Top 10 Small Dog Breeds

Patrick MacFarland Patrick MacFarland · Updated July 2, 2024

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A small pug, one of the popular small dog breeds, wearing a colorful collar stands on a magenta bedspread against a plain white background.

Are you thinking of getting a dog? You may be in a predicament if you live in a small apartment and want a large dog who needs a lot of exercise. But some dog breeds that are small require less space and exercise. Let’s take a look at the top 10 small dog breeds.

A small beige and white Chihuahua stands alert in a grassy field.

1. Chihuahua

Hailing from Mexico, the Chihuahua is feisty and filled with courage. They will fill up your house with laughter, but also lots of noise from their barking. The Chihuahua, the tiniest of all dog breeds, packs a big personality into a small frame. These spirited and loyal companions are known for their bold and confident nature.

Despite their small size, Chihuahuas are often fearless and protective, making them excellent watchdogs. They thrive on attention and form strong bonds with their owners, often preferring to be the center of attention.

Temperament: Chihuahuas are feisty small dogs that can be wary of strangers. But they are also loyal dogs and can be extremely attached to their owner.
Exercise Needs: Luckily, the chihuahua needs little exercise so short walks and a few play sessions will suffice.
Aggressiveness: Chihuahuas are known for their excessive barking and aggressivity, especially toward other dogs, so make sure you socialize them properly.
Trainability: They are stubborn small dogs. The good thing is they can be trained. You just have to be patient and consistent.

A fluffy white dog with closed eyes and its tongue slightly out against a light blue background.

2. Pomeranian

Hailing from Poland, these small dogs are feisty, cute, and make for a great addition to the family. With their fluffy coats and lively temperaments, this breed is a favorite among small dog enthusiasts. These spunky little dogs are known for their outgoing and friendly nature, making them great companions for families and singles alike.

Pomeranians are highly intelligent and eager to please, which makes them relatively easy to train. Their playful demeanor and charming appearance make them a delightful addition to any household.

Temperament: Pomeranians are known to be lively, extroverted, and quite friendly with others and other small dogs. They love being affectionate toward their owners.
Exercise Needs: The great part about Pomeranians is that they are used to moderate amounts of exercise. They love to take walks and play around a few times per day.
Aggressiveness: You should always train your Pomeranian, but may display some aggressive behavior toward large dogs if you don’t socialize them.
Trainability: These small dogs are intelligent, but stubborn, which means you have to be patient and use positive reinforcement in training.

Two brown dachshunds are standing on a tiled ground. One is looking upward, and the other is sniffing near a white wall.

3. Dachshund

Dachshunds, also known as “wiener dogs” due to their long bodies and short legs, are a breed full of character and charm. Originally bred for hunting, they possess a keen sense of smell and a curious nature. Dachshunds are loyal and affectionate, forming strong attachments to their families. They come in a variety of coat types, including smooth, wirehaired, and longhaired, each with its unique appeal.

Temperament: These small, cuddly dogs are playful ones. They can also be courageous and curious dogs. The best part is they are loyal to their owners.
Exercise Needs: Dachshunds need a moderate amount of exercise. They also love to take walks and explore around where they walk.
Aggressiveness: Dachshunds are generally calm dogs, but if not socialized, they could be aggressive toward other dogs or even other people.
Trainability: These cute pups are independent ones. By being consistent and using positive reinforcement, you will end up with a good, loyal, and respectful dog.

A small dog with a harness stands on a paved path with ears flapping and mouth open, surrounded by greenery.

4. Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu, with its luxurious coat and sweet disposition, is a beloved companion dog. This breed, which originated in China, is known for its affectionate and friendly nature.

Shih Tzus are great lap dogs and thrive on human companionship, making them perfect for those seeking a loyal and loving pet. Their gentle and playful temperament makes them well-suited for families with children and other pets.

Temperament: The Shih Tzu is an affectionate dog that loves to play around and be social with other people and pets.
Exercise Needs: These small dogs love to play and go on walks. The great thing is that moderate amounts of exercise works just fine.
Aggressiveness: Shih Tzus are friendly dogs, so you won’t have any problems. If you do, they may act out toward strangers, so make sure you socialize them.
Trainability: Training is key with Shih Tzus. They are intelligent pups, but can sometimes exhibit stubbornness. You should always be patient with them and use positive reinforcement.

A small, fluffy white dog wearing a purple harness stands on a grassy field with plants in the background.

5. Maltese

Maltese dogs are renowned for their silky white coats and gentle personalities. This ancient breed has been cherished for centuries for its elegant appearance and affectionate nature.

Maltese are playful, friendly, and excellent with children, making them ideal family pets. Their small size and adaptability also make them well-suited for apartment living. Regular grooming is necessary to maintain their beautiful coats.

