31 Toy Dog Breeds That Stay Puppy-Sized Forever

Updated: May 31, 2024

These toy dog breeds keep their adorable puppy looks their entire lives. Which sweet one will you bring home?

The most popular dog breeds are often small and adorable. In fact, miniature dogs make some of the best apartment dogs, purely because they don’t take up too much room. Toy dog breeds are so portable, you can take them just about anywhere without too much fuss. They may love being carried in totes while out on the town or in backpacks while you hike the trails.

We spoke to two veterinary experts, Alena Rice, DVM, and Matthew McCarthy, DVM, to compile this list of dainty dogs. Ahead, you’ll find the cutest little pups considered toy dog breeds. Just beware: They’re so small you might want to get more than one!

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About the experts

  • Alena Rice, DVM, is a veterinarian and has been the medical director of VCA Chicago North Animal Hospital for 7 years.
  • Matthew McCarthy, DVM, is a veterinarian and the founder and director of Juniper Valley Animal Hospital with 25 years of experience.

What is a toy dog breed?

We know you’re excited to see the cute small dogs we’ve rounded up, but there are a few things you should know about toy dog breeds first. For starters, they’re short and lightweight. “A toy breed typically refers to a very small dog, typically weighing less than 14 to 18 pounds,” says veterinarian Alena Rice, DVM, medical director of VCA Chicago North Animal Hospital. “However, different kennel clubs have different breeds in their toy category.”

two Athenpinscher dogs in the woodsEkaterina Gorokhova/Getty Images

The American Kennel Club (AKC), for instance, lists the affenpinscher in the toy category, while the United Kennel Club classifies it as a companion dog breed. To add to the confusion, “the Merck Veterinary Manual says toy dog breeds are those that weigh less than 10 pounds,” says veterinarian Matthew McCarthy, DVM, founder of Juniper Valley Animal Hospital in Middle Village, New York.

“Perhaps another way to look at this is that toy dog breeds are a group of dogs that are small in stature and bred solely for their perceived attractiveness and companionship as opposed to having practical skills, such as pointing or retrieving,” says Dr. McCarthy. And when it comes to companionship, some toy breeds are known for being super affectionate and cuddly dogs.

Toy dog breeds are slightly bigger than teacup dogs, which of course, can’t really fit in teacups! (It’s just a term used to describe unusually small members of an already small breed.)

Are toy breeds healthier than other breeds?

All dog breeds are susceptible to different diseases. Brachycephalic dogs, such as the pug and bulldog, have short snouts, which makes them more prone to breathing issues and heat stroke. And Cavalier King Charles spaniels are predisposed to mitral valve heart disease, according to Dr. Rice.

As for the healthiest, “based on my experience, I would call out the Havanese and miniature pinscher as the least problematic,” says Dr. McCarthy. The Coton de Tulear, also on our list, is relatively free of genetic health issues, per the AKC. Don’t forget—those tiny chompers are part of the health factor too. Dr. McCarthy says periodontal issues are common in all toy breeds, so start dental care early.

Do toy breeds live longer than other breeds?

“In most of the animal kingdom, longevity increases with body size. For example, a mouse lives about 18 months, while an elephant can live for 90 years. However, with dogs, longevity decreases with increased body size,” says Dr. McCarthy.

That’s why toy poodles may live well into the teens, but Great Danes rarely live past 10 years of age. It is unknown why small dog breeds live longer, but some research has found that, statistically speaking, larger dogs do in fact live shorter lives than smaller breeds, says Dr. Rice. Read on to learn more about the most popular toy dog breeds.

Toy American Eskimo

American Eskimo Puppy in the grass looking to the sidenwbob/Getty Images

Here’s a shocker: The American Eskimo dog doesn’t come from the frozen tundras of Alaska. Eskie’s, as they are known by adoring fans, originally hail from Germany. They’re undeniably cute, playful, perky and quick at learning tricks. They tend to be protective, with herding in their genes, but never in an I’ll nip your feet kind of way. And that goes for the miniature and standard varieties of Amerian Eskimos.

Breed overview
Height: 9 to 12 inches
Weight: 6 to 10 pounds
Life expectancy: 13 to 15 years

Toy poodle

toy poodle sitting on a bedpaylessimages/Getty Images

If you’re looking for adorable dog breeds that look like teddy bears, these fluffy little nuggets are about the same size as a stuffed animal but much more cuddly and a whole lot more fun to play with. Maxing out at around 5 pounds and less than 10 inches tall, they’re just as portable as your favorite teddy. They’ll be your devoted sidekick for years.

