Top 10 small dog breeds

Happy pug running through the grass

There are all kinds of dogs and all kinds of dog people. While some people prefer a large pooch, others prefer them smaller. Today we’ll look at 10 of the most popular small dog breeds.

There are many reasons why people have preferences towards different dogs, including those related to size. Perhaps it relates to a fear of big dogs, or that there is simply not enough room to properly care for such a large animal and their needs. Whatever the reason, we’re here to cater to all dog lovers. But today, it’s all about the small dog breeds!

Those listed below are some of the most popular small dog breeds but are not necessarily the 10 smallest breeds.

1. Chihuahua

Receiving their name from the village of Chihuahua in Mexico (from where they are believed to have originated), these sassy, charismatic bundles of energy are, in fact, considered to be the smallest dog breed in the world. Chihuahuas don’t typically grow over 16cm and weigh about 1-3kg, making their small size a huge plus for those looking for a dog that can be carried around easily. 

Black, tan and white Chihuahua puppy looking adoringly at camera
Chihuahua – the world’s smallest dog breed

2. Yorkshire terrier

Yorkshire terriers are a hugely popular breed of very small dog (1.81-3.17kg) for many apartment or small home dwellers. Originating from the county of York in England, the saying ‘butter wouldn’t melt’ suits these cuties down to a tee. It’s all thanks to those adorable eyes and faces (even after having done something naughty!). Active and intelligent, they will require plenty of attention and stimulation, as well as regular trims to keep their ever-growing silky fine hair out of their eyes and off the ground.

Yorkshire Terrier in downward dog position on grass
Yorkshire Terrier – popular for apartment living

3. Cavalier King Charles and King Charles spaniel

This small and gracious breed often gets confused with the King Charles spaniel, from which it originates. The difference lies in the Cavalier’s face, which has a more defined muzzle, unlike the flat-faced Kings Charles spaniel. Cavaliers are also a little larger, weighing on average between compared to the smaller King Charles spaniels at around 4.1 to 6.8 kg. Both breeds owe their name to King Charles II who was known to adore and breed King Charles spaniels. With their long and silky fur, both Cavaliers and King Charles are highly affectionate, gentle and happy dogs, and also respond well to training.

Cavalier King Charles spaniels are slightly larger than the King Charles but equally as affectionate

4. French bulldog

The French bulldog, otherwise known as the ‘Frenchie’, continues to be a hugely popular choice of dog. They were a breed of choice in Parisian high society in the late 1800s, from whence they received their name. Their easy-going, playful and sensitive personalities make them a social breed who love the company of their family, as well as others. As they are a small breed (varying in size from 9-13kg), they also do well with apartment living. They won’t need a big back yard but should be taken out daily for walks.

French Bulldog standing proud on tree stump
Frenchies remain a hugely popular small dog breed worldwide

5. Welsh corgi

There are two types of Welsh corgi – the more popular Pembroke Welsh corgi and the Cardigan Welsh corgi (known as “the Corgi with a tail”). The Pembroke’s popularity is said to have been driven by Queen Elizabeth II’s love of the breed. Cardigan corgis tend to be slightly largely than Pembrokes, with the latter averaging between 10-14kg. Despite its small size, this delightful breed is known for its “big dog on short legs” personality, full of adventure and audacity. In fact, corgis are excellent herding dogs. At home, they are friendly, affectionate and playful, and make wonderful companions for both adults and children. 

Cute Welsh Corgi peering around corner of wall
Queen Elizabeth II’s favorite dog breed – the Welsh Corgi

6. Shih Tzu

The name Shih Tzu literally translates from Chinese as ‘lion dog’. This small, cute breed (averaging 4-7.2kg) is believed to have originated from Tibet and then further bred in China. Shih Tzus are incredibly loving and loyal, but sometimes clingy, preferring the constant company of their pet parent. They are known for their long, somewhat shaggy hair, which requires frequent upkeep to avoid it becoming matted and tangled. Shih Tzus adapt particularly well to different lifestyles, including apartment living. They can be a little stubborn, but with the right training they make a wonderful pet and a popular choice in many homes!

Shih Tzu walking in garden
The Shih Tzu – a very loyal and sometimes clingy small dog breed

7. Dachshund

According to records, the Dachshund has been around since the Middle Ages and derives its name from the German words for ‘badger’ and ‘dog’ – for which it was used to hunt. This small, long and low-standing breed is determined and full of life, with the occasional streak of stubbornness. The American Kennel Club uses the word ‘spunky’ to describe these loveable and loving dogs. They come in two sizes, standard (7-15kg) and miniature (up to 5kg), and a range of beautifully coloured and textured coats.

3 Dachshunds - wirehaired, longhaired and shorthaired - sit on a wall
The loveable ‘sausage dog’ comes in three varieties – wirehaired, longhaired and smooth (shorthaired)

8. Bichon

There exist four different breeds of Bichon – the Havanese, Maltese, Bolognese and Frise. They are all very trainable and obedient dogs, and make loving fur friends – especially if you live in an apartment! This dog is very playful and gets along well with children, but will want to be with their owner or family at all times in a cosy environment. Like the Shih Tzu, their fur needs a lot of upkeep to keep it free of knots. Average weight sits between 3kg and 5kg.

Close-up of happy Bichon Frise looking up at camera
The loveable, energetic Bichon Frise

9. Jack Russell

The Jack Russell belongs to the Terrier family and is a ball of energy. They owe their name to Reverend John Russell and his passion for hunting foxes. A happy and entertaining dog to those with whom they interact, Jack Russells get along well with children, but require thorough training to curb some of their boundless energy (and occasional stubbornness). They can weigh up to about 8kg and live to around 15 years. Anyone with a Jack Russell will tell you how happy and fabulous they are, and that their ‘big for their boots’ attitude makes them great guard dogs!

Cute Jack Russell sitting happily on carpet
Jack Russells are known and loved for their boundless energy and ‘big’ personalities

10. Pug

The Pug is a small dog breed (6-8kg) that originates from China (with possible older roots in Tibet and Japan). They were bred for ruling families and kept by many Chinese Emperors in luxury under protection. They are known for their cuddles and sociability, as well as their distinctive facial expressions. Pugs are very friendly and well-suited to families, loving regular attention from their brood. They make wonderful companions and typically become calmer as they get older. However, their health is delicate and will require special care.

Pug sitting on bottom with happy expression
Pugs have a loveable reputation with adorable facial expressions