10 Breeds of Small Dogs That Stay Small


This website is reader supported and as an affiliate, we may earn a commission for purchases made through links on this website.

Small dog breeds have captivated the hearts of many pet owners. Their tiny bodies (not more than 13 inches) seem to be as cute and adorable as their personality. But aside from the cuddly appearance, breeds of small dogs that stay small are excellent for apartments and first-time paw-rents. They are less intimidating at first glance (but mind you, they can be more stubborn) compared to large hounds like Great Danes or St. Bernards.

In my opinion and personal experience, smaller pups are less demanding to groom. Smaller body, smaller coat to bathe and brush. Another thing is they are easy to scoop out of situations like dog fights or a chase inside the vet clinic.

Almost every organization has varying classifications for small dogs. There are teacups, toys, and miniatures which sometimes get confusing if you’re about to adopt or shop. Here’s a simple explanation for your reference:

Miniature vs. teacup vs. toy

Miniature breeds are the smaller versions of big dog breeds. For example, Huskies and Labradors would have a miniature version which is smaller than their usual stature.

Now, when it comes to teacup pups, these are the tinier version of their naturally small breed origins. For example, Chihuahua, Beagles, and Yorkshire Terriers will have their teacup versions. You simply can’t call a little Chihuahua version as a miniature. Teacup is more appropriate.

Lastly, we have the toy breeds. These are doggos bred to have a traditionally smaller size, loveable personality, and unceasing energy. They are reproduced for companionship and can be an excellent family dog given proper training.

However, take note that small dogs are balls of energy. A lot of them require regular exercise and things to get busy at. Otherwise, they can be really bored which will cause incessant howling, barking, and chewing. Other than that, they are cute and charmingly feisty bubs.

Here is our list of small dogs and puppies for every preference:

For kids: Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Dubbed as the “love sponge” and the “ultimate lap dog”, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is lauded for its eager-to-please personality. They are patient and socialize well with other dogs which make them a great family pooch for all ages. Take note that Cavaliers are highly social and they don’t want to be left alone for long.

What’s unique about the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is they exhibit some cat-like behavior like perching in high places and cleaning their own paws. Although they don’t require too much physical stimulation, Cavaliers might also exhibit birding. Beware of letting them off the leash since they can chase birds, butterflies, and squirrels up across the road.

When it comes to playing, Cavaliers are typically docile and gentle, one thing that makes them excellent as a family dog. Just be careful since their very sociable personality can get them in trouble with aggressive hounds.

For small apartments: Chihuahua

Chihuahuas are probably one of the most famous breeds of small dogs that stay small. One Chihuahua is unique to another. They can be feisty or meek, energetic or calm, eager to please or willful.  These characteristics will depend on the temperament of their parents or grandparents so be careful when getting them as your new dog.

Chihuahuas have a bad reputation when it comes to housebreaking which is exactly what you need if you live in a small apartment in the city. You can train them to potty and live them alone in the house without getting bored easily. Take note that these angsty toy pups prefer their own breed. It’s much better to keep two of them if you’re always away. Chihuahuas love snuggling together and they can keep each other company while you’re at work.

What we love about Chihuahuas is their quirky and loyal personality. They are also great for traveling and they have a long lifespan.

For seniors: Toy Poodle

Poodles are stereotyped as “sissy” dogs due to their ostentatious show-ring clips and their brazen depiction in the movies. But the truth is, they are one of the easiest to train and they pay a lot of attention to their owners. Experts call them the “thinking” dogs because they respond positively to training efforts.

The good thing about poodles is they don’t need a lot of physical activity to stay happy which makes them an excellent companion dog for seniors. Just make sure that you stimulate their minds with simple hide and seek or fetching.

Among the breeds on this list of small dogs and puppies, toy poodles are the fastest to pick up patterns. If you change their routines, they can get really flustered. A sudden jerk from you will also send them flinching. As much as these dogs are good for seniors, they aren’t advisable for very small kids due to their hypersensitivity to various stimuli.

Lastly, toy poodles can tend to be Velcro dogs. They can experience separation anxiety and extreme loneliness if left alone.

For a very active lifestyle: Beagle

So you want a doggo that never runs in a straight line? A Beagle will never disappoint. This energy-filled breed may have a soulful expression on their face, but it can romp like mad during a short run. Beagles love and need daily physical stimulation. They are traditionally hunting dogs and will require a higher level of exercise than other breeds. If you like running and walking, Beagles will be excellent for you.

They shouldn’t be confined to city apartments since Beagles always have to be in the run, literally. This breed thrives well on fenced yards where they can bolt off leash and stretch their short legs. Remember to close the gates as these go-getting pups can go overboard. Always keep an eye when leaving them outdoors. These tricky doggos are escape artists and master diggers.

The only caveat about Beagles is they can throw a fit of howling if left alone. They, like most hunting dogs, are inflicted with selective deafness which is why they fail to respond when you call them.

Look how cheeky Oliver the Beagle is during a ballgame with his doggo friends!