“Many toy poodles live to their upper teens. I’ve even seen some 24-year-old toy poodles,” says Dr. McCarthy. The toy is the smallest of the poodle breed; next is the miniature, at 10 to 15 inches tall, and the standard, at about 15 inches tall.

Breed overview
Height: Up to 10 inches
Weight: 4 to 6 pounds
Life expectancy: 10 to 18 years

Shih poo

A white senior Shih-Poo dog relaxing on a sofa in her home.SolStock/Getty Images

If the name didn’t give it away already, we’ll let you in on a secret: The shih poo is a mixed-breed dog—a cross between a shih tzu and a poodle that’s among the cutest dogs that stay small. You’re getting the best of both doggie genes here: the super-affectionate and charming traits of the shih tzu and the playful, comedic, smarty-pants personality of the poodle. Bonus: Both breeds tend to shed less than other dogs.

Breed overview
Height: 8 to 15 inches
Weight: 7 to 20 pounds
Life expectancy: 13 to 17 years


HappyConsu1961/Getty Images

With those expressive eyes and outgoing, spunky personalities, you would have to have a heart made of coal to resist this lovable miniature dog. “Maltese are typically affectionate and charming, and they make both good watchdogs and athletes,” says Dr. Rice. The only drawback is that their adorable white fur requires daily brushing to prevent matting. But that just means you get to spend more time with this little angel.

Breed overview
Height: 7 to 9 inches
Weight: Under 7 pounds
Life expectancy: 12 to 15 years


Papillon dog lying on the couch stretching his pawsFaST_9/Getty Images

“Papillons are named after the French word for butterfly due to their wing-shaped ears,” says Dr. Rice. “They are dainty and elegant but can also make excellent agility dogs.” They live to flaunt their stellar intelligence and agility while doing obstacle courses and obedience trials.

Fortunately, papillons don’t have to compete outside of the home to be content. Feed their curious and alert minds with puzzle toys and new tricks, and after you’re all done, snuggle those adorable ears.

Breed overview
Height: 8 to 11 inches
Weight: 5 to 10 pounds
Life expectancy: 13 to 15 years


Dachshund Chihuahua Mixed Breed Chiweenie Dog Outdoors in the grassBrycia James/Getty Images

We love this sweet teeny-weenie toy dog breed. Does that give you a clue as to who its parents are? This designer breed mix of a Chihuahua and a dachshund, also known as a choxie, is pocket-size but has a giant personality. Both breeds are known for their spunk and moxie and their fearless loyalty to their favorite humans.

Chihuahuas and dachshunds can be short- or long-haired pups, and chiweenies are the same. Their bodies tend to be shorter and robust, favoring the Chihuahua, with the long and narrow tail of a dachshund.

Breed overview
Height: 6 to 10 inches
Weight: 5 to 12 pounds
Life expectancy: 12 to 15 years

Yorkshire terrier

Yorkshire Terrier Dog on the green grassAttila Fodemesi/Getty Images

A delightfully sweet and devoted companion you can carry in your tote? Sign us up! Yorkies love to be with their human, and if that means a shopping trip to Nordstrom in a snazzy tote, so be it. Yorkies aren’t likely to trigger allergies or shed too much. They can be little yappers, which really just translates to lively and alert. At least you’ll know when your Amazon order is delivered.

Breed overview
Height: 8 to 9 inches
Weight: 4 to 6 pounds
Life expectancy: 13 to 16 years


small pug running on a walkway in public parkmalamooshi/Getty Images

“The pug motto is ‘multum in parvo,’ which translates to ‘a lot in a little,'” says Dr. Rice, and we couldn’t agree more. “They are typically happy and energetic dogs with adorable facial expressions.” And by energetic, we don’t necessarily mean physically. Truth be told, they would rather cuddle than do anything too strenuous. They’re energetic in the sense that they are extroverts—animated and gregarious, making their rounds at gatherings and entertaining the masses.

Breed overview
Height: 10 to 13 inches
Weight: 14 to 18 pounds
Life expectancy: 12 to 15 years

Cavalier King Charles spaniel

happy cavalier spaniel standing on the grassfotyma/Getty Images

If there were a competition for the most comfort-bestowing toy dog breed, the Cavalier would be hard to beat. They are mild-mannered, and their heartwarming affection knows no limits, nor does their eagerness to please. They easily check off the qualifications for being one of the best dog breeds for emotional support. Yet they can balance being a therapy dog with being a family dog. “They adapt well to their owner’s lifestyle, so they can be very active or lazy couch potatoes,” says Dr. Rice.

