Size is definitely a factor when it comes to choosing a dog breed. If you don’t have a lot of indoor space or you want a more low-maintenance mutt, checking out small dog breeds is a good starting point.
But even if you’ve already decided on a small dog, you might be surprised at just how tiny some breeds can be. Here are the smallest dog breeds in the world, all proof that sometimes, good things really do come in small packages. It won’t take you long to figure out that these breeds have personalities that outweigh their size.
Note: Height is measured up to the dog’s shoulder, as per the American Kennel Club standard.
At 9 to 11.5 inches tall and weighing around 7 to 10 pounds, the affenpinscher is certainly tiny, but its huge personality makes up for what it lacks in size. There’s a reason it’s also known as “monkey dog,” “ape terrier” or even “mustached little devil” (the French say “diablotin moustachu,” FYI). They also provide endless entertainment and unwavering loyalty and have an unstoppable zest for life.
Lock eyes with a Brussels griffon (Griff to its fans) and it’s like you’ve made contact with another human, thanks to its lively and intelligent gaze. This toy dog typically stands 7 to 10 inches tall and weighs between 8 and 10 pounds. With four colorways (red, belge, black and tan, and black) and a choice between smooth or rough coats, the Griff comes in many forms but, underneath it all, you’re guaranteed the same playful, loving pup.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The always gentle, elegant Cavalier King Charles spaniel may be one of the larger breeds in the toy category, but at 12 to 13 inches tall and weighing between 13 and 18 pounds, it’s still the perfect size for a lap dog if snuggling on the couch is your favorite thing to do. On the other hand, the Cav is just as likely to chase you around the backyard or along the beach. This breed is extremely adaptable and will quickly fit in with your lifestyle.
Another tiny dog with a big personality, the chihuahua rarely weighs more than 6 pounds and stands 5 to 8 inches tall. It actually is small enough to fit inside a purse, and it’s not unusual to see this breed dressed in clothes to keep it warm (or just to show off its inherent sense of style, perhaps). With its distinctive “apple” head and upright ears, it’s impossible to mistake the chihuahua for anything else.
No other breed has the spotted pink skin, feathery socks and tail and spiky hairdo of the Chinese crested. Standing at around 11 to 13 inches tall and weighing in at 8 to 12 pounds, this toy breed is a devoted companion. And if you prefer a dog with a coat, there’s a “powderpuff” variety with soft, sleek fur.
The outgoing, inquisitive dachshund is classified as a hound breed. They’re typically larger than toy breeds and require more exercise. But the adorable doxie is one of the smallest hounds. The standard version is 8 to 9 inches tall and weighs 16 to 32 pounds; in miniature, it’s a tiny 5 to 6 inches and weighs 11 pounds and under.
Russian Toy Terrier
Intelligent and devoted, the Russian toy terrier is a relatively recent addition to the American Kennel Club’s list of recognized breeds. Its history began in the 18th century, when English toy terriers arrived in Russia. Measuring 8 to 11 inches tall and weighing no more than 6.5 pounds, this sweet little dog is also known as the Russkiy toy and bears a slight resemblance to the chihuahua.
Its fluffy coat makes the Havanese look bigger than it actually is. Standing at 8.5 to 11.5 inches and weighing between 7 and 13 pounds, it’s the only dog breed native to Cuba and has a lively, sociable nature that makes it irresistible. Despite its small size, it has moderate exercise needs and loves to play (either indoors or out) to let off steam.
The Italian greyhound is described by the American Kennel Club as a “true Greyhound in miniature.” Just as graceful as its regular-sized counterpart, it measures only 13 to 15 inches tall and weighs between 7 and 14 pounds. Although it’s included in the toy group, it has the nature of a hound and will always be quick to chase prey.
The sweet-natured, entertaining Japanese Chin is the perfect size for a lapdog: 8 to 11 inches tall and 7 to 11 pounds. It enjoys moderate exercise but is best kept on a leash outdoors. The Chin may be small, but it’s determined, and it will go where it wants. As the saying goes, you can’t own a Japanese Chin, because a Japanese Chin owns you.
Despite their tiny stature (weighing less than 7 pounds and measuring 7 to 9 inches tall), the Maltese are alert and courageous, making them a good watchdog. Some Maltese owners favor a long, silky coat, while others keep it short and shaggy. Either way, you can’t help but fall in love with that super-cute face.
