19 Dog Breeds That Stay Small Forever

tiny dogs that stay tiny

The only thing I can say that stays small in my life would be my bank account. Usually, we want things bigger and better, but bigger doesn’t always mean better, especially with dogs that stay small.

Are you looking for a dog who doesn’t take up a lot of space or knock things over with a flip of their tail? Or maybe for a dog who doesn’t cost as much as a Doberman Pinscher would at the vet? Thank goodness there are dogs that stay small who can make your little dog dreams happen.

We want to tell you about dog breeds that can look up at a German Shepherd and say, “Great things come in small packages.” These little guys cut your work in half and can completely fit in your lap with their whole bodies and not just their, um, behinds.

So join us as we unveil 19 dogs that stay small. And get ready to fall in love!

Pros and Cons of Having a Small Dog

As is in life, there are pros and cons to just about everything. Here’s our list of them:

PROS 

  1. Less cost at the veterinarian. Small dogs have smaller everything in their anatomy and require less treatment, including vaccinations and parasite and heart medications. Visiting the vet will be easier on your pocket.
  2. Less waste to clean up outside or at the dog park. ‘Nuff said.
  3. Easier to transport them. If you’ve ever tried to get a nervous German shepherd into a crate to travel, you know what I’m talking about.
  4. Easier to control them. A lot of training practices can be remedied if you give them a gentle touch, and trimming their nails becomes less of a headache, too.
  5. You can pick them up and put them in a different room if they become Cujo when someone visits.
  6. When they get the zoomies, your furniture doesn’t fall over.   

CONS

  1. They’re easier to trip over and injure you or little Penelope.
  2. Their greatest talent isn’t being a guard dog since the most they could probably do is nick an intruder’s ankles.
  3. They could be more vocal, i.e., bark like the devil for no reason at all without proper training.

Dogs That Stay Small 

Step into the charming world of pint-sized pups: discover the delightful dogs that stay adorably small and steal big pieces of your heart!

1. Italian Greyhound

small terrier breeds

This beautiful breed, coming in at 7-14 lbs. and 13”-15”, is the perfect example of a dog that stays small. The most you would need to deal with are those long legs sticking out like firewood in your lap. When they sprawl out on the couch, you won’t need to move into the next room. 

They’re in the Toy group of the American Kennel Club (AKC) and are the smallest of the sight hounds. Although their exact origin remains fuzzy, they’re depicted in artwork dating back some 2,000 years.

When breeders (boo) decided to try and make the dog even smaller, their health suffered, and hopefully, that goal has mainly run its course. They first saw America in the late 1800s, and this small breed is a large prize.

2. Toy Poodle

terrier breeds small

What’s more adorable than a toy poodle? Not much. There are three sizes of poodles – Standard, miniature, and toy – and they all trot around like King Tut. Their coat maintenance is not nearly as energy-laden as trying to maintain the larger poodle’s coif.

(Although, be aware that you still need to have them groomed, or do it yourself, every 4-6 weeks and brush them daily so mats don’t take root.) You could also just keep Toy Poodles easily maintainable with a short cut.

Extremely affectionate with the family and young children, they may not get along so easily with other dogs, so be sure to socialize them at a young age, and they can become familiar with Brutus. These dogs that stay small are quite the joy to have around and will become the guardian’s pride and joy. 

3. Pekingese

smallest dogs

We had a Pekingese when I was a toddler who was gentle and affectionate with me. Ancient Chinese royalty bred them to live in their palaces, and the West saw the breed first in 1860. 

This breed, like the Shih Tzu, Pug, and French bulldog, is a flat-faced breed and has brachycephaly – a sometimes fatal condition that makes it difficult to breathe. They should be kept cool, remain inside as much as possible, and not taken out in the heat or humidity to exercise.

The Pekingese is only 6”-9” tall and weighs up to 14 lbs. They have a unique coat that is usually left long for the conformation (dog show) ring. This breed can certainly be little barkers, but early training can rectify that not-so-attractive trait. They trot around proudly, and their cute factor is off the charts.   

