20 Toy Dog Breeds That Prove Big Things Come in Small Packages

The tiny faces. The high-pitched yaps. The outfits. The drama! Welcome to the world of toy dog breeds. Here you’ll find miniature versions of large dogs, impressively small paws and enough personality to sink a ship. Now, just because a dog is small doesn’t mean it belongs in the toy dog breed group! Small pups like Boston Terriers and French Bulldogs are actually members of the non-sporting group, according to The American Kennel Club. The toy group is made up of breeds designed specifically to be companion animals. While some toy dog breeds are descendants of other breeds given specific tasks, many have lived in laps of luxury and existed as status symbols for wealthy families for centuries. Anyone eager to have a loyal friend for life who can travel anywhere should definitely consider a toy breed.

Traits of toy dog breeds

Due to their extensive backgrounds as companion animals, toy dog breeds are going to be incredibly loyal—to their one favorite person. Purina says since most toy breeds weren’t designed to work, they tend to embrace relaxing activities and indulge in food (which means some are very picky eaters). They enjoy sitting in laps and snuggling up next to a warm body. Leaving them home alone for long stretches will probably make them mad—or, at the very least, sad. Separation anxiety is common in toy dog breeds.

Now, just because a toy breed wants to be near you all day doesn't mean they want to be near anyone else. The pups on our list may not trust strangers easily or enjoy attention from folks they don’t know. This isn’t always the case, but it can be. To prevent your toy dog breed from turning into a monster when new people or animals enter the scene, socialize them early and often!

You’ll notice our toy dog breeds list has a lot of crossover with our longest-living dog breeds list. This is because smaller breeds tend to live longer than large ones. Genetics and inherent physical features certainly play a role in longevity, but you still have to put in effort to ensure a healthy pup, no matter their size.

The perfect toy dog breed owner

People uninterested in jogging with their dogs or going to the dog park for long stretches of time to play fetch will love toy dog breeds. Yes, these animals need their exercise! No, they shouldn’t become total couch potatoes! But, they don’t require as much vigorous exercise as many large breeds do. In case you hadn’t noticed, toy dog breeds have tiny legs and small bodies. Sometimes, too much walking can exhaust them or put strain on their cute little paws.

Since separation anxiety is common among toy dog breeds, spending as much time as possible with them is key to a happy, stress-free pup. People with one of these breeds consistently find ways to incorporate them into errands, events and work. (Dog-friendly workplaces or working from home options are ideal!) Investing in a durable, comfy dog carrier is a must if you’ve got a toy breed.

Unlike large breeds, toy breeds don’t need nearly as much living space. They make excellent apartment pets and are less threatening to renters who don’t own their homes. Sure, a big yard is fun for any dog, but smaller pups don’t need it the way a Doberman or an Alaskan Malamute does.

Finally, many sources say toy dog breeds and kids don’t mix. While this is certainly the case for some small pups, it is possible to raise a family-friendly toy breed with proper training and socialization. Introducing any breed, of any size, to kids early on is essential to a good child-canine relationship. Include your kids in training and encourage them to learn how to safely interact with your dog and any pup they may meet.

The 10 Naughtiest Dog Breeds

toy dog breeds affenpinscher

1. Affenpinscher

Height: 9-12 inches
Weight: 7-10 pounds
Personality: Goofy, Proud
Activity Level: Moderate
Shedding Factor: Hypoallergenic
Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

This tiny German dog breed is one of the few on our list bred with a purpose. Affenpinschers have been killing and hunting rats for centuries, and today are goofy companion pets. The Affenpinscher Club of America warns these dogs are “Rottweiler wannabes” and may try too hard to fit in with the big dogs. Keep them entertained with a friend (like kittens, owning two Affenpinschers improves socialization).

toy dog breeds brussels griffon
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2. Brussels Griffon

Height: 7-10 inches
Weight: 8-10 pounds
Personality: Sensitive, Loyal
Activity Level: Moderate
Shedding Factor: Moderate
Life Expectancy: 12-15 years

