When it comes to choosing your new small dog, it’s important to make the right decision. Not only are you adopting an animal that will live for several years at least, and you’ll have to care for it, but you’re also bringing a new member the family in. So how can you choose the right one?
How do you choose the right small dog for you? You need to choose a dog based on your living situation, lifestyle, and opinions.
That’s easy to say, but what does it look like? We’ll look into different breeds of small dogs, and what their specialties are, as well as similar breeds you can compare. It’s important to not only get a dog that works with your lifestyle but a dog you like and enjoy spending time with.
What Factors to Consider When Choosing a Small Dog
The breed, size, age, and personality of a dog are the things you need to focus on the most when choosing a new friend. You’ve decided you want a small dog, but how small? Do you want a dog that’s only a few pounds, or one over ten pounds? How much energy do you want your dog to have?
The most important factor when adopting dog is his personality. Dogs are just like people, with each one being unique. You can start by looking at certain types of breeds, such as more or less energetic, roughly what size they’ll be, and what he’ll look like, but the final decision will come to personality.
Don’t rule out a dog just because of his breed either. Many times, animals seem to choose their owners rather than the other way around. If you are “chosen” by a dog, maybe you should just go with it and just their instincts. They have stronger ones than us, after all.
Breed of Your New Small Dog
What can you tell by the breed anyway, if it’s all about personality? Breeds are where you’ll find your dog’s basic physical form and appearance. It’s hard not to recognize some breeds, such as Scottish terriers or Chihuahuas. Dogs of the same breed tend to have similar behaviors as well.
You need to ask yourself what you want from your dog. Do you want athletic or a couch potato? Do you want a dog that can stay by himself all day and be fine, or a clingy best buddy who cries when you leave? A beagle, for instance, can keep up on hikes with much bigger dogs. Is that what you want?
If you know a few breeds that have the “dog basics” you’re looking for, you’ll have a better time explaining to a breeder or dog rescue worker what you want. They’ll also have a better idea of what size you’re truly looking for when you tell them you like Chihuahuas over Jack Russels.
Remember that just because you like the look of a breed of dogs doesn’t mean you should get one. Many dogs require a lot of training and exercise, something to keep in the front of your mind when looking.
Size of Your New Small Dog
“Small dog” typically means dogs under 20 pounds. That should be simple, but unfortunately, it’s not. You have very small dogs, weighing in around 5 pounds, but then you also have bigger small dogs, passing up 20 pounds when they eat just a bit too much.
The smallest dogs are considered toy dogs because they’re so tiny, they’re only as big as a toy dog. Then there are larger “small” dogs, such as the beagle or miniature Schnauzer.
It’s important to know what you mean when you’re thinking small dog. Are you looking for a teacup poodle or an American bulldog?
Personality of Your New Small Dog
Here’s the big one, the one I’ve been mentioning from the beginning. What kind of personality does your dog have, and how does it fit in with yours?
If you’re a serious runner, you don’t want to get a Chihuahua with tiny legs. You’ll have to pick up and carry with you. However, if you’d rather stay on the couch and watch reruns on Netflix for the millionth time, a Chihuahua may be just what you need.
Different dogs are more or less cuddly than others. While a Dachshund’s entire world revolves around his owner and playing with him, Pekingese prefer to take long naps near you. Some breeds are more likely than others to be the dog sleeping on the end of your bed.
You can guess a lot about a dog by his breed, but no two dogs are the exact same, even if they are the same breed. Even dogs from the same litter have different personalities, and it’s important to keep in mind, you’re choosing a roommate for the rest of his life. Make sure you love him for who he is before you make that decision.
Your Lifestyle and Your Small Dog
Here’s another big one. Where do you live? Do you need to get your landlord’s approval or do anything else before you can start seriously looking at dogs? Can you afford a dog? Remember vet bills, food, treats, training, and toys when you’re factoring up the cost. Grooming can be a requirement for some breeds as well, another cost.
