Top 5 Smallest Dog Breeds

 Thursday Aug 16,2018
By  Lancaster Puppies

Small dogs are cute, especially when some of these pups are roughly the size of a teacup. Upon seeing a tiny dog, some people will assume the dog is a toy, and in a way, they are right. The smallest dog breeds are part of the toy group. The term “toy group” is used by kennel clubs to define a set of dog breeds that are small or miniature. Some people refer to these dogs as “teacup dog breeds." Over the past 15 years or so, interest in small dogs has been rising, but why?

The Benefits of Small Dogs

Miniature dog breeds are great for urban areas and apartment living because they don’t need much space inside or out. If you’re someone who allows dogs on your bed or couch, small dog breeds won’t hog the space. These companion dogs are easier to bathe than larger dogs, too, because they’re compact and lightweight. In fact, the smallest dog in the toy group, the Chihuahua, may only grow to 6 pounds and stand 5 to 8 inches high.

Small dogs are loyal and intelligent companions that tend to live longer than dogs with more mass. Small breeds may live up to 13 to 15 years whereas larger breeds may live 10 to 12 years. Experts estimate that for every 4.4 pounds of mass a dog has, it may reduce the dog’s life by a month.

Many people long for small dogs that don’t shed because they want a hypoallergenic pet that won’t trigger allergies. It’s important to know that no canine is 100% hypoallergenic, but dogs like Yorkshire Terriers, Shih Tzus, Bichons Frises, and Schnauzers (to name a few) shed less and have a coat that retains loose hair. These are good choices for allergy sufferers. That said, all dogs produce dander and have proteins in their saliva that can irritate people with allergies.

Ultimately, many people love small dogs because they are easy to cuddle, walk, and carry. 

5 Smallest Dog Breeds

Papillons, Toy Poodles, Pomeranians, Yorkshire Terriers, and Chihuahuas are the smallest dogs in the toy group. See how they stack up compared to one another.


Papillons are hardy little dogs that grow to 7-10 pounds and are 8-11 inches tall from the withers to the floor.

White, brown, and black Papillon

The name Papillon is French for “butterfly-eared,” and the dog gets the name from the trademark long, fringed hair that comes from the ears. It’s said to look like butterfly wings. When the ears drop, the dogs are called Phalène, which is French for “moth-eared.” Both Phalènes and Papillons can come from the same litter. Often Phalènes are not bred with Papillons because the offspring can have one erect ear and one that is dropped.

The Papillon (or Continental Toy Spaniel as it is sometimes called) is covered in a single coat of long, fine, straight fur that is predominantly white and has patches of black, lemon, red, sable, or tri-color. This breed needs to be groomed frequently but is moderate to low shedding. The dog’s tail has long hair, and it curls over the back much like a squirrel. This is how Papillons got the nickname “Squirrel Spaniel.”

These happy dogs aren’t always ready to cuddle (though historically they were used as lapdogs during the 13th century). They are, however, friendly and affectionate.

Paps are known to be intelligent and eager-to-please so they can learn tricks quickly. In fact, they rank up near Poodles in intelligence. These dogs are often heralded for their athletic and spirited nature which is favored by competitive agility and obedience trainers.

Because of their diminutive size, Paps often do well in homes with adults. They are fragile; their delicate nature doesn’t always mesh well with children. These dogs are also very loyal and have been known to lay at the feet of their owners and follow them around the house.

Paps aren’t the kind of dogs that need coddling in hot or cold weather, but they also shouldn’t be left outside unattended in winter, either.

Papillons can be yappy, but they’re not prone to excessive barking. Paps will vocalize in apartments when they hear noise from neighbors. It takes these dogs a bit to get used to strangers.

Brown Toy Poodle laying next to a blue stuffed animal and a gameboy.

Overall, this toy spaniel is a favorite of many who meet him. He is a healthy small dog with few health concerns. The most notable are luxated patella, anesthesia sensitivity, Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), and Fontanel.

Toy Poodle

Poodles were first called Pudelhunds, a German word that translates to “puddle dog.” They are sometimes called Caniches, too, because these dogs were once used as water retrievers for duck hunting. Caniche comes from the word “cane,” which is a female duck.

Poodles come in Standard, Miniature, and Toy. The Toy version has reportedly been used for truffle hunting because these lightweight dogs won’t crush delicate fungi with their feet. Often Poodles are bred for companionship over hunting abilities.

