Small Dog Breeds- Intro with Training Tips

Chihuahua dog standing in grass-One of the most famous among small dog breeds

Cute Warning: Small Dog Breeds can send highly positive vibes, even via their charming pictures, which can potentially boost your mood. With their cute barks, playful nature, and innate charms, they can make you smile even in the most adverse situations!

Small Dog Breeds- an Overview

The cute, compact, and cuddly- small dog breeds are popular due to their portability, and adaptability. They are attention grabbers little angels who appeal to anyone with their charming appearance and loving nature.

They are the perfect pets for those who live in smaller spaces, such as apartments or condos, or for those who want a pet that is easy to take with them everywhere. That is why, you can often see them in commercials, movies, and purses of well-known celebs. With less exercise and lower maintenance needs, they are an ideal choice for busy individuals or families.

Small dog breeds, also called “Lap Dogs”, differ widely in their weight, height, and size. While there is no official classification, depending on species-specific height and weight, and also, for better understanding, we can further categorize them into 3 types: Toy, Miniature, and Teacup dogs.

Resembling more like puppies, dog enthusiasts call these small dog breeds “pocket-sized” or “micro-sized” dogs. They have lovable, playful, and affectionate personalities. Regardless of their compact size, they can be just as active and lively as their larger counterparts, making them a great choice for people with active lifestyles.

Some popular small dog breeds are Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, Poodles, Maltese, Shih Tzu, Pugs, Affenpinschers, Biewer Terriers, and Yorkshire Terriers, among others. Depending on the breed, these cute small dogs weigh between 2 lbs. to 24 lbs. and are under 15 inches tall at the shoulder.

Though small in size, these tiny dogs require regular exercise, playtime, and a healthy diet. They are prone to health issues such as hypoglycemia, heart problems, and dental problems. Therefore, they require frequent visits to the veterinarian and a dedicated owner who can provide them with the care they need.

  A white illuminated Tip Bulb with yellow background  Did you know that the Chihuahua is one of the smallest dog breeds in the world?

The Best Small Dog Breeds

Small dog Breeds have a vast variety. Though they come in different colors, weights, heights, sizes, and temperaments, one thing is common in all breeds: they have big personalities and lasting charms.

We have collected some of the best and most famous small dog breeds in this article. Here, let us admit, due to their versatility, we can’t encompass all the details but have information that our readers mostly ask for or look for.

So, get ready to meet your favorite small dog breeds…

Chihuahuas-The Most Famous Among All Small Breed Dogs

Woman in red jacket holding a Chihuahua-the most famous among small dog breeds
Image by Freepik

The Chihuahua is immensely popular among small dog breeds fans. Originating from Mexico, these pint-sized pooches are tiny in size but have a big personality. They are alert and have a feisty nature, which makes them stand out from other small dog breeds.

Despite their small stature, Chihuahuas are confident, loyal, and intelligent.  They make strong bonds with their owners. These little dogs are devoted and protective, making them excellent companions for individuals and families alike. They are also highly intelligent and can be trained to perform various tricks and tasks.

Chihuahuas have a distinctive apple-shaped head and large, round eyes. They come in a variety of colors, including black, white, fawn, and chocolate. Their coats can be either short or long and require minimal grooming.

Pomeranians-The Cute and Charming 

A cream-colored, cute Pomeranian dog sitting in a car.
Image by pikisuperstar on Freepik

With its fluffy coat and vibrant personality, the Pomeranian or “Pom” acclaims the right fame as the cutest small dog breed.  The breed’s origin is in the Pomerania region of Europe.

Pomeranians are full of energy and playfulness. They love to be the center of attention and are always ready for a game or adventure. In spite of their small size, they have a big heart and are incredibly loyal to their owners. Pomeranians are intelligent, making them eager learners and great companions.

Pomeranian dog breed has a double coat that is soft, and fluffy and comes in a variety of colors, including black, white, cream, orange, and sable. They have a compact body with a short, straight back and a curled tail. Their ears are small and erect, and their eyes are dark and almond-shaped.

They are a highly social breed and love human interaction. They are great with children and other pets, making them an ideal family pet. However, they can be prone to barking and may require training to prevent excessive noise.

Poodles- One of The Most Adorable Small Dog Breeds 

A small white Poodle with a green collar standing proudly in front of a door.
Image by hyunJC from Pexels

Originating from Germany, Poodles are a versatile and highly trainable small dog breed. They are elegant in appearance and are prominent due to their intelligence. They are an active breed and enjoy activities such as walking, running, and playing fetch. Being affectionate in nature, they are great with children and make excellent family pets.