Brussels Griffons come in smooth- and wire-coated varieties. Though they may look similar to the Affenpinscher, they are slightly smaller and more sensitive. Brussels tend to make better friends with adults than kids. Until the 1870s, these dogs would sniff out rats for Belgian coachmen. As soon as Henrietta Maria, the Queen of the Belgians, fell in love with these smart pups, the rest of the upper class in Brussels followed suit.

toy dog breeds biewer terrier
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3. Biewer Terrier

Height: 7-11 inches
Weight: 4-8 pounds
Personality: Smart, Loving
Activity Level: Moderate
Shedding Factor: Low
Life Expectancy: 16 years

The Biewer Terrier is a relatively new breed that made its Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show and National Dog Show debuts this year. First bred in Germany in the 1980s, Biewers made their way to the U.S. in 2003. Incredibly affectionate and friendly, these dogs are eager to be a part of the action. Include your Biewer in everything! They will be vocal and let you know if they feel left out (or if they don’t recognize someone and want to let strangers know who’s boss).

toy dog breeds cavalier king charles spaniel
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4. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Height: 12-13 inches
Weight: 13-18 pounds
Personality: Affectionate, Friendly
Activity Level: Low to Moderate
Shedding Factor: Low to Moderate
Life Expectancy: 12-15 years

As a well-loved breed among senior citizens, young renters and Courteney Cox, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a versatile and adaptable pet. Their silky soft coats and sweet dispositions make them sweet companions. This is an example of a toy breed descended from English hunting dogs. Cavs excel at high-energy activities but are content lounging with you if you prefer to Netflix and chill.

toy dog breeds chihuahua

5. Chihuahua

Height: 5-8 inches
Weight: 6 pounds
Personality: Charming, independent
Activity Level: Moderate
Shedding Factor: Low
Life Expectancy: 14-16 years

Ah, the prestigious Chihuahua. Easily one of the most recognizable dog breeds on this or any list, Chihuahuas hail from Mexico where the breed has been perfected over centuries. Both long-haired and short-haired varieties exude charm through their tiny stature and enormous, expressive eyes. Chihuahuas have been made even more famous by celebrities like Paris Hilton and films like Legally Blonde. Be sure to toss a sweater on them in cold weather!

toy dog breeds chinese crested
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6. Chinese Crested

Height: 11-13 inches
Weight: 8-12 pounds
Temperament: Lively, loving
Shedding Factor: Non-shedding / Hypoallergenic
Activity Level: Moderate to High
Life Expectancy: 13-18 years

The American Chinese Crested Club says these graceful, amusing dogs love to entertain their favorite human. They can be hairless, with tufts of fur on their heads and feet, or what’s called powderpuff, with long, soft fur covering their whole bodies. Hairless Chinese Crested dogs can get sunburned, so protect them with doggy sunscreen or shade! Perhaps surprisingly, these toy dogs are excellent athletes who enjoy agility training.

toy dog breeds toy fox terrier
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7. Fox Terrier (toy)

Height: 10 inches
Weight: 5 pounds
Personality: Sweet, Energetic
Activity Level: High
Shedding Factor: Moderate
Life Expectancy: 13-15 years

Say hello to a feisty dog bred years ago to chase and kill rats. Today, Toy Fox Terriers are meant to be small, active pets. But don’t be surprised if that terrier energy takes over when you’re out on walks. They are energetic bundles of fun who tend to be very in tune with their family’s emotions. However, The American Toy Fox Terrier Club says they aren’t great with small children, nor are they fans of cold, wet weather.

toy dog breeds havanese
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8. Havanese

Height: 8.5-11.5 inches
Weight: 7-13 pounds
Personality: Smart, Social
Activity Level: Moderate
Shedding Factor: Hypoallergenic
Life Expectancy: 14-16 years

