Why should you consider getting a small dog?  

The main reasons for getting a small dog are that they are easier to control and are not a big physical threat to humans, and are cheaper to feed.  You can easily restrain a 7 pound Yorkshire Terrier, and it is not a life-threatening situation if it attacks someone.  

On the other hand, small dogs can be wary of small children and sometimes bite if they feel threatened.  If you have small or young children, make sure you teach them how to treat a small dog.  And do not leave your small dog alone with children, especially if your dog does not know them.

If you are looking for the right small dog breed for your family, the following description of the 10 most popular small breeds may help you.  All of these dogs make excellent family pets with proper socialization.

Dog Size Comparison Chart

SizeHeightWeightTypical Breeds
Toyup to 12 inches5-15 poundsYorkshire Terrier, Toy Poodle, Chihuahua
Smallup to 17 inches15-25 poundsMiniature Schnauzer, Beagle, Bichon Friese
Mediumup to 23 inches25-60 poundsAmerican Foxhound, Australian Shepherd, Border Collie
Largeup to 29 inches60-85 poundsAkita, German Shepherd, Collie
Giantup to 35 inchesover 85 poundsBernese Mountain Dog, Bloodhound, Mastiff


Reading time with my beagle dog

Beagles are a favorite family pet and rank 6th on the AKC’s most popular dog breeds.  They come in small and medium-size, although both sizes are the same breed.  The smaller Beagle is under 13 inches tall and weighs under 20 pounds.  The larger variation is over 13 inches and weighs up to 30 pounds.  Both would probably satisfy our definition of a small dog. (See dog size chart above.)

Beagles are included in the hound group.  They are hunting dogs and do have a loud bark.  They may need some training to keep their barking to a minimum, or you may have some neighbors complaining.  But this is true of almost every dog breed.  

The Beagle has an excellent sense of smell, almost as good as the Bloodhound or Basset Hound.  When used as hunting dogs, they frequently are used in packs similar to the American and English Foxhounds.  

Beagles are generally healthy dogs and have a respectable lifespan of 12 to 15 years.  They do shed a moderate amount, so they are not a hypoallergenic dog.  Other than the regular bath and brushing to remove loose hairs, the Beagle does not require frequent grooming.

Bichon FriseThe boy with the dog playing in the garden.

The Bichon Friese originated in France and bred to be a lap dog.  They are great traveling companions, so if you take frequent trips and want a dog to go along with you, The Bichon Friese will be a good choice.

Not only is this breed a good traveler, but it also gets along well with other dogs and children.  It is a small dog, however, so it must not be handled roughly.

The coat of the Bichon is white and very dense and curly.  It is not a low maintenance dog, so that it will require frequent brushing and grooming.  Failure to properly care for its coat may lead to skin conditions, and the dog may chew or scratch itself.  It does not shed and is considered to be hypoallergenic.

Bichon Friese is healthy and has a lifespan of 12 to 15 years.  Some reports show dogs that have lived as long as 21 years.

Cavalier King Charles SpanielCavalier King Charles Spaniel

When you look into the large, round eyes of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, your heart will surely melt, or you are not a real dog person.  This dog got its name from British royalty, notably King Charles II, the son of Charles I, who lost his head during the English Revolution.  Cavalier was a term used for the wealthy supporters of the Kings during the Civil War and Restoration.

The Kings may have been bad rulers, but they liked dogs.  Charles II was said to be more interested in his dogs than he was in ruling England.  It sounds like he wasn’t all that bad.

The Cavalier is very affectionate and needs to be with people.  It would not be a good choice for people who are gone from home for long periods.  They get along well with children and are not afraid of becoming friends with larger dogs.

This breed has a few genetic health issues but usually lives 12 to 15 years, which is about average for a small dog.  It needs a regular bath and brushing but does not require extensive grooming. 


Two Longhair Chihuahua dog

Long Coat Chihuahuas

The Chihuahua is a very small dog; it is the smallest dog breed in the world. It is named after the Mexican state of Chihuahua and is an ancient Mexican breed.

There are two varieties of the breed, the Smooth Coat (short hair) and the Long Coat (long hair). Both of the varieties are easy to to keep clean and do not require a lot of grooming.

The Chihuahua is a sassy but very loyal dog and loves attention. Without proper training, it will take over and try to be the boss. They may be small but they do not know it. They are not good dogs for rough play due to their small size.

They are very healthy dogs and have a good expected lifespan of 14 to 16 years. They need good dental care. They may be somewhat prone to eye injuries due to their large protruding eyes.

DachshundA red piebald mini dachsund being held by a little girl out in a green field.

Built low to the ground, the Dachshund with its short legs and long body has earned the nickname “wiener-dog.”  It is a hunting dog and part of the hound group.  Dachshunds were bred to chase and flush out badgers and other burrowing animals.  “Dachshund” in German means badger dog.

Dachshunds have three coat variations, smooth (short hair), wire-haired, or long-haired.  The most common color is red and then black and tan.  In the United States and the United Kingdom, two sizes are recognized, miniature, and standard.  The miniature is about 6 inches tall and weighs about 11 pounds.  The standard is over 6 inches tall and can weigh just over 30 pounds.

