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22 Popular Miniature Dog Breeds (With Pictures)

Written by: Kristin Hitchcock

Last Updated on May 29, 2024 by Dogster Team

dachshund and chihuahua dogs running at the park

22 Popular Miniature Dog Breeds (With Pictures)

If you live in a city or apartment, a smaller dog may be just what you need. Over the years, miniature dog breeds have become more and more popular. More and more people are living in urban areas or suburban areas, where they may not have as much room. Plus, fewer people are living on farms and in need of working dogs.

In fact, the French bulldog has become one of the most popular breeds over the last few years.

Of course, not all miniature dog breeds are the same. Some fit better into certain settings than others. Let’s take a look at the most popular miniature dog breeds:

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How Are Miniature Dog Breeds Classified?

A miniature dog breed is a type of dog that is smaller in size. While “miniature” isn’t an official size, they are typically under 20 pounds.

“Miniature” can also refer to smaller versions of specific breeds. However, these breeds often aren’t purebred or healthy. Of course, some dog breeds do have “miniature” versions that are officially recognized and very old. For instance, the Poodle has a miniature version.

In this article, we’ll include both dogs that are small and officially recognized “miniature” versions of dogs.

Top 22 Miniature Dog Breeds

1. French Bulldog

french bulldog standing outdoors
Image Credit: Tatiana Katsai, Shutterstock
Origin: France
Lifespan: 10–14 years
Height: 11–13 inches

French Bulldogs are the most popular dog in the United States. These smaller dogs have ridden the surge in popularity that most smaller dogs are experiencing, but their association with several celebrities has led to them becoming even more popular.

These dogs are very versatile and able to live well in an apartment and on a farm. They are livelier than many people give them credit for, especially when they are younger. They will bark occasionally, but they’re generally quiet dogs.

Many Frenchies are very friendly, making them suitable companion dogs. However, they may not be the best option for homes with children, as they tend to be less patient than other breeds. They’re also not the healthiest due to their squished faces.

2. Toy Poodles

toy poodle on person's lap
Image Credit: evrymmnt, Shutterstock
Origin: France
Lifespan: 16–14 years
Height: Up to 10 inches

Toy Poodles are the smallest of the Poodle varieties. They’re even smaller than miniature Poodles. Despite their smaller size, these Poodles are very athletic. They can work in an apartment, but you must ensure that they’re getting enough exercise. Poodles also have the benefit of being the lightest-shedding of all dog breeds, making them a great option for those who don’t like dog fur.

These dogs thrive in agility competitions, where they can fly surprisingly fast through obstacles.

It is important to purchase a well-bred toy Poodle, though. Your toy Poodle should be square-shaped. Some toy Poodles are lower to the ground with short legs and a longer back. These may be shorter, but they are more at risk of back problems.

3. Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkshire Terrier dog standing outdoor
Image Credit: Nneirda, Shutterstock
Origin: England
Lifespan: 13–16 years
Height: 7–8 inches

Yorkshire Terriers are some of the smallest dog breeds around. They are spunky dogs that are full of personality for their small size. Many people love their long, silky fur. However, they do require regular grooming and trims to prevent tangling. Unlike other long-haired breeds, they are extremely prone to tangles.

Yorkies are extremely affectionate and tend to be “one-person” dogs. Therefore, they aren’t best for families, as they tend to attach themselves solely to one person. Furthermore, they can be quite yappy.

4. Dachshund

group of dachshund dogs
Image Credit: 4sally scott, Shutterstock
Origin: Germany
Lifespan: 14–16 years
Height: 8–9 inches

There are two types of Dachshunds, but both are relatively small. The miniature size is even smaller than the standard, but we could place the standard in this article as well.

These dogs are best known for their long backs and short legs. They have a truly unique appearance and come with three different coat types. Long-haired Dachshunds are gaining in popularity, but the smooth dachshunds remain the most common.

