The Variety is Great
Small dogs come in a variety of shapes, sizes (within the small category), personality, coat type and activity level. There is a breed for anyone who thinks they would like a little dog. Small dogs are not just lapdogs and some are tougher than others.
If You Live in the City
Small dogs are ideal for apartment living because they don’t necessarily need to work off loads of energy. But not all small dogs were born to the lap, breeds like Dachshunds and terriers would be just as happy in the country running around a farm.
If your family members include young to very young children, please make sure your small dog has a kid free zone, a place to get away from them. Even better, do your research and carefully choose a breed that will fit your family dynamic.
Remember, the Toy breeds are too delicate to hold their own in a rambunctious family of young kids — they need a gentle touch, along with a calm and quiet environment.
Rescue, Rescue, Rescue
And I would be terribly remiss if I did not urge anyone who is thinking of getting a small dog companion that you look to rescue as your first option. There are millions of wonderful, deserving dogs looking for a forever home. And if you are looking for a male who isn't afraid to commit, well, your local shelter is just overflowing with them.
There are breed specific rescue organizations from sea to shining sea and all the rescue groups have websites.
When I was ready to get another dog, I went to Petfinder.com — Petfinder is a web site that will hook you up with rescue organizations in your part of the country. I found Cash (see his mug shot below) thru Petfinders on the Bill Foundation site. Turns out Cash was in Santa Monica, which is right next door to Venice, CA where we live.
Cash is a Chihuahua mix
My List of Small Dogs
According the AKC (American Kennel Club), the following list represents the 25 smallest dog breeds. I have included a brief, and not necessarily complete, description of some of their qualities. They are listed in alphabetical order, not size:
Brussels Griffon - affectionate, charming, curious.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel - affectionate, friendly, easy-going, graceful, gentle, the perfect family dog. Extra special bonus is they are excellent with children and the elderly.
Chihuahua - graceful, charming yet sassy, master of their universe, fears nothing.
Chinese Crested - loyal, intelligent, friendly, and for all of you allergy sufferers out there, has a hairless body.
Dachshund - spunky, playful, stubborn.
English Toy Spaniel - a true spaniel, gentle, happy, playful, loving.
Havanese - the national dog of Cuba, spirited and curious.
Italian Greyhound - gentle and loving, they form very strong bonds with their human companions.
Japanese Chin - a true aristocrat, charming and loving with those they favor, not a high energy dog.
Maltese - a true companion, gentle, playful, affectionate.
Miniature Pinscher - proud, fearless, fun-loving, Min Pins have lots of personality.
Norfolk Terrier - alert, fun-loving, self-confident, spirited, lovable, happy, fearless.
Norwich Terrier - outgoing, plucky, loyal, affectionate. My hairy niece Birdie is a Norwich.
Papillon - happy, alert, friendly, quiet.
Pekingese - dignified, supremely confident, independent, affectionate, loyal, and get ready to curtsy because they have a regal manner.
Pomeranian - extroverted, intelligent, lively and bold, inquisitive, great companions — being a bit of a clown, they are another personality breed.
Pug - even-tempered, charming, mischievous, very loving.
Schipperke - alert, curious, confident, intense, but with a dash of mischief.
Shih Tzu - outgoing, affectionate, playful, charming.
Silky Terrier - friendly, vivacious, cheeky, they form strong bonds, in all ways a true terrier.
Toy Fox Terrier - outgoing and friendly, yet fiercely loyal to their families, the Fox Terriers I have known LOVE children.
Manchester Terrier - spirited, bright, keenly observant, loyal, independent.
Poodle - proud, active, super smart and super sensitive.
Yorkshire Terrier - full of joie de vivre, cautiously courageous, spunky, affectionate.
Do Your Research
The list of breed characteristics above is not necessarily complete and some are based on my own observations and experience with the breed. I urge you to investigate thoroughly the breed you think might be a good match for you and your family before you get your dog.
If you are on the fence about a small dog, read my blog In Praise of the Little Dog.