Small Dog Breeds
(not including Toy Dog Breeds)

Small dog breeds are a good choice for any new dog owner. They are somewhat easier to care for simply because there’s less of them.

Small dogs can be good for anyone with small children. They are much closer to the size of a child and can be less intimidating.

Also, there is less chance of the child being knocked over by the dog (this can easily happen with larger dogs).

Small dog breeds are often a good choice of seniors who might have difficulty handling a larger dog.

Small dogs are generally much less expensive to feed and therefore can make a good pet for someone on a fixed income.

Choosing the right small dog breed for you and your family

Don’t make the mistake that many new dog owners make. Don’t just fall in love with a particular dog breed and rush out to buy one.

Doing so can sometimes lead to problems when unwanted characteristics unexpectedly show up. These surprises can often be avoided if you just do a bit of homework beforehand.

If you know the breed you’re interested in, you can quickly check out what characteristics that breed generally expresses. Click here to view our comparison chart of Small Dog Breeds.

This chart can also be useful if you just want to check out the characteristics of many of the most popular small dogs without investing too much time.

Small Dog Breeds by Characteristic

The categories below will help you find a good small dog breed for any characteristic that’s particularly important to you.

Please note that these can only be generalities. That means that any particular dog could vary somewhat from a characteristic that the breed normally displays.

There’s no guarantee what genes are going to do in an individual dog. It’s just that the chances are good that these characteristics will win out.

Energy Level

Puppies generally have a ton of energy, but what will the adult version be like? Does a small dog with lots of energy sound like fun to you, or does it sound like a nightmare?

Most people actually prefer their dogs to have lower energy levels. These are the 2 small dog breeds that generally have the lowest energy levels:

  • Sealyham Terrier
  • Skye Terrier

Other breeds with relatively low energy levels are:

  • French Bulldog
  • Boston Terrier
  • Border Terrier
  • American Eskimo (Miniature)
  • Australian Terrier
  • Miniature Schnauzer
  • Bedlington Terrier
  • Shiba Inu
  • Scottish Terrier
  • Dandie Dinmont Terrier
  • Beagle
  • Tibetan Terrier
  • Welsh Terrier
  • Shetland Sheepdog
  • Whippet
  • American Eskimo (Standard)
  • Finnish Spitz
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • Irish Terrier
  • Pembroke Welsh Corgi
  • Cardigan Welsh Corgi
  • English Cocker Spaniel
  • Tibetan Spaniel


Exercise Needs

All dogs need some exercise each day. If you choose a breed that requires a lot of exercise, will you have the time and energy to provide it? If not, choose a breed that doesn't need much exercise.

The small dog breeds with the lowest exercise needs are:

  • French Bulldog
  • Boston Terrier
  • Lowchen
  • Sealyham Terrier
  • Skye Terrier
  • Tibetan Spaniel
  • Dachshund (miniature)
  • Dachshund (standard)

Playfulness

Some breeds require more interaction with people than others. Very playful dogs may continually be dropping a ball at your feet, and begging you to play with them.

Sealyham Terriers are generally among the most playful of the small dog breeds.

Other playful small dog breeds are:

  • French Bulldog
  • Boston Terrier
  • Lowchen
  • Skye Terrier
  • Tibetan Spaniel
  • Dachshund (miniature)
  • Dachshund (standard)
  • Border Terrier
  • Australian Terrier
  • Bedlington Terrier
  • Shiba Inu
  • Scottish Terrier
  • Dandie Dinmont Terrier
  • Beagle
  • Tibetan Terrier
  • Welsh Terrier
  • Shetland Sheepdog
  • Whippet
  • Finnish Spitz
  • Pembroke Welsh Corgi
  • Cardigan Welsh Corgi
  • Schipperke
  • Norfolk Terrier
  • Norwich Terrier
  • Cairn Terrier
  • West Highland White Terrier
  • Basenji
  • Puli

Affection Level

Some dogs will jump all over you and lick your face every chance they get. How do you like a wet face with dog slobber all over it?

Other dogs will show their devotion to you with less outward affection. Which would you prefer?