5. Pembroke Welsh Corgis

pembroke welsh corgi dog lying on bed
Image Credit: Jus_Ol, Shutterstock
Origin: Wales
Lifespan: 12–15 years
Height: 10–12 inches

Corgis are short dogs that only reach about 12 inches at the shoulder max. However, they are much rounder and stouter than many people believe. They can weigh quite a bit despite being short. Keep this in mind before deciding to adopt one.

These dogs were originally bred for herding, so they may not be best for children. They can attempt to “herd” kids, which may involve snapping. Otherwise, they are extremely affectionate.

6. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Portrait of a dog cavalier king charles on a grass background
Image Credit: Lari Cavalier, Shutterstock
Origin: England
Lifespan: 2–14 years
Height: 12–13 inches

These adorably fluffy spaniels are often described as a mix between a toy dog and a spaniel. They are relatively small and often bred as companion dogs. In other words, they are very affectionate and tend to bond closely with their people. They can be prone to separation anxiety because of this, though. They must be taught how to be alone from a young age.

Their long, flowing ears are adorable, but they do require regular grooming to prevent mats.

These Spaniels are pretty adaptable, allowing them to get along with just about anyone. They’re great companions for families with children and seniors, but they also require more activity than many may think. They were bred as working dogs originally, after all.

7. Pomeranian

teacup pomeranian running on grass
Image Credit: thanai asawaroengchai, Shutterstock
Origin: Pomerania
Lifespan: 12–16 years
Height: 11–12 inches

Pomeranians are tiny fluff balls that absolutely fit into the “miniature” category. They are exceedingly playful and athletic, though. Unlike many companion dogs, they are not lapdogs. They may curl up in your lap, but only after running sprints around the house for hours at a time. They can also be very yappy, though they tend to calm down when properly exercised.

The problem is that many of these dogs aren’t properly exercised. Many people see these small bundles of fluff and assume that they don’t need exercise when this is far from the reality.

Pomeranians do come in many different colors and are often widely available. Therefore, you can often find the color you’re looking for with relative ease.

8. Bichon Frise

bichon frise dog in studio
Image Credit: Vojce, Shutterstock
Origin: France
Lifespan: 14–15 years
Height: 9–11 inches

Bichon Frises are bundles of fluff when groomed properly, but they do require quite a bit of grooming to keep their coat healthy and untangled. Trimming is highly recommended for companion breeds, as it will help their coat stay manageable.

This breed is known for their happy personalities. They do bond closely with their families, but they are pretty active for being so small. Plan on providing them with plenty of playtime.

9. Papillon

Beautiful red and white papillon portrait on the spring grass
Image Credit: Mariya Kuzema, Shutterstock
Origin: France
Lifespan: 14–16 years
Height: 8–11 inches

Papillons are named after their fluffy ears, which are said to look like butterflies. While these dogs are very small, they are also extremely athletic. They’re very intelligent and trainable, too, making them fun dogs to own if you want to be more involved.

We recommend these dogs for more active families. While they look very cuddly, they don’t often do much cuddling. Regular walks and playtime are required, though they need surprisingly little grooming for having such long coats.

10. Brussels Griffon

brussels griffon_otsphoto_Shutterstock
Image Credit: otsphoto, Shutterstock
Origin: Belgium
Lifespan: 12–15 years
Height: 7–10 inches

While not as popular as other dogs on this list, Brussels Griffons are funny little dogs with a unique appearance. Their little faces are often described as being similar to a monkey’s. They are extremely affectionate and tend to be lapdogs. However, they can also be extremely stubborn, making them harder to train.

Without proper socialization, these dogs can be grumpy. However, they can also be good family dogs if you’re willing to work with them.

11. Pug

pug dog standing in the forest
Image Credit: marketalangova, Shutterstock
Origin: China
Lifespan: 12–15 years
Height: 10–13 inches

Pugs used to be much more popular than they are today. However, they’re still very common in cities where their smaller size and low exercise needs allow them to thrive. That said, they are fairly unhealthy. Their squished face and pig-like tail are both linked to health problems, so finding a quality breed is essential.

