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The 20 Tiniest, Cutest Dog Breeds for Easy Airplane Travel, Tiny Apartment Living, and More


Small but mighty!

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Triptych of three small dog breeds

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It’s kind of wild that Great Danes and Chihuahuas are the same species, but here we are. Also surprising? The incredible variety of small dog breeds available to canine lovers. Don’t be fooled by the stature of the pups on this list. Many of these cute dogs believe themselves to be as tall and powerful as the big dogs. Others are content being members of the small dog club, watching the world go by from a carrier. If you’re considering getting a pet but aren’t sure if small dog breeds are for you, consider the following itty-bitty puppy committee.

Pros of Small Dog Breeds

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There are tons of reasons to adopt a cute, small dog. Beyond their tiny size, they are incredibly practical.

  • Small breeds fit into small spaces. Apartments or homes with limited space for animals make shorter, lighter breeds ideal.
  • Small dogs make terrific companions. It’s easier to keep tiny pups with you at all times than, say, a Saint Bernard. This is especially true when traveling by airplane.
  • Small dogs can fly more frequently. Airlines became stricter about allowing pets on board after the Covid-19 pandemic. Southwest and United are prime examples. They only allow small dogs who fit in a carrier under your seat on flights.
  • Small dogs may cost less over time. Market Watch estimates food for one dog costs between $210 and $2,340 each year. Depending on what brand your dog eats and how much, you’ll probably spend less on meals for a Yorkie than a Rhodesian Ridgeback. However, small dog breeds tend to live longer than large breeds. So, you might spend more over a longer period of time!
  • Small dogs make great senior pets. Seniors especially may find that social, cute small dogs are less work and more fun to take out on walks.

Cons of Small Dog Breeds

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Dog ownership isn’t all rainbows and sunshine, no matter how little they are. Small dog breeds present their own set of challenges.

  • Extra gear. Many small breeds require extra care in cold climates. This means stocking up on sweaters, booties and jackets to ensure your tiny pup doesn’t freeze to death in winter weather.
  • Stubbornness. Many small breeds are known for their reluctance to follow commands. Now, this is a gross generalization. Every dog is unique and firm training can work wonders on even the most stubborn pups. In actuality, the problem usually lies with us humans (oops!). But prepare yourself for challenges.
  • Fragile. Small dog breeds leaping off tall beds can result in broken or sprained legs. If you own a tiny pup, it’s wise to keep an eye on them and invest in dog stairs to prevent injury. Michael Kearley, DVM, writing for PetMd, says many small dogs require surgery to fix broken bones, as they don’t have as many blood vessels in their bones to heal on their own.

Read on for 20 of the smallest dog breeds, plus what you can expect from them.

smallest dog breeds biewer terrier

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1. Biewer Terrier

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  • Height: 7-11 inches
  • Weight: 4-8 pounds
  • Personality: smart, loving
  • Activity Level: moderate
  • Shedding Factor: low
  • Life Expectancy: 16 years

Don’t mistake these tiny pups for Yorkies! They’re coloring is unique. Biewers are happy-go-lucky and incredibly devoted to their families. Be prepared for lots of social interactions when you take Biewers for walks.

smallest dog breeds brussels griffon

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2. Brussels Griffon

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  • Average Height: 8.5 inches
  • Average Weight: 9 pounds
  • Personality: sensitive, loyal
  • Activity Level: moderate
  • Shedding Factor: low
  • Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

Don’t leave Brussels Griffons home alone for long stretches—they’ll take it personally and miss you too much. Though they aren’t ideal for kids, these make great companions for adults looking for goofy, ride-or-die canine pals.

smallest dog breeds chihuahua

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3. Chihuahua

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  • Average Height: 6.5 inches
  • Average Weight: < 6 pounds
  • Personality: charming, intelligent
  • Activity Level: moderate
  • Shedding Factor: low
  • Life Expectancy: 14-16 years

Chihuahuas have been around for centuries and may use this old-soul wisdom to take advantage of you. They’re smart and learn quickly, but may be stubborn and follow their own rules. It’s hard not to love their dedication and charm, though.

smallest dog breeds miniature dachshund

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4. Miniature Dachshund

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  • Average Height: 5.5 inches
  • Average Weight: < 11 pounds
  • Personality: independent, affectionate
  • Activity Level: moderate
  • Shedding Factor: low
  • Life Expectancy: 13 to 15 years

