn terrier well, you’ll soon grow to love their feisty character.
Weighing between nine and 15 lbs, Cairn terriers don’t take up much room. They also have dirt-repellant coats, making them quite low-maintenance.
Affectionately known as Westies, West Highland White Terrier are tough yet small. They love hunting and digging, which means they’ll thrive best when they have an outdoor space they can claim as their own. As confident creatures, they require a lot of obedience training, and it’s wise to start from a young age.
Westies weigh between 15 and 20 lbs. They respond well to positive reinforcement and will reward their attentive and loving owner with years of entertainment and affection.
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