Being highly trainable and adaptable, Poodles excel in various dog sports such as obedience and agility. One can’t resist but adoring them when they perform different tricks in TV shows.  Even with their small size, Poodles are confident and make excellent companions. They are hypoallergenic, which makes them a great choice for people with allergies.

Poodles, with curly, dense, and hypoallergenic coats look fabulous. The coat color can be black, white, brown, and gray. They have a graceful and athletic build with a straight back and well-proportioned body. Poodles have a distinctive head shape with a long, straight muzzle and a rounded skull. They have almond-shaped eyes that are dark and expressive, giving them an intelligent and alert appearance. They have long, floppy ears and a distinctive topknot of hair on their head.

Poodles are generally a healthy tiny dog breed. However, like all dogs, they are prone to certain health issues. Some of the most common health concerns for Poodles include hip dysplasia, eye problems such as cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy, and skin allergies. To maintain their health, Poodles require regular exercise, grooming, and a balanced diet.

  A white illuminated Tip Bulb with yellow background  Did you know the Maltese have been AKC-Recognized for over a century?

Maltese- The Furry and Intelligent 

A small white Maltese dog standing in a park
Image by Ayyeee Ayyeee from Pexels

The Maltese is a charming and adorable small dog breed famous for its luxurious, long, and silky white coat and mild-mannered temperament. The breed’s origin is a bit controversial, but most believe that Malta is the originating place of the Maltese.

They are sociable, loving, friendly, and quick learners. Maltese dog breeds love human interaction and enjoy spending time with their owners. Due to their tiny size, it is best to keep them indoors and avoid families with young children who may unintentionally harm them.

The Maltese dog breed has distinct physical features, including a small head with a rounded skull, large and expressive eyes, and a black nose. They have a white, long, and silky coat and require regular grooming to prevent matting and tangling.

Maltese dogs are prone to dental issues, such as tooth decay and gum disease, due to their small mouths and crowded teeth. They may also experience respiratory problems, such as reverse sneezing and collapsed trachea, as well as eye problems like cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy. Regular check-ups with a veterinarian can help prevent and manage these health issues.

  A white illuminated Tip Bulb with yellow background  The Yorkshire Terrier was originally bred to catch rats in clothing mills during the Industrial Revolution.

Yorkshire Terriers- The Confident Small Dog Breed 

A small Yorkshire Terrier sitting calmly on the ground.
Image by Magali Guimarães from Pexels

The Yorkshire Terrier, also the Yorkie, is a small dog breed that has gained immense popularity due to their confident and vibrant personality. They are glamorous little dogs and have a bold and adventurous spirit. The breed’s origin is Yorkshire, England.

Yorkshire Terriers are energetic and spunky dogs that love to play. They are brave and are not afraid to take on larger dogs. They are also highly affectionate, love pampering, and form strong bonds with their owners, making them wonderful buddies.

With a distinctive appearance, The Yorkshire Terrier looks great and highly adorable. Their coat is silky long with color variations of black, tan, blue, and gold. They have a small head with a short snout and dark oval-shaped eyes. Their ears are small and V-shaped, standing erect on top of their head. The nose of a Yorkie is black and their teeth are small and sharp.

Some of the most common health issues that affect The Yorkshire Terrier breed include dental problems, hypoglycemia, and luxating patellas. Regular vet check-ups can ensure that they stay healthy and happy.

The Dachshunds- The Short-legged Small Dog Breed 

A playful Dachshund enjoying the outdoors.
Image by bristekjegor on Freepik

Known as the “wiener dog,” The Dachshund, with their elongated bodies and short legs, is a small breed that one can easily recognize by their unique appearance. The origin of the breed is Germany – a country that is the origin of many popular dog breeds including the famous German Shepherds.

The Dachshunds are adaptable, full of energy, and love to play, especially outdoors. They are a curious breed and enjoy exploring their surroundings, whether it be in the backyard or on a hike. Being loyal and affectionate towards their families they make excellent watchdogs, always alert and ready to protect their loved ones.

Dachshunds are in various coat colors and patterns, including black and tan, chocolate and tan, red, and dapple. Their head is elongated and narrow, with a slightly arched skull and a prominent brow. They have large, round eyes that are dark in color and a black nose that is well-developed. Their ears are long and floppy, and they hang close to the head.

While Dachshunds are generally healthy dogs, they are prone to certain health issues. One of the most common health problems in Dachshunds is intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), which is a condition that affects the spinal cord. This can cause pain, weakness, and even paralysis in some cases. Dachshunds are also prone to obesity, which can lead to other health problems such as diabetes and joint issues. Moreover, they may be prone to dental problems, so regular dental care is important.