The good news about looking at small dogs is, you don’t need as much space for them, and you won’t spend as much on food for them as larger breeds. The biggest expense you’ll have with small dogs is vet bills. Different breeds are more susceptible to diseases and injuries than others, which can be an added expense to consider when looking at breeds.
Not all small breeds are perfect for apartments, however. While the Shih Tzu is happy in a small apartment, Dachshund prefer to run across the open land. You also need to think about your family.
Some small dogs, like beagles, many terriers, and pugs, love people and to be a part of a family. Toy dogs such as the toy poodle or the Maltese, on the other hand, can be easily overwhelmed or hurt by the hustle and bustle of a family life and are better with just a single owner.
Best Small Dogs for Apartments
- Shih Tzu, because of their affectionate, regal demeanor. They’ll love to keep you company watching a movie versus going for a hike.
- Basenji, because of their calm, quiet demeanor. They rarely bark, keeping your neighbors happy.
- Affenpinscher, because of how amusing and loyal they are. They’re calm enough to chill out in your small space but are usually up for adventures as well.
Just because it’s a small dog doesn’t mean it’s intended for small space living. Some dogs, though tiny in size, are huge in terms of energy. This can be great if you have the space for them to run around, but that isn’t an option in apartments.
Instead, you want to go with a low-energy breed who is satisfied with the occasional walk for exercise, not running and playing fetch for hours. You also should think about your neighbors. You want breeds that won’t bark too much, like the Basenji, and will be friendly towards other people.
Shih Tzus are the best apartment dog because they don’t need too much space to be happy. They’re content to simply hang around your place all day, preferably with you. If you want a dog with a bit more spunk, Affenpinschers are one of the funniest, most human-like dogs.
The one time this isn’t true is if you’re home frequently and can take your dog outside to run around and play often. If you work from home and live in an apartment, you can find a small dog for the size of your place, but lots of energy for when you two go out. Look into the best small dogs for kids and families section for high energy dogs.
Best Small Dogs for City Living
- Bulldog, one of the most sturdy, relaxed dogs you’ll ever meet. They’re short and stout and tend to be couch potatoes, which is perfect for small city spaces.
- Chinese Crested are low energy and one of the least likely to cause allergic reactions.
- Boston Terrier is one of the more energetic city dogs who love to go for walks and meet new people.
Typically, city living means small spaces, whether it’s a townhouse or an apartment. High energy dogs struggle to live in cities because of the lack of space to get out and move, as well as their owner’s typically busy schedule preventing them from having to time to take long walks.
The American bulldog is probably one of the most well-known breeds. They’re squat, wide little things, with a cute “grin” they just can’t keep from having. They’ve very low energy, sometimes requiring extra encouragement to go exercise.
The Chinese crested is a cute, unique little toy dog. They’re often favored by people who have mild allergies because of how little they shed, which is another huge perk for city living. Smaller spaces mean the shed hair is compacted into a smaller space, making it look dirtier faster.
For the city liver who loves to be active and needs a little buddy who can keep up, the Boston terrier is a good option. Their little legs may require you to slow down a bit for them to keep up, but they have the endurance and heart to go for miles.
Best Small Dogs for Senior Citizens
- Beagles are some of the most cheerful, happy dogs you’ll meet. They’re great for cheering you up and keeping you company, as well as keeping you active.
- The Bolognese, for the one looking for a little toy dog. These are adorable and love kids, as well as calm enough to simply hang out with you.
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniels will keep you on your toes, especially as they easily become spoiled if they aren’t properly trained.
Most senior citizens looking for a dog want companionship, someone to take care of, and something to make them get active. Medium-energy dogs are a good option for the senior looking to keep moving, as they won’t overwhelm you with their energy.
Beagles are known for loving kids and making everyone smile. They tend to be clowns, enjoying the attention they get from it. They like to go for walks and be active, but they’re also happy to lay on your feet or lap on the couch after a walk.
Bolognese are adorable toy dogs, covered in curly white fur. They’re lightweight enough to be easily carried by anyone, typically staying under ten pounds, but also enjoy taking short walks with you. They’re also known for learning tricks quickly!
