3 small dogs out on a walk

Top 5 smallest dog breeds

3 May 2023

Reviewed by Dr Jill McMaster BVM&S MBA MRCVS, Veterinary Surgeon and in-house expert at BorrowMyDoggy on 26 May 2023

Good things come in small packages. If you’re looking to borrow or get your own tiny dog, you may want to take a look at the smallest ones in the list below.

Summary

What should you know about small breed dogs?

Is a small breed dog right for me?

How can I find the right small breed dog for me?

5 popular small breed dogs

Chihuahua

Pomeranian

Yorkshire Terrier

Toy Poodle

Papillon


What should you know about small breed dogs?

  • Just because these dogs are small in size, doesn’t mean they won’t want a good amount of exercise. Ok so little legs have to do a lot more steps to manage the same distance, but some small breed dogs were bred as working dogs, and have energy to burn off. If you don’t want a dog that needs that much exercise, you should consider adopting a pawsome older dog that might need a bit less of a run, or choosing a more chilled breed.
  • Remember just because a dog is little, it doesn’t mean they need to be carried around everywhere. Most small dogs love walking by themselves and going on adventures, with early socialisation really helping their confidence.
  • Make sure they have boundaries. Often because of their size, small dogs can be let off with being a little naughty, so allowed to do things like jumping up, pulling on their lead or stealing food or toys. It’s impawtant they get trained just like any other size of dog because without boundaries any pooch can push their luck and have behaviour problems when they get older.

Is a small breed dog right for me?

There is a lot of love for little dogs that stay small forever, like permanent puppies, and so there should be, they can be pawsome pals! But it’s still important to make sure a small dog is right for you.

For example, toddlers and very small, delicate dogs don’t always mix. Super small dogs can get under a small child’s feet causing an injury to both the child and the dog. In these situations, a slightly bigger and more robust “small” dog might be a better choice.

It’s important to remember that some small doggies don’t like young children very much. Although there are definite exceptions and many that love kids, often small children don’t understand personal space as well as older kids or adults do. Young children can be rough and hands-on too which may be frightening for a small pooch, and when they don’t have the big size some dogs have to fall back on, they may turn to barking and snapping instead.

If you’re looking for a quiet dog, a small dog might not be the best choice.  It’s not fair to say all small breeds like to bark, but they can often have a bit more to say for themselves than some other breeds and are known to give themselves the job of front window security guard for the family.

Small dogs can be great companions for families with older children, couples and those who live alone. They are also ideal if space is a little limited, as they need less room to lounge around, and a smaller garden to run and play in (just make sure to block any escape routes!) They can also cost less when it comes to feeding, toys and bedding.

How can I find the right small breed dog for me?

Borrowing a dog can be a great way to experience dog ownership without the commitment, and with BorrowMyDoggy’s small dog filter when searching for local members, you can find local small dogs to get to know and see if they are the breed for you.

If you are wanting your own, you don’t need to get a puppy either. There are brilliant rescue groups all over the country and some that specialise in specific breeds like chihuahuas (https://www.the-british-chihuahua-club.org.uk/Rescue/Object.php) or papillons (https://papillonrescueuk.org/), where you can learn more about a breed and apply to provide a furever home for a pooch in need.

Chihuahua

Although their origin is up for debate, as one of the world’s oldest breeds, Chihuahuas are thought to hail from Mexico, more specifically the state of Chihuahua. What they were specifically bred for is still undecided too, but now we know they are happy as loving companions.

As the smallest dog breed they tend to be no heavier than 2.5kg and are usually less than 23cm in height. They are often good guard dogs, as although they’re little, they can be wary of outsiders and enjoy a good woof to alert everyone to an intruder.

BorrowMyDoggy has 6,228 Chihuahua owning members.

I’ve always been begging my Mum and Dad like, ‘can we get a dog? Can we please get a dog?’, but the answer is always no, so BorrowMyDoggy is a really good website to walk dogs and experience how to look after them. I definitely didn’t expect to be walking three Chihuahuas one month after signing up, especially seeing as they’re my favourite breed! It feels as if you’ve got a new person in your family.

Beau, Murphy and Moushska's borrower, Rosie.