This active, intelligent, and elegant dog is well-proportioned and squarely built. The smallest Toy Poodles grow to 13 to 15 pounds and are no more than 10 inches tall.

Poodles are covered in a single coat of dense, curly hair that doesn’t shed much. These dogs are less likely to trigger allergies than other breeds. If you’re looking for a small breed that doesn’t shed much, a Toy Poodle can be an excellent option.

Much like how the Papillion’s fur doesn’t fall off the dog but rather becomes tangled in the surrounding fur, a Poodle’s hair coat behaves the same way. Toy Poodles release fur and dander but are less likely to trigger allergies than other breeds. Still, Poodles need trimmed every 4 to 6 weeks.

Man carrying a tan and white Pomeranian in a brown carrying bag

The small, cuddly Toy Poodle is one of the most affectionate breeds and is extremely intelligent. With firm, consistent training and frequent exercise, the Toy Poodle is one of the most trainable breeds.

These social and energetic dogs have provided companionship and affection to families for many years. Best of all, this popular dog breed is generally healthy and may live up to 18 years. 


Hailing from the Duchy of Pomerania (where present-day Germany and Poland are located) the Pomeranian is a 4 to 8-pound dog that stands 6 to 7 inches high. These small dogs are covered in a textured coat with a plumed tail that sits high and flat.

These companion dogs have a thick double coat that comes in more colors than any other dog breed. The double coat consists of a short undercoat beneath a longer, bushy topcoat. The fur is extra bushy on the shoulders, neck, and chest. It’s recommended to brush the dog daily to twice weekly. Poms don’t require excessive grooming, but they are seasonal shedders. Still, these dogs don’t shed as much as the amount of fur would imply.

Yorkshire Terrier   

Close up of a black and brown Yorkshire TerrierLittle dog lovers admire the Yorkshire Terrier, often called a Yorkie. These pups typically weigh 3 to 8 pounds and stand 8 to 9 inches tall.

This popular companion dog was developed to catch rats in cotton and woolen mills in 19th-century Yorkshire, England. Back then, when workers from Scotland came to England for work, they brought small terriers with them. These terriers had a long coat, docked tail, trimmed ears, a blue body, and silver or fawn head and legs, and were dubbed a Yorkshire Terrier.

It's interesting to note that Yorkies don’t shed. If not groomed, these dogs will keep growing hair and it can grow to more than two feet in length. Show dogs usually have a long coat, but many owners keep their Yorkies trimmed down to a puppy cut.


The smallest dog breed hails from Mexico and weighs about 4 to 10. It stands 5 to 8 inches tall at the withers and was bred to be a companion dog.

The smallest dog in the world, according to the 2014 issue of the Guinness Book of World Records was a 2-pound Chi named Miracle Milly that was a mere 3.8 inches tall.

Black and brown Chihuahua riding in a backpack

It’s been theorized that Chihuahuas came from the Techichi, a small-framed dog that was domesticated by pre-Columbian Mesoamerican people like the Maya and the Toltec. It’s also been theorized that Chihuahuas were a cross between the Techichi and the Chinese Crested. Still, others believe Chihuahuas are linked to a mostly hairless dog, the Xoloitzcuintli (Xolo) which hails from Mexico and has roamed there for thousands of years.

Chihuahuas come in many colors like white, black, and tan, and may be marked, spotted, or splashed. Chis have either a smooth coat or a long coat. Smooth-coat Chihuahuas feel whiskery or velvety, while long-haired Chihuahuas feel even smoother, in part because of the dog’s guard hairs and silky undercoat which also gives them a fluffy appearance. Ironically, long-haired Chihuahuas shed less than short-haired Chihuahuas and don’t need to be trimmed.

Active and intelligent, many of these toy dogs are gentle family companions that somehow convinced people that they should be carried everywhere. When they’re not being carried, Chihuahuas will often burrow in blankets, pillows, and hampers or will lay in the sunshine. Most are affectionate and prefer cuddling close and often do quite well in homes with other Chihuahuas because they have a clannish nature. Expect them to be part of your clan for a long time. Chihuahuas may live 15 to 20 years.

In the end, if you want to add a small dog to your home, consider the Papillon, Toy Poodle, Pomeranian, Yorkshire Terrier, and Chihuahua are solid choices.

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