People love a good lap-dog. Miniature dog breeds make great indoor companions and live longer than large breed dogs, making them a popular choice for pet parents. But each of the miniature dog breeds has a distinct personality and some may be a better fit than others. Below is a list of ten of the most popular small dog breeds and why they may or may not be the best choice for your family. I’ve picked these ten small dog breeds based on my own preference and experience.
This was my childhood family dog, and she was definitely a big dog in a small dog body. My parents like to tell the story of our Cairn standing her ground between me and a loose Rottweiler. I remember her trekking through the mountains with us on hikes and camping trips.
Cairns are scruffy terriers who range from 14 to 18 pounds. They’re independent, but love the family and tend to be good with kids. As with most terriers, they love to chase small animals, and may not be the best choice for a household with other small pets. They don’t shed much, but love the outdoors, so may come in from the yard covered in dirt and leaves. Cairns are one of the best small breed dogs for active families.
I’ve known many Chihuahuas in my life, and they have all been very different. My aunt’s long-haired Chihuahua would hang out quietly in her purse when we went to restaurants. My neighbor’s duo of Chihuahuas would race wildly around the house. My roommate’s Chihuahua switches between sleeping in sunspots and antagonizing the neighbor’s Lab through the fence. She romps around with my Corgi and our other roommate’s Yorkie, but when things get too rowdy she’ll perch out of reach on the top of the couch. If we leave a coat or blanket on the couch, she’ll burrow into it and make a comfy nest.
Chihuahuas range from 2 to 8 pounds and can be long-haired or short-haired. Even the short-haired breeds shed a little bit. They tend to bond strongly to one person and may be weary of strangers and impatient with rough children, so this is not one of the best small dog breeds for a family with small children. They’re smart, with lots of personality, but may take a little more effort than other miniature dog breeds to train. They are also difficult to housebreak, but they’re small enough that their messes will be manageable. A Chihuahua may be one of the best small dog breeds for someone who wants a small, affectionate companion and who has the patience to deal with slow training and housebreaking. Chihuahuas make great apartment dogs.
Dachshunds are one of the most popular small dog breeds. They are family dogs that will bond closely to the whole family. They tend to be notorious barkers, and their bark sounds like it belongs to a larger dog, making them good watchdogs. I once had a neighbor with four Doxies, and they loved to chase squirrels and then stand at the base of the tree and keep barking at them. Dachshunds are also known to be hard to housebreak, but do better if they have access to a large yard. Dachshunds may be long-haired, short-haired or wire-haired, and are medium-level shedders. Standard dachshunds grow to between 16 and 32 pounds, while miniatures range from 9 to 11 pounds.
There’s a Havanese who sometimes attends puppy school with my Corgi, and every time she shows up she’s the center of attention. Havanese love to do tricks and have an expressive, smiley face that will make you want to reward them with tasty treats and affection. Havanese range from 7 to 13 pounds; they are definitely an indoor breed and tend to be good with kids. They don’t shed a whole lot and have a medium energy level, so they won’t wear you out like some other hyper small dogs.
Jack Russell Terrier
Jack Russell Terriers are great dogs, but only for someone who has the time and energy for them. Jack Russells are extremely active and can quickly turn destructive if not sufficiently entertained. They are extremely smart and respond well to consistent training, so long as they understand that their human is the dominant party. Jack Russells are not one of the best small dog breeds for families with small children, since they can be aggressive or play too rough, and other small pets may feel terrorized by their hunting instinct. If you’re adopting a Jack Russell, make sure to have a high and sturdy fence, because these small dogs are big jumpers. They do best when they have a yard to romp in, and are poorly suited for apartment living. Jack Russell Terriers range from 13 to 17 pounds and are medium-level shedders, with low-maintenance grooming requirements.
Okay, so Corgis aren’t exactly miniature dogs. They can weigh up to 30 pounds, although since they’re short and stocky they are usually considered a small dog breed. I’ve heard it said that corgis are big dogs with no legs. Corgis are loving, active, smart dogs. They can be as cuddly and sweet as any lapdog, and as active and playful as a circus performer. Corgis were bred to be herding dogs and are built to run, roll and tumble around, despite their stubby legs. If properly socialized, Corgis are happy and friendly doggies. If not properly socialized while young, they can be weary of strangers and fearful of other dogs. I got my corgi as a puppy and he’s one of the smartest, friendliest small breed dogs I’ve been around who absolutely loves meeting new people. He’s also a digger and a barker, but we’re working on that, and he responds well to training. In addition to barking, my Corgi has a whole vocabulary of other funny sounds. Corgis are active dogs and need a yard or a very active pet parent. They tend to put on weight if not properly exercised, which is especially dangerous for their back because of their long short stature. Corgis are one of the best small dog breeds for an active family.
Pomeranians are easily one of the cutest and fluffiest of the miniature dog breeds. At only 3 to 7 pounds, they make a great cuddly lap dog that can do just fine in an apartment or small house without a yard. They tend to be yappy and make a good watch dog. They are happy and friendly, but are considered one of the most independent of the miniature dog breeds. Pomeranians may be one of the best small dog breeds for a family with older children, but should not be with small children since they can be snippy. The fluffy coat of a Pomeranian is a double coat that sheds constantly, so this is a good choice for a pet parent who doesn’t mind always being covered in dog hair. And since the coat is so thick, this is an ideal pet for a cooler climate. Poms are picky eaters and tend to have dental problems, including tooth loss as they age, so Pomeranian pet parents need to give a little extra dental care.
My mom has a toy poodle that’s pushing 14 and he’s been a great family dog. He’s smart, playful and cuddly. He’s active enough to be entertaining, but calm enough that he’s happy to be carried around and sit on my mom’s lap. He knows a handful of tricks and my mom swears he understands every word she says.
One of the reason poodles are one of the most popular miniature dog breeds is because they are hypoallergenic, with fur that doesn’t bother people who are allergic to dogs. Shedding is low and grooming can be low-maintenance so long as you’re not keeping a show coat. I think my mom takes her poodle to the groomers every six weeks. Miniature poodles range from 15 to 17 pounds, and toy poodles range from 7 to 9 pounds. Poodles are indoor dogs that need plenty of playtime and long walks to expend their energy. Poodles are very people-oriented, so they should not be left alone for long periods. A poodle may be one of the best miniature dog breeds for a family with older children.
Shi Tzus are adorable small dogs that make great lap dogs. They have a medium energy level and are best for families with older children. Shi Tzus may be hard to train, but respond best to gentle training techniques. They don’t shed much, so they may be one of the best small dog breeds for neat freaks.
Since Shi Tzus have a flat face with a snub nose, they may encounter respiratory problems in the heat. Shi Tzus are a better choice for a family in a cooler climate than for a family in a warm climate, and extra care should be taken to ensure the dog does not overexert herself in the heat. While Shi Tzus need plenty of exercise, they are probably not the dog you want to take hiking or running with you. They will be happier to chase a ball in the house and take a nice walk around the block.
Yorkshire Terriers are one of the most popular small dog breeds. I live with one, and she’s a great watchdog who terrorizes the mailman on a daily basis and would give any burglar second thoughts. Yorkies don’t shed, but need occasional brushing or grooming to keep the hair neat and free of tangles. They are high-energy dogs who need an active pet parent or other dogs to play with to keep them happy. Yorkies are jumpers who may be able to scale a small fence or snag something from the kitchen table. They’re cuddly dogs who will love to sleep in your bed and sit on your lap. Yorkshire Terriers may be as small as 4 pounds or as big as 9 pounds, and larger ones generally encounter fewer health problems than the smaller ones.