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Top Ten Best Small Dog Breeds [Update 2024]

We’re looking at the top ten best small dog breeds! Small dogs prove that the best things often come in small packages and tiny bundles of love and attitude; they’re relatively low-maintenance and make easy travelling companions.

The right small dog for you depends on what you’re looking for in personality, grooming commitment, and activity level. Here are the top ten of the best small dog breeds share.

Best Small Dog Breeds for Families

Here’s a look at the top 10 smallest dog breeds (according to the official report from the American Kennel Club) and why they make the best furry friends.

  • Bichon Frise
  • Poodle
  • Yorkshire Terrier
  • Chihuahua
  • Pomeranian
  • Pug
  • Shih Tzu
  • Dachshund
  • Boston Terrier
  • Maltese

Bichon Frise 

Appearance

  • Size: Small, typically weighing between 12-18 pounds (5.4-8.2 kg).
  • Height: About 9.5-11.5 inches (24-29 cm) at the shoulder.
  • Coat: Soft, curly, and white. The coat is hypoallergenic and requires regular grooming.
  • Eyes: Dark, expressive eyes.
  • Ears: Drop ears covered with long hair.
  • Tail: Plumed and carried over the back.

Temperament

  • Friendly and Affectionate: Known for their cheerful and affectionate nature.
  • Playful: Energetic and playful, making them great companions for families.
  • Intelligent: Quick learners but can sometimes be stubborn.
  • Good with Children and Pets: Generally good with children and other pets, making them excellent family dogs.

Health

  • Lifespan: Typically 12-15 years.
  • Common Health Issues: Prone to allergies, dental problems, hip dysplasia, and patellar luxation. Regular vet check-ups are important.
  • Diet: A balanced diet appropriate for their size and activity level.

Poodle

Appearance

  • Size:
    • Standard Poodle: Over 15 inches (38 cm) at the shoulder.
    • Miniature Poodle: 10-15 inches (25-38 cm) at the shoulder.
    • Toy Poodle: Up to 10 inches (25 cm) at the shoulder.
  • Weight:
    • Standard Poodle: 40-70 pounds (18-32 kg).
    • Miniature Poodle: 10-15 pounds (4.5-7 kg).
    • Toy Poodle: 4-6 pounds (1.8-2.7 kg).
  • Coat: Curly, dense, and in various solid colours, including white, black, apricot, and grey.
  • Eyes: Dark and oval-shaped, giving an intelligent expression.
  • Ears: Long, flat, and hang close to the head.
  • Tail: Often docked, carried up but not curled over the back.

Health

  • Lifespan:
    • Standard Poodle: 10-18 years.
    • Miniature and Toy Poodle: 12-15 years.

Yorkshire Terrier 

History

  • Origin: Developed in Yorkshire, England, during the 19th century.
  • Background: Bred to catch rats in textile mills and mines.
  • Popularity: Became popular as a fashionable companion dog in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Appearance

  • Height: About 7-8 inches (18-20 cm) at the shoulder.
  • Coat: Long, silky, and straight. The coat is traditionally steel blue and tan.
  • Eyes: Dark and medium-sized with a sharp, intelligent expression.
  • Ears: Small, V-shaped, and erect.
  • Tail: Often docked to a medium length and carried slightly higher than the back level.
  • Size: Small, typically weighing 4-7 pounds (1.8-3.2 kg).

Chihuahua 

Appearance

  • Size: Tiny, typically weighing 2-6 pounds (0.9-2.7 kg).
  • Height: About 5-8 inches (13-20 cm) at the shoulder.
  • Coat: Comes in two varieties: smooth coat (short and close-lying) and long coat (soft, sometimes slightly curly).
  • Colour: Can be any colour or combination of colours, including fawn, black, white, chocolate, and cream.
  • Eyes: Large, round, and expressive, usually dark, but can be lighter in lighter-coloured dogs.
  • Ears: Large, erect, and flaring to the sides when alert.
  • Tail: Moderately long, carried either in a sickle shape or looped over the back.

Chihuahuas are small dogs with big personalities. Despite their size, they are loyal, affectionate, and confident, often making excellent watchdogs.

