The smallest dog breeds that exist

Some of the tiniest dog breeds make the biggest impact in our lives. They have cute faces and do funny things, plus they can wear cute clothes! Many people can’t imagine life without a little dog.

Little dogs usually live 12 to 14 years, longer than many big dogs. They usually eat less, so they might be cheaper to feed (but grooming costs might cancel out the savings). But getting a small dog isn’t just about money. For lots of people, the happiness and love they get from small dogs matter more, like playing with toys or cuddling.

Now, what are the smallest dog breeds? There are lots of them, but here are seven of the most popular, in no special order.

Russian Toy

In 2022, the American Kennel Club (AKC) officially accepted the Russian Toy dog as a recognized breed. These small dogs can have either short or long hair. One of their distinct features is their big, upright ears covered in long silky fur, which can look like ponytails. They also have cute black noses and round eyes. Russian Toy dogs grow to about 11 inches tall and weigh around 6.5 pounds at most. Despite being small, they’re quite smart and easy to teach. These little dogs, now recognized by the AKC, are great for families. They enjoy playing outside as much as they like snuggling on laps. Their fur comes in various colors like red, brown, black, and tan, resembling foxes.


The Maltese dogs are small, usually weighing around 7 pounds and standing about 9 inches tall. They’re famous for their long, flowing, white fur that looks like hair. Their shiny black eyes and cute black noses make them look extra charming. In ancient times, rich people in the Roman Empire liked to have Maltese dogs because they were a sign of wealth and they were fashionable pets. Today, Maltese dogs still have their beautiful white fur, but some might also have fur that’s white with lemon or tan. Even though they look delicate, Maltese dogs are actually quite tough. They’re good at guarding homes and are skilled at activities like agility courses. Some people might find their barking a bit too much, but it also makes them excellent watchdogs.


Meet the Chihuahua, the smallest dog breed around, weighing no more than 6 pounds and standing about 9 inches tall on average. Their fragile bones mean they’re not the best pets for roughhousing with kids; they can easily get hurt. Chihuahuas come in two types: short-haired and long-haired, but they all share those recognizable big ears and wide eyes. These little guys are loyal and full of energy, with personalities that can fill a room. They love hanging out with other Chihuahuas and playing around. Their coats can be a single color like black, white, red, or tan, or they might have a mix of two colors. While they’re said to have come from Chihuahua, Mexico, some folks think they might have come from Malta with Spanish explorers or even originated in China.


Let’s talk about Pomeranians, a small dog breed named after the area they originally came from, which is in northeastern Europe, including parts of Poland and western Germany. People often call them “Poms”. They became really popular when Queen Victoria of England (1819-1901) loved them, and now they’re cherished pets all over the world because they’re alert, loyal, and friendly. Pomeranians are like mini versions of spitz dogs that used to work in snowy places, like the Akita, Alaskan Malamute, and Samoyed. They have cute faces that look a bit like foxes, and their curly tails show off how curious they are. These little dogs can be up to 11 inches tall and weigh between 3 to 7 pounds. They have thick, fluffy coats that come in colors like black, white, red, orange, brindle, or a mix of these colors.

Shih Tzu

These small and affectionate pups were originally bred to keep royals and emperors warm by sitting on their laps. They’re super popular now as toy breeds all around the world. People first bred Shih Tzus for Chinese emperors and their families. The name “Shih Tzu” means “lion dog” in Chinese. These friendly dogs used to mostly stay inside palaces until the 1930s when breeders in China and England started raising them in larger numbers. Shih Tzus can weigh up to 16 pounds and stand about 11 inches tall. They have long, beautiful coats, big eyes, and playful personalities that make them a top choice for families who love pets.

Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkshire Terriers are also known as Yorkies. These little dogs only grow to about 8 inches tall, but they have big bravery, like one Yorkie who once stood up to a coyote to protect his young owner! Yorkies usually weigh around 7 pounds and they’re super affectionate and playful. They love snuggling with their owners. Originally from England, Yorkies were bred to hunt rodents, and they’re really good at it! Nowadays, many Yorkies live as beloved family pets. Since they don’t like cold weather much, you might often see them wearing cute sweaters or coats to stay warm and stylish.

Japanese Chin

They’re loyal, affectionate, and really calm, which makes them great pals. They’re also friendly and clever, so they’re perfect for sticking around for life! Japanese Chin dogs are small, usually weighing between 4 to 9 pounds and standing about 11 inches tall. They usually have long, silky fur that’s shiny and smooth. Their coats can be black-and-white, lemon-and-white, sable-and-white, or have a mix of black, tan, and white. These dogs have been around for a long time, maybe more than 1,000 years, and they were first recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1888. They’re known for being a bit like cats because they have floppy ears and flat faces. You’ll often find them snuggled up on a cozy lap, waiting for some love and attention.

Read about the best dogs for keeping your family and home safe.

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