Cavalier King Charles spaniels can be some of the sweetest, nicest, kid-friendly dogs you’ll ever meet. However, if they aren’t trained properly, they tend to be pushy and snippy. If you’re looking for a bit of a challenge and someone to discipline when necessary, these are great replacements for your kids!
Best Small Dogs for Kids and Families
- The pug is famous on the internet for their cute, scrunched faces. They’re active dogs who love kids and playing. They’re very outgoing and tend to love the entire family.
- Miniature schnauzers are very protective. Despite their small size, they’ll try to beat up anyone who upsets their family. As long as you’re a friend, though, they’re very outgoing and playful.
- The Havanese is Cuba’s only native breed of dog. They’re fluffy, happy playmates for children, with a protective side and a sturdy build.
Family dogs are ideally active and high-energy, able to keep up with the youngest and wildest kids. Typically, these are labs, golden retrievers, or another large breed, but small dogs can be even better for families. They’re less work for small children, giving them a bit less responsibility.
Just about everyone loves pugs. With their wrinkled face and curled tail, it’s hard not to. They’re active and able to keep up with kids of all ages, as well as being a good cuddler.
Miniature schnauzers are the perfect example of a little dog with big energy. They’re full of personality, and they’re fiercely protective of their family, quick to investigate new people. They’re friendly to friends of their family but tend to be wary of approaching strangers.
Cuba’s national dog is the Havanese, a laid-back fluff ball. Their coat is fluffy, yet lightweight to keep them cool in Cuba’s heat. They don’t require a lot of grooming, as they don’t shed very much, which keeps grooming and cleaning time to a minimum.
Bests Small Dogs for People with Allergies
- Toy Xoloitzcuintli, or toy Xolos for short, are a breed of hairless and haired dogs, also known as the Mexican hairless dog.
- The Bichon Frise has tight curls that reduce shedding. They’re hypo-allergenic, as well as being friendly and loving.
- Toy poodles are well-known for their cute little size. If you want to go even smaller, you can find teacup poodles. All poodles are hypo-allergenic.
While you may not be able to find a completely allergen-free dog, you can get pretty close with some breeds. Low-shedding rates help prevent you from being overwhelmed with the sniffles, or a complete lack of hair will really keep your allergies away.
Toy Xolos are the best option for people with allergies, as their complete lack of hair is the best option for those with allergies. They’re easy to train and bond with their families quickly, typically choosing one person as their favorite.
The Bichon Frise’s curls keep them from obviously shedding. You’ll need to either groom him occasionally yourself or take him in to a groomer to have a comb run through occasionally to pull out all the dead hairs that may be trapped in there.
Poodles of any size are famous for their looks, temperament, and hypo-allergenic coat. You’ll need to take him in for regular grooming, but toy and teacup poodles are a great option for anyone with allergies.
Best Small Dogs for Frequent Travelers
- Chihuahuas are the original purse dogs who go everywhere with their owners. They love to adventure and see new things and meet new people.
- The Pomeranian is a close second of the purse dog category, barely falling behind Chihuahuas in popularity. They handle stress very well.
- Yorkshire terriers don’t need much exercise or room, as well as being friendly and curious.
Just because you travel frequently doesn’t mean you can’t bring your dog with you. Today, people travel everywhere with their pets! Which breeds are typically best for this, though? Look for ones who are adaptable, friendly, and good with change, or you’ll risk unnecessarily stressing your friend out by bringing him on trips.
Chihuahuas are the perfect size to take with you everywhere you go. They love new experiences and people, and short-haired ones don’t require much luggage, as they don’t have many grooming needs.
Pomeranians require more grooming than short-haired Chihuahuas. However, they aren’t easily stressed out and don’t mind change. They’re happy to hang out in their carrier while you’re traveling.
Yorkshire terriers are sweet little dogs, happy to follow their owners around the world. Like the other two, they have little exercise requirements and are content to hang out on your lap during long flights or on your feet, taking a nap.