Few things on Earth are cuter than a sweet, tiny puppy — and its diminutive size plays a major role in its adorableness.
And while adult dogs are cute in their own way, it can be tempting to wish that your pup would stay so small forever. Who wouldn’t want to gaze upon that cuteness all day, every day?
But being precious isn’t the only perk of a tiny pooch. Smaller dogs often make more suitable pets for apartment dwellers, families with children and those who simply don’t have the brawn to handle a hundred-pound Rottweiler.
If you’re looking for a dog that will stay small well past puppyhood, you’ve got plenty of options. These 15 breeds are known for both their petite builds and winning personalities — will one of them become your newest family member?
The Top 15 Dog Breeds That Stay Small
The Chihuahua is the quintessential small dog: tiny yet totally unforgettable.
Chihuahuas are among the most loyal of all small dog breeds, and those giant eyes and massive ears are almost unbearably charming.
But eyes and ears aside, the Chihuahua is dwarfed by just about every other dog. Expect your Chihuahua to remain under 9 inches tall and weigh in between 2 and 6 pounds — that’s less than a gallon of water!
2. Yorkshire Terrier
Sporting long, silky hair and a face designed to make your heart melt, the Yorkshire Terrier is more commonly known as the Yorkie — a name that we think more accurately encapsulates how adorable this dog is!
Yorkies are excellent with children and can be incredibly affectionate with those they trust. On the other hand, their agility and intelligence make them fantastic guard dogs, perfect for those in need of a bite-sized bodyguard.
And if that wasn’t enough, Yorkies are also hypoallergenic, so they’re great for anyone who’s sensitive to dog dander.
A true purse dog, the Yorkie maxes out at around 9 inches tall at the shoulder, and rarely exceeds 7 pounds on the scale.
3. Alaskan Klee Kai
Dream of owning a Husky but aren’t sure you can handle such a large, energetic dog? Then its cousin, the impossibly adorable Alaskan Klee Kai, might be perfect for you.
The Klee Kai is one of the newest dog breeds, gaining official AKC recognition in 2020. Its name comes from the Inuit for “small dog”, though it technically comes in three sizes: toy, miniature, and standard.
If small is what you’re after, you’ll be looking for a toy Klee Kai: these pups stay under 13 inches tall and weigh between 5 and 14 pounds. Minis are slightly larger, growing up to 15 inches tall and weighing up to 18 pounds.
No matter what size you choose, you’ll be getting a dog with all the smarts, spunk, and silliness of a Husky in a pint-sized package.
4. Miniature Dachshund
What list of small dogs would this be if it didn’t include the fabled weiner dog?
Dachshunds come in both miniature and standard sizes, and though neither one gets huge, the mini version is the most petite: no more than 6 inches tall at the shoulder and less than 11 pounds.
These tiny hounds are ultra-affectionate towards their owners — and they’re always on watchdog duty, using their surprising smarts and powerful voices to ward off danger. Their excitability and strong defensive instincts make them most suitable for experienced dog owners.
A true lap dog, the Maltese seems like it was made for cuddling. Its long, smooth white coat feels and looks like a cloud, and at 8 pounds or less, you can cradle it for hours without getting fatigued.
Maltese rarely exceed 9 inches in height, making them well-suited for life in small spaces. These are also popular family dogs, balancing playfulness with gentleness in a most delightful manner.
If dogs could fly, the Papillon would soar higher than any other. Its trademark wing-shaped ears dwarf the rest of its head, and it’s easy to see why the French named it after the butterfly!
On the ground, the joyful and boisterous Papillon is always ready to meet new people and make new friends. But its big-dog personality contradicts its size: it typically remains under 9 pounds and stands just under a foot tall, making it compact enough for just about any home.
7. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The name says it all: the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel looks and acts like royalty, though its small size reminds us more of a little prince than a full-sized king!
Cavaliers love people and can be very stubborn, especially when seeking attention from their owners. But they’re also adaptable and athletic, making them great hiking or hunting companions.
