21 Best Toy and Miniature Dog Breeds for Families

toy dog breeds

Dog lovers reside in two groups: those who adore big, powerful canines and others who cherish a pocketful of four-legged cuteness. People who appreciate all dog breeds understand the need for toy dog breeds and their larger cousins.

A toy dog breed is a perfect match for pet lovers who want a companion dog but can’t commit to long trips to dog parks or have matching couch potato tendencies like pups in the toy group category.

Not all dogs in the toy group are registered with the American Kennel Club, like the toy poodle, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Manchester Terrier, and other popular toy dog breed champions.

At WAF, we love all dogs, from rescued shelter dogs to the smallest dog breeds and medium-sized best friend dogs. We can’t support puppy mill dogs, though we secretly long to rescue every one of them and abolish this horrific trade.

What is a Toy Breed?

Toy dog breeds come from a long pedigree of Spaniels, Pinschers, and Terriers that breeders genetically bred into adorable groups of pups like the Yorkshire Terrier, Teacup Poodle, tiny Maltese, or any miniature dog registered on the American Kennel Club roster or a designer breed (non-registered) that promotes the features of popular toy dog breeds

Many toy dog breeds have a long working tradition as hunters, ratters, or guard dogs, and not all toy breeds make a good lap dog. Small dog breeds also have a long history of serving as status symbols for the elite or royalty.

Many designer toy dogs take the best characteristics from the toy group, like the Toy Poodle, or breed the smallest toy breeds to make humans go gaga over these silky-haired or hypoallergenic dogs.

Toy Dog Breeds 

Not all toy breeds are AKC registered, as there is a surge in popularity among designer breeds like the Yorkipoo or hybrids like the mini or toy Cavapoo. Toy dog breeds are ideal for city folk and apartment dwellers.

Poodle 

miniature dog breeds

Poodles are the foundation for many designer breeds, but the original German poodle comes in mini, standard, and toy. These miniature or toy breed poodles can be as little as 4 to 6 pounds and train their brilliance and active disposition. 

Easy to train, great with children, and has a hypoallergenic coat. The Poodle is the national dog of France. Poodles are highly intelligent and good-natured dogs that thoroughly enjoy games and activities.

Papillon 

mini dogs

This little dog weighs between 5  to 10 pounds and is easily distinguishable by its butterfly-like ears trimmed in silky hair. Super smart and cute, they learn tricks easily.

Papillons make excellent companions for active people and excel in sports like agility, flyball, and obedience, which sets them apart among the smallest dog breeds.

Brussels Griffon

small stature miniature dogs

Seriously, that face is going to melt hearts. Brussels Griffon loves attention and is an in-your-face dog with a very sensitive nature who enjoys adults over rambunctious children. Brussels Griffons weigh 8 to 10 pounds and appreciate a good game but suffer when not with you.

Bred to keep vermin at bay in Belgium, those adorable little dogs wormed their way into becoming companion dogs.

Chihuahua

minature dog breeds

The Chihuahua is undoubtedly the original toy dog breed: small in size and big on attitude. This breed weighs around 6 pounds and is a perfect city or apartment living companion. Super bright, Chihuahuas aren’t wallflowers and fare well with training or become obnoxious.

They prefer to love grown-ups and don’t like sharing your affection. Viva la Mexico, Chihuahuas also hold the record for the Guinness Book of World Records with Miracle Milly, who weighed 1 pound. Try not to smile as you watch.

Pekingese

types of toy dogs

Pekingese retain their sophisticated air and royal gait and don’t mind being spoiled with love and affection. Once the companions to Chinese emperors and royalty, this  Chinese breed are 14-pound cuties and super loyal, cuddly, and tolerant of well-behaved children on their terms. Grooming is essential.

Italian Greyhound 

mini dogs breeds

Elegant, sleek, and gorgeous in designer coats, these miniatures are active, agile runners but completely devoted to their humans and don’t want to be left alone.

Sometimes, Italian Greyhounds get confused with Whippets. These canines sprint at 25 mph and weigh up to 14 pounds. They’re great with other dog companions too.