Miniature Dachshunds are smarties with independent streaks, so training and socialization early is key to a happy dog. Always up for an adventure, they’ll go anywhere with their favorite person. Dachshunds get so pumped for activities they’ve been known to trip when taking stairs too quickly, injuring their backs or legs.

smallest dog breeds italian greyhound

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5. Italian Greyhound

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  • Average Height: 14 inches
  • Average Weight: 10.5 pounds
  • Personality: playful, sweet
  • Activity Level: moderate
  • Shedding Factor: low
  • Life Expectancy: 14 to 15 years

Though taller than many breeds on our list, the Italian Greyhound is certainly one of the leanest. Miniature versions of standard-sized Greyhounds, these skinny dogs enjoy snuggling on the couch to keep warm and racing after toys. If you’ve always wanted to dress your dog up for special occasions, this is the one. They need extra layers when it gets chilly.

smallest dog breeds japanese chin

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6. Japanese Chin

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  • Average Height: 9.5 inches
  • Average Weight: 9 pounds
  • Personality: proud, quiet
    Activity Level: moderate
  • Shedding Factor: low to moderate
  • Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years

Bred to lounge in the lap of luxury, these dogs enjoy the simple pleasures in life. They’re loyal to their owners, but aren’t worried about following commands. Japanese Chins are ideal for apartment dwellers with ample attention to give.

smallest dog breeds japanese terrier

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7. Japanese Terrier

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  • Average Height: 12 inches
  • Average Weight: 7.5 pounds
  • Personality: independent, athletic
  • Activity Level: moderate
  • Shedding Factor: moderate to high
  • Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

These tiny terriers are very smart and eager when it comes to playtime. They are, however, wary of strangers. Japanese Terriers have unique coloring—their bodies are entirely white and their heads are black, brown or tan. One look at those floppy ears and big brown eyes will make you swoon.

smallest dog breeds maltese

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8. Maltese

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  • Average Height: 8 inches
  • Average Weight: < 7 pounds
  • Personality: adaptable, alert
  • Activity Level: moderate
  • Shedding Factor: low
  • Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

Yes, the Maltese’s gorgeous snow-white coat may exude pompousness, but they are athletic and happy to go with the flow. Maltese pups tend to bark to signal intruders—or friends—but they are jovial at heart, eager to mingle and play.

smallest dog breeds papillion

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9. Papillion

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  • Average Height: 9.5 inches
  • Average Weight: 7.5 pounds
  • Personality: happy, outgoing
  • Activity Level: high
  • Shedding Factor: moderate
  • Life Expectancy: 14 to 16 years

Papillon means “butterfly” in French, which suits these tiny dogs well since their ears resemble wings and they are truly the social butterflies of the Toy Group. This is a great example of a small breed who considers itself one of the big dogs, ready to roll around and play fetch. Papillons also adapt well to just about any household.

smallest dog breeds pekingese

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10. Pekingese

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  • Average Height: 7.5 inches
  • Average Weight: 10 pounds
  • Personality: proud, loyal
  • Activity Level: low
  • Shedding Factor: moderate
  • Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years

Already a proud breed, the Pekingese has even more to brag about after being named Westminster’s Best in Show in 2021. Aside from the lengthy, fluffy coat and short muzzle, you’ll know a Pekingese by its confidence (barking at strangers) and loyalty (more barking at strangers).

smallest dog breeds pomeranian

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11. Pomeranian

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  • Average Height: 6.5 inches
  • Average Weight: 5 pounds
  • Personality: lively, adaptable
  • Activity Level: moderate to high
  • Shedding Factor: moderate
  • Life Expectancy: 12 to 16 years

Talk about a teeny frame with a huge personality. Pomeranians are fluff balls of joy, willing to romp around with kids (gently) or frolic in the yard with other pets. Whether you reside in the city or country, Poms will be content, as long as you house train them early.

smallest dog breeds silky terrier

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12. Silky Terrier

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  • Average Height: 9.5 inches
  • Average Weight: 10 pounds
  • Personality: feisty, friendly
  • Activity Level: moderate
  • Shedding Factor: low
  • Life Expectancy: 13 to 15 years

Silky Terriers are cousins of Yorkshire Terriers and were originally bred in Australia. They have big personalities and don’t like being ignored (aka, they can become destructive if left alone too long or without ample mental stimulation).