Breed overview
Height: 12 to 13 inches
Weight: 13 to 18 pounds
Life expectancy: 9 to 14 years


Cheerful chocolate colored havanese dog in the grassDorottya_Mathe/Getty Images

“Havanese are typically born trainable extroverts with silly personalities, and they can be excellent watchdogs,” Dr. Rice says. That’s about the only time they bark, so if you hear them, something’s up. Havanese delight in all kinds of activities, including performing tricks, clowning around and playing with toys. These happy pups don’t shed much, but daily grooming is essential to keep their silky coat smooth.

Breed overview
Height: 8.5 to 11.5 inches
Weight: 7 to 13 pounds
Life expectancy: 13 to 15 years


pomeranian dog standing in the grass with orange flowers in the backgroundandrosov58/Getty Images

Is this a miniature dog or tiny fox? That tiny, fox-like face is so precious, but as you probably know, Pomeranians are all dog. You can’t help but scoop them up to cuddle. They tend to be headstrong, feisty and sassy, and they love to be the center of attention. Sometimes they’re just playful, but other times they convey their opinions with yapping.

Breed overview
Height: 7 to 12 inches
Weight: 3 to 7 pounds
Life expectancy: 12 to 16 years

Brussels griffon

Brussels Griffon Dog With Chestnut Color Lying On Blanket Under Tree In The Autumn ParkGalina Zhigalova/EyeEm/Getty Images

Griffs can be demanding, assertive and full of self-importance, but it’s just their way of saying they want to be as close as possible to you, whether you’re on the sofa, sleeping, making dinner or going to the bathroom. They don’t like to be left alone at home, and if they are, they will probably bark their complaints for all the neighbors to hear.

Breed overview
Height: 7 to 8 inches
Weight: 7 to 12 pounds
Life expectancy: 10 to 15 years


Cavachon dog close up indoorsExposure Photography/Getty Images

The Cavachon is a super-cute mixed dog breed whose parents are a Cavalier King Charles spaniel and bichon frise. The parent breeds are part of the AKC toy and nonsporting groups, and their combined genetics create a sweetheart of a pooch oozing with an affectionate, sensitive and gentle nature. That doesn’t mean they’ll be all-day lap loungers, though. They like to mingle and play with humans and other animals too.

Breed overview
Height: 12 to 13 inches
Weight: 15 to 35 pounds
Life expectancy: 10 to 15 years

Shih tzu

black and white shih tzu dog laying on the grass in the shadedokmaphoto/Getty Images

A strong independent streak might not make shih tzus stellar students when learning new commands, but their stubborn attitude is so stinkin’ adorable, you can’t help but forgive them. And really, can you blame them? Initially bred to be companion dogs, their doting and fondness for human attention come naturally. If it were up to the shih tzu, it would skip obedience school and meet new friends at the dog park.

Breed overview
Height: 9 to 10.5 inches
Weight: 9 to 16 pounds
Life expectancy: 10 to 16 years


Little black affenpinscher puppyIlona Didkovska/Getty Images

We’re fairly certain affenpinschers have been stand-ins for Wookies and Ewoks in Star Wars movies. Just look at that coat and the scrunched-up face! It’s a bewildering mix of neat and messy, and yet affenpinschers are one of the toy dog breeds that don’t shed too much. They show loyalty and warm affection but are not submissive. In fact, they consider themselves fluffy versions of humans, though they’re probably the only friends inquisitive and fearless enough to lick your face.

Breed overview
Height: 9.5 to 11.5 inches
Weight: 7 to 9 pounds
Life expectancy: 12 to 14 years


Chihuahua on the bedLa Bicicleta Vermella/Getty Images

All dogs are individuals, but some toy breeds might be more suspicious or scared of humans and compensate for their small stature by being nippy. “Chihuahuas can go either way—when they’re nice, they are amazingly sweet, but if they have the grumpy gene, look out,” says Dr. McCarthy. “I have more scars from Chihuahuas than I do from other breeds.” Chihuahuas are not actually mean. They’re just saucy and feisty, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Breed overview
Height: 6 to 9 inches
Weight: 2 to 6 pounds
Life expectancy: 12 to 20 years

Miniature pinscher

Miniature Pinscher Sitting On Green Grassbruev/Getty Images

We know what you’re thinking. We thought it too. The miniature pinscher is clearly a pint-size version of the Doberman pinscher, right? One of the teeniest toy dog breeds, also known as the min-pin, would be the first to correct you. Breed historians believe the miniature pinscher may actually be a mix between an Italian greyhound and a dachshund.

Oddly enough, it’s dubbed the King of Toys even though it’s just a foot tall and weighs about 10 pounds. We can see that in its confident and courageous personality as well as its stately sleek and shiny coat, high-perched ears, and expressive eyes.

