Small dog breeds that make loveable companions

We've rounded up the best small dog breeds to help you find the perfect pet.

small dog breeds: two chihuahuas
(Image credit: Getty)

Thinking about adding a furry companion to your family? One of these small dog breeds might just be the perfect match.

Proof that the best things do come in small packages (and fluffy ones at that) these pint-sized pooches have plenty going for them. Perfect for smaller homes (and even flats in some cases) small dog breeds tend to need less exercise (most on this list need an hour a day, if not less) and live longer than their larger cousins too.

And of course, small doesn’t mean low on fun, as you can expect big, and varying, personalities from these littler breeds. 

Scroll on for the low-down on these small dog breeds. 

Chihuahua

Chihuahua

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  • Life expectancy: 12-20 years
  • How much exercise do they need? 30 minutes per day
  • Coat length: Short 

A member of the ‘toy’ breed group, chihuahua’s are teeny tiny, with an average height of just 15cm. They can be snappy, but bond strongly with people they know well. 

Pomeranian

Pomeranian

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  • Life expectancy: 12-16 years 
  • How much exercise do they need? 30 minutes per day
  • Coat length: Medium

Also a proud member of the ‘toy’ breeds, Pomeranians are easy to spot thanks to their distinctive fluffy coat, which needs brushing up to three times a week. They’re social, friendly and love attention. Just beware, The Kennel Club has highlighted health concerns for Pomeranians, so be extra inquisitive when finding a breeder. 

Pug

pug

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  • Life expectancy: 12-15 years
  • How much exercise do they need? 45 minutes per day
  • Coat length: Short 

The socialites of the dog world, pugs love to be around people. They thrive on contact (and belly rubs) and don’t like being left for extended periods. Because of their flat faces, there are unfortunately health concerns attached to the breed - something to consider before taking one home. 

French Bulldog

french bulldog

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  • Life expectancy: 10-14 years
  • How much exercise do they need? 1 hour per day
  • Coat length: Short 

Stubborn, snuggly and snuffly are the first three words that spring to mind when we think of French Bulldogs. The breed’s popularity has boomed in recent years, in no small part thanks to their cheeky temperament and gentle nature with children. 

Boston Terrier

Boston Terrier

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  • Life expectancy: 13-15 years
  • How much exercise do they need? 1 hour per day
  • Coat length: Short 

Often confused with French Bulldogs, Boston Terriers are taller and slimmer than their stouter cousins. They’re fun-loving and brilliant with children, but can suffer from a wealth of health problems. Ask the breeder or rehoming centre about the medical history of your new dog to make an informed decision. 

Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkshire Terrier

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  • Life expectancy: 13-16 years
  • How much exercise do they need? 30 minutes per day
  • Coat length: Long

They may be tiny, but don’t be fooled by a Yorkshire Terrier’s adorable exterior - they can more than hold their own against bigger dogs when it comes to barking! They love attention, which makes the necessary daily grooming more of a luxury than a chore. Their stubborn natures can make training tricky, but plenty of patience (and treats!) will reward you with a well-behaved pooch. 

West Highland Terrier

West Highland Terrier

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  • Life expectancy: 12-16 years
  • How much exercise do they need? 1 hour per day
  • Coat length: Medium

One of the best dogs for families, Westies (as they’re often known) are smart, adaptable and super loving. They’re strong-willed (which can make for plenty of barking) and will live just as happily in a city environment as a countryside one. 

Maltese

Maltese

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  • Life expectancy: 12-15 years
  • How much exercise do they need? 30 minutes per day
  • Coat length: Long

Another ‘toy’ breed, Maltese dogs are brilliant lap dogs, and love nothing better than sleeping snuggled up on their owners. They can be shy with strangers, so it’s important to socialise them as much as possible when they’re still pups. 

Bichon Frise

Bichon Frise

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  • Life expectancy: 12-15 years
  • How much exercise do they need? 30 minutes per day
  • Coat length: Medium

Bichon Frise are loving dogs who get on well with both children and other dogs - making them perfect family pets. To keep their fluffy coat in tip-top condition, they need regular brushing, and grooming every couple of months. 