4. Bichon Frise

small puppies

French for bichon à poil frisé or “curly-haired lapdog,” the Bichon brings smiles everywhere it goes. Talk about portability; you can take this dog anywhere (as long as it’s not Walmart or other Grinch-y type places).

Placed in the non-sporting group, they are 12-18 lbs. and can live 14-15 yrs. Good with families, small children, seniors, strangers, and other dogs, the Bichon has never met someone he doesn’t love.

Just be prepared to groom this tiny dog frequently, as in daily. Any matting can become quite uncomfortable and even become infectious. That hair though… the groomer can go at it to create a masterpiece. 

These dogs that stay small were once circus performers, which showed their intelligence. They excel at agility and obedience competitions, and when you see them perform, you just want to take one home. They’ll be quite upset if you leave them alone for long periods, so get that small carrier or purse ready.  

5. Brussels Griffon

small dogs that dont grow

This 8-10 lb. breed has a wiry or smooth double coat and was bred to be rat catchers in stables. Be aware they also have brachycephaly and need to be watched for symptoms like heavy panting, audible wheezing, or other sounds.

(Please try to adopt a flat-faced dog rather than getting one from a breeder, which perpetuates the cycle of pursuing a flatter and flatter-faced dog.)

They’re affectionate and tend to prefer one person in the family more than others, depending on the individual dog. They have a glorious beard and mustache that makes them look important, and of course, they are. They don’t shed a great deal, but no dog is completely hypoallergenic since all of them shed dander. This small dog is a big personality that comes in a small package.  

6. Japanese Chin

smallest dog breed in the world

Loyal, independent, and playful, the Chin was actually developed in China, but many discovered them in Japan. You probably wouldn’t want to name your Japanese Chin Big Red, but maybe something more like Gizmo. 

This small dog breed is generally healthy but can develop conditions like cataracts and patellar luxation (dislocated kneecaps). They only weigh 7-11 lbs. and are champs at learning if you start early, 8 wks, and are patient using only positive reinforcement

They’re relatively rare in America since most people will go for the Shih Tzu or Pekingese instead. We can’t mention brachycephaly enough, so heads up, this is a flat-faced breed.

The Chin can get along with young children, but since they can get too rambunctious, older children might be better roommates for them.  

7. Papillion

tiny dog breeds that stay small

The Papillion is highly adaptable and trainable, making them the perfect choice for first-time guardians or those who live in an apartment. They are more energetic than some other small breeds but still only need a good romp inside and outdoors daily. (Be sure to watch them outside since large animals can mistake them for their lunch).

Their hair is long and silky but doesn’t need a huge amount of attention since they don’t have an undercoat. This is the dog with massive ears that make it look like they could take flight at any moment. 

8. Silky Terrier

types of small dogs

Certainly named correctly, these are the little dogs who garner such applause at conformation shows as they bounce around the ring with their hair blowing in the wind. They’re a bit larger than the Yorkshire terrier, which we’ll talk about below, and will let you know when they need to sound the alarm.

They can become food territorial, so be sure not to free-feed them (leaving food down constantly) and prepare the food with bowls up. This also lets them know who their boss is and is a great training method.

Silky Terrier needs daily exercise and mental stimulation in the form of puzzle games or treat mats. A good game of tug-of-war is also good for their body and mind.  

9. Affenpinscher

small terriers

This breed’s name may not roll off your tongue like the silky terrier, but they’re also a floofy, adorable dog. The affenpinscher made itself known in 2013 when it won the Westminster Kennel Club (UK) dog show as the first one of the breeds ever to win the top spot.

The name “affenpinscher” is “monkey terrier” in German, and the miniature pinscher does look a little like a primate. Centuries of genetic manipulation have resulted in the breed’s flat face, and you guessed it… They’re brachycephalic.

This dog that stays small was bred to hunt vermin and still has quite the high prey drive, chasing birds and such whenever they get the chance. Note: It’s probably best not to have smaller pets than the breed around.  