Small but fearless, this little dog has a big-time bark and is an excellent watchdog.  It has a big appetite, and its owners must be careful not to give in to those soulful pleading eyes begging for more food.  Being overweight is a real danger because it can lead to serious back problems for this long little dog.

Although hunting is their profession, Dachshunds are affectionate and love to spend time on the couch with you.  They will need proper training and socialization to behave properly around small children.  They can be aggressive towards strangers and other family pets.

The smooth-coat Dachshund needs very little grooming, just a routine bath will likely be enough.  The long-hair and wire-hire dogs will need more brushing.  They are generally healthy and have a lifespan of 12 to 16 years.

Miniature SchnauzerSmall Miniature Schnauzer Dog Zwergschnauzer Sitting In Hands Of

The Miniature Schnauzer is the most popular of the three Schnauzer sizes, miniature, standard, and giant.    The Miniature is under 14 inches tall and should weigh less than 20 pounds.  

Three coat variations are recognized by the AKC, salt-and-pepper, black, and black-and-silver.  There is also an all-white coat accepted by the  Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) but is not yet recognized by the AKC for show competition.

The Miniature Schnauzer is a spirited, intelligent little dog that is a bit independent but is so willing to please its owners that it is easily trained.   It is in the Terrier group and was bred to chase rodents, but those days are long gone.  It is now a loyal companion dog that loves spending time next to its owner.

They will need regular grooming as they shed very little, and their hair tends to become curly and very susceptible to matting if it is allowed to grow too long.  Removing matted hair is very unpleasant for the dog and is an equally unpleasant job for the groomer.   They should be clipped about every 6 weeks or so.

They are healthy dogs and live from 12 to 15 years.  These spunky little dogs will provide a lot of love and companionship to their family during those years.  They are excellent family pets, but small children must be taught not to mistreat them.  

PomeranianWoman play with Pomeranian dog at outdoor park

Pomeranian dogs originate from the Pomerania area of Poland and Germany.  They are a spitz type of dog and are in the Toy Group because of their small size, less than 7 inches tall, and under 7 pounds.  They may be small, but they certainly do not know it.

Pomeranians are feisty little dogs with a regal bearing that makes them look like they own the place.  They do like to vocalize, which makes them good watchdogs and often leads to excessive barking.  

They are friendly and playful and a great family pet so long as children are taught to treat them as dogs and not as toys.  It is a popular dog breed and consistently ranks in the top 20 on AKC’s most popular dogs list.

With an expected life of 12 to 16 years, the Pomeranian is a healthy little dog.  Their thick double coat, which gives them their distinguished appearance, will need frequent brushing.

PoodleSingle young brunette woman with poodle dog on hands sitting by window at

The Poodle is one of the most intelligent dog breeds, second only to the Border Collie.   They are divided into three size classes, toy, miniature, and standard.  Both the toy and miniature are small dogs, while Poodle’s standard size is a medium to large dog.  They are all the same breed, just different sizes.

The Poodle is probably the most recognized and one of the most popular dog breed in the world.  It is routinely in the top 10 of the AKC’s most popular dog breed list.

The Poodle may look elegant (some might say sissy), but underneath it is a dog with great mental and physical ability.  They are very successful in dog competition such as agility and obedience training.  

They are an excellent family pet, equal to any other dog breed you will find.  They live long healthy lives and it is not uncommon for them to reach the age of 18 years.

Their coats will need frequent brushing if you allow it to grow long.  It is probably best to keep their coats trimmed short.  Otherwise, matting can become a serious issue, and they may have to be shaved to remove matted hair.

Shih Tzupure

The Shih Tzu is a toy dog breed from Tibet by way of China.  They were favorites of Chinese royalty and were raised as indoor dogs so are happy to live in places without big backyards.   Their idea of a good time is being in you or beside you and watching television.

If you want a cute dog, you will have a hard time finding one cuter than the Shih Tzu.  If you let its hair grow long, and with diligent grooming, the Shih Tzu is an elegant dog.  Owners who do not have or want to take the time for frequent grooming will still have a very cute dog with short hair.

The Shih Tzu is an alert, friendly dog, and prefers being with its family and not being left alone.  It usually acts friendly towards strangers and other family pets.

Shih Tzus have a lifespan of 10 to 18 years.  They are generally healthy but, because of their coats, do not tolerate heat very well.  

Yorkshire Terrier Portrait of a beautiful little 2 years old girl in red hat with yorkshire terrier dog on sofa in

Another cute dog is the Yorkshire Terrier.  This is also a Toy Group dog and is one of the smallest dog breeds in the world.  A full-grown Yorkie will only weigh about 7 pounds.  The Yorkshire Terrier comes from the county of Yorkshire, England.  

The Yorkie is alert and playful.  It does not like being alone, and sometimes owners have two dogs to ease the Yorkie’s separation anxiety.  

The Yorkie will have floor-length silky hair if you let its hair grow long.  If you don’t want to put in the grooming time, it will still be a cute dog with short hair.

It may be small, but it is a terrier.  It is active, playful, feisty, and even bossy.  If you like dogs at all, you will love the companionship of a Yorkie.  It has a lifespan of 11 to 15 years.  Your Yorkie will give you joy and laughs every one of those years.