45 Best Small Dog Breeds for Families

Small dog breeds

Advocating for particular small dog breeds is personal as the dog becomes an extension of our identity.

Small dog breeds that make great pets from dozens of distinct and adorable breeds like the toy breed Yorkshire Terrier, suave Boston Terrier, and high energy breed Miniature Poodle have consistently ranked on the American Kennel Club’s popular small dog breeds list.

Here are the 45 smallest dog breeds: a cuddly dog selection big on heart and personality from the cutest, rarest, loving, and most brilliant small dog breeds and a fantastic comparison to our WAF’s most popular dog breed list.

Small Dog Breeds

The Frenchie (French Bulldog) has unseated America’s all-time favorite breed, the Labrador Retriever, the undisputed canine king.

1. Alaskan Klee Kai

cute small dog

Never heard of this dog breed before? Think Husky in a 6-25 pound size. Alaskan Klee Kai is a designer version of the formidable sled dog but fits neatly onto your lap. These small dogs have all the charm and markings of their Alaskan Husky cousin.

2. Papillon

purse dogs

Papillon means butterfly in French, and this small dog breed has the prestige of being from a long line of toy spaniels. Papillon or Continental Toy Spaniel has a beautiful fringe around the ears and plenty of energy and agility to compete with larger canines.

3. Toy Fox Terrier

small breed dogs

With big ears, a big personality, and charm, Toy Foxies weigh 4 to 9 pounds. Endowed with silky smooth coats, these small dogs are affectionate, very smart, and is the little cousin of the Smooth Fox Terrier.

4. Chihuahua

dog breeds small

This is undoubtedly among the most popular and cutest dog breeds and Mexican royalty. Very loyal, sometimes vocal, and intensely fierce Chihuahuas come in short, long-haired versions. This pocket dog is between 4 to 8 pounds, depending on the amount of treats.

5. Yorkshire Terrier

mini dogs

Yorkshire Terriers belong in the top cherished small dog breeds with the glistening long coats in the dog show ring. Though once bred for ratting duty in mines and mills, these small breeds moved up and were associated with the elite. At 7 pounds, the Yorkshire Terrier fits nicely into designer bags.

6. Australian Terrier

tiny dogs

Tiny but mighty, these 15 to 20-pound Australian Terriers make excellent companions in a houseful of children. This purebred from the small terrier group is adorable and smart, adapting easily.

7. Pembroke Welsh Corgi

miniature dogs

The Queen’s dogs are famous for being playful, fun, active, and easy to train. These characteristics make them terrific companions for children, and they like to make a ruckus. Pembroke Welsh Corgis are good guard dogs, and strangers need to earn their trust.

8. Cocker Spaniel

small medium dog breeds

These floppy-eared Spaniels have many great traits. Gentle with children, a great size, cuddly, and trainable, Cockers love to please, and pet parents adore these sad-eyed breeds with silky flocks. Choose from the American or English Cocker version that weighs 28 to 32 pounds.

9. Jack Russell Terrier

small friendly dog breeds

Jack Russell Terrier is a recognizable, famous television breed known for being super stubborn, highly energetic, and active. Originally bred in the UK for fox hunting, this ancient breed is perfect for those with time and patience to stimulate them mentally and physically. The AKC doesn’t include them on their list.

10. Maltese

best small breed dogs

Most owners trim the silky fur of this small pup regularly, but in the show ring, judges appreciate the long flowing locks of this gorgeous breed. Maltese are tiny 7-pound pets that shower their family with devotion and adoration.

11. Pomeranian

list small dog breeds

Despite only weighing 3 to 7 pounds, Poms leave a mountain of orange or red fur and require route grooming. However, the cuteness factor and their playful nature compensate for the inconvenience. This little dog learns fast, is very kissable, and makes excellent growing-up companions for children.

12. Beagle

list of small dog breeds

This puppy face will make you overlook chewed shoes, furniture, and anything else they can hunt down in the house when you’re not looking. Beagles are active and smart dogs and like to walk with their nose to the ground, looking for rabbits. Sturdy and strong, they weigh up to 30 pounds.

13. Rat Terrier

little dog

Although their name isn’t as endearing as other small dog breeds, the Rat Terrier supposedly got his name from Teddy Roosevelt. Formidable working dogs with a similar appearance to Jack Russel Terriers and a portable 10 to 25 pounds, this terrier is wonderful with children.

14. Yorkipoo

short dog breeds

Seriously, that’s how you spell cute. Yorkie-poo is a designer breed that makes the most of the toy or mini poodle’s smarts and the sassiness of a Yorkshire Terrier. Their beautiful coat is perfect for people with skin conditions and allergies and is great for families at 5 to 15 pounds.

15. Boston Terrier

little puppies

Boston Terriers are named after the famous city and appeal to pet parents who want a dog with a charmingly friendly disposition and who knows how to dress—hence the tuxedo patterned coat. Boston Terriers are slightly lighter than Frenchies at 12 to 25 pounds and have a similar characterful grimace.