10. Yorkshire Terrier

puppies that stay small

Not many of us have ever heard of a Yorkie, and if you’ve met one, you’ll remember it. They want to be in the center of things, can be bossy like a true terrier, and were also bred to chase vermin. This breed makes excellent watchdogs and is blessed with human-like silky hair. 

Another favorite at conformation shows, the Yorkie loves agility and obedience competitions. They’re no shrinking violets and will let you know when they need some good ole’ snuggle time.

The Yorkshire terrier’s average height is only 7”-8” tall, and they weigh 7 lbs. so be careful around them. As with any small dog, you don’t want to harm them just by walking around. That name comes from Yorkshire, England, where they were developed during the 19th century.

11. Miniature Dachshund

puppy small dog breeds

The standard Dachshund weighs 16-32 lbs. while the miniature weighs 11 lbs. or under. The “hotdog,” “wiener dog,” or “sausage dog,” their nicknames, come in three coat varieties: Smooth, wirehaired, and longhaired. People usually recognize the smooth-haired one.

The mini Dachshund is the same breed as the standard size; they’re just selectively bred to be small. These dogs are affectionate and energetic. Just be prepared to possibly carry them up and down stairs since it can be strenuous on their backs. (It’s also a good idea to have a ramp that leads up to the bed if, in fact, the bed is fair game.)

They’re mentioned as early as the 18th century when they had more normal-sized legs. It was through selective breeding that the legs became shorter and shorter to be able to fit into or burrow down into badger holes. 

12. Chihuahua

purse dog breeds

Let the sassiness begin! Arguably one of the most popular dog breeds on this list, these dogs that stay small are personality-plus. I’ve had several, and they’re extremely loving and vocal. “Energetic” is their middle name, and they became my best friends.

You might have heard they’re not great with small children (and in general, they’re not), but the ones I’ve had were excellent with my daughter when she was a toddler. It helped that I trained them early.

They’re from the Mexican state of Chihuahua and are the smallest dog breed in all of Dog Kingdom. (5”-8” and not exceeding 6 lbs.) This dog will pull no punches and let you know exactly how they feel. Rather refreshing, don’t you think?  

13. Coton de Tulear

smallest toy dog breeds

What’s all white, fluffy, and is so cute you could pinch it? Yep, this dog breed. They’re in the Non-Sporting group, and their size, 8-15 lbs., is somewhat bigger than others on this list.

With a double coat and wavy long hair, you’ll need to groom them regularly, brushing them weekly. They get along with everyone, so no need to call the Snippy Dog Police on this one. 

Historical facts on the sweet breed are murky, but we do know they date back to around the 15th century in the city of Tulear, where Frenchmen and women colonized Madagascar. Their name means “cotton” in French. 

14. Biewer Terrier

all small dog breeds

At only 4-8 lbs, this dog that stays small could easily pass for a stuffed animal. With gorgeous silky hair and penetrating eyes, they’re known to get just about anything they want in a household. But always train small dogs consistently and while they’re young. They need training just like large dogs do, so you won’t have a tiny Napolean living in your home.

These dogs are practically newborns in the US. They came in the early 2000s from Germany, where a pup had been born with rare white markings to a German couple that bred Yorkies.

Their gorgeous tri-colors can be chocolate, tan, and white; black, tan, and white; blue, tan, and white. The Biewer terrier was first recognized as a breed by the AKC in 2021. 

15. Maltese

little dog

This gentle sprite, under 7 lbs, comes from the islands of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea. They’re playful and affectionate and come in colors of… all white. Much older than the Biewer terrier, they were introduced to Malta by the Phoenicians, who, at one time, ruled the Mediterranean.        

At conformation shows, they wear their coats all the way to the floor but can be cut in a puppy cut (or whatever) if they’re not competitors and just live in your lap. No judgment.  

In 1877, at the first Westminster show in New York, the breed competed as the Maltese Lion Dog.

