Meet 18 Of the Smallest Dog Breeds In The World

two small dogs running in grass

There’s little doubt that dogs are the most popular pets in most parts of the world. A large reason for that is their sheer versatility – there are hundreds of dog breeds, and they come in all shapes and sizes.

Smaller dog breeds can have some advantages over larger breeds in terms of popularity and overall convenience. For example, a smaller dog like the Chihuahua may be a better fit for certain lifestyles than larger dogs like the Newfoundland. As a general rule, smaller dog breeds are usually easier to care for, with feeding and veterinary expenses also tending to be cheaper. Some dog owners simply prefer to own a dog that stays small throughout their life, as it is more suited to their life circumstances. 

While tiny dog breeds will never be able to take the jobs primarily given to larger dogs (like guarding or protection), many of them are great for novice owners. If you are limited by time, a small breed is something to consider – although like medium and large dog breeds, smaller breeds still need exercise to maintain a healthy life. Smaller dogs can be easier to take out for walks and socialize – they become tired more quickly and cause fewer hurdles to their owners thanks to their size. 

In this article, we will look at 18 of the smallest dog breeds in the world, covering their basic characteristics, their average height and weight, and provide further information about the breeds mentioned.

1) Shih Tzu


Average height: 9 – 10.5 inches
Average weight: 9 – 16 lbs

The Shih Tzu is a highly valued Asian toy breed with a long straight coat and curved tail. They are very friendly, alert, and intelligent. The breed is also hypoallergenic. Also known as the Shih Tzu Kou, translating to Lion Dog in Chinese, Shih Tzus are affectionate house dogs that love spending time with their human companions but often enact clingy behavior.

2) Chihuahua

chihuahua puppy

Average height: 5 – 8 inches
Average weight: 4 – 6 lbs

The Chihuahua is commonly regarded as the smallest dog breed in the world. The smallest dog in history was a Chihuahua named Miracle Milly. She was 3.8 inches tall, weighing approximately one pound.

Chihuahuas are one of the most popular of the smaller dog breeds. The breed adapts well to apartment living and is very loyal to its owner. With their playful personalities and affectionate nature, the Chihuahua can be a great family pet. Despite a tendency to be territorial, any behavioral problems can be resolved with training.

3) Pomeranian

pretty pomeranian sitting in the grass

Average height: 5 – 8 inches
Average weight: 4 – 6 lbs

Did you know that Pomeranians weren’t always this tiny? The earlier records of the breed show an average weight of 30 lbs – ten times greater than what the breed typically weighs today! Years of breeding made Pomeranians go from a medium-sized breed to a small companion dog.

Poms demonstrate many traits you would expect to see in a companion dog. They want to be the center of attention, are loving, and create strong bonds with their humans.

4) Pug

pug walking on sidewalk

Average height: 10 – 13 inches
Average weight: 14 – 18 lbs

Originally bred to be lap dogs by the Shang Dynasty in 300 BC, Pugs have taken the responsibility of being companion dogs for over two thousand years. Like Pomeranians, they weren’t always this small, though. After Pugs were imported to the Netherlands from China, the breeder intentionally bred Pugs to make them smaller.

The Pug gained popularity in the 19th century thanks to Queen Victoria. She had several Pugs that she bred herself. The involvement of Queen Victoria with dogs inspired the creation of The Kennel Club in 1873, which is acknowledged as the first kennel club in the world. 

The Kennel Club describes the Pug as “a lot of dog in a small frame”, pointing out its playful and affectionate nature. The AKC recommends Pugs to people who live in small places such as apartments and those with small children.

5) Maltese

maltese dog

Average height: 8 – 10 inches
Average weight: 5 – 7 lbs

Maltese Dogs have been around for a long time, but not much is known about the origins of this small breed. Both the ancient Romans and Greeks mentioned the Maltese Dog in their literature. Although it is believed that the breed gets its name from the Mediterranean island of Malta, there is little to no evidence available to prove this – and thus, the origins of the Maltese dog remain unknown. However, there is strong evidence that suggests that the Maltese originated in south-central Europe from spitz-type dogs and resembled the modern-day Pomeranian. 