16. Shih Tzu

lion dog

Although their name is funny to pronounce, this small breed is of Chinese descent. Perfect for city and apartment living, these 9 to 16-pound charmers are cuddly, loving, and keep up with children. Despite their pronounced underbite, Shih Tzus don’t require braces.

17. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

dogs with silky coats

This charming breed has long roots in British history, aka King Charles I and II. Not only does this breed have adorable faces, but their luxurious coat comes in four gorgeous shades. Semi-light weight at 13 to 18 pounds, pet owners loved them so much they were bred to poodles and established the sweet Cavapoo.

18. Pug

popular small dog breeds

If you’re looking for love, Pugs are the right breed for you. They’re happy hanging out, adapt to apartments, and don’t need much exercise. Their faces are the postcard of quirky charm. They adapt to families with children and other pets. They’re hardy and snuggly at 14 to 18 pounds.

19. Dachshund

small to medium dog breeds

It’s hard not to love a Wiener dog; Dachies have charmed dog lovers for over 600 years and are formidable hunters. Their personality matches their unique body shape and are ideal for single households. Dachshunds have a standard size at 16 to 32 pounds, and super mini-wieners at 11 pounds.

20. Miniature Poodle

little dogs breeds

There’s a reason designer dog breeders use the poodle as the foundation for many breeds. Miniature poodles are the middle child of the poodle family but aren’t outdone by the standard or toy poodle. Super smart, miniature poodles learn fast, work hard, and are great competitors. They’re ideal companions for seniors and children.

21. Italian Greyhound


These slender dogs have many excellent small-dog qualities. Comfy on your lap, they’re also keen and playful. They look elegant in designer coats, which they’ll need in colder climates, but they have a love for speed and don’t mind chasing fellow canines in the park. Lightweight, at only 7 to 14 pounds.

22. Japanese Chin

small house dog breeds

Chins are used to hanging with Japanese Aristocracy, so be sure your lap is their throne. To the untrained eye, they’re mistaken for Pekense, but their glorious fur is their signature. This toy breed gets called the feline canine for its independent streak and Japanese Spaniel. It weighs 7 to 15 pounds.

23. Lhasa Apso

small breed puppies

The Lhasa Apso is a distinguished breed and part of the ancient lineage that guarded Himalaya palaces and monasteries. Like other small dog breeds, the Lhasa Apso is loving but weary of strangers. This trait makes these 12 to 18-pounders such great guard dogs, but other traits list them on the dumbest list among big and small dog breeds.

24. Pumi

small dogs for pets

If you ever need to dare someone, double dare them not to fall in love with Hungarian Pumis. This smallish dog is the epitome of cute, and despite that, they’re excellent herding dogs that work hard. Curly-haired and sprite, Pumis weigh between 22 to 29 pounds and became AKC registered in 2011.

25. Havanese

terrier breeds small

Hard to believe, but the Havanese were on the verge of becoming extinct. This happy-go-lucky and friendly small dog is a great urban dweller and can adapt to any situation, and learns to perform and entertain. Native to Cuba, Havanese weigh 7 to 13 pounds and make excellent companions.

26. Cairn Terrier

small little cute dogs

This little cutie is a curious hunter who loves to dig and explore. Super alert and smart, the Cairn Terrier Breed is also represented by Hollywood star Toto, who has a star on the Walk of Fame. Cairns are portable at 13 to 14 pounds and live to a healthy old age. They’re not fans of cats.

27. Russian Tsvetnaya Bolonka

good small dogs

If they look familiar, they’re related to the Bichon family. Bolonkas have a curly coat, intelligence, and curiosity, making them fun playmates and lap dogs. Bolonkas are popular in Russia and are a mixed bag of other toy breeds like the poodle, Shih Tzu, and Pekingese and weigh 8 to 11 pounds

28. Pekingese

small dog types

Another breed among popular small dog breeds, Pekingese pups, have ties to Chinese royalty and a long pedigree. Pekingese are cuddly and loving and great lap dogs. Known for their joyful and charming disposition and glorious trademark lion’s mane, they weigh only up to 14 pounds.

29. Miniature American Eskimo

type of dogs small

As pure as the driven snow, the Miniature American Eskimo dog is an intelligent breed that comes in three sizes: standard, miniature, and toy. Weighing only 10 to 20 pounds, these gorgeous dogs require regular grooming to keep their fluffy coats healthy and manageable.

30. Whippet

small dogs lists

Sleek, agile, and shorthaired, Whippets resemble a small Greyhound. Weight 25 to 40 pounds, this breed has super-sonic speed and needs running room. Whippets are ideal running partners and reach up to 35 miles per hour. They like to keep active. A trendy coat for colder temps keeps them warm.

31. Scottish Terrier

dogs small dog breeds

Scottie owners love this dog for its outstanding characteristics, like their regal deportment and human-like personalities. Scotties retain strong hunting traits and don’t always like other dogs, and cats are not negotiable. Despite looking tiny, Scottish Terriers are sturdy at 18 to 22 pounds.

32. Miniature Pinscher

small dog breed names

Mini Pins are not small versions of the smart breedDoberman Pinscher, though judging from their fierce character, no one has shared the news with this small, very vocal toy breed. Endearingly called King of Toys, they are fun, need to be busy, and don’t tire as easily as their 10-pound weight suggests.

