Small dogs are cute, and typically have more personality than their tiny frames can contain, which is why they have so many adoring fans. Let’s count down the most popular small dog breeds, and break down why they’re so lovable. Will your favorite make the cut?
10. Maltese – Popular Small Dog Breeds
Hailing from the Mediterranean island of Malta, the Maltese is a breed that has enchanted humans for millennia, including ancient philosophers, poets, artists, and royals.
With their angelic faces and flowing, white coats they look as if they’re floating on air when they move. But don’t be hoodwinked, while Maltese can be angelic little lapdogs, they can also be fiery little watchdogs.
Maltese are die-hard “people pups”—they’re very friendly and love being the center of attention (which is why we love them and why they usually get their way). But if they feel that their relationship with their people is threatened by another person or animal, they may become jealous and bark incessantly or even bite.
Fun Fact: Surprisingly, the thick-haired Maltese has a single coat and sheds very little.
9. Shetland Sheepdog
There must be something in the water in the Shetland Islands because it is the motherland of several diminutive animals including Shetland Sheep, Shetland Ponies, and our next popular small dog breed—the Shetland Sheepdog.
Shetland Sheepdogs look very much like miniature Collies, and as a working breed, they behave like Collies, too. True to their herding genes, they are quite vocal and will chase and attempt to wrangle anything not nailed down including smaller animals and even your rowdy children. Discourage unnecessary herding, though, as it can lead to nipping.
That said, they are highly trainable, and according to Stanley Coren’s, The Intelligence of Dogs, rank number 6 in understanding of new commands.
Shelties are gorgeous little pups that crave attention from their humans but also do well on their own for extended periods of time. This makes this miniature Lassie an excellent choice if you work outside the home.
8. Havanese – Popular Small Dog Breeds from Cuba
Feeling lonely? Get yourself a Havanese, and you won’t be alone…ever…for about 14 to 16 years.
Originally bred in Havana, Cuba, as companions to aristocrats, Havanese still cling to their people like they were made by 3M —so much so, they’re often referred to as “Velcro” dogs.
Always effervescent and affectionate, they get along with everyone and everything from people to other pets, to plants. Longevity and love…what more can you ask for?
The secret to the popularity of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is their adaptability and eager-to-please disposition. Originally bred to accompany royals and aristocrats both at court and in their leisure time, the Cavalier bridges the gap between the toy and sporting breeds.
Sweet and affectionate, yet curious and active, on any given day they find themselves lounging blissfully in their human’s lap or chasing birds and squirrels in the garden.
Cavaliers are also experts at something most people hate to admit they love— shadowing. If you want a beautiful dog that is always happy and in sync with you, then the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is the pooch you’re looking for. Bred as companion dogs, they love everyone and everything and believe that the feeling is mutual.
6. Pug – Popular Small Dog Breeds
With its saucer eyes, wrinkly skin, and almost non-existent muzzle, one would think that the Pug is a dog with a face that only its mother could love. Well, apparently there are a whole lotta other mothers that love that face too because it’s one the most popular breeds around.
As you may have guessed, the Pug gets its appeal from their “good looks,” but also their playful approach to life.
Pugs look like they’re perpetually “down in the dumps,” but they love getting into mischief, especially if it’s in front of an audience, and we love watching them clown around—it’s live entertainment at its best.
Fun Fact: It is believed that Pugs got their name from a type of monkey called the Marmoset. In the early 1700s, Marmosets were kept as pets and were referred to as “pugs.” The theory is that the dog breed was eventually dubbed the Pug because their facial structure resembles that of the monkeys.
Pomeranians are furry, feisty, and downright foxy (I mean, they literally do look like miniature foxes). So, it’s not hard to understand why they are one of the most popular small dog breeds.
Of course, they’re super cute, but another reason they’re so appealing is their versatility. They come in a variety of colors including red, orange, brown, black, blue, cream, white, or any pairing of those colors. If there is a color a dog can be, you will find a Pom that color.
Their luxurious double coat can be groomed to look like they have a lion’s mane, or trimmed short, which gives them a cuddly teddy bear appeal.
Fun Fact: Of the 12 dogs that were aboard the ill-fated steamship, the Titanic, only three survived—a Pekingese and two Pomeranians. OK, maybe not so fun… actually a little morbid.
4. French Bulldog – Popular Small Dog Breeds
OK, let’s be frank, the French Bulldog suffers from RBF—resting Bulldog face. The Frenchie looks like it’s having a bad day, every day. But like mama said, “ugly is as ugly does”.
Frenchies tend to be loving, funny, and mischievous. It’s this perfect balance of qualities that makes the French Bulldog one of our small breed favorites.
No, they may not be the prettiest pups on the planet but they know how to have a good time.
And although your Frenchie may not be a stickler for following the rules or the easiest dog to train, your life together will never be boring—Frenchies just want to have fun!
As humans, we are drawn to what looks like us. So, it’s only natural that many pets look like their people.
This same thought process explains the popularity of the Miniature Schnauzer. The typical Schnauzer—Standard or Mini—is groomed to look like a Victorian gentleman or bearded lady, with its close-cropped body and facial hair (complete with bushy brows) that gives them a very human-like appearance. Like a little old man on four legs.
The Miniature Schnauzer’s bold, spunky, and playful temperament is another reason they’re quite popular. Their energy is boundless. They love to be where the action happens, taking in and taking on life at full speed.
Admit it. When you think about types of toy dogs, the first one to come to mind is the Yorkshire Terrier.
Although they weigh no more than seven pounds, they have as many bells and whistles as bigger dogs—adorable faces, gorgeous coats of steel blue and tan that are “to die for,” and more than their fair share of attitude. What’s not to love?
Also, the Yorkie is a bonafide fashion icon. They look great in everything from scarves and beanies to haute couture and purses. And if high fashion isn’t your thing, a simple bow and topknot are all your munchkin will need to break hearts.
1. Boston Terrier – Popular Small Dog Breeds
What dog is known for its friendly, genteel nature, is notorious for tailing its humans as if it’s on a mission, and was born in a tuxedo? Well, its name is the Boston Terrier, aka the American Gentleman.
Bostons tune in on your moods and know what you want before you do. This sixth sense, along with the previously mentioned qualities makes the Boston Terrier the top dog of the small breeds.
Bostons also have a secret weapon when it comes to charming us—those smiling eyes. If you want to keep your wits about you, you may want to avoid looking into those big, beautiful peepers…they’ll grab you and won’t let go.
Fun Fact: Toto, Dorothy’s pup in the “Wizard of Oz” books was changed from a Cairn to a Boston Terrier in later books. But was promptly changed back to the original breed.
What is your favorite small dog breed? Let us know in the comments. And as always, catch ya next time.
*This post may have affiliate links, which means I may receive commissions if you choose to purchase through links I provide (at no extra cost to you).