However, not all Dachshunds will develop these health issues, and many can live long and healthy lives with proper care and attention. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and routine veterinary check-ups can help keep your Dachshund in good health.

Shih Tzus- The Most Alluring Among Small Dog Breeds 

In the darkness, a Shih Tzu dog sits serenely, showcasing the charm of this small dog breed.
Image by wirestock on Freepik

Shih Tzus is a cute small breed of dog, originating from Tibet, which many people adore for their loving and warm nature. These dogs are friendly and outgoing, making them great friends for people of all ages. They are loyal and eager to please, which makes them a popular choice for families with children. Their adaptability is impressive as they can thrive in a variety of environments, including both urban and rural areas.

They have a distinctive appearance, with a round head and a short, flat muzzle. Their large, round eyes are set wide apart, and their ears are long and droopy. They have a long and charming double coat that can come in a variety of colors, including black, white, gold, and a combination of any of these. However, their beautiful coat requires regular grooming, including daily brushing and trimming to prevent matting.

Don’t forget that Shih Tzus is prone to a few conditions, including hip dysplasia, allergies, and dental problems. They can also suffer from respiratory issues due to their short snouts and flattened faces, which can lead to snoring and other breathing difficulties. Regular veterinary care, a healthy diet, and plenty of exercise is the apt solution to address all these health issues.

The Elegant Small Dog Breed- Cavalier King Charles Spaniels 

A Cavalier King Charles Spaniel sitting on a chair against a beige background.
Image by Freepik

Originating from the United Kingdom, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels is a toy dog breed with a very expressive and gentle demeanor. They are a popular choice for therapy due to their affectionate and loving nature.

Cavaliers are highly sociable and enjoy the company of both humans and other animals, making them a great addition to any household with pets. Being intelligent they are relatively easy to train, making them a great choice for first-time dog owners. They are also great with children and make excellent playmates.

They have a distinct appearance- small, yet well-proportioned heads with slightly rounded skulls and well-defined stops. Their ears are long and feathered, and they hang down close to the head. Cavaliers have black noses, large dark eyes that are round and expressive, and a slightly undershot jaw that gives them a friendly and welcoming expression.

The coat of a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is silky and soft to the touch, and it comes in four distinct colors: black and tan, ruby, tricolor, and Blenheim. The coat is long and requires regular grooming to maintain its softness and shine.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are prone to several health issues, including heart disease, hip dysplasia, and syringomyelia, a condition that affects the spinal cord. Cavaliers may also develop ear infections due to their long, floppy ears, which can trap moisture and debris.

Common Behaviors of Small Dog Breeds 

Small dog breeds have distinctive behavioral traits that differentiate them from larger breeds. These tiny dogs are known for their frequent and high-pitched barks, sometimes even at the slightest provocation. They can also be prone to “small dog syndrome,” a condition that arises when they feel the need to assert themselves over other dogs and humans. This can be noticeable in various ways, such as growling, biting, or refusing to obey commands, among others.

The owners of small dog breeds need to understand these behaviors and take appropriate steps to provide their pets with the right training and socialization. Proper training can help small breeds overcome their natural tendencies and learn to behave appropriately in different situations. With patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement, small dogs can become well-behaved, obedient, and thriving pets.

A boy and girl socializing a Pembroke Welsh Corgi in a field, surrounded by their family.
Image by Freepik

Training for Small Dog Breeds 

Training small dog breeds is both exciting and challenging. Though they are playful, quick learners, and friendly, they are small and fragile and can get anxious while learning new things or acting on different commands.

Remember, training should always be a positive experience for both you and your small dog. Avoid using punishment or harsh methods, as they can damage the trust and confidence your dog has in you. Instead, focus on rewarding good behavior and redirecting unwanted behaviors.

Agile Welsh Corgi dog weaving through poles to emphasize training needs for small dog breeds

Image by master1305 on Freepik

To effectively train your cute little dogs, always remember two things:

  • Break training sessions into short, frequent sessions. These breeds have shorter attention spans, so keeping sessions brief ensures they stay engaged and focused.
  • Understand that their size doesn’t determine their intelligence or ability to learn. However, their small size can sometimes make them more prone to developing certain behavioral issues, such as excessive barking or separation anxiety.

By using the right training techniques, you can help your small dog overcome these challenges and become a well-behaved and happy companion.

Potty Training Your Small Dog Breed 

Potty training can sometimes be a challenge for small dog breeds. Due to their smaller bladders, they may need more frequent bathroom breaks.

Create a designated Potty area in your home and establish a consistent schedule for bathroom breaks. Be patient and provide positive reinforcement when they successfully eliminate in the right place.