The miniature pinscher, known as the “king of toys,” guarantees plenty of personality in a small but sturdy frame – 8 to 10 pounds and 10 to 12.5 inches tall, to be precise. Interestingly, the American Kennel Club reveals that the miniature pinscher isn’t simply a miniature version of the Doberman pinscher. The only lineage they have in common is the old German standard pinscher, from way back. The Min Pin was first registered with the American Kennel Club in 1925 and has grown in popularity ever since.
The Norfolk terrier might love regular snuggles with its owner, but it’s still a terrier, through and through. Measuring 9 to 10 inches tall and weighing around 11 to 12 pounds, this breed is assertive and lively, and always up for fun and exploring. Best suited to active humans, the Norwich terrier has barrels of energy and a high prey drive.
A close cousin of the Norfolk terrier (but with erect, pointed ears compared to the Norfolk’s folder ones), the Norwich terrier may be toy-sized, but it’s hardworking and fearless. Similar in size to the Norfolk terrier, it measures 10 inches tall and weighs around 12 pounds. Although this breed can be stubborn, it’s also likely to lavish its owner with affection.
A truly tiny dog, the papillon stands 8 to 11 inches tall and weighs between 5 and 10 pounds. But this breed is tougher than it looks. It adapts well to urban or country life and warm or cool climates and it regularly takes top prizes at agility contests. FYI, it gets its name from the French for “butterfly” for two obvious reasons — just look at those ears.
A compact but sturdy toy dog, the Pekingese is typically only 6 to 9 inches tall, but it can weigh up to 14 pounds. This breed is one of several that were created for the ruling classes of ancient China; as such, it is an unwaveringly loyal dog breed and more than a little sophisticated. Its defining feature is its “lion’s mane,” due to the longer length of its coat at the neck and shoulders.
One of the smallest dog breeds — it weights between 3 and 7 pounds and stands no taller than 7 inches — the Pomeranian is another royal favorite. It may be pocket-sized, but it’s still a bold, lively breed to be reckoned with. For obvious reasons, Poms aren’t suitable for families with kids who aren’t old enough to understand the difference between toys and toy dogs.
Considered to be one of the best house dogs, the quirky, mischievous pug was originally the trusted companion for Chinese emperors. Today, it’s a popular low-energy dog breed all over the world. Small but muscular, it tends to measure 10 to 13 inches in height and weighs between 14 and 18 pounds.
The toy poodle is smart and confident. Under that curly coat is a tiny dog — it’s typically no more than 10 inches tall and weighs between 4 and 6 pounds (by comparison, the standard poodle is more than 15 inches tall and the miniature is 15 inches or under). Poodles are incredibly intelligent, with lots of energy and a true zest for life.
Known as Belgium’s “little captain,” the schipperke stands between 10 and 13 inches tall and weighs 10 to 16 pounds. Inquisitive and playful, there’s never a dull moment with a schipperke in the house. Its fox-like face and thick black coat — particularly generous around the neck, shoulders and legs — gives it a truly unique appearance.
A well-groomed Shih Tzu is a thing of beauty in the canine world, but they’re just as cute with short, fluffy coats. Weighing 9 to 16 pounds, they can form a sturdy little package in a 9-to-10.5-inch frame. Known for being particularly good with children of all ages, the Shih Tzu is sweet, charming and always highly entertaining. It’s no surprise it ranked No. 20 on the American Kennel Club’s list of the most popular dog breeds of 2019.
Another adorable member of the toy dog group, the silky terrier is 9 to 10 inches tall and weighs around 10 pounds. A native of Sydney, Australia, and a close cousin of the Yorkshire terrier, the Silky has a distinctive blue and tan coat that’s said to be more like human hair than dog fur. With more in common with a terrier than a lapdog, the Silky needs more exercise than a lot of other toy breeds.
Toy Fox Terrier
The toy fox terrier reaches a height of 8.5 to 11.5 inches and typically weighs between 3.5 and 7 pounds, making it well-suited to city life. However, it still needs a moderate amount of exercise, as it’s an athletic breed that loves to run and play. According to the American Kennel Club, this breed is “truly a toy and a terrier.”
The adorable ball of fluff that is the bichon frisé is known for its delightful personality. Adaptable and happy-go-lucky, it wants to be friends with everyone, including kids and other dogs. The breed usually weighs between 12 and 18 pounds and stands 9.5 to 11.5 inches tall, making it sturdier than some of the other small breeds.
The highest-ranking toy dog breed on the American Kennel Club’s list of the most popular dog breeds of 2019 (released May 2020), the Yorkshire terrier may look dainty, but it has a backbone that would put many larger breeds to shame. With an affectionate nature, a low-allergen coat that is more like human hair than animal fur, and all the characteristics of a great watchdog, the Yorkie ticks many boxes.