12 of the World's Smallest Dog Breeds

12 of world's smallest dog breeds

Treehugger / Ellen Lindner

Dogs come in an astounding variety of sizes, from mastiffs the size of miniature horses to teensy teacup-sized companion dogs. The smallest dogs include toy breeds ranging from affenpinschers to Yorkshire terriers. While they all share a small stature, tiny dogs span a wide variety of temperaments. 

Ready to add a tiny but loyal friend to your family? Here are 12 of the world’s smallest dog breeds.

Millions of pets (including many purebreds) are available to be adopted from shelters. We always recommend adoption as a first choice. If you've decided to buy a pet from a breeder, be sure to choose a responsible breeder, and always avoid puppy mills.

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Chihuahua

white, black, and brown Chihuahua running through a grassy field

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There is only one breed of Chihuahua, but there is quite a bit of variation within the breed. These tiny dogs can have long or short coats in a variety of colors. They even have two distinct head shapes: apple-shaped and deer-shaped. The smallest dog breed, chihuahuas weigh a featherlight four to six pounds and stand only six to 10 inches tall.

Chihuahuas are low-maintenance dogs when it comes to grooming, but they can be high-maintenance when it comes to training. They usually become devoted to a single person and are protective, which can make living in a house with children a challenge. This isn't to say Chihuahuas can't make great family dogs, but the personality of the dog and the patience and training by the family are important factors.

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Brussels Griffon

Three brown and black Brussels griffon dogs sitting on grass

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This uncommon breed was created in Brussels, Belgium. Before they became eye-catching pets, this long-legged, short-faced dog was originally bred as a terrier kept in stables to hunt rodents.

Brussels griffon dogs typically stand around seven to eight inches tall and weigh between seven and 12 pounds. There are two coat types — rough or smooth — and four different coat colors.

This breed tends to bond with one human and does not enjoy being around children. However, they do usually get along well with other animals and can make a great pet in a home with other pets. While they love to snuggle, they also love to play and roughhouse. They're smart, but can be sensitive. Like many other terrier breeds, they have a stubborn streak, so they need a patient trainer.

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Pomeranian

An orange Pomeranian standing in leaves

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This spunky little fuzz ball is a spitz type breed. Popular pets, Pomeranians stand between five and 11 inches tall and weigh a mere four to eight pounds. 

Pomeranians come in over two dozen colors ranging from orange and red to tan, white and black. They also come in combinations of colors and can be spotted or brindle. Their thick coat is actually a double coat, with a soft, thick, short undercoat and a long, straight, harshly textured outercoat. Grooming is a necessity for these dogs, including a trim every couple of months. Also important to note: Pomeranians shed their undercoats twice a year. 

These alert, extroverted dogs are easy to train. An owner definitely needs to implement training because Poms can be territorial and develop habits of excessive barking or aggressiveness with other dogs. Owners who can work with the assertive, confident nature of these loving dogs will find a fast friend.

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Affenpinscher

Black affenpinscher sitting in grass

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The affenpinscher, which looks somewhat like the Brussels griffon, originated in Germany to fulfill the same role of rodent control in kitchens and stables. The breed's name translates to "monkeylike terrier," which is fitting for a dog full of personality and feistiness.

This breed stands between nine and 12 inches tall and weighs around seven to 13 pounds. But don't let the tiny size fool you. These dogs are active indoors and love daily walks. They're curious and playful, but also are stubborn and protective. Because they have a tough-guy personality, they need training and respond best to positive reinforcement methods, such as clicker training. They are fearless and a bit territorial, so they don't do well in homes with children. But when paired with the right owner, this scruffy little dog makes for a smart, sassy best friend.

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Papillon

brown and white Papillon running on a gravel pathway next to grass

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If you're all about the ears, the papillon is probably the dog for you. The name is perfect for this breed, as it means butterfly, and is an apt description for the papillon’s ears. 

Papillons stand eight to 12 inches tall and weigh between seven and 10 pounds. This breed is friendly and self-assured, and when properly socialized, does well with children, strangers and other pets. They are well known to be great companion animals, even if they can be a bit on the vocal side.

Energetic and intelligent, papillons do well with owners who want to engage their speed and smarts. Agility and rally obedience are perfect pastimes for papillons and their handlers.

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Yorkshire Terrier

brown and black Yorkshire terrier standing on grass

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Yorkshire terriers started out as ratters in Yorkshire, England, but have grown to become a much-loved companion animal. According to the American Kennel Club, it is the 10th most popular breed of dog.

Yorkies stand six to nine inches tall and weigh around seven pounds, though some may be a bit larger. They are also known for their long, luxurious coats, which are considered hypoallergenic as they shed less than other dogs. However, grooming is still essential for these long-haired dogs.

