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The Most Popular Miniature Dog Breeds

Our list of the 14 most popular miniature dogs contains no teacup dogs! Find out if your favorite tiny dog breeds made the cut!

Melvin Peña  |  Oct 20th 2015


Trying to determine which are the most popular miniature dog breeds raises a number of related questions. For instance, what do we mean by “popular”? Are these accessible and common dog breeds that are owned by the largest number of people? Are they the dogs who are most frequently searched for on the Internet? The ones who have the biggest presence in television and movies? Do we intend to narrow it down to popularity within a certain demographic, like the best small dog breeds for kids and families?

A further consideration, and one no less fraught or problematic, is the question of what we mean when we use the term “miniature dogs” itself. Do we correlate the notion of little dog breeds with mobility, portability, or how easily they adapt to home size? Are we talking lap dogs, toy dogs, or apartment dog breeds? Over their history, some dogs — the Poodle, Schnauzer, and Doberman Pinscher, for instance — have been developed and bred in miniature varieties.

Finally, there’s the conundrum of presentation. How do we rank them and by whose standard is the popularity of miniature dogs to be measured? Is this to be a simple list of small dog breeds from A to Z, arranged alphabetically to avoid any hint of favoritism? How many should be included, and how much attention do we give to each? With all of these factors in mind, we’re going to try to be as inclusive as possible.

most popular miniature dog breeds

This Pug is bewildered by her own popularity. (Photo by Tim Douglas on Flickr)

We needed a centralized starting point, and chose the American Kennel Club’s lists of the most popular dogs in America overall, cross-referenced specifically with their rankings for 2014 and 2013. From there, we consulted no fewer than 10 other lists from across the Internet of the 10 or 20 most popular small, miniature, or toy dog breeds. Of the 14 tiny dogs who comprise our list, the top dogs appeared on all 10 lists, while the last ranked appeared on 4.

Dogster’s list of the most popular miniature dog breeds!

Chihuahua

Chihuahuas top the list. A star of films and advertising campaigns, this tiny dog is instantly recognizable all over the globe. Properly trained and socialized, a Chihuahua is the center of attention wherever she goes.

Maltese

At less than a foot tall and under 10 pounds fully grown, the Maltese epitomizes the miniature dog. We can attribute the popularity to the dog’s endless energy and distinctive white coat.

Pomeranian

Resembling nothing quite so much as a fun little puffball, Pomeranians pack tons of spirit and enthusiasm into their small bodies. Strangers may get an earful of their insistent bark.

Dachshund

There is no mistaking the elongated, low-riding bodies of Dachshunds. You know a breed is popular when the words “wiener dog” alone are sufficient to evoke its image.

Miniature and Toy Poodle

Odd to think of it now, but Standard Poodles were originally hunting dogs. The Miniature and Toy Poodles, on the other hand, were always bred as companions. These little dogs are well-known for their curly, low-shedding coats.

Shih Tzu

While an enduringly popular toy dog breed in the Far East for centuries, once Shih Tzus made their way to the West, their long, silky coats and flat little faces made them a global phenomenon. Couple that with a friendly, outgoing temperament, and it’s easy to understand why this lap dog is so well-loved.

Yorkshire Terrier

Why do Yorkies appear consistently on most every list of best, most popular, or favorite miniature dog breeds? Is it their outsized big-dog personalities, constant chattiness, or unceasing devotion to their owners? Maybe it’s because whether you live on a sprawling farm or in a studio apartment, the Yorkie is at home anywhere you are.

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Yorkies are not only among the tiniest dog breeds, but also the most enduringly popular. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

Bichon Frise

With or without the accent, the Bichon Frisé’s popularity has endured since the Middle Ages and shows no sign of slowing down. This small dog gets along with people of all ages and seems to carry a positive, cheerful energy everywhere he goes.

Boston Terrier

A black-and-white coat; a broad, inviting face; and bat-like ears describe the Boston Terrier’s appearance, but not its popularity. We can attribute that to a quiet and easygoing demeanor that allows them to befriend humans and animals alike.

Papillon

He’s a denizen of many lists of the best small dogs. The Papillon’s feathered, butterfly-shaped ears give the breed its name, and he’s another dog who has been popular since medieval times. A Papillon’s athleticism and agility can surprise people, who assume she is a lap dog.

Pekingese

Speaking of lap dogs, the Pekingese is as close to the ideal as you’ll find. Pekingese dogs have a reputation for loyalty and toughness that belies their tiny bodies. Wary of strangers, Pekes also frequently appear on lists of the most aggressive small dogs.

Jack Russell Terrier

Bold and fearless, it’s an understatement to say that Jack Russell Terriers are high-energy dogs. The Jack Russell’s popularity is due to his love of play, long lifespan, and reputation as a family dog.

Corgi

Like the Dachshund, the Corgi’s short legs and long body make him recognizable even among non-dog people. During the breed’s history, both Pembroke and Cardigan Welsh Corgis have been cherished by everyone from farming families to royal ones.

Pug

No self-respecting list of the best miniature dogs would be complete without a nod to the ubiquitous Pug. He’s just as happy sleeping on the couch as following you around the house — you don’t choose the Pug life, the Pug life chooses you.

most popular miniature dog breeds

Pomeranians are among the most popular miniature dogs in the world. (Photo via Shutterstock)

What are your favorite miniature dog breeds?

We started off our survey of popular miniature dogs by trying to come to grips with what precisely that phrase means. Even so, a number of factors were ignored, such as the question of pure versus mixed breed dogs. Was it right or proper to treat only pedigreed dogs with official breed standards when there are countless kinds of miniature dogs with no specific breed profile attached to them? Then there are ethical considerations connected to breeding. Should a list of the best small dog breeds include ones who are bred to stay small throughout their lives, such as teacup dogs?

Any listicle, regardless of its purview, scope, or rationale, is limited at best. Someone’s favorite type of dog is always going to be left off the list. Exclusions and omissions — particularly when one is working with a 1,000-word limit — are both inevitable and inevitably upsetting. That said, we’ve now presented our list of the top small dog breeds, one which is neither meant to be definitive nor the last word on the topic.

In the comments below, please feel free to namecheck and share pictures of those miniature dogs who are most popular among your family, friends, and general acquaintance!