Temperament: The Maltese is a gentle dog who is also playful and affectionate. They love being around humans.
Exercise Needs: Luckily, the maltese only needs some exercise. They especially enjoy playing indoors and short walks.
Aggressiveness: They aren’t aggressive dogs, but may act out with strangers.
Trainability: The Maltese is a trainable dog that is eager to please. They will also respond well to positive reinforcement.

A pug lies on a floor indoors, looking towards the camera with a plant in the background.

6. Pug

Pugs, with their wrinkled faces and expressive eyes, are known for their charming and loving nature. This breed is highly sociable and enjoys being around people, often forming close bonds with their families.

Pugs are playful and affectionate, making them excellent companions for children and adults alike. Despite their small size, they have a sturdy build and a big heart, always ready to provide love and companionship.

Temperament: Pugs are affectionate and playful, but they also love being the center of attention.
Exercise Needs: Luckily, you won’t have to go on long walks with pugs. They love indoor play and moderate exercise.
Aggressiveness: Pugs are not aggressive, however, if you don’t train them well, they may develop aggressive behavior.
Trainability: Pugs are naturally stubborn, but positive reinforcement works perfectly with these small dogs.

A small Yorkshire Terrier with a grey and tan coat sits on a couch, looking directly at the camera. The dog wears a collar with a tag.

7. Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkshire Terriers, or Yorkies, are small in size but big in personality. These energetic and brave little dogs are known for their luxurious, silky coats and confident demeanor.

Yorkies are highly adaptable and can thrive in various living situations, from city apartments to country homes. They are loyal and affectionate, often becoming deeply attached to their owners. Their intelligence and eagerness to learn make them a joy to train.

Temperament: Yorkies, as they are colloquially called, are bold dogs that can also be affectionate and confident.
Exercise Needs: You won’t need a lot of exercise with Yorkies, as they love indoor play and short walks.
Aggressiveness: Yorkies tend to display aggressive behavior with other dogs if not trained properly.
Trainability: Yorkshire Terriers are intelligent and will learn very quickly, but you need to be consistent, as they can be quite stubborn.

A gray and white schnauzer with cropped ears and a bushy beard is lying down on a soft surface, looking directly at the camera with its mouth open.

8. Miniature Schnauzer

Miniature Schnauzers are characterized by their distinctive beard and eyebrows, giving them a unique and charming appearance. This breed is known for its friendly and outgoing nature, making them great companions for families and individuals.

Miniature Schnauzers are intelligent and alert, often excelling in obedience and agility training. Their playful and affectionate disposition ensures they bring joy to any home they join.

Temperament: Miniature Schnauzers are friendly, alert, and spirited. They make great pets if you have children around.
Exercise Needs: Moderate exercise is best with Miniature Schnauzers, but you should play with them and come up with games that will stimulate their mind.
Aggressiveness: These cute, small dogs are not aggressive, but are definitely protective.
Trainability: They are intelligent dogs that respond to positive reinforcement because they like to please their owners.

Close-up of a brown and white long-haired small dog with pointy ears, looking intently ahead.

9. Papillon

The Papillon, named for its butterfly-like ears, is a small dog with a lively and friendly personality. This breed is known for its intelligence and agility, often excelling in dog sports and obedience competitions.

Papillons are affectionate and sociable, enjoying the company of their families and other pets. Their elegant appearance and graceful movement make them a delight to watch and a joy to own.

Temperament: When it comes to temperament, Papillons are friendly and lively. They are also intelligent pups.
Exercise Needs: Papillons love to take short walks, therefore the amount of exercise isn’t going to take a lot of time.
Aggressiveness: Strangers should be wary of Papillons as they may act out toward them, but typically they are not aggressive dogs.
Trainability: Papillons are highly obedient and agile. They are also highly trainable and respond well to positive reinforcement.

A small, fluffy dog lying down on a light-colored surface next to a large ceramic vase filled with green foliage.

10. Havanese

Havanese dogs are the national breed of Cuba and are known for their friendly and outgoing nature. This breed is highly sociable and thrives on human interaction, making them excellent family pets. Havanese are intelligent and trainable, often learning tricks and commands with ease.

Their soft, silky coats and cheerful personalities make them a favorite among small dog lovers. Adaptable and loving, Havanese dogs are wonderful companions for any home.

Temperament: The Havanese are affectionate, cheerful, and social dogs that enjoy being around people and other pets.
Exercise Needs: Luckily, you won’t need to exercise much with these dogs, as they enjoy short walks.
Aggressiveness: Havanese dogs are not aggressive, but may bark at strangers.
Trainability: These dogs are eager to please, which means that positive reinforcement is the best way to train them. They are also intelligent dogs.

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