Havanese

minature dogs

This Cuban cariño has a happy-go-lucky disposition toward everyone, including a canine’s #1 nemesis, the feline. With a strong family connection to the Bichon family and Maltese, this little charmer adores everyone. Only weighing between 7 and 13 pounds, Havanese are on guard.

Havanese dogs, with their luxurious silky coat and playful personalities, are a delightful bundle of joy and make amazing human companions.

Pomeranian

small breed puppy

There is a reason they’re one of the most popular toy breeds. Poms are endlessly curious and look bigger than their 7 pounds due to their fluffy coats. With a face like a fox, this toy dog breed isn’t shy and is eager to learn tricks. Pomeranians make wonderful companions in any setting.

Shih Tzu

best small dog breeds for families

Shih Tzu is the personification of a toy breed lap dog. Shih Tzu toy breeds take their companion duty seriously and are a good match for old and young. Ideal for small spaces, although their Chinese lineage suggests they’re used to palaces, these 9 to 16-pound dolls are calm and bright and enjoy being pampered.

Silky Terrier

miniature dog breeders

Silkies sometimes get mistaken for Yorkies, but this Aussie with long silky tresses is larger at 10 lbs and not as common. True to the nature of Terriers, Silky Terriers have a hunting and competitive streak paired with a gentle and sweet-natured disposition. 

Toy Fox Terrier 

cutest mini dogs

Weighing in at 4 to 9 pounds, this featherweight has the energy to spare. Toy Foxies enjoy a good game of fetch to match their former hunting terrier instinct. Lively and smart, Toy Fox Terriers are a robust small dog breed with low grooming needs.

Yorkshire Terrier

best mini dogs

Rumour has it that Yorkies didn’t always live in the lap of luxury. Stemming from humble roots as a rat catcher, this adorable tyke still has a guarding instinct despite the ribbons and bows.

Perfect for anyone with allergies, a Yorkshire Terrier at 7 pounds is portable and looks smashing in a Hermes designer bag. Notable celebrities like Simon Cowell, Howie, and Natalie Portman adore their Yorkies.

Affenpinscher

cutest toy dogs

Affen means ape or monkey in German, and that precious face of the Affenpinscher says it all. At 7 to 8 pounds, this monkey is full of spunk and curiosity. They like being the star of the show and entertain effortlessly, and don’t mind a good snuggle.

Biewer Terrier

small toy dog breeds

Pronounced Beaver, this toy breed Terriers has gorgeous fur and close ties to its look-alike, the Yorkie. Weighing just 4 to 8 pounds, Biewers are agile, alert, proficient hunters and get along well with children and other dogs. They make efficient guardians and like to carry things.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

small dogs that dont grow

Cavaliers are used to the finer things and retain their docile temper, grace, and intellect, which made them favorites with two King Charles. Their smiling face is unmistakable; though they’re sporting dogs, they appreciate your lap and affection.

Weighing 13 to 18 pounds, this breed mixed with a poodle is the foundation of adorable Cavapoos. They also make great therapy dogs.

English Toy Spaniel

best small dogs for families

English Toy Spaniels have a history with Royalty. Still, this sporting dog gets the Gold Star for merit. It is a wonderful companion for families, children, seniors, and other pets and has a loving disposition if it decides to like you. This toy breed can be stubborn but is an excellent choice, not to be confused with English Cocker Spaniels.

Japanese Chin 

little puppies

This Asian dog breed has many unmistakable traits, one being it’s almost like a cat. Chins get along with other family pets but aren’t keen on children. They look like an exotic blend of a Pekingese and Cavalier Spaniel but have a unique royal bearing and glamour coat that disguises their 7 to 11-pound frame.

Pug

dogs that don't grow

Pugs make adorable piggy noises since they’re part of the Brachycephalic group of toy breeds. Pugs know how to take advantage of their cuteness factor and enjoy a lavish lifestyle of couch and lap surfing and cruising for treats.

Weighing 14 to 18 pounds, Pugs have a long history with Chinese and Dutch Royalty. Pugs, with their smooth and short coat, compact body, and low-maintenance grooming needs, are the perfect blend of charm and ease.