Otherwise, they are pretty low-maintenance. They don’t require any grooming and don’t need much exercise. They’re also pretty easygoing and can work well in many families.

12. Italian Greyhound

Italian Greyhound dog standing on the grass
Image Credit: Alexandra Morrison Photo, Shutterstock
Origin: Italy
Lifespan: 14–15 years
Height: 13–14 inches

If you want a dog that’s active but also small, an Italian Greyhound may be a great option. These dogs aren’t actually directly related to the larger Greyhounds, but they’re often described as “miniature” Greyhounds due to their very similar appearance and surprisingly small size.

However, these dogs do need tons of exercise. They’re very hardy, adaptable dogs, allowing them to work well in a city and on a farm. They also get along well with older children, though they can be fearful of overactive toddlers. They’re surprisingly sensitive, so homes with a lot of hustle and bustle aren’t the best option.

13. Miniature Pinscher

Miniature Pinscher standing on grass
Image Credit: Sevostyanova Tatyana_Shutterstock
Origin: Germany
Lifespan: 12–16 years
Height: 10–12 inches

Miniature Pinschers look like miniature Dobermans—and they act very similar, too. They’re pretty intelligent and easy to please, making them one of the easier small dogs to train. In fact, they act a lot like working dogs, though they are bred almost exclusively as companions today.

They’re pretty active dogs, so plan on taking regular walks. When their exercise needs are met, they behave very well indoors and can adapt to an apartment. However, if you don’t provide them with enough movement, they can quickly become destructive and bored.

14. Chihuahua

Chihuahua dog standing on grass
Image Credit: anetapics, Shutterstock
Origin: Mexico
Lifespan: 15–20 years
Height: 5–8 inches

Chihuahuas are “the” miniature dogs. They are the smallest dog breed in the world, but they’re also known for having very substantial personalities. They love attention and are known for being exceptionally feisty. When not raised properly, they can be a bit too feisty. In fact, many Chihuahuas do not pass temperament tests.

That said, with socialization and good breeding, these dogs can make great family companions. They just need more training and socialization than many dog owners think.

15. Toy Manchester Terrier

Toy Manchester Terrier
Image Credit: Olga Aniven, Shutterstock
Origin: England
Lifespan: 14–16 years
Height: 10–12 inches

These miniature dogs are very playful and energetic despite their smaller size. They’re full of the “terrier spirit,” which means they will chase just about anything. They were bred to chase off rats and other vermin, and much of these traits have carried over into modern times.

Luckily, these dogs are relatively easy to train. They’re surprisingly devoted to their owners and work well in active families. If you have a bunch of kids running around, Manchester Terriers can be a great option.

16. Maltese

Maltese dog sits on a blanket and looks at the camera on a picnic in a park with sunlight
Image Credit: Tanya Dol, Shutterstock
Origin: Mediterranean
Lifespan: 14–16 years
Height: 8–10 inches

Maltese are underrated, but they are slowly gaining in popularity. They have long coats that many people are drawn to. In fact, they look similar to Shih Tzus and other long-haired toy dogs. However, they are healthier than many of these other breeds, making them a better option for most families.

Maltese were made for cuddling. They will spend most of their time napping or following their owners around the house. They require quite a bit of attention, though, so they aren’t a great option for those who spend much of their time away from home.

They also require a great deal of grooming due to their long coat. Regular trims are highly recommended.

17. Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu puppy playing in the grass
Image Credit: sanjagrujic, Shutterstock
Origin: China
Lifespan: 11–16 years
Height: 8–11 inches

Speaking of the Shih Tzu, they are still one of the most popular smaller dogs around today. Their long, fluffy coat makes them very attractive cuddle partners, and they like to do a lot of cuddling. With proper grooming or regular trims, their fur is extremely soft.

This breed is also adaptable to many situations and homes. They do well with children as long as the children handle them properly. They can be prone to back issues, especially when poorly bred. Therefore, it’s important that the children are gentle to prevent injury.

