If you're on the hunt for a big ol' dog to train for a triathlon with, you might want to move along — nothing to see here! This post is strictly dedicated to tiny little lap dogs. The teensiest breeds' little legs aren't really built to swim and run, but they sure are made for cuddling.
We certainly have nothing against large dogs (we've never met one we didn't love, actually), but now that our lives are more fast-paced than ever, small dogs make a lot of sense for a large population of adopters. They're lower-maintenance, easier to care for and don't require a big yard to run around in.
For apartment-dwellers, families, busy professionals and those who just don't like big dogs, here are our top 14 small-breed dogs.
A good dog for those with allergies (it's not a big shedder), the Maltese is friendly and often gets along well with other dogs and even cats. Just don't leave them alone too much, these companion dogs need human contact. Easily distinguished by their straight and long white coat; it may seem as though the Maltese has just stepped out of a doggie hair salon. However, over-coddling these adorable creatures can actually do them more harm them good, often leading to behavior disorders.
13. Boston Terrier
A great family dog, the Boston Terrier is friendly and bonds well with kids. Another plus is they don't require a ton of grooming. Instead, it just needs the occasional brushing to get rid of excess hair. But be warned, they love to munch on household items, so lots of chew toys are definitely recommended. You should probably keep anything you don't want destroyed out of this dog's way, too.
What's not to love? Their small, wrinkled face, short legs, and charismatic personality makes the Pug a comedic and friendly companion. And though they can be headstrong at times, the Pug is generally pleasant and willing to please. The dog's unique muzzle does make them prone to snoring and wheezing, so you may want to consider buying some ear plugs if you decide to bring this dog into your bedroom.
Originally published March 2009. Updated September 2017.
The Pomeranian is an adorable dog with a mellow and gentle personality, but they can sometimes get noisy (just like children). As a matter of fact, if you want a Pomeranian, they are great with kids, just as long as they are introduced as puppies. However, because Pomeranians shed profusely, it may not be the best choice for a house with very small children.
Meek though they may look, this small dog can really pack a punch in attitude. They are known for nipping at children (probably not the best choice for a house with kids) or barking incessantly at strange dogs. They can also be loud and demanding. But before you cross this breed off the list, you should know that the Chihuahua is loyal and affectionate, even seen canoodling with cats every one in awhile (after an adjustment period, of course).
9. Miniature Schnauzer
Known for being less aggressive than the usual terrier, the small bearded Miniature Schnauzer is playful, spunky, and curious. So curious, in fact, that they may bark at every passerby it sees through your window. That being said, Miniature Schauzers enjoy the company of children and make for an excellent family pet.
8. Shih Tzu
Primarily bred as a domestic and family companion, the Shih Tzu is extremely friendly, and, most importantly, gentle around children. While they don't shed, the Shih Tzu's double-layered, full, and dense coat, does require daily grooming. Consider the "mini lion" if you want a lovable and trustworthy friend.
7. Miniature Poodle
A sensitive breed, Miniature Poodles tend to be dedicated to a single person and are shy around strangers, at least initially. They do, however, get along with children, dogs, and other pets. The Poodle's body type is a reflection of their athletic roots. Truly, there are not many dogs that can carry their bodies as well as this dog. Cut your Poodle's coat in a variety of styles, including Puppy, Continental, English saddle, or Sporting clips.
Believe it or not, this dog actually makes an excellent watchdog and was bred to exterminate vermin! The Dachshund is very attached to owner and family, but can be aggressive around unfamiliar children. Their elongated bodies and short, stubby legs can lead to spinal cord problems and issues with obesity. Just make sure you take this "badger dog" with you on short walks around the block or in the backyard.
5. Yorkshire Terrier
It isn't a coincidence the Yorkshire Terrier has been in the American Kennel Club's top 10 most registered dogs ten years running (coming in second place the past two years). The Yorkie, as it is lovingly referred to, is bold, curious, and always ready for an adventure. The Yorkie's coat, which is silky, long, and straight, may be cut in various styles and comes a clear shade of tan with a dark steel blue hue. A beautiful lapdog and wonderful pet addition.
These are the little guys everyone’s always going gaga for at the dog park. Beagles are cute, cuddly, friendly and energetic — what’s not to love? And while most of us are already familiar with the fact that small dogs live longer than big dogs, you might be surprised to learn that beagles are one of the longest-living dog breeds, with an expected lifespan of more than 15 years. On top of that, these playful pups are good with kids and easy to groom.
These shaggy little pooches that the American Kennel Club calls “happy, alert and friendly” fall into the toy dog group, making them extra-easy on the eyes. But don’t let their froufrou reputation fool you — Papillons are considered one of the most intelligent dog breeds on earth, with protective watchdog characteristics. Overall, this small breed is even-tempered, active and easy to groom.
A cute household pet today, this ancient toy dog breed hails from China — which explains why Pekingese pups are also commonly called lion dogs... because they resemble Chinese guardian lions. Across the board, the laid-back Pekingese are known to be great apartment dogs and can be an especially good match for newbie pet owners. While these fluffy dogs do shed, they are also trainable and smart as a whip. Ever the loyal sidekick, your Pekingese is going to be happy spending most of his time on the couch with you while you watch Netflix, as long as he's getting his cuddles.
1. Cavalier King Charles spaniel
Considered a toy dog by the American Kennel Club, the Cavalier King Charles spaniel from the U.K. is known to be affectionate, graceful and gentle. If you're looking for a family-friendly breed that’s great with children, this small spaniel may be your best bet. The highly trainable Cavalier enjoys relaxing at home and playing with the kids. And here's another fun fact that may make you love this little guy even more — Charlotte also had a Cavalier King Charles on Sex and the City.