Border Terrier

border terrier

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  • Life expectancy: 12-15 years
  • How much exercise do they need? 1 hour per day
  • Coat length: Short

Little bundles of energy, Border Terriers need plenty of exercise and playtime to keep them entertained. They’re expert chewers and diggers, so can cause a little havoc if left to their own devices for too long. That being said, they’re loving, loyal and suited to most homes. 

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel 

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

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  • Life expectancy: 9-14 years
  • How much exercise do they need? 1 hour per day
  • Coat length: Medium

Nicknamed ‘the comfort spaniel’, if you want a dog that loves cuddles, a Cavalier King Charles is the one for you. Gentle, sweet and adaptable, they love spending time with people, and will become distressed if left alone for too long. 

Dachshund

Dachshund

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  • Life expectancy: 12-16 years
  • How much exercise do they need? 1 hour per day
  • Coat length: Medium

Brimming with energy, Dachshunds are little pocket rockets. They love exercise just as much as they do a well earned nap-time. They can be either standard or miniature, and have long or short hair. 

Jack Russell

Jack Russell

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  • Life expectancy: 13-16 years
  • How much exercise do they need? 1 hour per day
  • Coat length: Short 

A loveable breed with an (unfair) reputation for being both yappy and snappy, Jack Russell’s are fiercely loyal. They love running around and are a good fit for first time owners. 

Lhasa Apso

Lhasa Apso

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  • Life expectancy: 12-14 years
  • How much exercise do they need? 1 hour per day
  • Coat length: Long

Lhasa Apso’s love nothing more than being fussed over by their owners, but can be shy when it comes to meeting strangers. They need daily grooming to keep their long coats at their very best. 

Miniature Schnauzer

Miniature Schnauzer

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  • Life expectancy: 12-15 years
  • How much exercise do they need? 1 hour per day
  • Coat length: Medium

Easy to spot thanks to their distinctive ‘moustache’, Miniature Schnauzer's offer all the perks of the full-size breed in a smaller package. Playful and bright, they’re best introduced to children at an early age for maximum compatibility. 

Pekingese

Pekingese

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  • Life expectancy: 12-15 years
  • How much exercise do they need? 30 minutes per day
  • Coat length? Long

Short on time for walkies? Pekingese don’t need a huge amount of exercise to keep them happy, and prefer spending time at home with their owners. Friendly and loyal, they tend to pick a favourite within the house. 

Scottish Terrier

Scottish Terrier

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  • Life expectancy: 12-15 years
  • How much exercise do they need? 1 hour per day
  • Coat length: Long

Originally bred to hunt mice and rats, these are determined dogs that need plenty of exercise and entertainment. Friendly and loving, they get on well with children and other pets. Their long coats do have a tendency to get matted and grubby, so require daily grooming and professional clipping every few months. 

Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu

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  • Life expectancy: 10-16 years
  • How much exercise do they need? 45 minutes per day
  • Coat length: Long

Did you know Shih Tzu’s were originally bred to work as watch dogs? They’re still keen barkers (maybe even more reliable than a doorbell!) but are better suited to being companion dogs. 

Fox Terrier

fox terrier

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  • Life expectancy: 12-15 years
  • How much exercise do they need? 45 minutes per day
  • Coat length: Medium

As you might have guessed by the name, a Fox Terrier is part of the Terrier family, originally bred to help hunt rats, mice - and even take on the occasional fox or badger! They’ve kept their brave nature, but are best known for their cheeky streak. 

Chinese Crested

chinese crested

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  • Life expectancy: 13-15 years
  • How much exercise do they need? 30 minutes per day
  • Coat length: Short

One of the more unusual dog breeds, Chinese Crested dogs are completely hairless, except for little tufts on their head, tail and feet. They don’t need much exercise and are content living in flats and other homes without a garden.