The Smallest Dogs in the World


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Kurt Pas/istockphoto

Petite Pups

Good things come in small packages, the saying goes, and these tiny breeds are no exception. They may be the littlest dogs recognized by the American Kennel Club, but they are packed with personality and history. Keep in mind that established breeders typically charge in the thousands for a purebred dog — you can check with the American Kennel Club to find a list of reputable breeders, or reach out to a breed-specific rescue. Here are 13 little cuties.

Related: The Largest Dogs in the World

Adorable Black Affenpinscher Dog
DejaVu Designs/istockphoto


Height: 9 to 11.5 inches

Weight: 7 to 10 pounds

Affenpinschers, sometimes called “monkey dogs” or “ape terriers,” are true characters. They are known for their funny and fearless disposition. Originally, these dogs were bred to exterminate rats and mice in 1600s Germany. Because of this background, it’s advised not to own this breed along with any sort of pet rodent.

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chihuahua on an armchair
Image Source/istockphoto


Height: 5 to 8 inches

Weight: 6 pounds or less

These pups may fit in a purse, but their personalities are larger than life. The breed originates from the Mexican state of Chihuahua, naturally, and dates back before the 1800s. While they are perfect lap dogs, they are known for having a Napoleon complex; they pack a big-dog mentality into a small frame.

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Dog breed Pomeranian Spitz red color lies on the carpet


Height: 6 to 7 inches

Weight: 3 to 7 pounds

These fuzzy dogs, with their vibrant orange fur, are built to be companions to their people. The breed was a favorite of Queen Victoria and apparently owned by the likes of Marie Antoinette and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. 

yorkshire terrier dog portrait indoors with owner caressing his head
Ksenia Raykova/istockphoto

Yorkshire Terrier

Height: 7 to 8 inches

Weight: About 7 pounds

Another tiny breed packed with personality, these dogs don’t seem to understand their size. Perhaps it’s because they were bred with the intention of being tough enough to hunt down rodents in Scotland. However, by the 1800s, the breed was popular with Victorian ladies as lazy lap dogs.

Papillon puppy sniffs a strawberry berry in the owner's hands on a Sunny day
Akifyeva Svetlana/istockphoto


Height: 8 to 11 inches

Weight: 5 to 10 pounds

Their wing-shaped ears give these dogs their unique look. In fact, “papillon” is French for butterfly. The breed is uniquely French in background: It has been owned by Madame de Pompadour, Louis XIV, and Marie Antoinette, who was known to have a papillon named Thisbe that apparently waited outside the jail where the queen was imprisoned. 

Shih tzu dog
Przemysław Iciak/istockphoto

Shih Tzu

Height: 9 to 10.5 inches

Weight: 9 to 16 pounds

The “lion dog” dates back over 1,000 years. This breed was the lap warmer of choice for Chinese royalty and still makes a low-key, cuddly pet. 

Happy Bichon dog

Bichon Frise

Height: 9.5 to 11.5 inches

Weight: 12 to 18 pounds

Happy, friendly, and simply adorable with that cotton cloud of fur, Bichon Frises are known for their easy personalities. These fluff balls have been adored for centuries. This breed was a favorite of Spanish royals and is even depicted in a number of the painter Goya’s works from the time.

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hairless chinese crested dog lies on a huge staircase
Ekaterina Gorokhova/istockphoto

Chinese Crested

Height: 11 to 13 inches

Weight: 8 to 12 pounds

No, the dog’s hair wasn’t cut to look that way — the Chinese Crested really grows no hair on its body except for tufts on its head, ankles and tail. If you can’t handle the thought of a dog with no fur, there is a variety called the Powderpuff that has hair all over. These dogs go back centuries — it is thought that they were bred by the Chinese into a mini size from African hairless dogs. Historically, they were known to sail with Chinese sailors hunting vermin on the ship. 

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Pinscher puppy at home
Caíque de Abreu/istockphoto

Miniature Pinscher

Height: 10 to 12.5 inches

Weight: 8 to 10 pounds

“Min Pins,” as they’re called, are not actually miniature doberman pinschers, as is often believed. They are said to have begun as a cross between a dachshund and an Italian greyhound. This German breed is little but can make a very good watch dog. 

Belgian Griffon, a Brussels Griffon dog in knitted clothes in the autumn forest
Oksana Elovskih/istockphoto

Brussels Griffon

Height: 7 to 10 inches

Weight: 8 to 10 pounds

Their adorable bearded faces give them an almost human-like appearance, and these dogs certainly do love their human companions and hate to be alone. A distant Brussels Griffon relative was first seen in 1434 in the painting “Arnolfini Couple.” The breed was also popular with Belgian royalty in the 1800s.

Puppy spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Height: 12 to 13 inches

Weight: 13 to 18 pounds

These sweet and gentle dogs got their name because they were a favorite of King Charles I of Britain. However, when the house of Stuart fell, it was considered a political liability to be a fan of the breed, as the Tudors were said to favor pugs. The Cavalier then became very rare, until Queen Victoria brought the breed back.

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English Cocker Spaniel Puppy indoors on blanket

English Toy Spaniel

Height: 9 to 10 inches

Weight: 8 to 14 pounds

As yet another lap-size breed favored by royalty, the English toy was popular in the 1600s, much before the Cavalier King Charles, its direct relative. It was also the favorite breed of Mary Queen of Scots. And in Shakespeare’s time, toy spaniels were called the “Spaniel Gentle” or “the Comforter.”

brown dog in white blanket

Toy Poodle

Height: Up to 10 inches

Weight: 4 to 6 pounds

Poodles come in three sizes, and although the toys may be tiny, they have just as much intelligence and athleticism as the larger sizes (and they happen to be excellent swimmers). Toys were very popular in the courts during the reign of Louis XVI and Queen Anne, and became known throughout France for excelling at performing tricks.

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