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Published: Mar 18, 2024 3 min read

For some pet parents considering getting a dog for the first time, a little dog might be more appealing than a large dog in terms of upkeep, space limitations and overall costs involved. Thankfully, there are a wide variety of options available for those looking for the smallest dog breeds on the market.

From toy breeds to lap dogs, finding the right dog for you depends on the energy levels and trainability you’re looking for. Some small dogs also have thick coats that require some upkeep to prevent intense shedding or matting. Whether you’re looking for a lap dog or choosing a companion for your small apartment, small dogs come in a wide variety. Here are our top picks for the best small dog breeds.

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Our top picks for best small dog breeds


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Poodles come in three varieties: toy poodles, miniature poodles and standard. Standard poodles consistently rank as one of the most popular dog breeds in America. However, all three varieties are highly trainable as they are both intelligent and active. Poodles are affectionate with all family members and get along well with children.


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Malteses have a coat type that is particularly high-maintenance, but then again, they were lap dogs for royalty for centuries. These beautiful dogs are actually fairly hardy, trainable and adaptable. They also surprisingly make good watchdogs, as much as a toy dog can make a good watchdog.

Shih tzu

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Shih tzus are hypoallergenic dogs that are playful, affectionate and outgoing. This breed of dog is also known to live a long time, with the longest living shih tzu clocked at 23 years old. Shih tzus are known to get along especially well with children.

Yorkshire terrier

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Yorkies are a high-energy and fun-loving breed that make great family dogs. They get along with big dogs and young children alike. Originally bred for hunting small game like mice, Yorkshire terriers have a fiery and friendly disposition.


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Pomeranians, or poms for short, are cute, fluffy companion dogs that are known for their small size and big personalities. Although they can be a bit noisy, poms make great family pets and their intelligence makes them highly trainable. They do shed more than most dogs so expect to give their silky coat extra attention.


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A tiny dog with a short coat and a big heart, these low-maintenance lazy dogs are great companions for apartment living. Pugs are content with cuddles and require very little in terms of exercise needs.

Other popular small dog breeds

  • Dachshund
  • Havanese
  • Beagle
  • French bulldog
  • Papillon
  • Chihuahua
  • Bichon frise
  • Boston terrier
  • Affenpinscher
  • Cavalier king charles spaniel
  • Corgi
  • Fox terrier
  • Bolognese
  • Italian greyhound
  • Miniature schnauzer

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Best small dog breeds FAQs

What is the friendliest small dog?

Miniature poodles, pugs and shih tzus consistently rank as some of the best dog breeds to acquire because of their friendly disposition and eagerness to get along with small children as well as other dogs.

Which small dog breeds are the easiest to train?

The maltese dog is one of the easiest breeds to train because of their intelligence and friendly disposition. Other small breeds that are easy to train include the shih tzu, the miniature schnauzer and the cavalier king charles spaniel.

What is the calmest small dog?

The shih tzu, the pug and the maltese are three small dog breeds that hardly bark and are content to cuddle on the couch with you for most of the day. Even calm dog breeds need a fair amount of exercise throughout the week to keep them happy and healthy.