Allergy sufferers rejoice! This toy breed is hypoallergenic. Take your Havanese with you on vacation, shopping trips and more without worrying you’ll have a sneezing fit. These dogs are incredibly outgoing, enjoy making new friends and have low prey drives. Havanese come from Cuba where they were adoring companions to the wealthier classes. If you want their silky coats to grow long, you’ll have to groom them daily. Otherwise, a short cut is just as sweet.

toy dog breeds italian greyhound
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9. Italian Greyhound

Height: 13-15 inches
Weight: 7-14 pounds
Personality: Sensitive, alert
Activity Level: Moderate
Shedding Factor: Moderate
Life Expectancy: 14-15 years

Be prepared to cover Italian Greyhounds in sweaters and booties come cold weather! These teeny, tiny pups are incredibly sensitive and live for warmth and companionship. The Italian Greyhound Club of America says these are definitely indoor dogs - in fact, they are known for their cat-like tendencies. Watch out for an Italian Greyhound who loves to jump or climb as they could fall easily and injure themselves. They also don’t do well in chaotic, multi-pet households.

toy dog breeds japanese chin

10. Japanese Chin

Height: 8-11 inches
Weight: 7-11 pounds
Temperament: Mellow, regal
Shedding Factor: Moderate
Activity Level: Low to Moderate
Life Expectancy: 10-12 years

Don’t let their name fool you—Japanese Chins were initially bred in China. While sweet and mellow, they definitely have stubborn streaks. This is because their history involves literally no work. They were bred only to love and be loved by a dedicated human. When training, it’s critical to use positive reinforcement and consistency. The noble Japanese Chin will not tolerate a temper!

toy dog breeds maltese

11. Maltese

Height: 7-9 inches
Weight: 6-7 pounds
Personality: Sweet, elegant
Activity Level: Moderate
Shedding Factor: Low
Life Expectancy: 12-15 years

If you’ve always wanted a puppy with a topknot in a bow, go for it with a Maltese. These dogs have some of the most elegant coats around. Makes sense, considering the AKC says these toy pups have been “sitting in the lap of luxury since the Bible was a work in progress.” Generally playful and adaptable, don’t be afraid to play games outside with your Maltese! They’re into it and will let you know when they’ve had enough.

toy dog breeds manchester terrier
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12. Manchester Terrier (toy)

Height: 10-12 inches
Weight: 10-12 pounds
Personality: Lively, intelligent
Activity Level: Moderate to High
Shedding Factor: Low
Life Expectancy: 15-17 years

Though Toy Manchester Terriers aren’t part of the terrier group like Standard Manchester Terriers, they definitely have some of the same qualities. Like standards, toys can have high prey drives and are excellent athletes. Super smart and eager to fulfill duties, these dogs are easily trained and enjoy being active. In the Victorian Era, Toy Manchesters were extremely popular among wealthier women in England. Today, they are happiest during playtime with their families.

toy dog breeds miniature pinscher
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13. Miniature Pinscher

Height: 10-12.5 inches
Weight: 8-10 pounds
Personality: Energetic, proud
Activity Level: High
Shedding Factor: Moderate to High
Life Expectancy: 12-16 years

This is a fearless, high-energy watchdog with an even higher IQ. Sure, a Miniature Pinscher will learn commands easily, but it may also see what it can get away with when you’re not looking. These proud dogs are most likely the products of breeding Dachshunds and Italian Greyhounds; they are not tiny versions of German Pinschers or Dobermans. The AKC calls them the “King of Toys,” a title that may have gone to their heads. We don’t care—they’re cute enough to get away with being a little bossy!

toy dog breeds papillon
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14. Papillon

Height: 8-11 inches
Weight: 5-10 pounds
Personality: Happy, Outgoing
Activity Level: High
Shedding Factor: Moderate
Life Expectancy: 14 to 16 years