Well-rounded dogs, Yorkies love to be engaged in training. They aren't particularly high-energy dogs, but are perfect for someone who likes to take a long daily walk or two and then cuddle on the couch. Like so many toy breeds with terrier backgrounds, they aren't particularly fond of children, other dogs, or strangers, and they can be vocal. But with appropriate socialization and training, they can be a friendly, balanced dog.

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Russian Toy

Russian toy dog sitting in grass with wind blowing across its face

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This dreamy little dog was almost entirely unknown outside of Russia, its country of origin, until the 1990s. The Russian toy is similar in size to the Chihuahua, standing between seven and 11 inches tall and weighing two to six pounds. It is also similar to Chihuahuas in that the breed has two varieties of coat: a smooth coat and a long coat. The Russian toy also looks like the papillon thanks to its big ears with feathered fur edges.

The Russian toy was bred to be a ratter and watchdog, and thus can be quite vocal. They are loyal, playful members of any family — including those with kids — and they benefit from an active household. The Russian toy prefers walks rather than being carried around. They're also bright dogs who enjoy training.

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Toy Fox Terrier

Pair of white, brown, and black toy fox terriers standing in a field

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A descendant of the smooth fox terrier, the toy fox terrier became its own breed and was recognized by the AKC in 2003. These perky dogs stand eight and a half to 11 inches tall and weigh anywhere from three and a half to seven pounds.

This tiny dog is like a little powder keg, with plenty of energetic activity stored in their small frames. Fast, agile, courageous, and smart, the toy fox terrier is great for someone who wants an active, trainable dog small enough for apartment living. Great for anything from agility to hiking (on leash, considering they're a terrier with a very high prey drive), the toy fox terrier loves to play, explore, and learn. They stay active well into their older years.

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Japanese Chin

Brown and white Japanese Chin standing in green grass

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This friendly, happy companion dog has been around for a long time — possibly 500 to 1,000 years. The Japanese Chin is a perfect lapdog with a height of eight to 11 inches and a weight between seven and 11 pounds.

The Japanese Chin is known for its catlike disposition, including its independent attitude and propensity for jumping onto furniture to have a better view of the room. It even has a tendency to use its paws to wash its face.

A loving dog with family, the Japanese Chin is friendly but a little reserved with strangers. They are known to shape their personality around their owners — being a mellow dog with a quiet owner and a playful dog with an active owner. The Japanese Chin also loves to learn interesting new tricks and thrives on variety in training. Overall, the breed is a comical, well-rounded companion.

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Chinese Crested

Black and white Chinese crested standing on green grass

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The Chinese crested might be one of the most recognized small dog breeds.  It stands about eight to 12 inches high and weighs between 11 and 13 pounds. A hairless breed, most individuals are naked except for a crest of fur on their heads, "socks" on their feet, and a plume of fur on their tails. There is a recessive gene in some individuals — called “powder puffs” — that causes them to have a full coat of fur.

Though they are athletic, the Chinese crested is a low-energy breed that is happy to spend the day curled up in bed as you read the paper. They're known as a "Velcro dog" in that they become intensely bonded to an owner, dismissing strangers and sticking with their human as much as possible. They are social, but needy dogs. Needy of both love and, often, a sweater.

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Miniature Pinscher

Brown miniature pinscher standing in a field of grass and yellow flowers

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Love the look of a Doberman but need a dog that fits in a small apartment? Meet the miniature pinscher, or min pin. This old breed originated in Germany and wasn't created to be a mini version of anything. It just happened to be named as if it were when it was introduced to the U.S. The breed stems from a mix of dachshund, Italian greyhound, and other breeds over its long history.

These small dogs stand 10 to 12 inches tall and weigh eight to 10 pounds. They have a sturdy build that suits their assertive, outgoing personality. Athletic and energetic, these are great dogs for active adults. They are also great for adults that like to play hide-and-seek, as this breed is known to be a great escape artist. When not escaping, they love to act as watchdog and alert their owners to any possible intruder.

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English Toy Spaniel

black English toy spaniel with a brown face standing in green grass

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The English toy spaniel is also known as the King Charles spaniel, but is not to be confused with the Cavalier King Charles spaniel. The English toy spaniel came first, and when its snout became flatter as the breed was mixed with others like the Japanese Chin and pug, breeders attempting to return the breed to its original form instead developed a new breed: the Cavalier King Charles spaniel.

However, the much-loved English toy breed didn't disappear. It is smaller than its newer peer, reaching a height of nine to 10 inches and a weight of eight to 14 pounds. These long-haired beauties are mellow, good-natured dogs. Playful but gentle and highly loving, this breed becomes utterly devoted to an owner, often to the point of having issues with separation anxiety. They are fairly low energy, and are happiest cuddling on the couch with their favorite human.