The Complete Guide To Small Dogs

Buddy Waggles Author: Buddy Waggles
Posted: 19 Oct 2023 Human Reading Time: 3 Minutes
Dog Reading Time: 21 Minutes
The Complete Guide To Small Dogs

When it comes to dogs, we know our stuff. But what about small dogs? There are so many loving small dog breeds out there, and they make a pawfect addition to a family home. 

In this guide to small dogs, we explore the different breeds and their characteristics, we explain which small dog breeds are hypoallergenic and which require less or more frequent exercise. 

Dogs are often separated by their size, temperament, and fur type. This makes sense, as these are all factors that have a huge impact on how a dog will fit into your lifestyle. We go into detail on all these factors with our list of small dog breeds below – this will help you fully understand what small dog breed is right for you!

But what exactly classifies a dog as a ‘small dog breed’?

What defines a small dog breed:

Ultimately, it comes down to weight and height. A dog is classified as a small breed if they, on average, weigh 22lbs or less. This differs depending on the ‘type’ of a small dog too. For example, we have toy dogs, teacup dogs, and small dogs. 

Small dog breeds

Now, in no particular order, let’s go through each small dog breed. Each one is as wonderful as the next… After all, great things come in small packages. 

Jack Russell Terrier

The Jack Russell is a playful little breed, full of life and loyal to the bone. As Jack Russells were originally bred for hunting, they need a decent amount of exercise. With an impressive lifespan of 10-15 years, they’re a family favourite. 

jack russell

Shih Tzu

A little stubborn but extremely affectionate, the Shih Tzu has a healthy life expectancy of 10-16 years, and they’re totally hypoallergenic too! So, if you suffer from allergies but still yearn for a pup, the Shih Tzu may be your answer. They’re also known for being intelligent and lively. 

Boston Terrier

Boston Terriers are known for their friendly and affectionate nature. They’re intelligent and eager to please, making them relatively easy to train. Positive reinforcement methods work well with this breed. On average, Boston Terriers have a lifespan of around 11 to 15 years. With proper care, nutrition, and regular exercise, they can live a long and healthy life.

Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkshire Terriers are smart and courageous, they are very sassy and love to play. A Yorkshire Terrier’s lifespan is approximately 13-16 years, and they’re also a hypoallergenic pup. If you’re looking for a dog on the lighter side, a Yorkie will usually weigh no more than 7 pounds.

yorkshire terrier


Chihuahuas are little, compact dogs with large eyes and erect ears. They’re one of the smallest dog breeds, typically weighing between 2 to 6lbs. They stand about 5 to 8 inches tall at the shoulder. Pretty small, right? But don’t let that fool you, they are very intelligent dogs and can often be thought of as stubborn or independent.


Ah – the sausage dog, formally known as a Dachshund, they’re little (and long) bodies are perfectly built for smaller homes with lots of love. With the correct training and plenty of socialising, a Dachshund is a very well-behaved, friendly breed. Usually weighing anywhere between 15 to 32lbs, but some are definitely chunkier than others! 

West Highland Terrier

Also known as Westies, originated in Scotland and was originally bred for hunting. They were selectively bred from Cairn Terriers to have a white coat, which made them more visible in the field. Westies are small with a sturdy build. They’re an active breed that needs daily exercise to keep them stimulated.

west highland terrier


The Maltese breed is incredibly friendly and very easy to train. They’re a firm favourite as a family dog as they’re great with children and other animals. Usually weighing no more than 7lbs, they’re compact and great cuddlers. And, similar to the other dogs mentioned above, a Maltese can live anywhere between 12-15 healthy years, even longer with the correct nutrition and lifestyle. 

Miniature Pinscher

This breed is full of beans – they’re very energetic and need lots of playtime and stimulation. But they’re very intelligent and quick to learn. Get early training and socialisation if you have a Miniature Pinscher. It will keep them well-behaved. With this lust for life, Miniature Pinschers, also known as ‘Min Pins’ have an expected lifespan of 12-15 years. 


The Pug, a little dog with a curly tail! Albeit a little headstrong, they’re a kind breed who love to be a part of a family. They have a smooth, short coat of fur, but they are known for shedding more than other breeds. And as for their lifespan, it’s very usual for a Pug to live anywhere between 12-15 years.


French Bulldog

Although small in height, some Frenchie’s are heavier than their small dog breed friends. On average, weighing anywhere between 16 to 29 pounds, a couple of Frenchie’s could be considered fairly ‘chunky’. They’re very loving and make wonderful companions. Be cautious when choosing a ‘flat-faced’ breed as they can sometimes struggle with brachycephalic syndrome. 

And even with this list, there are still more small dogs! Each breed has its own unique characteristics and requirements, so it's important to research and consider which breed would be the best fit for your lifestyle.

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