Culture and Lifestyle Pets 30 Small Dog Breeds That Make Great Pets By Patricia S York Patricia S York Patricia was the assistant food editor at Southern Living and worked with the Southern Living food team from 2006-2022. She contributed to articles about food, gardening, and pets. Southern Living's editorial guidelines Updated on May 22, 2023 Fact checked by Jillian Dara Fact checked by Jillian Dara Jillian is a freelance writer, editor and fact-checker with 10 years of editorial experience in the lifestyle genre. In addition to fact-checking for Southern Living, Jillian works on multiple verticals across Dotdash-Meredith, including TripSavvy, The Spruce, and Travel + Leisure. brand's fact checking process Share Tweet Pin Email Trending Videos Photo: Salima Senyavskaya/Getty Images You made it. You're ready to take the plunge and bring a dog into your family. Besides doing your research on how to properly care for your pet, you may be overwhelmed by all the breeds, sizes, and temperaments to choose from. You may have grown up with a big, energetic German Shepherd, and, as much as you would love to have one now, it's an unrealistic size for your lifestyle. Between the size of your yard and the age of your children, you don't think this large dog would be the right breed for you right now. Perhaps a smaller sized dog is what you need, but keep in mind that smaller stature does not mean smaller attitudes. Small dog breeds come with different personalities, so before you pick one just because he looks cute and cuddly, do some research to choose the best dog for your household. And before you buy from a breeder, check out your local animal shelters. You may find just the right dog that is anxious to join your family. 01 of 31 Make One of These Dog Breeds Your Next Pet 02 of 31 Papillon jonnysek/Getty Images Also called the Continental Toy Spaniel, the Papillon is one of the oldest of the toy spaniels. It derives its pretty French name from its characteristic butterfly-like look of the long and fringed hair on the ears. This little dog has a "big dog" personality, with the energy, endurance, and agility to keep up with the larger dogs. As with all dogs, train early and keep them occupied or she will become yappy. 03 of 31 Chihuahua Elles Rijsdijk / EyeEm/Getty Images Don't let the small size fool you. Chihuahuas may look meek, but they are a powerhouse of attitude. They are known for being loud and demanding, barking constantly at strange dogs and nipping at children (maybe not the best choice for a house with kids). However, the Chihuahua can also be loyal and affectionate and can be the right choice for an older person in a quiet household. 04 of 31 Yorkshire Terrier @Hans Surfer/Getty Images Small and spunky, this toy breed has a big personality. Intelligent and playful, a Yorkshire Terrier usually gets along with the family cat and takes charge of larger dogs in his home. However, because his tiny size makes him a bit fragile, he may not be a good choice for a household with small, rambunctious children. 05 of 31 Cocker Spaniel Mirella Sjblom / EyeEm/Getty Images These spaniels make the perfect pets for children; not too small and not too big, they are just the right size. This silky, wavy-haired breed is loyal, affectionate, and easy to train, and wakes up every morning with a strong desire to please his family. 06 of 31 Maltese Jimmy Juarez / EyeEm/Getty Images The Maltese, bred as a companion dog, often retains a puppy-like attitude all throughout his life. He is definitely a looker, with those big button eyes and silky coat, which, by the way, is far from maintenance free. 07 of 31 Beagle RyanJLane/Getty Images Beagles are highly spirited and intelligent. Originally bred for hunting rabbits, their keen sense of smell can sometimes make walks interesting, as they try to follow every smell they encounter. Buyer beware: beagles have been known to chew through anything, so give him plenty of safe options other than your shoes, furniture, and the siding on the house. 08 of 31 Bichon Frise zhao hui/Getty Images These adorable faces are guaranteed to make even Scrooge break out in a grin. This little ball of white fur is a born cuddler. Typically affectionate and eager to please, a Bichon does require consistent training to avoid becoming bratty. He may not be a good choice for a family with small or rambunctious children, as he may become injured or frightened to the point of biting. 