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10 Adorably Small Dog Breeds That Stay Small

Searching for a pooch that will look like a puppy forever? These are the most adorable dogs that stay small throughout their entire lives.

various small dog breedsMaster1305/Shutterstock

Although we love our dogs at every stage of their lives, there’s nothing more adorable than the puppy years. With velvet soft fur, tiny paws, and eyes that are too big for their heads—in the best kind of way—puppies never fail to melt our hearts. As with all good things, however, the puppy years eventually come to an end. While we wish our dogs could never grow up, especially when we have one of the 50 cutest dog breeds as puppies, the next best thing is a dog that says small throughout their entire life. If you’re looking to prolong the puppy-effect, you’ll want to adopt from these adorably small dog breeds that stay small.

Chihuahua with a bowl of food on a green background. The puppy does not want to eat dry food.Elizabett/Shutterstock


Who doesn’t love a pocketbook pup? Chihuahuas are extremely affectionate dogs, who “love to burrow and be by their people,” says Lisa Bernier, Head of BARK For Good. Their warmhearted nature helps them socialize well with children, making them the perfect family pet. In addition to being extremely lovable pups, Bernier says Chihuahuas often have a “Napoleon” complex, as they will bark loudly to alert their owners of “stranger danger.” Our heroes!

Throughout their 12-20-year life span, chihuahuas usually only reach three to six pounds and require minimal grooming maintenance. Other than getting cold easily and needing their dental hygiene to be monitored, Chihuahuas are generally a “hardy breed of dogs,” says Bernier. What could be better than these adorable dogs that stay small enough to fit in your day bag?

Yorkshire terrier in strong wind against purple backgroundEric Isselee/Shutterstock

Yorkshire Terrier

Ever wanted a tiny dog with hair as long and luscious as your own? You’re in luck—Yorkshire Terriers are famous for their ability to have lengthy locks, little bodies, and making their owners melt as much as these adorable puppy pictures will. According to Bernier, these dogs stay small throughout their entire 12-15-year life span, only reaching an average of five to seven pounds. Before you adopt your pup, you should consider that Yorkshire Terriers can be “tenacious and feisty,” which makes them “difficult to train,” says Bernier. However, Yorkshire Terriers are also exceedingly “affectionate and protective of their people,” making them warm and loyal companions.

The logistics? These tiny terriers need to be groomed regularly, watched for dental concerns, and prevented from jumping off of high places, as they are prone to joint and bone injuries. Although these furry friends require a bit of work, they are one of the most adorable breeds of dogs that stay small forever just like these teacup dog breeds.

portrait of a miniature dachshundmakotomo/Shutterstock

Miniature Dachshund

Miniature dachshunds, colloquially known as “wiener dogs,” are some of the most adorable small dogs in the world. These puppies are “funny, affectionate, courageous, stubborn,” and “clever,” says Bernier. Not to mention they are hilarious to look at—just like these funny dog photos you need to see! Throughout their 12-16-year life span, these dogs reach an average weight of 11-12 pounds. Since mini dachshunds love to burrow, crate training them is incredibly easy, says Bernier. That being said, Bernier warns that these dogs “can be hard to house-train and can sometimes be snippy with children.” While these pups may take some time to adjust to your home, you’ll never have to worry about finding your pet the perfect Halloween costume—just add a bun!

Since these mini dogs stay small and long, they are extremely prone to Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD), cautions Bernier. Therefore, it’s important to “watch their back, never let them jump up or off high places,” and keep them from doing “too many stairs,” Bernier says. Other than monitoring this health concern, these funny dogs that stay small require minimal grooming maintenance and are sure to make you smile!

White maltese dog isolated on light blue background. Studio shot.Ysbrand Cosijn/Shutterstock


These sweet pups will likely have you wondering whether you have accidentally adopted a stuffed animal (I mean look at that face!). Weighing in between four to six pounds, these dogs are sure to stay small throughout their 12-15-year life spans. Maltese pups are “gentle, very affectionate, and love to be pampered,” says Bernier. While these little dogs are not “super high energy,” they “definitely need daily walks” and tend to fall so in love with their person that they can “be prone to separation anxiety.”

Anyone looking to adopt a Maltese should be prepared to groom their pup on a daily basis (you didn’t think their fur was naturally that fluffy, did you?). While this may feel like a lot of work, this small dog breed makes up for it by being exceedingly healthy. The only health concern that is unique to Maltese dogs is being prone to dental problems, so be sure to monitor your furry friend’s teeth!

toy poodle Happyakihirohatako/Shutterstock

Toy Poodle

There’s a reason these pooches are called “Toy” Poodles—these dogs are so cute and cuddly that you could actually confuse them for toys! These dogs reach an average weight of four to eight pounds throughout their 10-18-year life spans. Since Toy Poodles can be extremely high energy and require daily exercise, they are one of the most fun breeds of dogs that stay small, Bernier explains. In addition to being entertaining companions, Toy Poodles are “fairly clever” and “socialize well with children,” the dog expert says. Toy Poodles also have a feisty side, as they will bark at strangers, “can be a little nervous,” and are “prone to separation anxiety,” adds Bernier.