Expect your Cavalier to remain under 13 inches in height and 18 pounds in weight.
Like a pompom atop a hat, the Pomeranian is a little ball of fluff whose appearance makes it impossible not to smile. Pomeranians measure 7 to 12 inches in height and weigh no more than 7 pounds, though their puffy fur often makes them look much bulkier!
Pomeranians are more independent than many other small dog breeds, but they also love affection and are excellent at learning new tricks. They’re popular in cities and have a reputation as excellent apartment dogs.
Though the Basenji is on the larger end of the small dog spectrum, it’s a unique breed that shouldn’t be overlooked. Its adorable curly tail, high intelligence and extreme friendliness give it appeal to all sorts of dog lovers.
The Basenji’s most notable feature is its lack of bark — rather, this breed produces a yodel-like sound that many people find both charming and less disruptive than regular barking.
Basenjis typically weigh around 23 pounds and stand around 17 inches tall when fully grown. They’re not quite toy dogs, but they still meet the size restrictions imposed by many apartments.
10. Boston Terrier
Compact yet muscular, the Boston Terrier is packed with attitude and character. There’s never a dull moment around these dogs: they’re curious, cuddly and always up for some quality time with their owners.
Boston Terriers come in many sizes, with the smallest dogs weighing under 15 pounds and standing less than a foot tall. The tiniest varieties are often referred to as teacup Boston Terriers.
11. Miniature Schnauzer
This German dog’s spectacular mustache and bubbly personality give it a near-universal appeal. There’s never a dull moment around a Mini Schnauzer, and between its small size and its ease of training, it’s ideal for new dog owners.
Like its larger relative, the Standard Schnauzer, the Mini Schnauzer got its start patrolling farmland for rats and other intruders. It makes a fantastic guard dog, but can get restless without a job to do, so plenty of stimulation is a must.
Mini Schnauzers may be small, but they’re far from delicate. They typically weigh between 11 and 20 pounds and stand around a foot tall, but much of their mass is muscle and they love to run and wrestle with other dogs.
12. Toy Poodle
The Toy Poodle’s reputation as a snooty, prissy, high-maintenance dog is largely undeserved. Sure, its luxurious curly coat and elegant demeanor make it look fancy, but this breed is also fiercely intelligent, highly loyal and easy to train.
While they do require more frequent grooming than other breeds, these dogs are otherwise very adaptable and a joy to care for. Toy Poodles stand under 10 inches tall and weigh between 6 and 9 pounds — and a good chunk of that weight is made up of that trademark coat.
13. Pembroke Welsh Corgi
The world’s smallest herding dog breed, Corgis are perhaps best known as Queen Elizabeth II’s canine companions of choice. But you don’t need to be royalty to see their appeal: with their short, stocky legs and foxlike heads, they’re both sophisticated and adorable at once.
As herding dogs at heart, Corgis love to run and bark, but they’re adaptable enough to live happily in a small home. Though they stand just a foot tall at most, they can weigh up to 30 pounds, making them one of the bulkier small dog breeds.
14. Fox Terrier
The Fox Terrier is an excellent dog, and it knows it. Full of confidence, pep and curiosity, this breed comes in two varieties: the Smooth Fox Terrier, with a short, flat coat; and the more common Wire Fox Terrier, with a dense, crinkly coat.
Regardless of coat type, Fox Terriers max out at 15 inches tall and weigh between 15 and 19 pounds. They’re easy to train and care for, but they have nearly unlimited energy, so plenty of exercise and play is needed to keep them happy.
15. Miniature Pinscher
The name “Pinscher” probably makes you think of large, imposing Dobermans, not a cat-sized cuddle machine. But the Miniature Pinscher (aka Min-Pin) is a dainty little dog with a big sense of humor and a lot of love to give.
Standing under a foot tall and weighing less than 11 pounds, Min-Pins do resemble Dobermans that have been zapped by a shrink ray. They’re extremely playful and can be tricky to train, but once they’ve learned the ropes of family life, they’re among the most loyal and affectionate small dog breeds.