09 of 31 Boston Terrier Vivienstock/Getty Images Friendly and enthusiastic, the Boston Terrier is typically happy and up for anything, as long as he is with his family. He will enjoy hanging around on the couch with you or going out for a game of fetch. Boston Terriers are sturdy despite their small size and, while he isn't known to be as yappy as other small dogs, he does need exercise and proper training to avoid behavioral issues. 10 of 31 Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Sergey Ryumin/Getty Images It may be in his nature to flush birds, but he is also happy taking long walks in the woods or just hanging out with his loving owner. Animated, intuitive, and generally cheerful, these small dogs make wonderful therapy pets. Cavaliers do well in families with older children who will play outside with them and give them much-needed exercise. 11 of 31 Dachshund Zelma Brezinska / EyeEm/Getty Images Bred to exterminate vermin, the small Dachshund actually makes an excellent watchdog. She will become very attached to her owner and family but can also be aggressive around unfamiliar children. The curious and adventure-loving Dachshund is also fond of digging, hunting, chasing game, and tracking by scent. 12 of 31 Italian Greyhound Andrew Fladeboe/Getty Images President John Tyler bought one of these slender dogs for the First Lady in the 1840s. Italian Greyhounds are known to have the same sweet, loyal nature of their taller Greyhound cousins. Their affectionate nature makes them an ideal cuddling companion. 13 of 31 Jack Russell Terrier Brighton Dog Photography/Getty Images Looking for a quiet dog that likes to hang around the house waiting to be pampered? Then a Jack Russell is not for you! This is a very active breed that loves to jump on furniture, run around and lead a generally carefree, stubborn, and boisterous existence. Proper training, however, can help make the dog calmer. 14 of 31 Lhasa Apso VKarlov/Getty Images This tiny dog was bred as an interior sentinel in the Buddhist monasteries to alert the monks to any intruders. Stands to reason that the Lhasa Apso is alert and watchful, is suspicious of strangers and will bark in alarm. They're independent and stubborn but very loyal and faithful to their families. 15 of 31 Miniature Poodle ultramarinfoto/Getty Images The poodle comes in three sizes: standard, miniature, and toy. The standard is too large to be considered if you want a small dog, but the miniature or toy versions can be just the right size. Poodles are among the smartest of dog breeds and can make an excellent addition to the family. They are easy to train, hardworking, and a tough competitor in sports. 16 of 31 Havanese @Hans Surfer/Getty Images A Havanese can be a great choice for a family that has never owned a dog. He is intelligent, lively, and loves being spoiled. This breed needs daily exercise and grooming and makes a good companion for gentle and responsible children. 17 of 31 Pekingese DevidDO/Getty Images This is an ancient breed originating in China. They are called Lion Dogs due to their resemblance to Chinese guardian lions. This small dog comes with a big attitude. Because he is extremely faithful to his family, he makes a good watchdog. His aggressive nature, though, does make the Pekingese unsuitable for a family with children or other pets. His thick undercoat and coarse overcoat require daily grooming. 18 of 31 Pug Dane Sigua/Getty Images The fun-loving Pug is generally a real charmer who tends to get along well with everyone she meets — including children and other animals. She is not a jogging partner, but she does typically enjoy going out wherever you might go. Large for a toy breed, compact and muscular, a Pug is a bit hardier than other small breeds, but still needs supervision when playing with children. 19 of 31 Scottish Terrier cynoclub/Getty Images This breed is known for their independent and self-assured nature. They can often be somewhat dour and stubborn, so training a Scottie can be a real test of wills. They tend to be one-person dogs, which make them great companions for a one or two-person household. 20 of 31 Shetland Sheepdog yanjf/Getty Images Good-natured and eager to please, sweet Shelties are easy to train. They make amazing playmates for children and can sometimes be timid and standoffish with strangers. Their big, beautiful coat requires daily grooming. 21 of 31 Pembroke Welsh Corgi Holly Hildreth/Getty Images Happy, alert, and playful, corgis make great pets for children. They're intelligent and willing to please, making them easy to train. They're good watchdogs and can either be very noisy or very reserved with strangers. 