The Maltese has a long coat and has the most fashionable array of haircuts among any dog. Hairstyles like the standard cut, show cut, bob cut, puppy clip, and teddy bear cut are popular among owners of this tiny breed.

6) Papillon

papillon dog

Average height: 8 – 11 inches
Average weight: 5 – 10 lbs

Sometimes referred to as the butterfly dog because of their ears, the Papillon is a highly trainable companion dog.

A large portion of the Papillion history is learned through paintings. Tiziano Vicelli (Titian) painted small dogs resembling Papillons along with many of the companion dogs that existed in the mid-1500s. A Papillon is also seen in a family portrait of Louis XIV. The early standards of the breed had a curled tail over the back, which led to the breed being nicknamed the ‘Squirrel Spaniel’. 

Despite their tiny size, the Papillon is a breed that can really stand out in dog shows. They are easy to train and become comfortable with completing virtually any task their owners give them. With high energy and a friendly character, Papillons get along well with other pets and strangers.

7) Havanese

havanese dog

Average height: 8.5 – 12.5 inches
Average weight: 7 – 13 lbs

The national dog of Cuba, the Havanese is a small breed that is the descendant of now-extinct Bichon Tenerife and Blanquito de la Habana (which translates as the little white dog of Havana). 

The Havanese is a bichon-type dog, also referred to as Havana Silk Dog. The breed first came to the United States during the Cuban Revolution, and American breeders start to grow their interest in the Havanese. The AKC recognized the Havanese breed in 1996. Although classified as a toy breed, Havanese dogs can be used for a variety of tasks, including therapy, assistance, and signal dogs, while also being used for tracking and detection. They are very agile, and their trainability qualifies them to compete in dog sports such as obedience training and flyball.

8) Yorkshire Terrier

yorkshire terrier

Average height: 7 – 8 inches
Average weight: 5 – 7 lbs

The Yorkshire Terrier is a hypoallergenic breed and one of the smallest terrier-type dogs. The breed standard is set for a maximum weight of 7 lbs. Even though Yorkies are a very small breed, they keep many of the Terrier characteristics. Being brave, feisty and bossy is in their nature.

There is also the Teacup Yorkie – this is just a Yorkshire Terrier specifically bred to be small. Teacup Yorkies weigh only two to four pounds and stand between five and seven inches tall. Compared to the average size of a Yorkie, it isn’t hard to detect a Teacup Yorkie – but they can also reach weights of up to seven pounds while staying at their shorter height.

9) Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

cavalier king charles spaniel

Average height: 12 – 13 inches
Average weight: 13 – 18 lbs

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel originates from the United Kingdom. The small companion dog we see today was very different in the 17th century – the breed was interbred with flat-nosed breeds, but breeders also attempted to recreate the early look of the breed in the early 1900s.

The first breed standard for the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was created in 1928 with the creation of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club, describing the breed as an “affectionate, playful, intelligent little dog that repays his owner’s care and attention with an endearing devotion”. The AKC recognized the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel in 1995. 

This small breed thrives on affection – it is suitable as both a companion dog or a lapdog. The breed interacts well with other pets and small children. It is also a great breed for elderly people, as they don’t require much exercise and have a calm, patient, affectionate temperament, and are adaptable to every environment.

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10) Toy Poodle

toy poodle on couch

Average height: 9 – 10 inches
Average weight: 4 – 6 lbs

The Toy Poodle is the smallest Poodle. They are hypoallergenic like other Poodles and display similar characteristics.

The Toy Poodles first appeared in the early-1900s in France. Many Poodles were used in circuses, and a smaller Poodle than the Miniature Poodle was appreciated for the convenience of transporting and handling when traveling in circuses. Outside of the circus, Toy Poodles became very popular companion dogs. 

Although not as fast and agile as the Standard or Miniature Poodle, they are the perfect water-retrievers, and their trainability enables them to complete more challenging tasks.

11) Pekingese

pekingese in grass

Average height: 6 – 9 inches
Average weight: 7 – 14 lbs

The Pekingese is a loving and intelligent toy breed, yet can also be stubborn and can be hard to train.

