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The 10 Smallest Dog Breeds

We have big love for little dogs. Here's the smallest of the small -- and also maybe the cutest of the cute.

 |  Sep 14th 2012  |   24 Contributions


It’s a small dog’s world right now, and for some people, the smaller the better. It seems like the trend started around 2003, when Paris Hilton was seen carrying her Chihuahua in a designer purse and started a line of doggy clothing for superpetite canines only. The hustle to get a tiny dog was strengthened by popular hybrid breeds, which started in the 1990s. In 2005, the AKC published a piece on the rise and expected continuing popularity of dogs in the toy group, and the small breeds have continued to be big favorites.

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Chihuahua in purse by Shutterstock

Yep, small dogs are taking over the world. But there’s nothing to worry about -- as long as we treat them like kings and queens. Tiny dogs already get special privileges: their own side of the dog park where the big dogs can’t bother them; access to fine dining, rooftop cocktail hours, and shopping on Fifth Avenue in New York City while hidden in swanky purses; and rides in airplanes in the people cabin.

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Common Characteristics of the Smallest Dog Breeds

Small dogs have much in common, but, generally, the smaller the dog, the more he gets -- more attention, more privileges, more of the royal attitude. They also share some distinctive characteristics.

  1. Low weight: This does not mean dogs going on a diet to fit into their new Hermes sweater. The smallest dog breeds are tiny and do not weigh more than 10 pounds.
  2. Short height: Not as important in determining whether a dog qualifies for the “smallest” trait, but it can still be used.
  3. Cute factor: The smallest dog breeds actually tend to look “cuter” than other breeds. This means a resemblance to teddy bears, with very small features, big eyes, and/or slightly larger heads.
  4. Coddling tolerance: These breeds started out as lap dogs who were treated like infants. As they’ve shrunk even more, they seem to tolerate, and even like, a great deal of cooing and cuddling.
  5. Head for heights: The smallest dog breeds may almost never touch the ground. Instead, they view the world from a human’s hip and don’t seem to mind. 

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Why People Want One of the Smallest Dog Breeds

Obviously, if you want to look trendy, it's tempting to get a tiny dog with matching outfit and purse. Unfortunately, some people do get one of these breeds for that reason and are then surprised when they find out that these diminutive dogs actually pee and poop, bark and sometimes snap, and are supposed to be walked.

Here are some better reasons to consider getting one of the smallest dog breeds:

  • Lifespan: The smaller the dog, the longer the life; many toy breeds live 15-plus years.
  • Companionship: These breeds have the art of companionship down pat, since that’s what they were bred for.
  • Space saving: Having a teensy-weensy canine in a tiny apartment gives you a lot more room.
  • Lovable littleness: These breeds can make excellent therapy dogs, and their size makes them more portable.

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The 10 Smallest Dog Breeds

  1. The Chihuahua: This choice is no surprise, but Milly, a Chihuahua from Puerto Rico, outdid all others of her breed by weighing in at only 7 ounces (full grown) this year. Chihuahuas usually weigh around 4 to 6 pounds on average.
  2. Brussels Griffon: The AKC standards for this breed say it should weigh 8 to 10 pounds, but smaller Brussels Griffons (6 to 7 pounds) exist.
  3. Pomeranian: With his full, fluffy coat, the Pomeranian looks bigger than his actual size. This breed is around 7 pounds.
  4. Affenpinscher: This tiny dog with the “monkey face” weighs around 7 to 9 pounds.
  5. Papillon: Papillons typically weigh 6 to 7 pounds.
  6. Yorkshire Terrier: Lucy, a Yorkie from New Jersey, is probably the smallest of her breed to date, at 2-and-a-half pounds. Yorkies are usually around 6 pounds.
  7. Toy Fox Terrier: Much smaller than his cousin, the Fox Terrier, weighing in at around 7 pounds.
  8. Russian Toy Terrier: This petite Russian breed has feathered ears and can weigh up to 6 pounds.
  9. Japanese Chin: This silky breed has a fairly wide range for weight at 5 to 10 pounds.
  10. Chinese CrestedThis almost-naked breed, which seems to shiver a lot, weighs in at 7 to 10 pounds.

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Brussels Griffons by Shutterstock

Let’s face it: Tiny dogs get stepped on -- sometimes literally. It’s tough for them to have their opinions heard because their voices are so small. And there’s the constant fear that something bigger will gulp you down or sit on you. But the smallest dog breeds are surviving and thriving just the same. 

Which breed would you have added to this list? Tell us in the comments below!

Don't see your dog here? Maybe she's in The 10 Smartest Dog Breeds, The 10 Most Talkative Dog BreedsThe 10 Rarest Dog Breeds, or The 10 Biggest Dog Breeds.

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