There are many types of small dogs and although they may all be physically tiny, these little guys usually have BIG personalities!
Although they share their diminutive size, small dogs can be totally different in terms of personality, temperament and behavior because they come from a wide variety of breed groups.
Some were bred to hunt vermin like rats, rabbits or badgers (such as the popular Jack Russell Terrier, Manchester Terrier or Dachshund).
Others were bred to be companions and lap-dogs (such as the Pekingese or the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel).
Some were bred as gun/field dogs (such as many Spaniels) or to herd livestock (such as the Swedish Vallhund, or the Corgi).
Another thing that these little 'uns have in common is that their popularity, and many homes have at least one.
Although individual breeds have recognized (and recommended) height and weight guidelines in their individual breed standards, the term 'small dog' is more subjective.
A Chihuahua is a small dog... and the tiniest of them may only weigh a couple of pounds. Then there are the breeds at the upper end of the 'small' scale. The French Bulldog for example isn't very tall but can weigh 25 lbs, or even a few more.
There's no formal size restrictions for the different types of small dogs, but a rough guide would be a dog that matures to be under 25 lbs and no more than 16" tall.
'Teacup' breeds are also not a formally recognized group, but are the tiniest of the little guys. Guidelines (again not set-in-stone) for a teacup-sized dog would be one that matures to weight less than 4 lbs and be no taller than 8".
Depending on exactly where you put the cut-off weight/height restrictions there are estimated to be anywhere between 90 and 100 types of small dog breeds.
When you take into account the number of mixed breeds (including the popular 'designer breeds') that count probably falls on the low side!
Here's a list of some of today's most popular little dogs:
American Cocker Spaniel
American Eskimo Dog (Mini & Toy)
English Bulldog (Toy)
Bull Terrier (Mini)
Cardigan Welsh Corgi
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Coton De Tulear
Dandie Dinmont Terrier
English Toy Spaniel
Fox Terrier (Regular & Toy)
Jack Russell Terrier
Manchester Terrier (Toy)
Miniature Pinscher (aka MinPin)
Parson Russell Terrier
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen
Poodle (Mini & Toy)
Shetland Sheepdog (Mini)
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
West Highland White Terrier
Okay, so there are LOTS of different types of small dogs... but is one of them right for you?
Let's take a look at the pro's and con's of adding one of these little guys (or girls) to your family....
The benefits of owning these 'little guys' are as varied as the dogs themselves.
Small, miniature or toy dog breeds often don't need a whole lot of space or exercise, they eat less.. and make less mess.
They're also less expensive to care for because they need the 'small' or 'x-small' size/dosage of everything, and can be easier to control/manage.. plus they're fully portable!
All of these 'pros' are what make all types of small dogs very popular with people and families of all ages and sizes.
The undeniable 'cuteness' of these little ones also makes them irresistibly lovable, surrogate 'babies' for many younger and older women (and there's nothing wrong with that!)
For the elderly, or less active/robust dog lovers, they can make excellent pets.
Many of them are content to sit and snooze on a lap, are very light and easily carried, and don't need long walks. The Chihuahua, Maltese and Papillon are among the small dog breeds who fit into this category.
Little dogs can often be housebroken to use a litter box or other indoor options (or have their litter tray on a balcony and so on), and any messes they may make during the training stages are tiny, and easy to clean up.
There are some really good 'portable indoor doggie toilets' that are made especially for these tiny dog breeds. These are just two of the many designs available and they're definitely superior to pee pads or regular litter boxes...
Just in case you think all small dog breeds are quiet, affectionate, peaceful little guys who only want to curl up on your lap.... think again!
Many types of small dogs are extremely active, and although they may not be able to walk for miles (although some of them can), they can most definitely give you a run for your money.
The small breeds of dogs that tend to be more active and 'high maintenance' are often terriers. They can be very active and demanding, love to dig and are stubborn by nature.
However, they're also loving, comical and loyal and will keep you on your toes.
Small breeds of dogs aren't immune to health issues either, in fact there are quite a few congenital or degenerative diseases that tiny dogs are especially susceptible to.
Some of these conditions include back, vertebrae and disc problems, joint problems such as luxating patellas, collapsed treachea, heart conditions such as pulmonic stenosis, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and several others.
If you choose a pup from the small dog breeds which is expected to mature at less than 3lbs, he or she could very well be at risk for additional health problems related to their diminutive size. When it comes to all types of small dogs, bigger is often better - and healthier.