The most affectionate of this group are:

  • Beagle
  • West Highland White Terrier
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • English Cocker Spaniel
  • Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen

Other affectionate small dogs are:

  • Skye Terrier
  • Tibetan Terrier
  • Whippet
  • Pembroke Welsh Corgi
  • Schipperke
  • Norwich Terrier
  • Miniature Schnauzer
  • Manchester Terrier
  • Fox Terrier (Smooth)
  • Fox Terrier (Wire)
  • German Pinscher
  • Poodle (Minature)

Good with Dogs

Almost any dog may fight with a strange dog or even a familiar dog at times. This is especially true when they invade each other’s territory. Do you have other dogs? Will your new dog need to get along well with other dogs?

These small sized dogs tend to do the best with other dogs:

  • Whippet
  • Beagle
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • English Cocker Spaniel

Other good choices if have other dogs:

  • Lowchen
  • Tibetan Spaniel
  • Shetland Sheepdog
  • Poodle (Minature)
  • Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen

Good with other Pets

Some breeds have been bred to chase and kill smaller animals. These breeds are much more likely to chase the family cat or other small animals.

While most dogs can learn to live with other pets if raised with them, these dogs usually do the best with other pets:

  • Beagle
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • English Cocker Spaniel

Other good choices if you have other pets are:

  • Cardigan Welsh Corgi
  • French Bulldog
  • Boston Terrier
  • Pembroke Welsh Corgi
  • Lowchen
  • Tibetan Spaniel
  • Shetland Sheepdog
  • Whippet

Good with Strangers

Depending on your situation, you may not want a dog that’s overly friendly with strangers. But then again, you might. If you frequently have visitors and don’t want to keep your dog locked away, you might want to choose one of these breeds.

Beagle are usually the best of the group for being good with strangers.

Other good choices are:

  • Fox Terrier (Wire)
  • Bedlington Terrier
  • Fox Terrier (Smooth)
  • Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen
  • West Highland White Terrier
  • Poodle (Minature)
  • Pembroke Welsh Corgi
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • English Cocker Spaniel

Easy to Train

All dogs are able to be trained. But, some dogs require more repetition and patience than others. If you love spending time with your dog, this shouldn’t be a problem for you.

But if you’re looking to get a well trained dog with the least amount of effort on your part, choose one of these small dog breeds:

  • Shetland Sheepdog
  • Poodle (Minature)

Other easily trained breeds are:

  • American Eskimo (Standard)
  • Border Terrier
  • Cardigan Welsh Corgi
  • Fox Terrier
  • West Highland White Terrier
  • Pembroke Welsh Corgi
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • English Cocker Spaniel

Good Watchdog

This category rates whether a breed is alert and barks when something is wrong. You may find that some dogs that rate highly in this category bark a lot. If barking annoys you, choose a breed that rates lower for this characteristic.

Most small dogs tend to make very good watchdogs.

Good for Protection

Most people don’t choose small dogs for protections. Even so these small dogs generally have the heart (if not the stature) to do it:

  • Irish Terrier
  • Schipperke
  • Cardigan Welsh Corgi
  • Pembroke Welsh Corgi
  • Puli

Grooming Needs

A dog breed can have one of several different coat types. Some coats require more grooming than others. If grooming a dog is not your idea of fun, consider one of these small dog breeds:

  • French Bulldog
  • Beagle
  • Whippet
  • Manchester Terrier
  • Basenji
  • Boston Terrier
  • Fox Terrier (Smooth)
  • Miniature Bull Terrier
  • German Pinscher
  • Cardigan Welsh Corgi
  • Pembroke Welsh Corgi

Can tolerate the Cold

Do you intend to keep your dog outside a lot and do you live in colder climate?

The small dogs that can best tolerate the cold are:

  • Skye Terrier
  • American Eskimo (Miniature)
  • American Eskimo (Standard)
  • Finnish Spitz
  • Shiba Inu
  • Puli

Can tolerate the Heat

None of the small dog breeds do well in excessive heat. That’s why you should never leave them unattended in a hot car. You should also take care on hot days. Make sure they always have access to fresh water and that they can always get out of direct sunlight.

These breeds, however, are the most tolerant of heat in the group:

  • Manchester Terrier
  • German Pinscher

Return from Small Dog Breeds to the Homepage

New Dog Owner? Check Out These Pages First...

Selecting a Dog

Type of Dog

Choosing the right Dog

Naming your new Dog

Finding the right Food

House Training your Dog

General Dog Care Tips


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