For a laidback lifestyle: Shih Tzu

Shih Tzus are certified sweethearts which makes them a great choice for those who have laidback lifestyles. They are calm lap dogs and are less yappy than other breeds of small dogs that stay small. Shih Tzus love cuddling and attention while they are also amiable with other pets and people.

This breed has an elegant stature and imbibes an aristocratic appearance. However, their hair has to be groomed regularly to avoid matting. Aside from that, there seems to be no problem with Shih Tzus as long as you provide them with the love they need. They don’t require a lot of exercise. Just let them roam and explore your yard and it will be enough.

The good about Shih Tzus is they don’t usually inherit the temperament of their parents. Their behavior will reflect the training they received during their early years. You should be firm and consistent with training since young Shih Tzus can be pretty manipulative and stubborn.

For easy training: Swedish Vallhund

The big dog with short legs, Swedish Vallhunds are herding and hiking dogs with insatiable desire to work and be in the move. This breed loves mentally challenging tasks paired with a few high-speed ball chases. They are very intelligent dogs with playfulness similar to that of a spitz.

Vallhunds are watchful dogs but they are also easy to live with which makes them a great option as a family dog. They respond very well to obedience training, but you have to be firm to defeat the manipulative herding tendencies. Vallhunds also like herding with other pets, even livestock or other dogs. However, they can exhibit territorial aggression to animals they aren’t familiar with.

Since they are pretty stocky dogs, you have to give them enough exercise to keep their muscles healthy. Take note, however, that Swedish Vallhunds are obsessed with chasing. They will run after moving objects including kids and strangers. Like every pooch on this list of small dogs and puppies, you have to control their excessive barking and strong-willed personality.

For lots of barking: Dachshund

If you want a small pup that will bark non-stop to your door, a dachshund will be the best guard. This breed is popular for their courage and curious personality. They are also highly loyal to their owners and stays attach them for the rest of their lives. This probably explains his protective behavior when a stranger steps into the house or if he hears suspicious sounds.

Although they can be pretty tough on the barking and snarling, dachshunds are very comical and lively. They love walking and chasing off leash but not as demanding as the Beagle. Take note that this wiener can be jealous and territorial of other dog breeds. Be careful who you pet in front of him!

Dachshunds’ barking can sometimes get out of hand if you leave them alone. Beware of tunneling and birding too since Dachsies also bear the hunting instincts. Also, they tend to have housebreaking difficulties

For less shedding: Maltese

Breeds of small dogs that stay small are cute, but they are also known for shedding. If you want to skip lint rolling your sofa all day long, the Maltese breed will be awesome. Like Shih Tzus, they bear hairs instead of fur that has to be groomed carefully to avoid matting. They are playful and intelligent, plus they shed very little. Maltese dogs love clever games so be sure to have many tricks up your sleeves.

Avoid spoiling a Maltese or it will grow up to be too dependent or insecure. Always be firm and consistent with the rules to avoid the bratty personality from taking over. The good thing about Maltese pups is they are responsive to non-forceful training and they perform well in agility-related tasks. One thing that makes them stand out on this list of small dogs and puppies.

Maltese pooches are usually polite but they can bark incessantly out of nothing. Like Shih Tzus, they rarely inherit the temperament of their parents. Training and raising will define their personality.

breeds of small dogs that stay small

For easy grooming: French Bulldog

With very thin fur and small bodies, Frenchies are the best dogs for those who don’t have time for painstaking grooming. They are usually couch potatoes who love spending time lazying and watching the surroundings. But in some days, they can be frisky, nasty pups who love ball chasing and romping on the yard. If you have a swimming pool in your yard, be watchful. Frenchies have big heads and a squat gait. The doggo will drown if he falls into the pool of water.

French Bulldogs are usually polite and calm but they will bark moderately to announce the arrival of a visitor. If they don’t have anything to do, they are quiet and they rarely engage in trouble. They have short muzzles and flat noses which makes it hard for them to chew things.

There are no serious personality or temperament problems with Frenchie Bulldogs. However, you would have to deal with farting, snorting, and snuffing which is typical among Bulldog breeds.

For solo living: Pug

Oh, the little child that doesn’t grow up. Pugs are adorable and clownish little bummers who are usually calm and quiet. They are usually amiable and will bark awkwardly in the arrival of a visitor. But for the most part, they will welcome other people with snorts and snuffles. Unlike those in this list of small dogs and puppies, they don’t require a lot of physical stimulation. They’ll likely be contented with the space of your small house.

Pugs rarely get into anything mischievous. They rarely chew things even if you leave them alone in the house. Depending on how you raise a pug, they can be very clingy or independent. Pugs usually sleep the whole day away if they aren’t busy.

The only thing you have to put up with when owning a pug is the gassiness. They also slobber a lot which can be embarrassing if you have visitors.

These breeds of small dogs that stay small are helpful for those who want to get a doggo that doesn’t have an overwhelming size. The good thing about toy breeds is they are always loving and cuddly. Although stubbornness is also one characteristic they also share, training can easily fix the problem.