Since Toy Poodles are equipped with an adorable coat of curls, these dogs require regular grooming. These dogs are mostly healthy, other than being prone to dental problems and eye issues, Bernier says. If you’re looking for a furry friend that will perfectly fit with your family, toy poodles are a fun and loving choice.

Cute shih tzu puppy is sitting on green backgroundPattarit S/Shutterstock

Shih Tzu

These little pups are “playful, affectionate,” and “love snuggling with their humans,” says dog expert Lisa Bernier. Shih Tzus tend to weigh about 9-16 pounds and can live for 10-18 years. Since these dogs were originally bred to live in royal palaces, they are very well behaved, require little exercise, and are the perfect pets for apartment living or homes without backyards. Despite their royal status, Shih Tzus are not one of the most expensive dog breeds in the world, making them easy to adopt! In their free time, there’s nothing these dogs love more than sitting on their person’s lap and showing off their long, beautiful coats. Since these dogs are great companions, Shih Tzus are prone to separation anxiety.

Since Shih Tzus are known for their long and impressive coats, it’s important to groom these dogs daily. Unfortunately, these dogs do have a lot of health concerns, including “hip dysplasia, kidney infections, dental issues, breathing problems, and eye and ear infections,” says Bernier. It’s also important to keep these dogs out of the heat. While you have to take extra care of your Shih Tzu, these are some of the most loving dogs that stay small that you can find!

Studio portrait of funny Brussels Griffon dog looking into camera on color backgroundNew Africa/Shutterstock

Brussels Griffon

Brussels Griffons are some of the most “lively, intelligent, and sensitive,” dogs that stay small. The pups tend to weigh between 8-10 pounds and live for 12-15 years. According to Bernier, pups of this adorable breed are known as “Velcro dogs,” because they are prone to having separation anxiety. While this may be difficult to manage at first, Brussels Griffons have “a ton of personality and socialize well with children,” says Bernier.

To keep their coats clean and pampered, these dogs should be groomed on a daily basis. Like most small dogs, Brussels Griffons must be watched for dental problems. The other health concerns that are unique to this breed include overheating “because of their squished faces, breathing problems, eye problems, and difficulty giving birth,” says Bernier. While this may sound like a lot to handle, it’s important to remember that these are only concerns—not all Brussels Griffons will experience these health issues. Not to mention the fact that their cuteness will surely make up for the extra TLC these dogs require! Don’t miss these adorable dogs with beards for some extra scruffiness.

AffenpinscherEvgeniia Shikhaleeva/Shutterstock


In the market for a loyal best friend? Look no further—an Affenpinscher puppy is the perfect pal. Weighing between 7-10 pounds, these dogs stay small throughout their entire 12-15-year life span. Despite their little size, Affenpinschers are confident, brave, and dependable. According to dog expert Bernier, Affenpinschers have “yapping tendencies due to their watchdog habits and significant separation anxiety.” However, a bit of extra training is a fair price to pay for their high energy and ability to “endlessly entertain their owners with their clowning,” says Bernier.

Bernier suggests grooming your Affenpinscher regularly, but there’s no need to pamper the pup on a daily basis. More good news? The only health concern unique to Affenpinschers is dental problems, says Bernier. These healthy and happy dogs will surely make for a happy owner, but if you don’t think an Affenpinscher is the right fit, try these simple tips for picking the best dog breed for you.

pug dog with yellow background in studioMonica Martinez Do-Allo/Shutterstock


Calling all homebodies, you probably don’t realize how badly you need a pug. These small dogs are “calm, very snuggly, and love nothing more than napping on their human’s lap,” says Bernier. Why curl up on the couch and watch a movie alone, when you can have a soft and sweet pug to cuddle with? According to Bernier, mellow pugs are perfect for apartment living and do not require a lot of exercise. Throughout their 13-15-year lives, these dogs usually weigh an average of 12-18 pounds.

Before adopting a pug, it’s important to note that these dogs are “brachycephalic.” This means that they have short heads, which make them susceptible to breathing issues. Additionally, pugs are also prone to dental problems, eye problems, sensitive to extreme temperatures, and require regular cleaning to prevent infections. Since a pug’s eyes are bigger than their stomach, it’s important to “regulate their food intake so they don’t become overweight.” Despite the small bit of extra care that’s needed to keep these pups healthy, pugs are low-maintenance and make for perfect companions.

Beautiful dog breed papillon white-red coloring on the pink backgroundMalivan_Iuliia/Shutterstock


If you’re looking for a sweet and friendly dog that stays small, you should definitely adopt a Papillon. According to Bernier, these dogs have a “cheerful temperament,” are loyal to their people, and are “smart and easy to train.” Since Papillons can be very high in energy, Bernier suggests taking your pup for daily exercise. These furry friends are prone to separation anxiety, but this is a small price to pay for such a loving pet. Besides, there are tons of great ways to keep your pet busy while you’re at work or out of the house. Within their 14-16-year life spans, Papillons tend to average between 5-10 pounds.

These dogs require daily grooming to stay clean, but their small bodies make this an easy task. Aside from dental problems, the only health concerns unique to papillons are joint issues and sensitivity to anesthesia. However, hopefully, your papillon will never have to experience these issues!

Carley Lerner
Carley Lerner is a freelance writer and former editorial intern for Reader's Digest. She is a member of the Class of 2021 at Duke University, where she writes for the school newspaper, The Chronicle.

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