The 10 Smallest Dog Breeds

We have big love for little dogs. Here's the smallest of the small -- and also maybe the cutest of the cute.

Two Pomeranians.
Two Pomeranians. Photography by Dixi/THINKSTOCK.

For some people, the smaller the dog, the better. It seems like the trend started around 2003, when Paris Hilton was seen carrying her Chihuahua in a designer purse and started a line of doggy clothing for superpetite canines only. The hustle to get a tiny dog was strengthened by popular hybrid breeds, which started in the 1990s. In 2005, the AKC published a piece on the rise and expected continuing popularity of dogs in the toy group, and the smallest breeds have continued to be big favorites — even years later.

Common Characteristics of the Smallest Dog Breeds

A chihuahua in a bathtub getting shampooed.
A Chihuahua is among the smallest dog breeds. Photography by Shutterstock.

The smallest dog breeds have much in common, but, generally, the smaller the dog, the more he gets — more attention, more privileges, more of the royal attitude. They also share some distinctive characteristics.

  1. Low weight: This does not mean dogs going on a diet to fit into their new Hermes sweater. The smallest dog breeds are tiny and do not weigh more than 10 pounds.
  2. Short height: Not as important in determining whether a dog qualifies for the “smallest” trait, but it can still be used.
  3. Cute factor: The smallest dog breeds actually tend to look “cuter” than other breeds. This means a resemblance to teddy bears, with very small features, big eyes, and/or slightly larger heads.
  4. Coddling tolerance: These breeds started out as lap dogs who were treated like infants. As they’ve shrunk even more, they seem to tolerate, and even like, a great deal of cooing and cuddling.
  5. Head for heights: The smallest dog breeds may almost never touch the ground. Instead, they view the world from a human’s hip and don’t seem to mind.

Why People Want One of the Smallest Dog Breeds

A Pomeranian in the grass.
Pomeranians make our list of tiny dogs. Photography by Tsik/Thinkstock.

Obviously, if you want to look trendy, it’s tempting to get a tiny dog with matching outfit and purse. Unfortunately, some people do get one of these breeds for that reason and are then surprised when they find out that these diminutive dogs actually pee and poop, bark and sometimes snap, and are supposed to be walked.

Here are some better reasons to consider getting one of the smallest dog breeds:

  • Lifespan: The smaller the dog, the longer the life; many toy breeds live 15-plus years.
  • Companionship: These breeds have the art of companionship down pat, since that’s what they were bred for.
  • Space saving: Having a teensy-weensy canine in a tiny apartment gives you a lot more room. (Although not all great apartment dogs are small!)
  • Lovable littleness: These breeds can make excellent therapy dogs, and their size makes them more portable.

The 10 Smallest Dog Breeds

  1. The Chihuahua: This choice is no surprise, but Milly, a Chihuahua from Puerto Rico, outdid all others of her breed by weighing in at only 7 ounces (full grown). Chihuahuas usually weigh around 4 to 6 pounds on average.
  2. Brussels Griffon: The AKC standards for this breed say it should weigh 8 to 10 pounds, but smaller Brussels Griffons (6 to 7 pounds) exist.
  3. Pomeranian: With his full, fluffy coat, the Pomeranian looks bigger than his actual size. This breed is around 7 pounds.
  4. Affenpinscher: This tiny dog with the “monkey face” weighs around 7 to 9 pounds.
  5. Papillon: Papillons typically weigh 6 to 7 pounds.
  6. Yorkshire Terrier: Lucy, a Yorkie from New Jersey, is probably the smallest of her breed to date, at 2-and-a-half pounds. Yorkies are usually around 6 pounds.
  7. Toy Fox Terrier: Much smaller than his cousin, the Fox Terrier, weighing in at around 7 pounds.
  8. Russian Toy Terrier: This petite Russian breed has feathered ears and can weigh up to 6 pounds.
  9. Japanese Chin: This silky breed has a fairly wide range for weight at 5 to 10 pounds.
  10. Chinese Crested: This almost-naked breed, which seems to shiver a lot, weighs in at 7 to 10 pounds.

Let’s face it: Tiny dogs get stepped on — sometimes literally. It’s tough for them to have their opinions heard because their voices are so small. And there’s the constant fear that something bigger will gulp you down or sit on you. But the smallest dog breeds are surviving and thriving just the same.

Tell us: Which small dog breed would you have added to this list? Tell us in the comments below!

Thumbnail: Photography by Dixi/THINKSTOCK.

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16 thoughts on “The 10 Smallest Dog Breeds”

  1. Pingback: Facts on the Chihuahua Dog Breed – News @ ManyPaws Australia

  2. The Maltese is a toy breed that should be considered. My maltese is only 4 pounds and is very sweet and lovable. They have playful personalities and are beautiful dogs. They love to sit on laps and do not require a lot of exercise.

  3. Kimberly Heishman

    The Maltese is a toy breed that should be considered. My maltese is only 4 pounds and is very sweet and lovable. The have playful personalities and are beautiful dogs. They love to sit on laps and do not require a lot of exercise.

  4. Pingback: Facts on the Chihuahua Dog Breed | ITS A NEW PETSTORE EVERYDAY

  5. My 15 pound cat will eat your little dogs. I do like dogs but the little ones tend to be annoying as are their owners. A dog is a dog, not a toy!!!

  6. I have a year old schnorkie that at this point weighs in at 2.3 lbs is adorable, loves my husband and tolerates me as second. His name is Boo and has 2 sisters who are bigger than him. They would push him away when nursing. I don’ t know if that is why he is so small but he eats only a 1/3 cup of dog food a day.

  7. If you want a small dog you won’t be afraid of stepping on but one that absolutely loves his human and shows it everyday. And has real smarts when following directions you give and a wonderful quirky personality. These dogs are almost human(some even act more real than some humans I know). The Shetland sheepdog is a perfect little one for everyone. I have two at the moment. They are my fourth and fifth ones so far. But are far from my last. They are like lays potato chips. You can’t have just one. And they seem to do best when more than just one. My current two are both under 13″” and weigh 14 and 12 pounds One is18 months and the other is 2.5 years. Consider these little sweethearts. When looking for a smaller type breed. Yes they need a lot of upkeep with their beautiful long coats. But worth the work

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