Dog lovers may choose smaller breeds over larger ones for a variety of reasons. Little dogs eat less food. They also take up less space in the home, and they fit an urban lifestyle. Many veterinarians charge less for certain procedures on small dogs, so medical care is less expensive. Lots of tourist destinations are dog-friendly these days, and pet owners will find traveling with smaller breeds much easier as well. These little tail-waggers also have longer life expectancies, averaging 12 to 14 years.
The Outgoing Shih Tzu
If you have limited outdoor access and seek a pet who loves to sit in your lap, the Shih Tzu may be your perfect match. Chinese royalty bred this elegant dog for centuries. Most people love the Shih Tzu for its luxurious, long, double coat that often sweeps the ground. Shih Tzus loves children, has happy temperaments, and are hardy little canine. If left unattended in the yard, they will likely dig holes everywhere. But they prefer to be with their humans. Outside of its need for regular grooming, the Shih Tzu is easy to take care of and an excellent choice for first-time owners.
The Charming French Bulldog
City dwellers love this affectionate breed, so much so that French Bulldogs rank #4 overall on the AKC list of popular breeds and are the top choice among small breeds. The bat-eared French Bulldog grows to a height of 11 to 13 inches and weighs under 28 pounds. They may have a white, cream, or fawn coat, or a combination. These little charmers are the ultimate companion dog for those who live in apartments or have little outdoor yard space because they don’t require a great deal of exercise. Frenchies are extremely loyal and intelligent, and despite their laid-back temperament, they are excellent watchdogs.
The Lovable Beagle
Beagles have expressive faces, long, floppy ears, excellent scent capabilities, and a curious personality. This intelligent breed adapts well to modern lifestyles. The Beagle is a pack dog and loves being with its human or family group. They’re great with children and other dogs, but are energetic and require regular exercise. Beagles range in size from 13 to 15 inches at the shoulder. They weigh between 20 and 25 pounds. In the late 1400s, there was a smaller version of the beagle, the nine-inch Pocket Beagle. However, this type of beagle is extinct. Smaller Beagles sold on the market are may have health issues due to poor breeding practices.
The Perfect Papillon
With an average shoulder height of eight to 12 inches and an average weight of three to 10 pounds, the Papillon is one of the tinier breeds. Its coat is long and silky, yet doesn’t mat easily. This elegant little dynamo with the large furry ears isn’t high-strung or nervous and despite its dainty appearance, is surprisingly more sturdy than dogs of similar size. Whether you live in an apartment in the city or a rural farmhouse, Papillons make excellent companions and do well in both warm and cool climates. Many owners train their Papillons in agility and tracking sports. Owners will love the fact that this breed doesn’t have the typical “doggy” odor. Papillons also have a longer life span of up to 15 years.
The Noble Japanese Chin
Most historians agree that Japanese nobles developed the Japanese Chin that we see today between 500 and 1000 years ago. The breed originated in China, however. This charismatic canine exhibits cat-like behaviors including its climbing abilities and its preference to sit on its owner’s lap. They weigh between 7 and 11 pounds and grow to a height of between 8 and 11 inches. The Japanese Chin is highly intelligent and affectionate, but they tend to be a bit stubborn. Their luxurious coat doesn’t require extensive grooming. However, Chins are prone to obesity, so it’s important that they have regular exercise to stay fit.
The Fluffy American Eskimo Dog
Although some types of American Eskimo Dogs grow to a height of 19 inches, there are smaller versions of this versatile breed as well. The toy type is between 9 to 12 inches and weighs only 6 to 10 pounds. The miniature version grows up to 15 inches in height at the shoulder and weighs up to 20 pounds once it reaches adulthood. The American Eskimo Dog is one of the most trainable of any dog breed. Its intelligence and friendly personality are just two traits that make it a perfect family dog. If neglected or untrained, however, Eskies can quickly become a handful.
The Protective Schipperke
For those seeking a small dog who thinks he’s a big one, the Schipperke is a great choice. There’s a good reason this tiny black breed is called the “little captain” in its home country of Belgium. The breed is feisty and strong-willed and will quickly take over the house without proper training. Despite their small stature of under 13 inches, Schips have powerful jaws. They’re agile and stealthy and are good at catching rodents. Schips love children and are loving and protective watchdogs for their family, but stand-offish to strangers. Dog behavior experts do not recommend this breed for first-time owners or those with a less active lifestyle.
The Sensitive Italian Greyhound
One of the most graceful breeds, the Italian Greyhound is a coursing hound, similar to the Greyhound in appearance, but much smaller. Once it reaches adulthood, it weighs no more than 14 pounds and is between 14 to 15 inches at the shoulder. Italian Greyhounds crave attention. They are sweet, gentle, affectionate, and excellent companions for those who have quieter households. If you scold them, you’ll see how sensitive they really are. This is an indoor breed that requires protection against cold temperatures during the winter months. Although playful, IGs don’t do well with children in rambunctious environments and they are aloof with people they don’t know.
The Independent Scottish Terrier
Terrier breeds require an owner who is just as headstrong as they are, and the Scottish Terrier is no different. Many people may associate this breed with Lady’s scrappy neighbor, Jock, in the animated film, Lady and the Tramp. Scotties will tenaciously chase after neighborhood cats or unsuspecting vermin that happen to venture into their territory. Nicknamed “The Diehard,” this terrier is native to the Scottish Highlands and has a spirited personality and high energy levels. Once you’re a Scottie fan, you’ll be one for life.
The Eager Shetland Sheepdog
One of the top breeds for obedience sports, the Shetland Sheepdog ranks among the top 25 most popular breeds. It resembles a much smaller version of the Collie. This herding dog is smart, fast, and athletic. They tend to be on the sensitive side and crave affection from their family circle. If the household is experiencing a change or there is stress in the air, the Sheltie will pick up on it. They are always in tune with their owner’s vibe and mood. Shelties require regular grooming. However, you can train them easily because they have a strong desire to please their owners. An environment providing mental stimulation and regular physical activity keeps them happy and well-adjusted. Their herding instincts are strong, so they do well in organized herding activities that you can find through local canine owner’s groups.