Lilly, the Chihuahua, looking happy as Larry in a grassy meadow

Pomeranian

Pomeranians, or Poms as they are often called, are bright and bold pooches that tend to weigh up to 3kg, and can grow up to 30cm in height. It’s fair to say they’re at least in the running for the fluffiest small dog with their gorgeous, thick, double coats that they share with their dog cousins in the Spitz group of dogs which includes arctic breeds like Alaskan Malamutes and Japanese Akitas.

Although they’re small, Poms have big personalities, and with that as well as their fluffy mane, they are often described as little lions.

BorrowMyDoggy has 3,087 Pomeranian owning members.

I’m an 86 year old disabled lady so am unable to still give my dog, James the Pomeranian, all the long walks he deserves. I met our borrower and I just cannot say how much help she has been! She takes him for long walks and he is so happy and tired when he comes home. The extra walks stop him from getting bored and he is now a well behaved, healthy and intelligent dog. I think BorrowMyDoggy is a wonderful idea and so helpful to the dogs, their owners and all the new friends they make.

James’ owner, Penelope.

Milano, the Pomeranian, on a bench

Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkies come in a variety of sizes from the termed “teacup” ones up to more standard sizes, but they tend to be smaller than 22cm tall, and generally weigh anywhere from 2.5 to 4.5kg, with their distinct colourings (tan with either blue, black or grey) making them easy to recognise.

So, you might have already guessed this one, but the breed comes from Yorkshire originally, where they were bred as hardy, fit little dogs that could hunt rats and mice in the mills.

As a result, although small in size they can have a good amount of energy and bold pawsonalities, which when well-trained can make excellent companions who enjoy spending time with older children and adults.

BorrowMyDoggy has 6,416 Yorkshire Terrier owning members.

BorrowMyDoggy has been fantastic!! We have met little Olly (a Yorkshire terrier) and fell in love. He is amazing with the kids (aged 2 & 9) and thoroughly lovely to have around. Well behaved, affectionate and full of beans on walks, he is a joy to have around. After joining I had great advice on setting up my profile and messaging owners which really helped when arranging a meet with Olly’s owners. Thoroughly enjoyable experience from start to finish (although there will be no finish as we love it). Definitely recommend joining if you're thinking about it!

Olly's borrower, Stewart from Cambridgeshire

Roxie, the Yorkshire Terrier, with a pink bandana looking straight at the camera

Toy Poodle

Toy poodles themselves tend to be smaller than 28cm tall, less than 4.5kg in weight, and were bred as companion dogs, but because they’re just as smart as their bigger cousins they could also be used as working dogs when needed.

Poodles are often described as hypoallergenic, as they don’t shed much hair. If you have dog allergies though, be sure to spend time around a poodle first before getting one of your own, as sometimes people’s allergies to dogs can be from dogs’ skin or drool, and not because of the hair.

Poodles come in a variety of sizes and are often crossed with other breeds to make the various doodles and poos that are super pupular. Known to be easy to train and loving to families, a toy poodle can be a great addition to a family.

BorrowMyDoggy has 1,829 toy poodle owning members.

My name is Ingrid and I have just graduated. I have always wanted a dog and the emotional fulfilment I get from spending a few hours with Juno - a toy poodle I met through your app is unbelievable. This app is such a great idea and is perfect for a city like London, where you can feel lonely. I can’t describe how much joy Juno brings me when I spend a few hours with her and walk her around my favourite spots of the city! Please find some photos of Juno and I having the best time!!

Juno's borrower, Ingrid from London

Pluto, the Toy Poodle, charging straight ahead at the camera

Papillon

Who doesn’t love the gorgeous ears and curly, floofy tail of a Papillon?!

Originating in France (where papillon means butterfly, due to their ears looking like butterfly wings) the breed are known as intelligent, friendly pooches, who love to learn and are pawsome at sports like agility.

They do also enjoy a good snuggle on the sofa with the family, between having a good bark at passersby. They tend not to grow taller than 28cm, weigh between 2.5 to 4.5kg and feature on our list of best dogs for first time dog owners!

BorrowMyDoggy has 321 Papillon owning members.

Elsie, the Papillon, standing on a forest floor full of fallen autumn leaves


Small dogs can be great pets, but always be sure to get the right dog for you, your family and your lifestyle. Why not borrow a dog first to experience what they’re like before em-barking on full-time dog ownership?

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And if little dogs aren’t for you then why not check out our 5 largest dog breeds’ guide.

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