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Types Of Small Dogs

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.

Black Chihuahua lying on blanket and thinking

What Size Is A 'Small' Dog?

Although individual breeds have recognized (and recommended) height and weight guidelines in their individual breed standards, the term 'small dog' is more subjective.

Cute Yorkshire Terrier puppy hiding behind a tree branch

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 are no formal size restrictions for the different types of small dogs, but a 'small dog' could be one 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".

List Of Small Breed Dogs

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.

Photo collage of different types of small dogs

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:

  • Affenpinscher
  • American Cocker Spaniel
  • American Eskimo Dog (Mini & Toy)
  • Beagle
  • Bichon Frise
  • Boston Terrier
  • Brussels Griffon
  • English Bulldog (Toy)
  • Bull Terrier (Mini)
  • Cardigan Welsh Corgi
  • Cairn Terrier
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Chihuahua
  • Cockapoo
  • Coton De Tulear
  • Dachshund
  • Dandie Dinmont Terrier
  • English Toy Spaniel
  • Fox Terrier (Regular & Toy)
  • French Bulldog
  • Havanese
  • Irish Terrier
  • Italian Greyhound
  • Jack Russell Terrier
  • Japanese Chin
  • Keeshond
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Lowchen
  • Maltese
  • Manchester Terrier (Toy)
  • Miniature Pinscher (aka MinPin)
  • Norfolk Terrier
  • Norwich Terrier
  • Papillon
  • Parson Russell Terrier
  • Patterdale Terrier
  • Pekingese
  • Pembroke Welsh Corgi
  • Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen
  • Pomeranian
  • Poodle (Mini & Toy)
  • Pug
  • Puggle
  • Rat Terrier
  • Schipperke
  • Schnauzer (Mini)
  • Scottish Terrier
  • Shetland Sheepdog (Mini)
  • Shiba Inu
  • Shih Tzu
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  • Tibetan Spaniel
  • Tibetan Terrier
  • West Highland White Terrier
  • Yorkshire 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 Small Dogs

The benefits of owning these 'little guys' are as varied as the dogs themselves, and include:

  • Need less space
  • Need less exercise
  • Eat less
  • Their 'messes' are smaller
  • Can cost less to care for*
  • Very portable
  • Can easier to handle*

* These are generally true, but there are always exceptions. Small dogs need smaller sizes/doses of medication, their toys and accessories are smaller and their dietary expenses lower. However some very small dogs are physically fragile or have inbred genetic weaknesses which can put up the cost of veterinary care. Although small dogs are easy to pick up and physically control, they can be very opinionated and are also fragile. These things can make them a poor choice for families with young children, or anyone who is physically weak.

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!)

Elderly small dog being carried in pink shopping bag

For the physically fit elderly, or less active/robust dog lovers, little dogs 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...

The Drawbacks Of Owning A Small Breed Dog

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!

Jack Russell Terrier by the lake

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 can have their own health issues to deal with (just like every other type/size of dog), in fact there are quite a few congenital or degenerative diseases that tiny dogs are especially susceptible to, including:

Breeds which mature to be less than 3lbs could  be at risk for additional health problems related to their diminutive size and are very fragile. Being dropped accidentally, or played with too roughly, can quite easily be fatal to a teeny tiny puppy (or even adult dog).

When it comes to all types of small dogs, bigger is often better - and healthier.

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.

The New Kids On The Block!

All the types of small dogs mentioned above are purebred dogs, but there are other small breed options.

Puggle on a riverbank

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 allergy sufferers.

Check out this link to a great site with tons of quality information on all types of small dog breeds (pictures & profiles included).

More Pages, Articles & Resources.....

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.

Entirely Pomeranian

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!

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......

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