22 of 31 Shih Tzu Emmanuelle Bonzami / EyeEm/Getty Images This breed was bred for Chinese royalty and considers the giving and receiving of affection as his primary purposes in life. This typically playful breed tends to be proud — but not arrogant — and responds well to treats and indulgences. In other words, the Shih Tzu is easily spoiled. Consistent training is necessary because if bored or allowed to have his own way, he is likely to get into mischief. 23 of 31 West Highland White Terrier Salima Senyavskaya/Getty Images Westies have the sunniest disposition in the terrier family. They will happily adapt to your lifestyle, and they are one of the few terrier breeds that get along well with other pets. 24 of 31 Wire Hair Fox Terrier SerhiiBobyk/Getty Images Definitely attention-seekers, wires display typical terrier characteristics: confidence, determination, and eagerness. They're also prone to high-energy habits like chasing and digging. 25 of 31 Pomeranian Emmanuelle Bonzami / EyeEm/Getty Images Mellow, gentle and overall adorable dogs, Pomeranians can also sometimes get a bit noisy. This breed is great with children, but it is best introduced into a family as a puppy. Beware, Pomeranians are big shedders, so be prepared for a lot of grooming and vacuuming. 26 of 31 Whippet Michal Kos/Getty Images Similar in look to the Italian Greyhound, a Whippet can reach speeds of up to 35 miles per hour, making them the fastest animal of their size, according to the American Kennel Club. So if you like to run track, this breed might be just what you are looking for. 27 of 31 Miniature Pinscher Tara Gregg / EyeEm/Getty Images The leggy Miniature Pinscher is known as the "King of Toys." This fearless, proud, and fun-loving small breed has a lustrous coat and a compact, wedge-shaped physique, along with a showy high-stepping "hackney" gait. 28 of 31 Basenji bruev/Getty Images The Basenji was bred as hunting dogs in Africa, prized for their intelligence and independence. This quiet and sweet-faced "barkless" dog is best for owners who can meet their exercise needs and the challenge of training this catlike canine. 29 of 31 Border Terrier CaptureLight/Getty Images Bred as a fox and vermin hunter, plucky and happy border terriers are known to be a tough working breed. They will instinctively hunt and chase animals (and cars), so owners need to be especially vigilant and keep Border Terriers behind the fence. 30 of 31 Miniature Schnauzer Mark Nicol/Getty Images This breed has it all in one small package: intelligence, affection, an extroverted temperament, and a personality bigger than its small body. Toss in that walrus-shaped moustache and fun-loving enthusiasm, and you will be laughing every day. With this one in the house you will never be lonely – or alone. 31 of 31 Schipperke shells1/Getty Images Topping out at just 16 pounds and 12"-13" tall, these little packages pack a big punch. Known as Belgium's "little captain" and used as a watchdog, the Schipperke is curious, lively, intense, and oh-so mischievous. The fox-like face completes the unique look. Frequently Asked Questions What is the most popular small dog breed? The French bulldog is the most popular small dog breed in the U.S. In fact, in 2022 the French bulldog surpassed the Labrador retriever to become the most popular dog in the nation. Which dog breed stays the smallest? Individual dogs vary, but the Chihuahua is considered the tiniest of breeds. A purebred Chihuahua typically weighs 4-6 pounds, and even tinier ones have made Guiness World Records. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources Southern Living is committed to using high-quality, reputable sources to support the facts in our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we fact check our content for accuracy. American Kennel Club. Toy Spaniels: The Rise and Fall and Rise. American Kennel Club. 10 Fun Facts About the Beagle. American Kennel Club. Things You Didn't Know About the Daschund. Presidential Pet Museum. John Tyler's Italian Greyhound, Le Beau. American Kennel Club. Llasa Apso History: Tiny Tibetan Watchdogs. American Kennel Club. Poodle (Miniature). American Kennel Club. Pekingese. American Kennel Club. Shih Tzu. American Kennel Club. Whippet. American Kennel Club. Miniature Pinscher. American Kennel Club. Basenji. American Kennel Club. Border Terrier. American Kennel Club. Schipperke. Haid M. Most popular dog breeds of 2022. American Kennel Club. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/dog-breeds/most-popular-dog-breeds-2022/. Published March 15, 2023. Accessed May 3, 2023.