Talk about an adaptable dog! Papillons are known for being friendly with people of all ages and pets of all kinds. Don’t let a Papillon get too friendly with big dogs; Paps don’t know the strength of a big dog and could get hurt. Versions of these small pups with their giant ears can be found in 15th century paintings of upper class ladies and their children. Papillons are easy to groom and love nothing more than hanging out with you.

toy dog breeds pekingese
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15. Pekingese

Height: 6-9 inches
Weight: 14 pounds
Personality: Confident, Loyal
Activity Level: Low
Shedding Factor: Moderate
Life Expectancy: 12-14 years

It’s hard to ignore the Pekingese when it walks into a room. These ancient Chinese dogs have incredible confidence and know how to command attention. Loyal to their favorite person, Pekingese will happily follow you to the ends of the earth. Unless of course you’re trying to train them to do a trick they don’t want to do. Their independent streaks are real and they much prefer a fun game or nap to following orders.

toy dog breeds pomeranian (Matty Wolin)/Getty Images

16. Pomeranian

Height: 6-7 inches
Weight: 3-7 pounds
Personality: Lively, Adaptable
Activity Level: Moderate to High
Shedding Factor: Moderate
Life Expectancy: 12 to 16 years

We dare you to look at a Pomeranian and not smile. Look at their grinning faces! Those puffy coats! This German dog breed is curious and the American Pomeranian Club advises against letting them roam at will. Poms are fast and tend to ignore warning signs like car horns. Though Pomeranians can be territorial, barking at strangers or intruders, once they get to know someone, they make a friend for life.

toy dog breeds toy poodle
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17. Poodle (toy)

Height: 10 inches
Weight: 5 pounds
Personality: Intelligent, Confident
Activity Level: Moderate to High
Shedding Factor: Hypoallergenic
Life Expectancy: 10-18 years

Anyone who sees Poodles of any size as prissy, fussy dogs has never met one. Toy Poodles are athletic and confident dogs who excel at agility and course training. They’re super smart, so teaching commands is a cinch. Toy Poodles do need to be brushed regularly or taken to a groomer’s for a neat trim every four to six weeks.

toy dog breeds pug
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18. Pug

Height: 10-13 inches
Weight: 14-18 pounds
Temperament: Adaptable, charming
Shedding Factor: High
Activity Level: Low to moderate
Life Expectancy: 13-15 years

Pugs are some of the most adaptable and friendly breeds around. The biggest challenge with Pugs is making sure they don’t overeat, which can lead to obesity and a whole host of health issues. Other than that, get ready for a delightful companion who makes friends wherever they go. Because of their social nature, leaving them home for long stretches is out of the question. Good thing they get along well with others!

toy dog breeds shih tzu

19. Shih Tzu

Height: 9-11 inches
Weight: 9-16 pounds
Temperament: Cheerful, loving
Shedding Factor: Low
Activity Level: Moderate to High
Life Expectancy: 10-18 years

A noble Chinese breed, the Shih Tzu can live almost two decades if cared for properly. This toy breed is actually praised for its ability to get along with kiddos and keep people of all ages entertained. Dubbed the “Lion Dog” for its wild mane of silky hair, Shih Tzus can be trimmed short or develop a lengthy coat. One drawback is the Shih Tzu’s stubbornness during training. They think they know it all already.

toy dog breeds yorkshire terrier

20. Yorkshire Terrier

Height: 7-8 inches
Weight: 7 pounds
Personality: Affectionate, Lively
Activity Level: Moderate
Shedding Factor: Hypoallergenic
Life Expectancy: 11-15 years

One of the most popular and recognizable toy dog breeds is the Yorkie. These tiny terriers were developed to keep mines and factories free of rodents; they still retain this determination and gumption despite having become lap dogs in the 1880s. Early socialization ensures adult Yorkies are nice to new people and can adapt to unfamiliar environments.

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Sarah Ashley is a Chicago-based freelance journalist. She has covered pets for PureWow for six years and tackles everything from dog training tips to the best litter boxes. Her...