5 of the World's Smallest Dog Breeds

Some of the world's smallest dog breeds include the Chihuahua, Pomeranian, Russian Toy Terrier, and the Toy Poodle.

Feb 27, 2024By Tanya Taylor
world smallest dog breeds

You can’t deny that small dogs are astonishingly cute, but don't be fooled by their stature. What tiny canines lack in size - they often make up for in spirit and personality. They might look like adorable teddy bears, but many small breeds have a working background. So, just because they’re small, it doesn’t mean they are easier to care for than other dogs. You can discover more about micro-sized canines in my list of 5 of the world's smallest dog breeds below.

1. Chihuahua

Photo Credit: Thea on Unsplash

Height: 5-8 inches

Weight: up to 6 pounds

Exercise Level: Average

Lifespan: 14 -16 years

Origin: Mexico

The plucky Chihuahua is the first entry on our list of the world's smallest dog breeds. These cute little canines come from Mexico and are one of the oldest breeds in the Americas, dating back to pre-Columbian times. The Toltec people of ancient Mexico kept Chihuahuas as companion pets, so they adore being around people.

Chihuahuas are distinctive little canines with tiny, slender bodies, large heads with matching large eyes, and alert, pointy ears. They have short or long coats and come in many colors, including brindle, red, fawn, gold, silver, and blue. Chihuahuas are incredibly loyal and affectionate but will try to dominate the household. You must be a strong leader and train them from a young age. They are good family dogs but not suitable for homes with small children because they can be nippy.

Chihuahuas are fun-loving animals and love to entertain but are full of attitude. They are active, but being small, they can usually burn off energy at home. That said, they do enjoy regular small walks outside. This toy breed is suitable for apartment and city life but can be noisy and generally isn’t good with strangers.

2. Pomeranian

Photo Credit: Ian Deneumostier on Unsplash

Height: 6 - 7 inches

Weight: 3 - 7 pounds

Exercise Level: Average

Lifespan: 12 - 16 years

Origin: Europe

The adorable Pomeranian comes from a historical region between Germany and Poland called Pomerania. They are part of the Spitz family of canines - which includes 68 curly-tailed, thick-coated, arctic dogs. These canines have a rich history, were first documented in the 1700s and were popular with monarchs, including Queen Victoria.

Pomeranians are foxy-looking creatures with a distinctive puffy, double coat, pointy ears, and curly tail. They come in many colors, including blue, chocolate, white, and tricolored, but the most common is red. Pomeranians are feisty, spirited dogs and are incredibly loyal but can be a bit overprotective of their family.

While the Pomeranian is fun-loving and intelligent, they need training and socializing from a young age. They excel at obedience and agility and can easily pick up tricks under the correct leadership. Pomeranians are curious little dogs and love exploring and getting involved with everything. They're happy getting most of their exercise indoors but also enjoy short walks. Pomeranians are good family dogs, but like many toy breeds, they’re not great with small children and can be yappy.

3. Russian Toy Terrier

russian toy terrier
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Height: 8 - 11 inches

Weight: up to 6.5 pounds

Exercise Level: Moderate

Lifespan: 12 -14 years

Origin: Russia

As the name suggests, the Russian Toy Terrier comes from Russia. It’s a descendant of the English Toy Terrier, which arrived in the country in the 18th century. These loyal companion dogs were associated with the Russian aristocracy and have a terrier-like personality.

Russian Toy Terriers are incredibly elegant. They’re petite and slender with long legs, dainty faces, and large pointy ears. They have a semi-long or smooth coat and come in many colors, including black, brown, or red with tan. The short-coated ones have a more terrier-like personality, while longer-haired ones are more relaxed.

Russian Toy Terriers are active, agile dogs and enjoy playing and being on the go, but they also love snuggling with their owners. They are pretty fragile creatures, so you should walk them in a harness instead of a collar and supervise them with children. They’re more cooperative than many small dogs but still need early training and socializing, and they can be reserved with strangers.

4. Toy Fox Terrier

toy fox terrier
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Height: 8.5 - 11-5 inches

Weight: 4 - 9 pounds

Exercise Level: Moderate

Lifespan: 13 - 15 years

Origin: North America

The Toy Fox Terrier comes from the United States and descends from the British Smooth Fox Terrier. There is also a wire Fox Terrier type. Fox Terriers were working dogs used for fox hunting, and breeders wanted a calmer, more manageable version of the breed. In the 1930s, the Toy Fox Terrier was created, with typical terrier characteristics but in toy form.

Toy Fox terriers have a smooth coat, typically white with black, tan, or chocolate markings. They’re full of energy, have a zest for life, and although they like cuddles, they aren’t typical lap dogs. They are super intelligent, full of beans, and need lots of mental stimulation and human interaction.

Tiny Fox Terriers are quick, agile, fearless, and excellent watchdogs. They bond well with the family but aren’t suitable for homes with small children. This breed needs a good 30-minute walk daily and lots of playtime at home. Toy Fox Terriers also have a strong prey instinct and can be stubborn, so you must invest time in developing their recall skills.

5. Toy Poodle

toy poodle
Photo Credit: Natalie Minich

Height: up to 10 inches

Weight: 4 - 6 pounds

Exercise Level: High

Lifespan: 10 - 18 years

Origin: Germany

The final entry on our list of the world's smallest dog breeds is the Toy Poodle. Poodles are traditionally working dogs and come in standard size and miniature, which share the same build and proportions. These elegant canines are commonly associated with France but come from Germany and are athletic retrievers who love being in the water.

One of the most distinctive things about Toy Poodles is their tight, curly coat, which comes in many colors, including white, brown, red, black, blue, silver, and apricot. They have complex grooming needs, and most owners clip their coats.

Don’t be fooled by the Toy Poodle's size - they are intelligent, full of energy, and need lots of exercise. These working canines are sensible, obedient, eager to please, and excellent family dogs. They are even trustworthy with small children.

Tanya Taylor
By Tanya Taylor

Tanya is a trusted animal care professional and has devoted her life to animals. In her 25-year career, she’s worked with all kinds of creatures in many environments, including three years caring for small animals as a veterinary nursing assistant and five years birthing down racehorses.

She is an expert farm and dog sitter - and has spent many hours volunteering at her local pony sanctuary. Tanya is originally from Liverpool in the UK, but now she lives in Ibiza, Spain, with her cheeky red terrier Leo and three Leopard tortoise hatchlings, Ninja, Tiny, and Orwell.