16. Toy Fox Terrier

mini dogs

These dogs that stay small are alert, intelligent, and protective, making them excellent watchdogs. They originated from American breeders in the early 20th century. This smaller version of the smooth fox terrier has a lot of energy and needs an outlet for it.

Although they can be content while you’re binge-watching TV together, if left alone for long periods, they can become excessive diggers and barkers like terriers can. 

Athletic little dogs, they excel at dog sports like flyball, agility, and rally (when the handler and their dog navigate a course together, moving through 10-20 different signs/instructions). This dog has beauty and talent and are great family dogs.

17. Pomeranian

very small dogs

With Pomeranians weighing 3-7 lbs, guardians should be extra careful when moving around in their homes. It’s just too easy to make a misstep and hurt yourself or your dog. 

This double-coated, longhaired dog is curious on top of all its other wonderful traits. They’re descendants of Spitz dogs (sled-pulling) like the Akita and Samoyed, among others. They originated in Pomerania, a region on the Baltic Sea.

As they circulated into other countries, Queen Victoria became a major fan, and breeders started breeding them into their current size from being 30 lbs. larger. These little spit-fires will keep you laughing with their precious antics. 

18. English Toy Spaniel

what are dogs that stay small

Yet another brachycephalic breed, if you think spaniels are extra-special, this could be the dog for you. They’re affectionate with everyone but may need a minute to warm up to strangers.

They’re also a bit sturdier than their tiny counterparts on this list. Having originated to receive lots of hugs and kisses, they love a good cuddle. They’re sometimes called the “Charlie” in honor of King Charles, similar to the Cavalier King Charles spaniel. They were bred for British aristocracy like so many other toy lap dogs who were bred for royalty.

They’re not known for their protective abilities but will always be easy-going, friendly dogs as long as they’ve had proper (early) training and socialization.

19. Japanese Terrier

tiny dog breeds

This breed is reserved and independent and may not be as lovey-dovey as a Bichon or Coton de Tulear, but they’re still lapdogs and welcome attention. A relatively rare breed, they were originally bred to hunt vermin like so many other terriers. 

Somewhat new to the scene, breeding started in 1920, and the Japanese Kennel Club (JKC) recognized them in 1930. Their dark heads against their white bodies make them stand out and look regal. 

Make sure they’re trained well and consistently since they can become attached mostly to one person in their human pack.  

FAQs

What Breed of Dog Always Stays Small?

  1. Chihuahua
  2. Miniature Dachshund
  3. Pekingese
  4. Toy poodle
  5. Maltese 
  6. Pomeranian
  7. Coton de Tulear
  8. Toy fox terrier
  9. Affenpinscher
  10. Yorkshire terrier

And more.

What Is the Cutest Dog Breed?

It’s hard to be cuter than the Bichon Frise and the poodle, but the very cutest small dog breeds are the ones that are your very own.

What’s the Nicest Small Dog?

The Coton de Tulear, Dachshund, and Maltese all have pleasant temperaments, but additionally, all dog breeds that stay small have wonderful qualities.

Conclusion

So, there are 19 of the smallest dog breeds with big personalities. It takes a special guardian to be in their posse, and if you don’t lead a very active lifestyle, these cuddlers are perfect for you and will become your best friend. Be wary and smart about purchasing small dogs that are advertised as toy dogs. Those breeders may just be out to get your money.

You could put these dogs in your pocket (not literally!), and they will absolutely get loads of attention when they’re accompanying you on your travels. It’s a lucky person who welcomes these dogs that stay small. Just watch where you step!

Jen Flatt Osborn
Born with a pen in her hand and a deadline (and probably a tail), Jen considers writing a vocation, an art, and a release. She’s a freelance copy/content writer who specializes in the pet industry. Previously, she was the founder/director of an animal sanctuary for 12 years, taught classes to middle school students about dog behavior, and has lived a life full of devotion to animals and their welfare. As a vegetarian, Jen advocates for the humane treatment of every living creature. She currently lives with one delightful canine who encourages her to put her head out the car window more often.

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