Breed overview
Height: 10 to 12.5 inches
Weight: 8 to 11 pounds
Life expectancy: 15 years


Pekingese on a walk in the parkSVPhilon/Getty Images

Will you be a dear and fetch me my royal treats? The Pekingese is a honey of a toy breed that exudes a dignified manner with a dash of aloofness. Back in the day, they were royal lap sitters. They’re easygoing and have layers upon layers of snuggle-worthy luxurious fur.

Breed overview
Height: 6 to 9 inches
Weight: 7 to 14 pounds
Life expectancy: 12 to 14 years

Biewer terrier

Biewer Yorkshire Terrier standing in a grass yardVSFP/Getty Images

Cute as a button, the Biewer (pronounced “beaver”) is a calm dog breed with an irresistibly cute, angelic face and a charming little smile. Biewers make friends effortlessly with their outgoing and whimsical personalities. Dainty and precious is their vibe, but in truth, they are surprisingly athletic and relish long walks and agility competitions. The AKC recognized the Biewer in 2021 as a member of the toy group.

Breed overview
Height: 7 to 11 inches
Weight: 4 to 8 pounds
Life expectancy: 12 to 15 years

Toy fox terrier

Toy Fox Terriers in a fieldSergey Ryumin/Getty Images

Just how tiny is the toy fox terrier? It weighs between 4 and 6 pounds and ranges from 8 to 11 inches tall. A teensy package loaded with character, the toy fox is an unlikely combination of a sweet and loving lap dog and a tenacious terrier. Always in pursuit of something fun, they’ll need you to bring your A-game—or they could become mischievous.

Breed overview
Height: 8.5 to 11.5 inches
Weight: 3.5 to 7 pounds
Life expectancy: 13 to 14 years

Coton de Tulear

Coton de Tulear dog on a rock wallGrace Cary/Getty Images

Fluffy but not stuffy, the Coton de Tulear (KO-Tone Dih TOO-Lay-ARE) is a happy-go-lucky pup with the cutest smile you ever did see. Then there’s that alluring cottony-soft coat you could cuddle for hours. But as much as the Coton de Tulear loves a good snuggle session, it needs creative outlets for its sometimes boisterous clownish antics. These dogs covet playtime with you, along with lots of interesting and challenging toys and games. You’ll have plenty of years together because the Coton de Tulear is one the longest-living dog breeds.

Breed overview
Height: 9 to 11 inches
Weight: 8 to 15 pounds
Life expectancy: 15 to 19 years

Russian Tsvetnaya Bolonka

Portrait of Russian Tsvetnaya Bolonka with sticked out tongueNature and food photography. Body parts./Getty Images

One of the most charming, spirited and clever toy dog breeds with a hard-to-pronounce name (Svet-NE-ya Bo-LON-ka), the Russian Tsvetnaya Bolonka is one of those rare dog breeds you probably haven’t heard of before. But now that you know it, you’ll want one for yourself.

This sweet little pup is chummy with everyone and turns strangers into fast friends with just one look. The Russian Tsvetnaya Bolonka is more lap dog than athlete. Still, every dog needs daily exercise. A walk around the block, playtime in a fenced yard or a trip to the dog park should suffice.

Breed overview
Height: 8 to 12 inches
Weight: 4 to 12 pounds
Life expectancy: 12 to 16 years

Japanese Chin

Japanese chin dog relaxing on fall leavesNiconic_Photography/Getty Images

The Japanese Chin struts about with swagger and self-importance, and we’re not about to call them out on it. This Japanese dog knows it has a coat to be envied—that long, luscious fur covering its backside and heavenly feathering on its legs and ears are Instagram-worthy. Interestingly enough, Japanese Chins share some traits with cats. They’re meticulous groomers, a bit aloof and persnickety. They’ll claim their favorite spot on the sofa but are more than happy to share it if you lavish them with some love.

Breed overview
Height: 8 to 11 inches
Weight: 7 to 11 pounds
Life expectancy: 10 to 12 years

Norwich terrier

Norwich Terrier on a green grass lawnCaptureLight/Getty Images

Portable and adorable? How can you turn down this honey of pup that you can take anywhere? At just 10 pounds, the Norwich terrier is ready to travel anywhere in the city or country. This breed loves to take in its surroundings and interact with other people, satisfying its curious nature with fun and active things to do. Agility games, flyball and playing at the dog park expend enough energy to wear them out for cuddle time later.

