When it comes to small dogs, most people either love ‘em or leave ‘em. To their owners, little dogs are cute, compact, loving and economical pets with personality to spare. They are great for seniors, apartment dwellers, and city residents who don't have big yards or active lifestyles. In fact, many experts suggest that first-time dog owners adopt a small breed. Weighing anywhere from 4 to 40 pounds, these dogs are typically easier to handle, and can live happily in any location. When owners are prepared to devote lots of time and attention to properly training and socializing a small dog, they make excellent companions. They have lots of love to give, and aren't afraid to shower their owners with kisses and attention.
Like many small dogs, Affenpinschers pack a lot of personality into a tiny package. They are mischievous, spunky and fearless, but Affens are quite easygoing and tend to adapt quickly to new people and new situations. Affens are territorial, however, and do best in homes without small children. Their compact size and low exercise requirements make them ideal for apartment life, but they can be happy in any sized home.
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People who love small dogs want to stay away from yappiness will adore the Australian Terrier. They are plucky and full of energy and spunk, but they are by far the quietest of all terriers. Australian Terriers are also more apt to get along with other dogs and even cats than other terrier breeds. Though they are small, they do require a lot of exercise and are best suited for active families who live in homes with plenty of space to run.
These adorable dogs look a lot like lambs, but they are sassy and strong-willed like a typical terrier. A unique trait of this breed is the ability to adapt its activity and energy level to match their owners. Active families will enjoy hikes and runs with their Bedlington but people who prefer leisurely neighborhood walks can still raise a happy pet. Bedlington Terriers are good with children, friendly to new people and get along well with other pets when they are raised together.
Known for their “powder puff” appearance, Bichons are friendly and affable little dogs that enjoy the company of people and get along well with children. They don’t require much in the way of daily activity and thrive in homes where they can be the center of attention, making them a natural choice for empty nesters. Easy to train and typically well-behaved, Bichons are an ideal choice for first-time dog owners.
At first glance, these small dogs might seem fragile, but Biewer Terriers have no idea just how tiny they are. They are fearless, outgoing, and demand to be the center of attention at all times. They enjoy the company of both people and other dogs, and can thrive in homes of any size, though they should not be raised with cats. Biewers do not require vigorous exercise, but they thoroughly enjoy running, playing and chasing, and they like to be included in all types of family activities.
Border Terriers were originally bred to keep farms rodent-free, and modern Borders still maintain high energy and stamina levels as well as a strong desire to chase. They are easier to train than other terrier breeds and are typically well-behaved around children. Though small, they can be just as happy in a large home with lots of room to run as in an apartment in the city. Borders are adaptable, but they can develop separation anxiety and do best in homes where someone they love is always nearby.
Boston Terriers love people and soak up as much attention as they can get. They tend to bond closely to one member of the family over others, and make great companions for empty nesters. They are easy to train and enjoy learning new things. Though Boston Terriers don’t require excessive activity, they should be walked regularly and given time to run and play ball. Always leave a Boston with lots of activities when leaving the house, as a bored Boston can wreak havoc on an empty home.
If you love The Wizard of Oz and have ever wanted a dog like Toto, the Cairn Terrier is your breed. These small dogs are loyal, loving and adaptable and make wonderful companions for people and families of all ages and sizes. They can bite, however, and lack the patience for younger children. Cairns need moderate exercise and are happy to live in an apartment, as long as they are given walks and time to play with the people they love.
This breed may look dainty, but the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel’s roots are in the hunting field and they still thoroughly enjoy the outdoors. They also love the attention of people and take their role as a companion dog very seriously. They bond tightly to their family and dislike being left alone. A King Charles is a great pet for retirees who have lots of love and time to give, and they are also a terrific choice for a first-time dog owner.
Chihuahuas are the smallest dogs in the world, with an average weight of four pounds or less. They do not require vigorous activity, but apartments are not always ideal living arrangements due to the Chihuahua’s propensity to bark. Like cats, they love to bask in the sun, and when the sun sets they tend to seek out a warm lap to curl up in. Chihuahuas do not eat much, and they are easy to clean up after, which makes them an ideal choice for a first-time dog owner.
Better known as “wiener dogs,” Dachshunds attract attention wherever they go and are more than happy to soak it all in. They are peppy, prone to silliness, and make a joyful addition to any home. Like lots of small dogs, they do posture to other animals and are known to yap at much larger dogs. They only need walks and playtime in order to maintain a health and happiness and Dachshunds make lively companions for singles, empty nesters and retirees.
Havana Silk Dogs are not your typical toy breed. They are small and sassy, but do not demand attention. Instead, they depend on their natural charm to earn the treats and affection they seek. This breed has always been a companion animal, and while they enjoy playtime, are happiest when curled up with a loved one. In fact, they often have to be picked up and carried outdoors when it’s time to “go.” Their sweet disposition size makes them ideal for apartments, city life, and homes with older owners.
The Italian Greyhound is a dignified and sensitive breed that enjoys the quiet company of the people they love. Because they are tuned in to the energy and emotions around them, they are not well suited for large, boisterous families. IGs prefer warm, dry weather and they will appreciate a jacket or sweater when it’s cold outside, but getting them to relieve themselves in snowy or rainy weather can be a challenge. They are quiet, clean dogs that do well in apartments, as long as they are exercised regularly.