Accidents may happen, especially during the initial stages of training. In such cases, avoid punishment or scolding, as this may create fear and anxiety. Instead, clean up promptly and reinforce proper Potty habits to encourage your small dog breed’s progress.

Socialization with Other Dogs

A Pomeranian and a Pitbull dog sitting side by side on a captivating purple backdrop.
Image by jcomp on Freepik

Socialization plays an important role in the well-rounded development of small dog breeds. Expose them to various social situations, including interactions with other dogs of different sizes and temperaments. Organize playdates with friendly, well-behaved dogs, and gradually introduce them to new environments and experiences.

Also, monitor these interactions and ensure they are positive and controlled. If your small dog breed displays any signs of fear or discomfort, provide reassurance and take away them from the situation. Gradual exposure and positive associations always work to help foster confident and sociable behaviors.

Teaching Commands to Your Small Dog Breeds

A young boy sits on a bench with a Yorkshire Terrier, both engaged in learning commands.
Image by Sam Lion from

Teaching commands is an essential part of training small dog breeds. Start with basic commands such as “sit,” “stay,” “lie down,” and “come.” Use positive reinforcement, rewards, and repetition to reinforce these commands.

When training, be consistent with your verbal and hand signals. Small dog breeds are highly observant and can quickly pick up on cues. Practice these commands in different environments to generalize their obedience skills.

Providing Mental Stimulation for Your Small Dog Breed

A Jack Russell terrier stands on the grass, holding a ball in its mouth, enjoying mental stimulation in the park.
Image by Blue Bird from Pexels

Small dog breeds are intelligent and require mental stimulation to prevent boredom and destructive behaviors. Engage them in mentally stimulating activities such as hide-and-seek games, treat puzzles or scent detection games. Rotate their toys regularly to keep them engaged and challenged.

Incorporate interactive training exercises into their daily routine, such as teaching them new tricks or obedience commands. This not only stimulates their minds but also strengthens the bond between you and your small dog breed.

Practicing Crate Training with Your Small Dog Breed

White Bichon Frise dog inside a small Crate
Image by Freepik

Crate training is beneficial for small dog breeds, offering them a safe and comfortable space of their own. Introduce the crate gradually, using positive reinforcement and treats to create positive associations. Make the crate cozy with blankets and toys, and never use it as a form of punishment.

When using the crate, ensure it is not used for extended periods. Small dog breeds have limited bladder control, so frequent bathroom breaks are essential. Crate training helps with Potty training, preventing destructive behaviors when unsupervised, and providing a sense of security for your small dog breed.

When to Start Small Dog Breeds Training

The ideal time to start training your small dog breed is in their early puppyhood. Puppies have a natural inclination to learn, and starting early allows for the foundation of good habits and behaviors.

However, it’s never too late to start training. Even if you have an adult small dog breed, they can still learn new commands and behaviors. Patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement are key to successful training at any age.

Let’s Wrap it Up!

Who doesn’t love small dog breeds? These little fur balls may be tiny, but they pack a big punch of positivity and happiness in our lives. Each breed has its unique characteristics and appeal, making them increasingly popular due to their adaptability and portability.

But here’s the thing – they may be pint-sized, but they require just as much care and attention as their larger counterparts. Regular vet check-ups, dental care, and exercise are all essential to ensure their health and well-being. With that said, training these little munchkins can be both fun and challenging, but it’s vital to do so to instill good habits and foster a strong bond between pet and owner.

Small dog breeds are not just pets; they are loyal friends, mood-boosters, and beloved family members. They bring joy and positive vibes wherever they go, and their impact on our lives is truly immeasurable. So if you’re looking for a bundle of joy to add to your life, look no further than these pocket-sized pals!

Dr. Priyasad Ediriwarne
MVSc | Exotic & Wildlife Head Veterinarian

Dr. Priyasad Ediriwarne is a highly accomplished veterinary professional with a distinguished background in veterinary medicine and surgery. With a consistent commitment to excellence in animal care, Ediriwarne established Doctor Vet Animal Hospital, which soon evolved into a successful chain of hospitals across Kandy and Ambalantota, Sri Lanka. His leadership and business acumen are exemplary and have played a pivotal role in the hospital’s growth and success.
Driven by a profound love for all creatures, Ediriwarne transitioned his focus to specialize in exotic and wildlife surgery, extending his expertise to cater to the unique challenges of diverse species. He takes immense pride in his ability to provide compassionate care to animals of all kinds. As an advocate for animal welfare, he continues to explore innovative approaches to enhance the health and well-being of our furry and wild companions.