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Top 10 Small Dog Breeds

Larry Slawson received his Master's Degree from UNC Charlotte. He has 15+ years of experience with dogs and various pets.

From the Pug to the Chihuahua, this article ranks the 10 smallest dog breeds!

From the Pug to the Chihuahua, this article ranks the 10 smallest dog breeds!

What Is the World's Smallest Dog Breed?

In the world of dogs, there exists a number of incredibly small and petite breeds renowned for their short stature, light weight, and adorable appearance. Of the nearly 400+ dog breeds that currently exist worldwide, several dogs stand out above the rest in regard to their small size and overall stature.

From the Pug to the Chihuahua, this work examines (and ranks) the 10 smallest dog breeds in the world. It provides a brief overview of each breed, followed by a discussion of their average height, weight, and body mass. Did your favorite breed make our “final 10” list below? Read on to find out!

The 10 Smallest Dog Breeds Ranked

10. Pug

  • Average Height: 10 to 13 inches (male and female)
  • Average Weight: 14 to 18 pounds
  • AKC Group: Toy

Beginning our list of smallest dog breeds is the sweet-natured Pug. Characterized as an ancient breed (similar to the Shih Tzu), the first Pugs are believed to have been bred in China over 2,400 years ago (with the first appearing around 400 B.C.).

Often described by dog experts as charming, loving, and incredibly mischievous, it is currently theorized (and accepted) by the scholarly community that the first Pugs were developed for the purpose of companionship to both the wealthy and ruling classes of Ancient China.

In the modern era, very little has changed in this regard, as the Pug continues to be favored by individuals for its friendship, love, and remarkable lapdog qualities. This makes the dog a favorite of the elderly, young adults, as well as families with children (akc.org).

How Big Is the Pug?

Regarding their overall size and mass, the Pug is an exceptionally tiny breed renowned for their flat face and somewhat wrinkled appearance. On average, most Pugs (both male and female) will grow to an average height of approximately 10 to 13 inches at maturity.

Weight, in turn, should be highly proportionate to their overall height, with 14 to 18 pounds being the average mass of this particular breed. This places the Pug alongside the spider-monkey, bobcat, and porcupine in terms of their general size and weight. Pugs exceeding 14+ inches in height or 19+ pounds in weight are considered relatively uncommon.

Bichon Frise.

Bichon Frise.

9. Bichon Frise

  • Average Height: 9.5 to 11.5 inches (male and female)
  • Average Weight: 12 to 18 pounds
  • AKC Group: Non-sporting

The Bichon Frise is a relatively old dog breed that originated in the Mediterranean during the early 14th century. Characterized by dog experts as a curious, playful, and somewhat “peppy” breed, the Bichon Frise is believed to have been originally developed for the purpose of human companionship (especially aboard ships), as early French sailors commonly took the dogs with them on long journeys.

In the modern era, the dog continues to uphold its original purpose, as their loving nature makes them a favorite of the elderly and family-based environments. Due to their small and compact size, they are well-suited for nearly any living arrangements, including small apartments, urban-based dwellings, and even more rural homes (assuming that the Bichon Frise is kept indoors).

How Big Is the Bichon Frise?

In terms of their overall size, the Bichon Frise is an extremely small breed renowned for their fluffy (yet sturdy) appearance. On average, most Bichon Frise dogs (both male and female) will grow to an overall height of 9.5 to 11.5 inches.

Weight, in turn, should be highly proportionate to their height, with 12 to 18 pounds being the average mass of most pets. This places the dog alongside koalas, bobcats, and the raccoon in terms of their overall size (akc.org). Pets exceeding 12 inches in height, or 19+ pounds in weight are considered extraordinarily rare for this particular breed.

8. Shih Tzu

  • Average Height: 9 to 10.5 inches (male and female)
  • Average Weight: 9 to 16 pounds
  • AKC Group: Toy

Appearing next in our list of smallest dog breeds is the lovable Shih Tzu. Characterized as an ancient breed, the Shih Tzu is believed to have originated in China more than 3,000 years ago (approximately 1,000 B.C.).

Often described as playful, highly-affectionate, and outgoing by dog experts, the Shih Tzu was originally developed for religious purposes in both temples and the royal court, serving alongside monks and various Imperial officials.

In the modern era, however, the dog’s function has changed significantly in recent years as this breed is now favored for its remarkable companionship and lapdog qualities. For these reasons, the Shih Tzu is often a favorite of celebrities, elderly individuals, and even homes with children.

How Big Is the Shih Tzu?

In terms of its overall size and stature, the Shih Tzu is an incredibly small and compact breed renowned for their fluffy, elegant, and somewhat regal appearance. On average, most Shih Tzus (both male and female) will grow to an average height of approximately 9 to 10.5 inches.

Overall weight, in turn, should be highly-proportionate to their height, with 9 to 16 pounds being the average mass of these dogs (akc.org). This places the Shih Tzu alongside the river otter, cane rat, and raccoon in terms of their overall size. Shih Tzus exceeding 11+ inches in height or 17+ pounds in weight are considered uncommon for this particular breed.