Russian Toy 

best toy breed dogs

A Russian Toy resembles a Chihuahua and Miniature Pinscher with long limbs and a lean physique at 6.5 pounds. Despite their minuscule size, Russian Toys like to have fun, are smart, and stick close to their humans. They voice their neglect and remind you when it’s game-on time.

Three Bonus Toy Dog Breeds You Must Meet

To complete the list of ‘Smallest Toy Dog,’ perfect for you, here are the last lesser-known ones in the tiny dog group.

Chinese Crested Dog

a toy dog

Not everyone appreciates the unique look of these hypoallergenic dogs, but not everyone can maintain a dog with silky hair. Hairless dogs like the Chinese Crested have tufts of hair on their paws, tails, and heads and have luxurious human-like skin, while other Chinese Cresteds have fur.

They have a dominant gene that makes these 10 to 13-pound canines unique, though not always wholly bald.

This is not a new hybrid. Instead, it’s one of the oldest dog breeds.

Manchester Terrier Toy

mini terrier breeds

The Toy Manchester Terrier is the mini-me version of the Manchester Terrier, which has genetic connections to an old black and tan Terrier and the sprite Whippet. Breed for rat catching, this breed became a favorite with Victorians, and breeders simply downsized the breed. Some of these toy terriers weighed as little as 2.2 pounds.

Today, this long-legged toy terrier can’t weigh over 12 pounds and merits a disqualification if they have cropped ears. They’re energetic and agile and are mistaken for Miniature Pinschers and Russian Toys.

Miniature Pinscher

toy sized dogs

Mini Pins aren’t distant cousins of the formidable Doberman Pinscher, although the Mini Pin hasn’t read the memo. Fierce in temperament, this vocal toy breed is fun, entertaining, and playful.

Known as the King of Toys, Mini Pins weigh only 10 pounds but have the drive to keep busy all day. Miniature Pinschers, with their sleek and smooth coat, embody an elegant and energetic charm in a tiny package.

Originating in Germany, Zwerg Pinschers or Dwarf Pinschers share an ancestry with their twin Manchester Terrier and the German Pinscher.

FAQs

Unlike larger breeds, toy breeds don’t need long walks, they require oodles of attention, playtime, and affection.

What Dogs Come in Toy Sizes?

According to the AKC, there are 21 dog breeds in the toy breed group. The registered group includes the breeds listed above and the Chinese Crested (Hairless), Manchester Toy Terrier, and Miniature Pinscher.

Designer breeds include Cavapoos, Yorkiepoos, Puggle, Schnoodles, and Cockapoo. However, the recipe for designer toy breeds is endless.

What Is the Most Common Toy Dog?

Chihuahuas, Toy Poodles, Yorkies, Cavapoos, Yorkiepoos, and many toy breeds clamor for the title ‘most common toy dog.’ Also, the Shih Tzu, Pug, Cavalier Spaniel, Pomeranian, and Bichon belong among the most cherished toy breeds.

True numbers are difficult to gauge as not all breeders are legit or registered. Further, puppy mills churn out toy breeds to meet the insatiable demand.

Final Verdict on Toy Dogs That Melt Our Hearts

There isn’t one toy group on this list that isn’t likable. From long-haired pups to whip-smart to Chinese royalty, these dogs, despite their diminutive size, leave a lasting legacy on our emotions.

These cute dog breeds aren’t in competition with larger dogs but are popular because they fit our lifestyle and needs. Some of these little guys are great with small children; others offer companionship with affectionate lapdog personalities.

Monika Martyn
Monika Martyn is a nomadic minimalist and published author. Her pet portfolio includes experience with over forty cats and dogs, and she becomes their surrogate and a valued pack member. One of her proudest accomplishments is typing while petting a fur baby on her lap. She also excels at dog-speak and cat-talk and is working on mastering fish lingo. Aside from her animal advocacy, she is passionate about the environment, plastic pollution, and living with less (not including chocolate and coffee). She practices yoga and meditation faithfully. She’s experienced living abroad and believes that together people can evoke change for the better. Or at least be kind to one another despite our differences. She has an uncanny knack for remembering people’s names. She’s proud of her two Pushcart Nominations, her debut novel, and her marriage. When she’s not writing, she’s thinking about writing. Monika believes that education is the biggest gift to humanity at any age.

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