15 of the Smallest Dog Breeds for Itty-Bitty Apartments, Easy Airplane Travel and More

·7-min read

It’s kind of wild that Great Danes and Chihuahuas are the same species, but here we are. Also surprising? The incredible variety of small dog breeds available to canine lovers. Don’t be fooled by the stature of the pups on this list. Many believe themselves to be as tall and powerful as the big dogs. Others are content as miniatures, watching the world go by from your carrier. If you’re considering getting a pet but aren’t sure if small dog breeds are for you, consider the following itty-bitty puppy committee.

Pros of small dog breeds

Obviously, small breeds fit into small spaces. Apartments or homes with limited space for animals make shorter, lighter breeds ideal. Diminutive dogs also make terrific companions because it’s easier to keep them with you at all times than, say, a Saint Bernard. This is especially true when traveling by airplane. Airlines are becoming stricter about allowing pets on board. Small dogs who fit in a carrier under your seat will have no problem accompanying you on flights.

Economically speaking, tiny pups consume less food than giant hounds, so having a small dog may cost less over time. Small dogs do generally live longer than large breeds. This means you’ve got a few extra years with your BFF. Plus, seniors may find small dog breeds are less work and more fun to take out on walks.

Cons of small dog breeds

Speaking of walks, many small breeds require extra care in cold climates. This means stocking up on sweaters, booties and protective gear to ensure your tiny pup doesn’t freeze to death in winter weather.

Many small breeds are also known for their reluctance to follow commands. Now, this is a gross generalization. Every dog is unique and firm training can work wonders on even the most stubborn pups. In actuality, the problem usually lies with us humans (oops!). It’s easier to control small dogs who are misbehaving. If Dobermans jump on strangers, you’ve got bigger problems than if Papillons jump on strangers.

Read on for 15 of the smallest dog breeds, plus what you can expect from them.

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1. Biewer Terrier

Average Height: 9 inches

Average Weight: 6 pounds

Personality: Smart, Loving

Life Expectancy: 16 years

Don’t mistake these tiny pups for Yorkies! They’re coloring is unique. Biewers are happy-go-lucky and incredibly devoted to their families. Be prepared for lots of social interactions when you take Biewers for walks.

2. Brussels Griffon

Average Height: 8.5 inches

Average Weight: 9 pounds

Personality: Sensitive, Loyal

Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

Don’t leave Brussels Griffons home alone for long stretches—they’ll take it personally and miss you too much. Though they aren’t ideal for kids, these make great companions for adults looking for goofy, ride-or-die canine pals.

3. Chihuahua

Average Height: 6.5 inches

Average Weight: < 6 pounds

Personality: Charming, Intelligent

Life Expectancy: 14 to 16 years

Chihuahuas have been around for centuries and may use this old-soul wisdom to take advantage of you. They’re smart and learn quickly, but may be stubborn and follow their own rules. It’s hard not to love their dedication and charm, though.

4. Miniature Dachshund

Average Height: 5.5 inches

Average Weight: < 11 pounds

Personality: Independent, Affectionate

Life Expectancy: 13 to 15 years

Miniature Dachshunds are smarties with independent streaks, so training and socialization early is key to a happy dog. Always up for an adventure, they’ll go anywhere with their favorite person. Dachshunds get so pumped for activities they’ve been known to trip when taking stairs too quickly, injuring their backs or legs.

5. Italian Greyhound

Average Height: 14 inches

Average Weight: 10.5 pounds

Personality: Playful, Sweet

Life Expectancy: 14 to 15 years

Though taller than many breeds on our list, the Italian Greyhound is certainly one of the leanest. Miniature versions of standard-sized Greyhounds, these skinny dogs enjoy snuggling on the couch to keep warm and racing after toys. If you’ve always wanted to dress your dog up for special occasions, this is the one. They need extra layers when it gets chilly.

6. Japanese Chin

Average Height: 9.5 inches

Average Weight: 9 pounds

Personality: Proud, Quiet

Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years

Bred to lounge in the lap of luxury, these dogs enjoy the simple pleasures in life. They’re loyal to their owners, but aren’t worried about following commands. Japanese Chins are ideal for apartment dwellers with ample attention to give.

7. Japanese Terrier

Average Height: 12 inches

Average Weight: 7.5 pounds

Personality: Independent, Athletic

Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

These tiny terriers are very smart and eager when it comes to playtime. They are, however, wary of strangers. Japanese Terriers have unique coloring—their bodies are entirely white and their heads are black, brown or tan. One look at those floppy ears and big brown eyes will make you swoon.

8. Maltese

Average Height: 8 inches

Average Weight: < 7 pounds

Personality: Adaptable, Alert

Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

Yes, the Maltese’s gorgeous snow-white coat may exude pompousness, but they are athletic and happy to go with the flow. Maltese pups tend to bark to signal intruders—or friends—but they are jovial at heart, eager to mingle and play.

9. Papillion

Average Height: 9.5 inches

Average Weight: 7.5 pounds

Personality: Happy, Outgoing

Life Expectancy: 14 to 16 years

Papillon means “butterfly” in French, which suits these tiny dogs well since their ears resemble wings and they are truly the social butterflies of the Toy Group. This is a great example of a small breed who considers itself one of the big dogs, ready to roll around and play fetch. Papillons also adapt well to just about any household.

10. Pekingese

Average Height: 7.5 inches

Average Weight: 10 pounds

Personality: Proud, Loyal

Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years

Already a proud breed, the Pekingese has even more to brag about after being named Westminster’s Best in Show in 2021. Aside from the lengthy, fluffy coat and short muzzle, you’ll know a Pekingese by its confidence (barking at strangers) and loyalty (more barking at strangers).

11. Pomeranian

Average Height: 6.5 inches

Average Weight: 5 pounds

Personality: Lively, Adaptable

Life Expectancy: 12 to 16 years

Talk about a teeny frame with a huge personality. Pomeranians are fluff balls of joy, willing to romp around with kids (gently) or frolic in the yard with other pets. Whether you reside in the city or country, Poms will be content, as long as you house train them early.

12. Silky Terrier

Average Height: 9.5 inches

Average Weight: 10 pounds

Personality: Feisty, Friendly

Life Expectancy: 13 to 15 years

Silky Terriers are cousins of Yorkshire Terriers and were originally bred in Australia. They have big personalities and don’t like being ignored (aka, they can become destructive if left alone too long or without ample mental stimulation).

13. Toy Fox Terrier

Average Height: 10 inches

Average Weight: 5 pounds

Personality: Sweet, Energetic

Life Expectancy: 13 to 15 years

Toy Fox Terriers have silky smooth, short coats and tall, perky ears. They need lots of exercise; this energy is often best spent outdoors with people. One huge perk for anyone who abhors house breaking: Toy Fox Terriers can be trained to use puppy pads indoors.

14. Toy Poodle

Average Height: 10 inches

Average Weight: 5 pounds

Personality: Intelligent, Confident

Life Expectancy: 10 to 18 years

Poodles of all sizes are extremely smart and highly trainable. They make outstanding family pets for this reason, not to mention their willingness to join in any activity. Grooming can be time-consuming and expensive, but they are hypoallergenic.

15. Yorkshire Terrier

Average Height: 7.5 inches

Average Weight: 7 pounds

Personality: Affectionate, Lively

Life Expectancy: 11 to 15 years

Perhaps the quintessential small dog breed is the Yorkshire Terrier. These are energetic balls of fun who enjoy cavorting around town with their families. Despite their yippy reputation, they are workers through and through. Get ready for a friendly, albeit slightly stubborn, companion.

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