Known for their high intelligence, Jack Russell terriers can be trained to do almost anything as long as they think the task was their idea. Though they weigh less than 15 pounds, Jack Russells are not ideal apartment dogs, given their high exercise requirement. They are natural athletes and enjoy taking runs and hikes with active families. When properly trained and socialized, they are good companions for children, but they do best in homes where they are the only dog and can be king of the castle.
The compact little Japanese Chin is known for its ability to climb like a cat, but unlike felines, they are extremely dependent on attention and affection from the people they love. They are peppy and happy dogs that are relatively easy to train and enjoy doing tricks. Though they are typically very sweet, they lack the patients to tolerate small children. Chins are good apartment dogs, but are best-suited for people who are home throughout the day, as they are prone to severe separation anxiety.
The Lowchen breed is nicknamed the “Little Lion Dog,” but that moniker is highly misleading. Tiny and sweet, Lowchens love people and happily play the role of lap dog. Even though they are small and enjoy cuddling, Lowchens also happen to love the outdoors. They enjoy raucous play with kids and other dogs, and make wonderful walking companions. They are easy to train, are compact and typically quiet, which makes them well-suited for first-time dog owners, city dwellers and people who live in apartments.
Since Midlevel Times, Maltese have been cherished as companion animals and they live up to that role today. They are sweet, fun-loving and playful, and like to be close to people at all times. Their small size and low exercise requirements make them attractive apartment dogs, but they should be exercised every day in order to stave off separation anxiety, which can often be severe in a Maltese. They do best in homes with a stay-at-home parent who has lots of time to shower them with love.
Min Pins are known as the “King of Toys” because they take charge of the home and demand that family members cater to their whims. However, Min Pin owners are more than happy to oblige. These small dogs are spunky, sassy and active. They are not well suited for families with small children, however. Miniature Pinschers do not wish to share the spotlight and have little tolerance for toddlers. They can be happy in a house or apartment, and they make great companions for empty nesters.
Norwich Terriers are exuberant little dogs that love to play and wish to be included in all family activities. They love people and get along well with other dogs, but they are not well-suited for homes with cats or small children. Like most terriers, Norwiches can be a bit sassy and independent, but they will do anything for a treat and a snuggle. Their typically calm disposition and compact size makes them a smart choice for first-time dog owners and people who live in apartments or city neighborhoods.
Take a Papillon for a walk and you’ll attract a lot of attention. Their small size, flowing hair and large, butterfly-shaped ears are difficult for passersby to resist. Unlike some toy breeds, Papillons are typically good with children and enjoy playing ball with kids for hours on end. First-time dog owners will enjoy their happy disposition and ability to pick up on training and commands quickly. Whether they live in an apartment or on a farm, Papillons are simply happy to be with the people they love.
A Pekingese is a dignified little dog that enjoys being the ruler of the roost. When they walk, they have an almost regal air about them, as if they are surveying their kingdom. They soak up as much attention as they can get, and are well-suited for retirees who are home often and have lots of time to give. Though people tend to want to shelter these small dogs, they should be given independence. Pekingese do not require much exercise, and they can be happy in any sized home or apartment.
People who love Pomeranians know that it’s impossible to convince these small dogs that they barely weigh ten pounds. Poms are energetic, lively, fearless and a bit loud. They will bark to let you know someone is walking by the house or that leaves are blowing on trees. Pomeranians are small enough for an apartment, but active enough to enjoy life in wide open spaces. Highly intelligent and trainable, Poms make ideal companions for people of all ages and living situations.
According to legend, Theodore Roosevelt had Rat Terriers brought into the White House to clear up a rodent infestation, and they exceeded expectations. True to their name, they are heralded as the most effective of all ratting dogs. Their size makes them attractive for apartment life, but they require a lot of exercise in order to stay happy, healthy and even-tempered. Rat Terriers can be stubborn and independent, but owners say they bring endless joy and laughter into the home.
Silky Terriers have a tendency to believe they are the center of the universe and their families are more than happy to oblige. These playful and mischievous little dogs know they are cute and aren’t afraid to manipulate their owners into giving them what they want. They love taking long walks around the neighborhood and are always up for chasing a ball. Silkies are prone to separation anxiety and do best with retirees or families where one parent stays at home and can provide attention and affection throughout the day.
Fox Terriers are small dogs, but they love nothing more than romping around outdoors to run, dig and play. Their size makes them amenable to apartment life, but owners must commit to providing their Fox Terrier with regular, vigorous exercise. They are prone to picking fights with larger dogs, so early socialization around other animals is essential. However, they are not aggressive and thoroughly enjoy the company of children, making them ideal family pets for experienced owners.
The West Highland White Terrier possesses all of the classic “terrier” qualities. They are spunky, energetic, a bit stubborn and prone to barking. With early training, socialization and a lot of exercise, many of these tendencies can be reduced. Unlike some of their terrier cousins, Westies are good with children and make wonderful household pets for experienced dog owners who have time to invest in raising a well-adjusted dog.
Yorkies are quintessential companion animals, preferring to spend their days close to the people they love. They are known for following their owners wherever they go, even if it’s just into the next room. They can be yappy and sassy, but it’s tough to stay mad at a Yorkie. These small dogs are not well-suited for families with toddlers, but their need for constant attention and their low exercise requirements makes them wonderful companions for retired adults who can devote all of their time to their Yorkie.
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