smallest dog breeds toy fox terrier

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13. Toy Fox Terrier

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  • Average Height: 10 inches
  • Average Weight: 5 pounds
  • Personality: sweet, energetic
  • Activity Level: moderate to high
  • Shedding Factor: moderate
  • Life Expectancy: 13 to 15 years

Toy Fox Terriers have silky smooth, short coats and tall, perky ears. They need lots of exercise; this energy is often best spent outdoors with people. One huge perk for anyone who abhors house breaking: Toy Fox Terriers can be trained to use puppy pads indoors.

smallest dog breeds toy poodle

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14. Toy Poodle

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  • Average Height: 10 inches
  • Average Weight: 5 pounds
  • Personality: intelligent, confident
  • Activity Level: moderate to high
  • Shedding Factor: hypoallergenic
  • Life Expectancy: 10 to 18 years

Poodles of all sizes are extremely smart and highly trainable. They make outstanding family pets for this reason, not to mention their willingness to join in any activity. Grooming can be time-consuming and expensive, but they are hypoallergenic.

smallest dog breeds yorkshire terrier

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15. Yorkshire Terrier

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  • Average Height: 7.5 inches
  • Average Weight: 7 pounds
  • Personality: affectionate, lively
  • Activity Level: moderate
  • Shedding Factor: hypoallergenic
  • Life Expectancy: 11 to 15 years

Perhaps the quintessential small dog breed is the Yorkshire Terrier. These are energetic balls of fun who enjoy cavorting around town with their families. Despite their yippy reputation, they are workers through and through. Get ready for a friendly, albeit slightly stubborn, companion.

Small dog breed Affenpinscher on walk outside

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16. Affenpinscher

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  • Height: 9-12 inches
  • Weight: 7-10 pounds
  • Personality: goofy, proud
  • Activity Level: moderate
  • Shedding Factor: hypoallergenic
  • Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

Affenpinschers are goofy dogs known for their big personalities. Some people say they look like Star Wars Ewoks, while in France they’re called “mustached little devils,” according to the American Kennel Club. No matter what you see in your Affenpinscher, be prepared for loyal companionship and lots of playtime (these dogs enjoy exercise!).

Small dog breed bichon frise in a blue sweater on fall leaves

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17. Bichon Frise

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  • Height: 9.5-11.5 inches
  • Weight: 12-18 pounds
  • Personality: cheerful, adaptable
  • Activity Level: moderate
  • Shedding Factor: hypoallergenic
  • Life Expectancy: 14-15 years

Hypoallergenic and adaptable, Bichon Frises are great family dogs. They get along well with everyone and enjoy learning commands (as long as you teach them early). Sure they might bark if they get excited, but this is their way of getting in on the action. Bichons also know when it’s time to calm down and will love lounging on your lap.

smallest dog breeds coton

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18. Coton de Tulear

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  • Height: 9-11 inches
  • Weight: 8-15 pounds
  • Personality: charming, social
  • Activity Level: moderate
  • Shedding Factor: Low
  • Life Expectancy: 15-19 years

“Coton” means “cotton” in French. As soon as you pet a Coton de Tulear, you’ll feel a white coat as soft as cotton. They come from Tulear in Madagascar and love people. Bred as companion animals for the wealthy, today they make great family pets because they’re social and enjoy outdoor time.

smallest dog breeds english toy spaniel

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19. English Toy Spaniel

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  • Height: 9-10 inches
  • Weight: 8-14 pounds
  • Personality: devoted, sweet
  • Activity Level: moderate
  • Shedding Factor: moderate
  • Life Expectancy: 10-12 years

English Toy Spaniels might seem to have split personalities. While they are endlessly devoted to their humans, they may turn their noses up at strangers. Bred and developed as agile hunters, English Toy Spaniels can definitely be stubborn. Be prepared for push back during training.

Small dog breed manchester toy terrier on the street

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20. Manchester Toy Terrier

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  • Height: 15-16 inches
  • Weight: 12-22 pounds
  • Personality: lively, intelligent
  • Activity Level: moderate to high
  • Shedding Factor: low
  • Life Expectancy: 15-17 years

Check out those bat ears! Toy Manchester Terriers are compact dogs with lots of energy and intelligence. While they love to love their families, they may be wary of strangers, so introduce them to new people and dogs slowly.


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Sarah Ashley is a Chicago-based freelance journalist. She has covered pets for PureWow for six years and tackles everything from dog training tips to the best litter boxes. Her...

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