A Shih Tzu also tends not to forget about past interactions. This is great when you provide lots of positive interactions. However, negative interactions tend to stick in their minds for a long time, too.

18. Affenpinscher

Little black affenpinscher dog in the park
Image Credit: Didkovska Ilona, Shutterstock
Origin: Germany
Lifespan: 14–16 years
Height: 10–11 inches

Affenpinschers look a bit like a Brussels Griffon. However, they are slightly smaller. These dogs are fiercely loyal to their family and can even be a bit aggressive towards strangers. They aren’t overly friendly like many other small breeds, but with socialization, you can tamper down their wariness.

While they may look like small “purse dogs,” they require a surprising amount of exercise. We recommend daily walks and plenty of playtime. They’re a great fit for families with older children, especially if those kids are more active.

19. Biewer Terrier

Biewer terrier
Image Credit: Eve Photography, Shutterstock
Origin: United States
Lifespan: 13–16 years
Height: 9–12 inches

Biewer Terriers are not exceptionally popular today. However, they’re very similar to Yorkies, the breed they descended from. Their coloring is a bit different, but they’re basically the same breed otherwise. They were only announced as a separate breed after genetic testing revealed that their genes were different enough from a Yorkie.

They’re very intelligent and surprisingly active for such a small dog. They tend to get the zoomies a lot. However, their very small size makes it hard to recommend them for homes with small children, as the odds of them getting injured by a clumsy toddler are pretty high.

20. Schipperke

Belgian Barge Dog (Schipperke)
Image Credit: Welshea, Shutterstock
Origin: Belgium
Lifespan: 12–15 years
Height: 10–12 inches

Schipperkes are unique miniature dogs that deserve a place on this list, even if they aren’t very popular in the United States. These dogs look like little black sheepdogs. However, their personalities are unique and not what you’d find in a larger sheepdog.

They are very playful and tend to be exceptionally devoted. However, without proper socialization, they can be a bit too territorial of their family. They make wonderful watchdogs and tend to be well-behaved when socialized properly. Otherwise, though, they can be destructive.

Due to their independence, these dogs are great for those who spend much of the day away from home. They’re also somewhat difficult to train.

21. Havanese

Happy Cream Havanese dog
Image Credit: Dorottya Mathe, Shutterstock
Origin: Cuba
Lifespan: 14–16 years
Height: 8–11 inches

If you want a canine to cuddle, the Havanese is a great option. These dogs love their people and want to spend much of their day with their families. They can be prone to separation anxiety, though, so plan accordingly.

Their silky, flowing hair requires quite a bit of grooming, and most dog owners get them trimmed regularly.

Havanese are adaptable to many different living situations, and they don’t require much exercise. If you just want a dog to cuddle, they can be a great choice.

22. Pekingese

Pekingese dog standing on grass
Image Credit: T.Den_Team, Shutterstock
Origin: China
Lifespan: 11–16 years
Height: 8–11 inches

Pekingese are exceptionally small dogs that are most recognized for their extremely long fur. Often, they look like blobs of fur moving across the ground. As you might imagine, all of this fur requires a lot of brushing. Therefore, many dog owners get them trimmed shorter to help prevent mats and tangles.

These dogs are very affectionate and loyal, but they aren’t quite as “attached” as other small breeds. They can be very independent and stubborn, though, which can make training a challenge.

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Closing Thoughts

Miniature dogs have many different personalities and needs. Don’t assume that all small breeds require little exercise and like to cuddle, as that isn’t the case. As you can see from the list above, some miniature breeds are active and may spend very little time sitting still.

Even within a breed, there are many size and personality variations. The descriptions above are generalized and fit most dogs in the breed, but some individuals may act differently. How you raise the dog also matters. A poorly socialized dog from a “friendly breed” may not be very friendly at all!

Size is an important consideration when adopting a dog. However, you should also consider the dog’s grooming requirements and exercise needs. If you don’t have much time to walk your dog, don’t purchase a dog that requires tons of walking.

Featured Image Credit: otsphoto, Shutterstock

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