Another problem with the really tiny, miniature or toy dog breeds, is that they can be very fragile and easily injured.
This means that they're often not the best choice for families with very young children, or other large breed dogs. Being dropped accidentally, or played with too roughly, can quite easily be fatal to a teeny tiny puppy (or even adult dog).
Very small breeds that also have thin coats are vulnerable to temperature changes, and don't do well in extreme cold, or extreme heat. Little sweaters or jackets (and even tiny boots) can really help a tiny breed dog stay warm during the wet, cold winter months.
Some types of small dog breeds need a lot of grooming, these include the Shih Tzu, Bichon Frise and Maltese and Yorkshire Terrier.
If you're not into high-maintenance but fancy one of these breeds, a good groomer can often give a tiny dog a 'puppy cut' or short style to make taking care of his coat much easier.
All the types of small dogs mentioned above are purebred dogs, but there are other small breed options.
Many small mixed breed dogs are available through private sales or local pounds, rescue centers or shelters.
There are also the newer small dog breeds called 'designer dogs' or 'hybrid dogs'. These are developed by breeding two purebred dogs of different breeds, the resulting puppies are 'hybrids' rather than the more generic 'mixed breeds' who may have many different dog breeds in their family tree!
Probably one of the best known designer dog breeds is the Labradoodle - a cross between a Labrador and a Poodle. But this is obviously not a small or tiny dog breed.
Types of small dogs that are considered hybrids, or designer dogs, include Cock-a-poo (Cocker Spaniel x Poodle), the Puggle (Pug x Beagle) and the Peke-a-pom (Pekingnese x Pomeranian). The Poodle is often seen in hybrid or designer dog breeds due to it's low shedding properties and resulting 'hypoallergenic' qualities.
Although there is no such thing as 'hypoallergenic dogs', there
are definitely some breeds who are less likely to cause symptoms in
Check out this link to a great site with tons of quality information on all types of small dog breeds (pictures & profiles included).
Chihuahua Puppy Care
Learn all about this enormously popular little dog, and find tons of tips and advice on caring for your Chihuahua puppy. Feeding, behavior, health - even chihuahua rescue resources.
Chihuahua Puppy Care Store
All the products you need to keep your little guy, or gal, happy and healthy - all in one place! Find books, toys, training and grooming aids and much more right here.
Visit one of the internet's newest and fastest growing interactive websites that's dedicated entirely to Poms. You'll find everything you've ever wanted to know about taking care of a Pomeranian and much, much more!
Pomeranian Puppy Care Store
Lots of books, toys, training tools, grooming and health products for your little Pom. One-stop shopping for your little one.
Entirely Shih Tzu
An informative and interactive website dedicated entirely to Shih Tzu dogs. Comprehensive information about the Shih Tzu breed including pages about puppies, rescue and adoption, grooming, mixes, health, diet, training and much more.
More information on these breeds:
A good reference book is worth it's weight in gold! Here are two of my absolute favorites, either one of them is perfect for if you own (or are considering) a small breed......
Little dogs have their own special needs in all sorts of areas, and training is no exception.
The wealth of information, tips and training techniques in this lovely book, have been specifically designed with your tiny, 'pint-sized' pooch in mind.
Tiny dogs can be wriggly, defiant and sometimes seem to have the attention span of a gnat!
They're also fragile, sensitive little creatures for whom the average training methods (that fit medium to large breeds so well) can be difficult and ineffective.
All the 'small dog issues' are addressed with love and ingenuity here, and you'll find this book will help you understand, communicate with, care for, and train, your tiny puppy more easily and effectively.
If your puppy is definitely of the 'pint-sized' variety you don't want to miss this one!
This expanded (and updated) edition of the classic 'The Irrepressible Toy Dog', has everything you need to know in order to raise that tiny, furry, bundle of personality you've added to your family!
A great choice for first-time owners of small, tiny and toy breeds.
Covers housebreaking, nutrition, behavior and much more, including lots of information on the health issues that are specific to these types of small dogs.
Contains adorable photos too, and is a wonderful addition to any small-dog owner's bookshelf.
It's not a dog training book as such though, so if you're looking for help training your little guy or gal, go with 'Little Dogs' above.
If you're new to little dogs, get both books and you'll be able to handle anything your tiny pooch throws your way.