Breed overview
Height: 10 inches
Weight: 12 pounds
Life expectancy: 12 to 15 years


close up of Chorkie puppy held in someoes handCBCK-Christine/Getty Images

Another tiny crossbreed, the chorkie is born of a Chihuahua and a Yorkshire terrier. And it’s pretty apparent after spending a little bit of time with one that the breed has acquired the lively, spunky and sassy nature of its parents. Both breeds tend to be wary of strangers, but that’s probably due to their undying loyalty to their favorite humans. They love their humans with all their might and aren’t crazy about outsiders horning in on their territory.

Breed overview
Height: 6 to 9 inches
Weight: 8 to 15 pounds
Life expectancy: 10 to 15 years

Cesky terrier

Cesky TerrierSue Thatcher/Getty Images

Years ago, most terriers were bred to hunt and kill rodents and other small critters. Terriers today are more about play than hunting but retain a deep-seated independent streak and loads of energy—think zoomies times 100 and a bit of naughtiness—except the Cesky terrier. Its dignified appearance doesn’t exactly lend itself to excitedly running around. It’s a bit more mellow, cooperative and easy to train, and it’s a wonderful family dog.

Breed overview
Height: 10 to 13 inches
Weight: 13 to 24 pounds
Life expectancy: 12 to 15 years

Bichon frise

bichon frise dog on the sofaYoung777/Getty Images

The name says it all: Bichon is the French word for “lap dog” and frise is French for “curly.” We just call them precious balls of fluffy goodness. You’ll never see any other color but white on a bichon. Nor will you see too much fur on your floor. Their hair doesn’t shed, and their skin doesn’t produce much dander, which is good news for people who have allergies. Like humans, they’ll need haircuts via regular groomer visits. As for the pup’s temperament, bichons are as sweet as the day is long.

Breed overview
Height: 9.5 to 11.5 inches
Weight: 12 to 18 pounds
Life expectancy: 14 to 15 years

Toy Manchester terrier

toy manchester terrier standing on blacktopDevidDO/Getty Images

While the standard Manchester terrier may be slightly bigger than your average small dog breed, the toy version is absolutely perfect for hands-on pet parents. The small size makes them great companion dogs, which are known for loyalty and alertness. These toy dog breeds are also great for rooting out pests, perfect if you’ve been dealing with a pesky mouse problem at home.

Breed overview
Height: 10 to 12 inches
Weight: Up to 12 pounds
Life expectancy: 15 to 17 years

Border terrier

Border TerrierDesign Pics/Getty Images

Border terriers aren’t technically a toy breed, but they will remain small throughout their lives. They’re both affectionate and athletic small dogs that need a lot of exercise. Their wiry coat is also low maintenance. Male and female border terriers have slightly different size ranges, but you can expect this happy-go-lucky dog to maintain a healthy adult weight under 15 pounds, which is just perfect for snuggling in an adult’s lap. They’re also fiercely loyal and protective, making them excellent family members.

Breed overview
Height: 12 to 15 inches
Weight: 11 to 15 pounds
Life expectancy: 12 to 15 years

Cairn terrier

Light-brown Cairn Terrier dog in the grass on a sunny dayBigandt_Photography/Getty Images

Although they’re not always classified as toy dog breeds, cairn terriers are small, snuggly and smart lap dogs that will stay small. They have wiry coats and enjoy being around their families—your pup will want to hop into your lap and be around you as much as possible. They are also athletic dogs that need daily walks and bouts of play.

Breed overview
Height: 10 inches
Weight: 13 to 14 pounds
Life expectancy: 13 to 15 years

Miniature dachshund

Miniature Dachshund with a blue harness standing in front of purple flowersImage by cuppyuppycake/Getty Images

If you’re looking to be the talk of the local pet meetup club, consider this incredibly sweet small dog breed that is often compared to a popular ballpark snack. Miniature dachshunds, a smaller size category of the dachshund breed, are affectionate, intelligent and athletic. They are perfect for a wide range of pet parents, from families with children to child-free older adults. They’re easily trained and love to play and go for walks. Plus, their small size makes them easy to carry around. Because the gene that causes those cute dwarfed legs also causes the spinal discs to be brittle, these dogs can develop back problems.

Breed overview
Height: 5 to 6 inches
Weight: Up to 11 pounds
Life expectancy: 12 to 16 years

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At Reader’s Digest, we’re committed to producing high-quality content by writers with expertise and experience in their field in consultation with relevant, qualified experts. For this piece, Lisa Marie Conklin tapped her experience covering pet behavior and training, and then Caroline Coile, PhD, an award winning journalist specializing in canine breeds, health and science, gave it a rigorous review to ensure that all information is accurate and offers the best possible advice to readers. We verify all facts and data, back them with credible sourcing and revisit them over time to ensure they remain accurate and up to date. Read more about our team, our contributors and our editorial policies.