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13 of the World’s Smallest Dog Breeds

We're going to be honest here: These pups are irresistibly cute, and resistance is futile. Prepare to "Ooh!" and "Aah!"

two small dogs playing together outdoorsotsphoto/Shutterstock

Is tiny the same as teacup?

Our list includes small dog breeds weighing approximately six to 14 pounds. While we can’t deny teacup breeds are super cute, these pups usually weigh only four pounds and are not recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC). The AKC states, “This is not an actual size classification and is usually attained through breeding runts. So-called teacup dogs often come with a host of health problems.” These include hypoglycemia, respiratory issues, heart defects, and digestive problems, just to name a few. Plus, they’re so fragile and tiny that you have to be on high alert as a pet parent to prevent injury.

brussels griffon dog standing outdoors in summerotsphoto/Shutterstock

Brussels griffon

This adorable small dog breed packs a lot of cute attributes into its eight- to 12-pound body. Its trademark black muzzle and whiskers give it a distinguished beard highlighted by big, soulful eyes. While adults and children alike are drawn to the irresistible cuteness, the Brussels griffon isn’t a good choice for the rambunctious nature of younger children, but that doesn’t mean it prefers solitude. Quite the opposite, they tend to stick close to their owner and are not fans of being left alone for long periods of time.

Really cute affenpinscher dog with a pink tongue.DejaVuDesigns/Shutterstock

Affenpinscher

If you’re a Star Wars fan, you may be tempted to name this little charming and energetic furbaby after your favorite Wookiee or Ewok. Their tiny ten-pound frame is large and in charge when it comes to playtime. In fact, these pups may have more energy than the small children they live with, making this small dog breed a fun family addition. They’re also friendly with other critters, but because one of their favorite pastimes is chasing and hunting pests, like rodents, it’s not a good idea to have a hamster or gerbil for a roommate. Here are more of the best dog breeds for kids.

little puppy breed Toy fox terrier in the summer the park on the green grassdezy/Shutterstock

Toy fox terrier

What a perfect name for the trifecta of qualities one of the smallest dog breeds holds. If you break it down, there’s toy, meaning the toy group or what the AKC classifies as a breed small enough to fit in your lap (and yes, they love to snuggle). Fox—well, just look at that face! And finally, terrier, meaning this is also a feisty and fearless hunter of small rodents. When it comes to training, they get bored easily (I see a squirrel!), so keep sessions short and sweet.

a miniature long haired dachshundEkaterina Brusnika/Shutterstock

Miniature dachshund

This German-bred hound’s body resembles a hot dog, but according to Animal Planet, the hot dog is actually mimicking the dog. Hot dogs were originally called Dachshund Sausages! That small, long body and pointy nose were bred for sniffing, hunting, and digging out prey without leaping from high surfaces to capture it. Dogs in this small dog breed are keen to what’s happening outside and will bark when they sense people or a car driving up. Just don’t let them jump down from a high guard post. Their long body and short rib cage make them prone to slipped discs.

Purebred Tibetan Spaniel dog outdoors in the nature on grass meadow on a summer day.BIGANDT.COM/Shutterstock

Tibetan spaniel

These super affectionate small dog breeds aren’t spaniels at all (which are traditionally bred to be gun dogs). In fact, instead of fetching fallen prey, they prefer to pursue love. According to the AKC, spaniel, in this case, refers to epagneul, a term used in the Middle Ages to describe a companion dog and comforter loved by the women of European and Asian courts. As the name suggests, the breed originated in Tibet; the dogs even perched atop the walls of the Tibetan monasteries keeping watch. Nowadays, they’re easy to train and take delight in showing off their tricks and skills. Check out how 11 more popular dog breeds got their names.

Coton de tulear dog run in spring meadowLunja/Shutterstock

Coton de Tulear


Pronounced, “co-TAWN-day too-LEE-are,” the seemingly pretentious French name isn’t really befitting of its true character. These pups don’t need to put on airs to impress; they’re about as easy-going, lovable, affectionate, and comical as you can get. Known for showering kisses, clowning around, and walking on their hind legs, these fluffy white furbabies are outgoing and friendly to family and strangers alike. And if the Coton de Tulear couldn’t be any more perfect, according to the AKC, they rarely develop genetic health issues.