Pomeranian 

Health

  • Lifespan: Typically 12-16 years.
  • Common Health Issues: Prone to dental problems, patellar luxation, tracheal collapse, and heart issues.
  • Diet: Needs a balanced diet appropriate for their small size and high energy levels

Appearance

  • Size: Small, typically weighing between 3-7 pounds (1.4-3.2 kg).
  • Colour: It comes in various colours, including orange, black, white, blue, red, and cream.
  • Eyes: Dark, medium-sized, and almond-shaped, giving an alert and intelligent expression.
  • Ears: Small, erect, and set high.
  • Tail: Plumed and carried high and flat over the back.
  • Coat: Double coat with a soft, dense undercoat and a long, straight, harsh-textured outer jacket.
  • Height: About 6-7 inches (15-18 cm) at the shoulder.

Pug 

Appearance

  • Size: Small, typically weighing between 14-18 pounds (6.3-8.2 kg).
  • Height: About 10-13 inches (25-33 cm) at the shoulder.
  • Coat: Short, smooth, and glossy.
  • Colour: Common colours include fawn, black, apricot, and silver fawn.
  • Eyes: Large, round, and dark, giving a sweet and expressive look.
  • Ears: Small, soft.
  • Tail: Curled tightly over the hip.

In short, Pugs are affectionate, playful and calm-natured companions suitable for families, singles and seniors. They have a distinctive appearance and a rich history as royal companions.

Requiring regular grooming and moderate exercise due to their brachycephalic structure, their intelligence and charm make them beloved pets.

Shih Tzu 

Shih Tzu Overview:

  • Size: Small, weighing 9-16 pounds (4-7.3 kg) and standing 9-10.5 inches (23-27 cm) tall.
  • Coat: Long, dense, and flowing with various color options.
  • Temperament: Affectionate, loyal, playful, and friendly.
  • Health: Lifespan of 10-16 years; prone to dental issues, eye problems, and joint conditions.
  • Care: Requires regular grooming due to long coat; needs moderate exercise and early socialization.
  • History: Originated in Tibet, developed in China as royal companions.
  • Living Conditions: Adaptable to apartments; enjoys human companionship and may experience separation anxiety.

Shih Tzus are cherished for their loving nature, distinctive appearance, and suitability as indoor companions.

Dachshund 

Appearance

  • Coat: Three coat varieties: smooth (short), long-haired, and wire-haired.
  • Colour: Comes in various colours and patterns, including red, black and tan, chocolate, cream, and dapple.
  • Eyes: Medium-sized, almond-shaped, and expressive, with dark or light colours depending on coat colour.
  • Ears: Long, floppy, and set near the top of the head.
  • Size: Comes in three sizes: standard, miniature.
    • Standard: Typically weighs between 16-32 pounds (7-14.5 kg).
    • Miniature: Typically weighs up to 11 pounds (5 kg).
    • Kaninchen: Even smaller than the miniature, often not exceeding 8 pounds (3.5 kg).
  • Height: About 8-9 inches (20-23 cm).
  • Tail: Long, tapering, and carried in line with the back or slightly curved.

Boston Terrier 

Health

  • Lifespan: Typically 11-13 years.

Appearance

  • Size: Small to medium, typically weighing 12-25 pounds (5.4-11.3 kg).
  • Height: About 15-17 inches (38-43 cm) at the shoulder.
  • Coat: Short, smooth, and fine-textured.
  • Colour: Brindle, seal, or black with white markings on the muzzle, between the eyes, and chest.
  • Eyes: Large, round, and dark, giving a friendly and alert expression.
  • Ears: Small, erect, and set at the corners of the skull.
  • Tail: Short, straight or screw-shaped, and set low on the rump.

History

  • Origin: Developed in the United States in the late 19th century.

Maltese 

Appearance

  • Size: Small, typically weighing between 4-7 pounds (1.8-3.2 kg).
  • Height: About 7-9 inches (18-23 cm) at the shoulder.
  • Coat: Long, silky, and straight without an undercoat.
  • Color: Pure white, although slight lemon or tan markings on the ears are permissible.
  • Eyes: Dark, round, and expressive, giving a sweet and alert look.
  • Ears: Droopy, covered with long hair, and set low.
  • Tail: Long and carried over the back, with a flowing plume.

Health

  • Lifespan: Typically 12-15 years.

They are gentle, playful, and highly trainable, making them excellent companions for a variety of homes.

FAQ:

Which is the best small dog breed for apartments?

Breeds like the French Bulldog, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and Maltese.

How much exercise do small dog breeds need daily?

Most small dog breeds require around 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Are small dog breeds good with children?

Yes, many small dog breeds exist, such as the Yorkshire Terrier and Boston Terrier.

How long do small dog breeds typically live?

Lifespans average between 12 to 16 years, depending on the breed.

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