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Top Small Dog Breeds

The Best Small Dog Breeds for Apartments and Small Homes


Small breed dogs are extremely popular for several reasons. They are "portable," meaning they can fit in little carriers and go with you many places. In general, they require little space and many do well in cramped homes and apartments. Most of all, these little ones are absolutely adorable! What other reason do you need?

No type of dog comes without challenge. Make no mistake - a little dog can be as much of a handful as any other dog. Small dogs make up for their size with huge personalities, which means they will benefit from a special approach to training. Also, don't let the small size fool you: little dogs still need plenty of exercise and activities.

If you think a small breed dog is right for you, check out this list of the most popular small dog breeds. You don't have to go to a breeder for a small dog, though. If you desire a specific breed, you can contact local breed-specific rescue groups. Otherwise, your local animal shelters and pet rescues have plenty of little mixed breed dogs waiting for forever homes.

1. Yorkshire Terrier

Photo by GK Hart / Vikki Hart / Getty Images
One of the most popular of all dog breeds, the Yorkshire Terrier is a favorite among fans of small dog breeds. This beautiful little dog is known for its blue and tan colored silky long hair. The Yorkie is the quintessential "purse dog," rarely touching the ground and often seen with bow in hair. Yet make no mistake, this is not a wimpy dog. The Yorkie makes up for its small stature with a huge personality. Believe it or not, this breed can be quite the watch dog, vocally alerting you to the goings-on around the house. However, at the end of the day, the Yorkie is not here to do a job, but to be an affectionate companion.

2. Dachshund

Dachshund (smooth)
Photo by George Doyle & Ciaran Griffin / Getty Images
Another highly popular dog breed, the Dachshund is a little hound is still beloved by many. The Dachshund has many nicknames: doxie, wiener dog, sausage dog, hotdog, etc. Of course, they mostly relate to the breeds distinct appearance. With its short, stubby legs and a long, round body, the Dachshund is easy to spot. Dachshunds are seen in standard or miniature size, the latter being more ideal for the small dog enthusiast. This breed comes in three coat types: smooth, long or wire. The Dachshund is sweet and affectionate to its trusted family members, but can be a bit wary of strangers. However, once you fall for this little cutie, you'll never go back.

3. Poodle

Toy or Miniature Poodle Dog Breed Photo
Photo by George Doyle & Ciaran Griffin / Getty Images
The Poodle is another popular dog breed that is known for its tight curls and specific haircut (the "pom-poms" over the joints). The breed has a rich history as a favorite of the aristocracy. Poodles have also been known as entertaining performers. Possibly due to its fancy and dainty appearance, many people don't realize that the Poodle is a highly intelligent dog breed. Perhaps one reason the breed is so popular is that it comes in three sizes: toy, miniature and standard. The standard is a medium to large-sized dog, but the miniature and standard are ideal for one seeking a small dog. Plus, much to the delight of their enthusiasts, the smaller Poodles are known for their longevity.

4. Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu Dog Breed Photo
Photo © iStockphoto.com/Ken Hurst
The Shih Tzu is yet another highly popular dog breed. This member of the toy breed group is basically the poster child for lap dogs, which is no surprise since the breed originated strictly as a companion. The Shih Tzu is a small dog with long, silky hair that often includes a bow. However, many owners like to keep the coat trimmed to a shorter length that is easier to maintain. The Shih Tzu is a pampered pet with an alert and confident disposition. Yet, despite its size, the breed is actually quite hardy and can hold its own.

5. Miniature Schnauzer

Photo of a Miniature Schnauzer
Photo Martin Harvey / Getty Images
The Miniature Schnauzer is an energetic little dog with a friendly but tough personality. Easily recognized by its signature bearded haircut, this Terrier has remained among the most popular dog breeds for many years. The Miniature Schnauzer has a strong sense of loyalty and protectiveness towards its family. This is also known to be a "barky" breed and needs a solid foundation of training. However, this active Terrier can make a wonderful companion.

6. Chihuahua

Photo of a black and white smooth coat chihuahua dog breed
Photo Duncan Smith / Getty Images
Chihuahuas are some of the world's tiniest dogs, but they have some of the biggest personalities. These little dogs are often seen being toted around in the designer bags of certain celebrities. Their haircoats may be smooth or long. While lovable and loyal, Chihuahuas are also highly active and sassy dogs with major "tough dog" attitudes. These are amazing dogs, but they are not for everyone. However, with serious training and socialization, the Chihuahua can make a wonderful companion.

7. Pomeranian

Pomeranian Dog Breed - Photo of Pomeranian dog breed
Photo © George Doyle & Ciaran Griffin / Getty Images
The Pomeranian looks like a cross between a stuffed animal and a tiny lion. Its distinct long, fluffy coat and bright personality make this an unforgettable dog breed. Poms are energetic and sometimes bossy little dogs with an intense loyalty for their loved ones. Owners of Poms need to take special care to ensure that their dogs do not gain the upper hand. This may be easier said that done, though. It's not easy to say no to that adorable smiling ball of fluff! These are precious dogs, but they are not for everyone. Poms are great for people who want a little lap dog that also has the energy to run and play, plus a bit of strong-willed spirit.

8. Pug

Photo of Pug Dog Breed
Photo George Doyle & Ciaran Griffin / Getty Images
Cute as a button and sweet as candy, it's no surprise that the Pug is a popular dog breed. These little round dogs are jovial and playful souls. Pugs were even once the pets of royalty and the companions of Tibetan monks. Despite their reputation for breathing problems and eye issues, Pugs make delightful pets. Affectionate, energetic and even-tempered, they can be a lovely match for nearly anyone. It has been said that the Pug is "a lot of dog in a small space" - this could not be more true. Pugs are active yet compact dogs that make wonderful companions for all kinds of families.

9. Boston Terrier

Boston Terrier dog breed
Photo Arthur S. Aubry / Getty Images
The Boston Terrier is cheerful, smart, loyal and even-tempered - a true pleasure to be around. One of the more popular dog breeds and a true all-American dog, the breed originates from the crossing of an English Bulldog with a white English Terrier. The result was a dog that would eventually become known as the Boston Terrier - named for the city in which it was created. Bostons are playful and energetic, yet they love to spend time in their owner's laps, too. Overall, this breed makes an excellent companion.

10. Maltese

Maltese Dog Breed Photo - Picture of a Maltese Dog
Photo © iStockphoto.com/Andrey Medvedev
The Maltese is a soft little white dog with a gentle yet brave disposition. At under seven pounds, this toy breed is often seen as a "purse pooch" - something these dogs likely enjoy. The Maltese is a playful and energetic dog that bonds closely with its owner. The breed can be traced back to ancient times, where it was the beloved companion of royalty and nobility. Today's Maltese is just as pampered and is also relatively popular. While the breed can be vocal and prissy and times, the Maltese is a brave little breed that is tougher than it looks!
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