These 5 Dog Breeds Prove You Don’t Have to Be Big to Play Sports


Small breeds bring both joy and convenience. You can easily carry a small dog if he’s injured, or lift him away from harm. Little dogs fit on your bed, in your lap, and by your feet on a plane. But when we take on small breeds, have we sacrificed opportunities for certain dog sports, activities and outdoor adventures? These five diminutive breeds shout, No way!

1. Silky Terrier

Silky Terrier courtesy Maríanna Magnúsdóttir

We’re from terrier lines, but we find ourselves (because of our diminutive size, I suppose) classified in the Toy Group. Alert, active and affectionate, we were developed in Australia from vermin- and snake-hunting terriers, such as my gutsy Yorkshire Terrier cousin. Our principal role today is companionship, but we’re active buddies, not all-day snugglers. We’d love to try rally with you, make therapy dog visits or perhaps chase annoying squirrels from your yard. Sometimes my family calls me delightful, yet sometimes they call me mischievous. I call myself tremendously versatile!

2. Miniature Pinscher

Miniature Pinscher courtesy Karen McNally, Jim Poor photography

Bred centuries ago in Germany to control rats, I’m classified today in the Toy Group. I’m celebrated for my distinctive curious, playful, fearless and persevering personality. Chasing rats is not for the meek! Let’s start by busting the myth that I’m a scaled-down Doberman Pinscher. I’m not, and in fact I was developed prior to the Dobe. I’m a natural in sports like agility, but I’ll try any sport you choose. I can live comfortably in an apartment, but I’ll bounce off the walls if you skip my exercise. What else would you expect from a dog with “fearless animation” in his breed description?

3. Mi-Ki

Mi-Ki courtesy Adorable Mi-Ki’s

We’re peppy, adaptable and nimble like our feline friends, yet renowned for our tender temperament. Weighing some 4 to 10 pounds, I have a delightfully Gremlin-esque appearance. I’m a relatively new breed, likely developed from Maltese, Papillon and Japanese Chin lines. People-focused, we show a generous spirit for service. Once my family checks out local therapy certification programs for me, they can put me to work. I adore my own family, but I’m also a natural bringing comfort to the sick, or smiles to the faces of seniors. And remember when you’re packing for trips that I’m an easy-to-transport travel companion. Plus I’m relatively quiet, so I won’t likely disturb our hotel neighbors. I hear the Grand Canyon is pet friendly. Hint hint…

4. Schipperke

Schipperke, courtesy Colleen Harmon, Kathy J. Yaccino photography

To pronounce my name, try remembering Skipper-Key. I was developed in Belgium as a canal boat dog with ratting and watchdog skills, so the nautical name connection makes sense. I’m only about 15 pounds or so, but my disposition is full-bodied: I’m slightly naughty, a tad impudent, curious, clever, assertive and a faithful watchdog. I’m a high energy dog, proud of my athleticism. I’ll also boldly dish out criticism if you’re too sedentary. If you’re up for adventures, I’m the perfect small-packaged partner!

5. Papillon

Papillon courtesy Laura Simonelli

A preferred pet among the European aristocracy, my French name and appearance associate me with a butterfly. But I’m more than superbly sprightly and beautiful. I’m an exceptional problem-solver, and one of the most trainable, intelligent breeds. If you’re looking for a tough competitor in a small form, I’m your breed. Because I only weigh about 9 pounds, I’m easy to lift and transport to a rally, agility, obedience or freestyle competition. Just leave room for my ribbons and trophies!

Top photo: Miniature Pinscher, courtesy Karen McNally, Terri Kieffer photography

Homepage photo: Papillon courtesy Laura Simonelli

Get Dogster in your inbox!

Stay informed! Get tips and exclusive deals.

Current Issue


Follow Us

Shopping Cart