They do not respond well to harsh training methods, but early and consistent training can enable them to complete tasks on command. The Pekingese is very friendly with family but has the tendency to bark at strangers, making them an efficient watchdog by nature. The same as the Shih Tzu, Pekingese are called lion dogs. This tiny breed is believed to have been developed with the Japanese Chin and other small dog breeds that were around at the time.

12) Miniature Pinscher

miniature pinscher

Average height: 10 – 12.5 inches
Average weight: 8 – 10 lbs

Also known as the Min Pin, Miniature Pinschers originate from Germany. The earliest Min Pins are thought to be bred with Dachshunds, Italian Greyhounds, and German Pinschers. Even though they are about half the size of German Pinschers, they are very brave and energetic.

Min Pins are playful little dogs that love spending time with family but can be possessive of their food and toys. This can raise a risk to families with small children, but training early on can prevent aggression.

13) Italian Greyhound

italian greyhound

Average height: 13 – 15 inches
Average weight: 7 – 14 lbs

The Italian Greyhound is a small sighthound (also called the Italian Sighthound). They are very athletic despite their size and can complete many tasks. As affectionate and intelligent as they come, some may find them challenging to train.

Although Italian Greyhounds aren’t exactly working dogs, they do need plenty of exercise to remain healthy. It is recommended that owners of this small breed get at least two. They can easily suffer from separation anxiety if they aren’t given the attention they require.

14) Brussels Griffon

brussels griffon in the grass

Average height: 7 – 10 inches
Average weight: 8 – 10 lbs

With their distinctive beard, the Brussel Griffons loosely resembles the Pug, although they have a completely different temperament. Known as Griffon Bruxellois in Europe, this small breed has many of the qualities of a companion dog. They are more alert than other companion dogs. Brussel Griffons make excellent watchdogs as they tend to be shy with strangers and don’t trust people at first, but do well with other dogs and pets.

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15) Chinese Crested

chinese crested

Average height: 11 – 13 inches
Average weight: 8 – 12 lbs

The Chinese Crested is a hypoallergenic dog that also has a hairless variation.  The hairless Chinese Crested dogs mostly have concentrated hair in their face and tails. It is also common to hear them called Powderpuff because of their puff coats. Like the other Chinese companion dogs, the earliest ancestors of the Chinese Crested dog were bred as lapdogs, but little is know about the exact history of the breed.

The Chinese Crested Dog was recognized by the AKC in 1991, making it a fairly new breed in comparison to the majority of the breeds on our list.

16) Affenpinscher

affenpinscher in the forest

Average height: 9 – 11.5 inches
Average weight: 7 – 10 lbs

One of the Pinscher breeds, Affenpinscher’s terrier-like appearance earned it the Monkey Terrier nickname. Even with their small frame, Affenpinschers have a very adventurous and curious nature.

Originating in Germany, Affenpinschers were developed to be house pets. They are naturally stubborn and independent. Because they don’t have a desire to respond to commands like a working dog would, obedience training is highly recommended for this tiny dog breed.

17) Japanese Chin

japanese chin

Average height: 8 – 11 inches
Average weight: 7 – 11 lbs

Well known for their strabismus eyes, the Japanese Chin is both a companion dog and lapdog. Their coats are soft and straight with a tail curved over the back either leaning left or right.

Also known as the Japanese Spaniel, most believe the breed originated in China but was mostly imported to Europe from Japan. Nothing was known about the breed prior to 1854. When Japan opened trade with the rest of the world in 1854, the breed gained attraction in the Western hemisphere. The AKC recognized the Japanese Chin in 1888.

18) Toy Fox Terrier

toy fox terrier

Average height: 8.5 – 11.5 inches
Average weight: 3.5 – 7 lbs

Recognized by the AKC in 2003, Toy Fox Terriers are categorized as a toy breed in the United States – however, in the United Kingdom, they are actually categorized as terriers.

Toy Fox Terriers are believed to have been bred from the larger Smooth Fox Terrier. Not only is it one of the smallest, but the Toy Fox Terrier is also one of the rarest breeds in the United Statesalthough not as rare as the other Terrier-type dogs such as Cesky Terrier and Skye Terrier. The Toy Fox Terrier is an extremely loyal breed and only gets aggressive or barks when it feels under threat.

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