Toy Dog Breeds

Toy dog breeds (or miniature dogs), like other small dogs, are a good choice for new dog owners that don’t have a ton of space for a larger dog.

Toy dogs are easier to care for simply because they’re smaller (there’s just less of them to care for).

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

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

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

They are generally much less expensive to feed and care for. Therefore, they can be a better choice for someone on a fixed income.

Choosing the right toy dog breed for you and your family

Please don’t make the mistake that many new dog owners make. Too many fall in love with a particular dog breed and just purchase one. This can be a big mistake.

Often unexpected and unwanted characteristics show up when the newness and excitement of having a new dog is over. These surprises can usually be avoided if you just do a bit of research beforehand.

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

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

Toy Dog Breeds by Characteristic

The categories below will help you find a breed for any category 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 dog with lots of energy sound like fun to you, or does it sound like a nightmare?

Most people actually prefer dogs with lower energy levels. Are you one of them?

English Toy Spaniels are generally the breed with lowest energy levels.

Other breeds with relatively low energy levels are:

  • Lhasa Apso
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Pug
  • Japanese Chin
  • Chinese Crested Dog
  • American Eskimo (Toy)
  • Shih Tzu

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 as much exercise.

The toy dog breeds with the lowest exercise needs are:

  • Pekingese
  • English Toy Spaniel
  • Japanese Chin
  • Chinese Crested Dog
  • Shih Tzu
  • Yorkshire Terrier
  • Pomeranian
  • Maltese
  • Papillon
  • Toy Manchester Terrier
  • Chihuahua

Playfulness

Some breeds require more interaction with people than others. They may be constantly dropping a ball at your feet, begging you to play with them.

These are generally among the most playful of the toy dog breeds:

  • Papillon
  • Bichon Frise
  • Toy Fox Terrier
  • Toy Poodle
  • Miniature Pinscher
  • Havanese

Affection Level

How do you like a wet face with dog slobber all over it? Some dogs will jump all over you and lick your face every chance they get. Other dogs will show their devotion to you with less outward affection. Which would you prefer?

The most affectionate of the toy dog breeds are:

  • Italian Greyhound
  • Japanese Chin
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Papillon
  • Bichon Frise
  • Toy Fox Terrier
  • Havanese

Other affectionate toy dogs are:

  • Chinese Crested Dog
  • Shih Tzu
  • Toy Manchester Terrier
  • Pug
  • Brussels Griffon
  • Affenpinscher
  • Toy Poodle

Good with other Dogs

Almost any dog may fight with a strange dog or even a familiar dog at times. This is especially true when their territory has been invaded by another dog.

Do you have other dogs? Will your new dog need to get along well with other dogs?

These miniature dogs tend to do the best with other dogs:

  • English Toy Spaniel
  • Shih Tzu
  • Italian Greyhound
  • Japanese Chin
  • Papillon
  • Bichon Frise
  • Havanese
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

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.

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

  • Chinese Crested Dog
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Other good choices if you have other pets are:

  • Pekingese
  • English Toy Spaniel
  • Shih Tzu
  • Italian Greyhound
  • Japanese Chin
  • Papillon
  • Bichon Frise
  • Havanese

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:

  • Toy Poodle
  • Shih Tzu
  • Papillon
  • Japanese Chin
  • Bichon Frise
  • Havanese
  • Chinese Crested Dog
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Easy to Train

Any dog can be trained. But, some dogs require more repetition and patience than others. If you think spending time training your dog will be fun, this won’t be a problem.

If you don’t have a ton of time to spend training a dog, choose one of these toy dog breeds:

  • American Eskimo (Toy)
  • Toy Fox Terrier
  • Bichon Frise
  • Havanese
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Toy Poodle
  • Papillon

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.

All miniature dogs tend to make very good watchdogs.

Good for Protection

People don’t generally choose one of the toy dog breeds for protection. Dogs this size just don’t have what it takes to protect you very well. If you’re really looking for protection, I recommend that you look in one of the other breed groups.

Grooming Needs

There are several different coat types that a dog breed can have. Some coats require more grooming than others. If grooming a dog is not your idea of fun and you don’t have the money for regular professional grooming, consider one of these toy dog breeds:

  • Italian Greyhound
  • Miniature Pinscher
  • Toy Manchester Terrier
  • Toy Fox Terrier
  • Chihuahua
  • Pug

Can take the Cold

Do you intend to keep your dog outside a lot and do you live in colder climate? The toy dogs that can best tolerate the cold is the American Eskimo (toy).

Other toy dogs that do fairly well in the cold are:

  • Pug
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • English Toy Spaniel
  • Pomeranian
  • Maltese
  • Silky Terrier
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Bichon Frise
  • Pekingese

Can take the Heat

None of the toy dog breeds do very 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 are the most tolerant of heat in the group:

  • Italian Greyhound
  • Toy Manchester Terrier
  • Chihuahua
  • Chinese Crested Dog

Return from Toy 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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