I’ll be the first to admit that I might have a dog problem. Big, fluffy dogs; friendly golden retrievers; rescue pups from the animal shelter — I want to adopt them all! My favorite types of dog, however, are toy dogs. Cute, quick, and cuddle-worthy, these dog breeds aren’t just fun, they’re ideal for busy pet owners and those who live in small spaces.
That’s because these small dogs typically weigh less than 20 pounds. Picture a furry friend you can easily travel with and take with you to run errands: That’s a toy dog. While these canine companions don’t take up much real estate, they’re not short on personality. Whether you’re interested in adopting an animal companion or you’re just curious about toy dog breeds, you’ve come to the right spot. Here’s everything you need to know about six of the cutest toy dog breeds.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Sitting on the larger end of the toy dog spectrum is the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. According to the American Kennel Club, these gentle and loving dogs come no higher than 13 inches at the shoulder but retain much of the speed and athleticism of their larger spaniel cousins. They’re known for being extremely affectionate, good with children, and graceful in their movements. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are easily identifiable by their silky coats in four iconic color patterns: chestnut on white, black on white, black and tan, and ruby. They’re also known for their large, round eyes, which give them the disarming, sweet expression that makes them so popular. In this case, the expression definitely matches the personality.
One of the best traits of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is how adaptable they are to their environment. Raise them in a home with family members who love taking hikes and being active or with other dogs, and they’ll be able to keep up with the most athletic person in the home. Raise them in a smaller home with less active inhabitants, and they’ll become veritable couch potatoes. These lovable toy spaniels are highly adaptable, making them great companion dogs no matter the environment.
If someone told me to close my eyes and picture a tiny dog, chances are I’d picture a Dachshund. Dachshunds (or hot dogs, as they’re lovingly known) are the definition of a toy dog, with their iconic low-slung silhouette and comical personalities. Dachshunds come in two sizes: regular (usually 16 to 32 pounds) and mini, if you can believe it (a.k.a., less than 11 pounds). They’re the perfect little dog for anyone looking for a canine companion that doesn’t require a ton of space or hours of daily exercise.
One of the most endearing traits of a Dachshund is their bravery. These dogs may be tiny, but don’t tell them that! Dachshunds were originally trained as hunters and watchdogs (though, let’s be honest, they’re not likely to scare off intruders). They’re fearless, intelligent, and easily trainable, but they lack the athleticism of larger dog breeds. Whether you adopt a regular or mini Dachshund, you can’t go wrong with this adorable toy breed. They’re ideal for apartment-dwellers and older dog lovers who don’t have the stamina for a larger, higher-energy breed.
The miniature version of the classic poodle, toy poodles are highly intelligent, charming, and the perfect size for dog lovers looking for a small dog breed. According to the American Kennel Club, toy poodles stand no more than ten inches tall. (That’s in comparison to the standard-size poodle, which is typically 15 inches or taller.)
Despite their size, toy poodles are extremely athletic and eager to play. They’re incredibly smart and require training, playtime, and mental stimulation to prevent boredom. As such, I wouldn’t recommend this breed to those who don’t have time to train and play with this dog each day.
Conversely, the toy poodle — all poodles, in fact — make great companions for allergy sufferers. Toy poodles have a curly, hypoallergenic coat, which keeps allergens like dander to a minimum. As a dog lover who suffers from pet allergies, I can attest to the benefits of adopting a dog that doesn’t trigger year-round sniffles.
Picture a classic little white dog with soulful eyes and floppy fluffy ears. You’re picturing a Maltese, one of the most beloved toy dog breeds. Affectionate, spunky, and charming, Maltese dogs have personalities much larger than their physical size. Though they don’t have the strength and endurance of larger dogs, they love to cuddle and play and are anything but low-energy. One thing to note, however, before adopting a Maltese is that their curly coats must be brushed daily to prevent them from getting matted. For some, this might be too much work. For others, it can be relaxing and bonding to comb your pup’s curly hair each day.
Maltese make great family dogs, are easily trainable, and typically enjoy learning new tricks. But they can also enjoy life as a lapdog, making them great for older, more sedentary dog owners. Whatever type of toy dog you’re looking for, this flexibility makes a Maltese a great option.
Speaking of great lapdogs, let’s talk about the pug. Pugs are an extremely sociable, affectionate breed. They’re high energy and love being the center of attention, but only when it comes to social situations; as far as physical activity goes, they aren’t up for anything too strenuous. This makes them great for retirees, apartment-dwellers, or anyone who prefers a snuggly lapdog to a pooch that wants to play all day.
Pugs are well-known for their characteristic squashed faces, black-tipped droopy ears, and down-turned, expressive eyes. Although they’re not hypoallergenic, they are a short-haired breed, meaning if you get a pug, you won’t have to worry about dealing with dog hair all over your place. For a low-maintenance pup with a lot of love to give (and not a ton of steam to burn off), a pug is the way to go.
Last but certainly not least is the Italian Greyhound. With all the elegance and grace of their larger greyhound cousins in a miniature package, Italian Greyhounds make both distinguished lapdogs and alert and energetic companions.
Originally bred for racing, these little dogs have an instinct for pursuit that will have you double-checking that all the doors are closed before you leave the house. They’re fast, graceful, and love spending time outdoors, running and sniffing around to their hearts’ content. Still, they can be couch potatoes, too, and enjoy giving and receiving affection.
All greyhounds have short hair and a low-fat body composition, which gives them their signature whip-like appearance. (This also means they need a little extra care during the colder months, as they’re more vulnerable to low temperatures.) These pups are beautiful, fast, and intelligent, all wrapped up in a bite-sized package. If you’re looking for a loving little companion, you can’t go wrong with an Italian Greyhound.
Honorable Mentions for the Cutest and Most Popular Toy Dog Breeds
The breeds listed above aren’t the only adorable small size dogs. Below are a few more of the best dog breeds that fall into the toy group:
- The Chihuahua
- The Yorkshire Terrier (sometimes affectionately referred to as the “Yorkie”)
- The Shih Tzu (noteworthy for being considered a hypoallergenic dog breed)
- The Manchester Terrier
- The Toy Fox Terrier
- The Brussels Griffon
- The Chinese Crested Dog
- The Affenpinscher
- The Havanese
- The English Toy Spaniel
- The Pekingese
- The Miniature Pinscher
- The Bichon Frise
- The Papillon
Find Your New Furry BFF
Toy dogs are as smart, silly, and lovable as their medium and large dog counterparts. They just take up less room, which makes them great for apartment dwellers and mature dog owners. If you’re looking for a little dog, give toy dogs a chance.