Affenpinscher.

Affenpinscher.

7. Affenpinscher

  • Average Height: 9 to 11.5 inches (male and female)
  • Average Weight: 7 to 10 pounds
  • AKC Group: Toy

The Affenpinscher is an adorable dog breed from the “toy group” that was originally bred in Germany during the early 17th Century. Characterized by experts as an extremely confident, fearless, and comical breed, the Affenpinscher was originally bred for the purpose of ratting (due to its tremendous speed, agility, and awareness).

In the modern era, however, their purpose has changed significantly, as they are now favored by owners for companionship due to their sweet and lovable nature. For these reasons, they are well-suited for a variety of living arrangements. This includes living alongside more elderly individuals, or serving as a companion for family-based households (including those with smaller children).

How Big Is the Affenpinscher?

As a member of the toy group, the Affenpinscher is a remarkably tiny dog renowned for their small size and stature. On average, most Affenpinschers (both male and female) reach an overall height of 9 to 11.5 inches at maturity. Regarding weight, very few exceed 7 to 10 pounds in total mass (akc.org).

This places the Affenpinscher alongside most cats, larger rabbits, and chickens in terms of their overall size. For these reasons, the Affenpinscher is well-suited for lapdog purposes.

Papillon.

Papillon.

6. Papillon

  • Average Height: 8 to 11 inches (male and female)
  • Average Weight: 5 to 10 pounds
  • AKC Group: Toy

Next in our list of smallest dog breeds is the beautiful (and highly intelligent) Papillon that was first bred in France during the late 1800s. Often described by dog experts as an extremely alert, friendly, and happy breed, the first Papillons are believed to have been developed through the crossing of larger spaniels with the Italian Greyhound, Maltese, and a number of smaller companion dogs.

Although originally developed for the purpose of ratting (due to the dog’s speed and natural intellect), the Papillon’s function in the modern-era has changed dramatically in recent years, as this breed is now favored for its remarkable companionship qualities. Often cited as one of the smartest dog breeds in the world, the Papillon is a favorite of elderly individuals and single adults (akc.org).

How Big Is the Papillon?

Concerning their overall build and stature, the Papillon is a remarkably tiny breed renowned for their short height and tiny bodies. In general, most Papillons will grow to an approximate height of 8 to 11 inches at maturity.

Weight, in turn, typically corresponds to the dog’s height, with most Papillons reaching 5 to 10 pounds at adulthood. This places the Papillon alongside the Pale Fox, wallaby, and mongoose in terms of their overall height and mass. Dogs exceeding 12+ inches in height or 11+ pounds are characterized as “outliers” for the Papillon’s general population, as these measurements are relatively rare.

Yorkshire Terrier.

Yorkshire Terrier.

5. Yorkshire Terrier

  • Average Height: 7 to 8 inches (male and female)
  • Average Weight: 7 pounds
  • AKC Group: Toy

Appearing next in our list is the adorable Yorkshire Terrier (Yorkie) that was first bred in England during the mid-1800s. Often described by experts as a highly-affectionate, sprightly, and somewhat tomboyish breed, the Yorkie was originally developed through the selective breeding of Paisley Terriers, Scotch Terriers, and the Maltese, respectively.

Although originally bred for the purpose of hunting mice and rats near cotton mills and mines, the Yorkie’s purpose has changed significantly in the modern-era, as they are now favored by owners for their lapdog qualities and companionship. For these reasons, they are usually a favorite of elderly individuals, single adults, as well as family-based environments (akc.org).

How Big Is the Yorkshire Terrier?

In terms of their overall size and weight, the Yorkshire Terrier is a remarkably small dog renowned for its incredibly short height and stature. On average, most Yorkies reach an overall height of approximately 7 to 8 inches at maturity. Weight, in contrast, should be highly-proportionate to their height, with most Yorkie’s reaching an average mass of approximately 7 pounds.

This places the Yorkshire Terrier alongside the mongoose, small-clawed otter, and fox in terms of their overall size. Dogs exceeding 9+ inches height or 8+ pounds in weight are considered relatively rare for this particular breed.

Maltese.

Maltese.

4. Maltese

  • Average Height: 7 to 9 inches (male and female)
  • Average Weight: Less than 7 pounds
  • AKC Group: Toy

The Maltese is an ancient dog breed that originated in Malta (hence its name) several thousand years ago. Characterized by experts as an extremely playful, charming, and gentle breed, the Maltese is believed to have been developed by breeders for the purpose of protecting homes and ships from various rodents, and was likely regarded as a sacred animal during its early years of development.

In the modern era, however, the Maltese’s function has changed dramatically, as they are now favored by owners for their companionship qualities (due to their playfulness and sweet nature). For these reasons, they are well-suited for a variety of living arrangements, including both rural and urban-based dwellings.

How Big Is the Maltese?