Cute Maltese puppyPargovski Jove/Shutterstock

Maltese

Originally from the island of Malta, this dog is known for its glamorous, long, silky white hair and that famous top knot adorned with clips, ribbons, or bows. The Maltese is definitely the diva of small dog breeds and can be overly dependent on their pet parents, so teaching them to embrace “alone time” early on is essential. When you are with them, you will likely find them on your lap resting or waiting to be groomed; that glamorous look can’t happen without constant brushing. These are the most (and least) expensive dog breeds in the world.

Pomeranian dog on a walk. Dog outdoor. Beautiful dogKristinaSh/Shutterstock

Pomeranian

It’s hard to fathom looking at the tiny modern-day Pomeranian now, but according to Animal Planet, its ancestors were much larger and pulled sleds in Scandinavia. It wasn’t until the 19th century that they were bred to shrink to a lapdog size by request of Queen Victoria, who wanted a smaller version. (Sitting on a lap in a castle as opposed to pulling a sled in freezing cold weather probably wasn’t a bad trade-off.) Whether in a castle or with the common folk, these dogs work the room like they are royalty, strutting a massive ball of fluff and flashing that smiling foxy face.

close up portrait of pretty sweet small little dog Yorkshire terrier in collar sitting outdoor dress on the spring sunny summer backgroundArtdayAnna/Shutterstock

Yorkshire terrier

When it has the traditional show cut, the Yorkshire terrier turns heads with its long, glossy, and oh-so-flowy coat. But the long locks are actually hair, not fur, and if that coat is kept long, it will need daily brushing. But this small dog breed doesn’t have to sport the froufrou look; in fact, the shorter cut is probably responsible for the breed being known as the “tomboy terrier,” tenacious, spunky, and curious. They’re well suited for canine sporting activities that showcase their speed, action, and agility traits.

Dog papillon on in a field of flowers. spring petdezy/Shutterstock

Papillon

There’s no mistaking those trademark ears on the Papillon. Some say they offset that tiny face, but most agree that they look like butterfly wings, which is how this breed ended up with a name that means “butterfly” in French. Don’t mistake this dog as being uppity or uptight; it likes to cut loose and zip through an agility obstacle course and retrieve flying objects, all while displaying a cheerful, curious, and clever personality. Find out the most popular dog breed in every state.

closeup white american eskimo dog standingKA_Richer5171321/Shutterstock

Toy American Eskimo

This is one of the most chill kinds of smallest dog breeds, and we don’t mean that because “Eskimo” is in its name. This breed really has a well-balanced personality that’s neither overly aggressive nor painfully shy. Eskies, as their affectionately known, seem to consistently have a friendly smile and sweet expression. It’s hard to believe they only weigh around ten pounds with all that white fluff. They actually have two coats: a dense undercoat and another longer coat of guard hair. They’re likely to dazzle you with their ease of learning new tricks and their speedy agility in dog sports. Don’t miss these 15 training secrets dog trainers won’t tell you for free.

Norfolk terrierNiwiko/Shutterstock

Norfolk terrier

Talk about cuteness overload! You’ll want to scoop up this adorable and cuddly furball and snuggle all day but remember: “Terrier” is part of their name. They’re spirited, outgoing, and friendly, but they’ll also chase any small thing that moves, so they probably shouldn’t be trusted to play off-leash unless they are in a fenced-in yard. Plus, they’re not so keen on small critters living in the same house. So yes, they will fit on your lap and might even linger for a few minutes of snuggling, but only after they’ve used up all their energy in playtime.

The Miniature Pinscher puppyPozitivStudija/Shutterstock

Miniature pinscher

Nope. These aren’t mini Doberman pinschers. If these dogs could talk, they would politely refer to themselves as the “King of the Toys,” as in the toy breed. The little lean machines are lively and vigorous and need plenty of activity. In fact, you’ll probably tire out before they do. Their curiosity seems to be endless, and they’re quick to pick up new commands. They give swagger new meaning with their distinctive hackney gait (a high knee and hock action) that looks quite showy; judges specifically look for that in competitions. If you’re thinking about bringing any of these small dog breeds into your home, make sure you read this guide to picking the best dog breed for you.

Lisa Marie Conklin
Lisa Marie Conklin is a Baltimore-based writer who writes regularly about pets and home improvement for Reader's Digest. Her work has also been published in The Healthy, HealthiNation, The Family Handyman, Taste of Home, and Realtor.com., among other outlets. She's also a certified personal trainer and walking coach for a local senior center. Follow her on Instagram @lisamariewrites4food and Twitter @cornish_conklin.