33. Shetland Sheepdog

different breeds of small dogs

Dog owners who love working dog breeds, like Collies, but need something compact love the Shelties for their brains, affection, and keen sense of strangers. This small breed is 15 to 25 pounds of watchdog and takes training like fish to water. Grooming is essential.

34. Brussels Griffon

best tiny dog breeds

These fluffy snuggle bunnies have the temperament to bond with their pet parents and have massive charm. This 8 to 10-pound small dog is intelligent, sociable, and sensitive enough to dislike being away from its peeps. That face is just too cute!

35. Basenji

small medium dogs

Basenji is a smallish breed from Africa. Bred for hunting, this breed has many great attributes:  intelligence, speed, and gracefulness; they’re also barkless. They make unique sounds between an Alpine yodel and a giggle. Compact and lean, Basenjis weigh 22 to 24 pounds.

36. West Highland White Terrier

small digs

It’s not difficult to mistake a Westie for a stuffed toy. Their whimsical faces mislead many, as this 15- to 20-pound small terrier is robust, sturdy, and playful. They’re highly adaptable and love everyone, including cats.

37. Schipperke

best little dogs

Pet parents to Schipperke or Belgium’s little captain love this small breed for their happy and curious personality. However, this watchdog also likes to get into trouble to keep things exciting, and despite being light at 10 to 16 pounds, they’re intense when protecting their flock.

38. Border Terrier

miniature dogs breeds

People sometimes confuse the Border Terrier with the Cairn Terrier for their fierce but charming facial expressions. Border Terriers are durable working dogs that like being part of the action, making them great family dogs with active children. They weigh only 11.5 to 15.5 pounds

39. Miniature Schnauzer

small dogs list

Mini Schnauzers are perfect for families—children or seniors. This breed has a gentle disposition and smarts. This German terrier is docile, alert, and protective. They’re famous for their precision hair cut and mustache trim, and owners appreciate the low-shedding coat and lightweight at 11 to 20 pounds.

40. French Bulldog

smaller dogs

According to the AKC, this is the number #1 breed and unseated the loyal lab. 

French Bulldogs are a popular small dog breed worldwide for their easygoing temperament, comical faces, and affection. Frenchies require attention but don’t need vigorous exercise or long walks and weigh up to 28 pounds.

41. Norwich Terrier

small terriers

Norwich Terriers make great pets and are popular among dog breeds from the hunting family. Just the right size with affectionate nature and sassy personalities, Norwich Terriers do well in dog shows and are small size at 11 to 12 pounds.

42. Shiba Inu

puppy small dog breeds

Shibas have unmistakable teddy bear-like features and have surged in popularity. They can be mistaken as lazy when really they’re just bored and looking for physical and mental stimulation. Their sweet temperament makes them ideal companions, and they weigh only 17 to 23 pounds. Seriously, that smile!

43. Bichon Frisé

kinds of small dogs

The Bichon family dogs are cotton balls of love and perfect for people who need hypoallergenic features. Smart, affectionate, and tenacious, Bichons make great companions for older children, but loud and boisterous households aren’t their favorite. A Bichon Frise resembles a slightly stockier version of a poodle and weighs between 10 – 20 pounds.

44. Silky Terrier

small dog breeda

Easily confused with a Yorkie, a Silkie is slightly larger and weighs about 10 lbs. As their name suggests, their silky coat is luxuriously silky with a blueish or tan sheen. The Silky Terrier is an inquisitive and spirited small dog that delivers much joy in a small package and resembles the Yorkshire Terrier.

45. Bolognese

pictures of small dogs

The Bolognese is a petite Italian gem from the Bichon lineage, ideal for families due to its smart, gentle, and laid-back nature. With a weight range of 6-10 pounds, it’s a perfectly sized companion for any home.


The list of small dog breeds is endless. We selected 45 out of over 70 to share with you.

What Is a Small House Dog?

The American Kennel Club lumps dogs weighing up to 10 pounds into the small breed pack, but other definitions include popular dog breeds up to 21 pounds.

What Is the Smallest Puppy?

Chihuahuas share that rank with other small dog breeds like the Biewir Terrier, Affenpinscher, Mini-Dachsie, Pomeranians, and others. Miracle Milly, a 1-pound Chihuahua, is the reigning champ among the smallest dogs.

Which Dog Is the Most Small?

Yorkies, Teacup Poodles, Chihuahuas, and Papillon are all tiny, and as designer breeders continue to finetune the genetic pool, super small dog breeds are a trend. 

How Much Is a Toy Dog?

Expect to pay upward of $750 to $2500 on average, depending on demand, breed type, and pedigree. Never buy bargain puppies from certain pet stores and puppy mills.

45 Popular Dog Breeds for a Cheerful Lifestyle Conclusion

Small dog breeds come in fun-loving small packages that make good watchdogs or behave as independent companions with fearless and playful nature. Choosing from this list of smallest dog breeds that are affectionate and intelligent and have different personalities is no easy task. I’d take one of each!

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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