Regarding their overall size and stature, the Maltese is a remarkably small breed renowned for their compact and furry appearance. On average, most Maltese dogs (both male and female) grow to a height of 7 to 9 inches by maturity, with an overall weight of 7 pounds or less.

This places the dog alongside small cats, large guinea pigs, and medium-sized turtles in terms of their mass (akc.org). Generally speaking, dogs exceeding 10 inches in height or 9 to 10 pounds in weight are considered extremely rare for this breed.

Toy Poodle.

Toy Poodle.

3. Toy Poodle

  • Average Height: Less than 11 inches (male and female)
  • Average Weight: 4 to 6 pounds
  • AKC Group: Toy

Appearing in our next spot is the beautiful Toy Poodle that was first bred in the 1700s around modern-day Germany. Often described by dog experts as an extremely intelligent, agile, and self-confident breed, the Toy Poodle was originally developed by breeders for the purpose of companionship, mushroom hunting, and show-dog performances.

Breeders accomplished this through the selective crossing of small Poodles. In the modern-era, very little has changed for the Toy Poodle in terms of its overall function, as they continue to be favored for their lapdog qualities and remarkable companionship in the home. For these reasons, they are usually a favorite of elderly individuals, single adults, and family-based homes with children (akc.org).

How Big Is the Toy Poodle?

In terms of their overall height and weight, the Toy Poodle is an exceptionally tiny breed renowned for their compact and diminutive stature. On average, most Toy Poodles will reach approximately 9.4 to 11 inches in height at maturity. Weight, in contrast, generally corresponds to their height, with most dogs reaching an average mass of nearly 4 to 6 pounds.

This places the Toy Poodle alongside the squirrel, lemur, and small rabbits in terms of their overall size and weight. Dogs exceeding 12+ inches or 7+ pounds in weight are relatively rare for this particular breed.

Pomeranian.

Pomeranian.

2. Pomeranian

  • Average Height: 6 to 7 inches (male and female)
  • Average Weight: 3 to 7 pounds
  • AKC Group: Toy

Next in our list of smallest dogs is the lovable Pomeranian that was first bred in ancient times around modern-day Germany and Poland. Often described by dog experts as highly inquisitive, lively, and bold in their demeanor, the first Pomeranians were originally developed as sled dogs (believe it or not), as the earliest members of this breed reached upwards of 30+ pounds.

Although originally created through the selective breeding of Norwegian Elkhounds, Schipperkes, Samoyeds, and the German Spitz, smaller varieties of the Pomeranian were later created in the 1800s at the request of Queen Victoria in England.

Following their dramatic decrease in size, the Pomeranian’s original function as a guardian and sled dog quickly came to an end, as the breed came to be favored for its remarkable companionship and lapdog qualities in the modern era.

How Big Is the Pomeranian?

Regarding their overall size and stature, the Pomeranian is an extremely small and compact breed renowned for their short height and low body mass. On average, most Pomeranians will reach an average height of approximately 6 to 7 inches at maturity.

Weight, in contrast, tends to be highly-proportionate to their build, with most Pomeranians maintaining an overall mass of approximately 3 to 7 pounds (akc.org). This places the Pomeranian alongside the possum, large rats, and small porcupines in terms of their overall size and build. Dogs exceeding 8+ inches in height or 8+ pounds in weight are considered relatively rare for this particular breed.

Chihuahua.

Chihuahua.

1. Chihuahua

  • Average Height: 5 to 8 inches (male and female)
  • Average Weight: 5 to 6 pounds
  • AKC Group: Toy

Topping our list of smallest dog breeds is the cute (and incredibly loyal) Chihuahua that was first bred in modern-day Mexico during the Ninth Century. Often described by dog experts as an extremely charming, graceful, and somewhat sassy breed, the Chihuahua is believed to have been developed through the selective breeding of Xoloitzcuintlis and ancient Techichi dogs.

Although originally bred for the purpose of religious ceremonies and rituals in Central America, the Chihuahua’s function has changed significantly in the modern era, as they are now favored for their remarkable companionship and lapdog qualities. For these reasons, they are generally a favorite of elderly individuals and single adults (PetHelpful.com).

How Big Is the Chihuahua?

Regarding their overall height and weight, the Chihuahua is an exceptionally small breed renowned for their compact size and short stature. On average, most Chihuahuas (both male and female) reach an average height of approximately 5 to 8 inches at maturity. Weight, in turn, is generally proportionate to their height, with most dogs reaching an average mass of 5 to 6 pounds (akc.org).

This places the Chihuahua alongside the giant squirrel, large birds, and even large rats in terms of their overall size. Dogs exceeding 9+ inches in height or 7+ pounds in weight are considered relatively rare. Taken together, it is easy to see why the Chihuahua is truly the smallest dog breed of all time; a feat that will likely stand for the foreseeable future.

Works Cited

Articles/Books:

Images/Photographs:

  • Pixabay Commons.
  • Unsplash Commons.
  • Wikimedia Commons.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2022 Larry Slawson