How to Choose a Small Dog

Choosing a small dog breed to join your family is a significant decision in your life. There are many small dog breeds to choose from and they all present different behaviours and characteristics. Knowing what your looking for will help you with this decision, and this article is here to help, by highlighting the main things you should consider when choosing a small dog, such as trainability, size, shedding of their coat, care, children, guarding and allergies.  You can then look through the breed descriptions with more confidence as these are all highlighted for each of the small dog breeds.


With time and patience, you can train every small dog breed to understand your commands. However every small dog breed has its unique particularity and some will learn quicker than others. If you only have a little time to spend training your small dog, you should consider a faster learning breed. A slower learning breed will require more patience and a lot more time to train. If having an obedient dog is important to you, but you know you will not have the time to spend training him, you should definitely pick a breed that shows a willingness to learn such as those with a trainability rating of 3.5 stars out of 5 or more.


To be considered as a small dog breed, specific breeds needs to weigh less than 22lbs OR be shorter than 16 inches. A number of the small dog breeds on this web site are much lighter or shorter than this and some certainly are a little heavier or taller than this–but they’re all small dogs nevertheless (even though a few are borderline between small and medium sized).

The tiniest dog breed would be commonly agreed on to be the Chihuahua.  Weighing 6 to 8 pounds and being 6 to 10 inches tall, they are definitely tiny, while the bigger of the tiny breeds like the Staffordshire Bull Terrier weigh 24 to 36 pounds and stand at 14 to 16 inches tall. Maybe you are hoping for a very small dog like the Chihuahua because they’re easier to pick-up and carry around, or maybe you like a larger small dog like the Bull Terrier; in the end, the decision is up to you. T


Some small dogs shed near to no hair. These low-shedders malt so little that you’ll struggle to locate one hair in your home. In the event that you hate dog hair and don’t have time for extra vacuuming, then one of these simple breeds is right for you personally (choose a breed with a shedding rating of 1 star out of 5).

Some other breeds shed a moderate level of hair: you will discover some stuck to your carpet, clothes and couch. If this doesn’t bother you, then you have a greater selection of small dog breeds to select from (choose a breed with a shedding rating all the way to 3.5 stars out of 5).

Then you can find the shed-like-there’s-no-tomorrow breeds! These breeds shed enormous amounts of hair! If you possess one, you will discover hair on everything in your home. You will find lots of hair in your carpet, sofa, and clothes. Probably even in your dining table and in the fridge. It gets everywhere! But when hair doesn’t bother you, then you can absolutely choose your small dog with any shedding level and you have the widest selection of small breeds to choose from. (The super-high shedders are the people rated 4 to 5 stars for shedding. You should definitely avoid these in the event that you hate hair.)


Looking after your small dog is very important, the more love and care you give them, the happier they will be, and you can be guaranteed to have a wonderful pet who will live a long and happy life.

Small dogs have smaller stomachs than most other dogs and with small appetites as well, you will need to make sure your dog gets the proper nutrition in their meals. Have a look at our list of the best foods available, as reviewed by our local vet.

Most small dog breeds are vulnerable to dental problems; speak to your vet about the best technique to brush their teeth to avoid these problems.  The recommended frequency is weekly cleaning. Dental pads and small breed toothbrushes are easy to find to assist with keeping their teeth clean. Consider feeding your small dog treats that help clean teeth and freshen breathe.

Small dog breeds do have more energy than large dog breeds, so play with your small dog and buy them toys. It is important to make time to play and exercise your dog during the day so that they don’t get bored and develop bad destructive behaviours.

Create a safe area for your small dog. Cages, beds, or gated areas which are away from activity and visitors will keep them safe if you are away. Pets enjoy having a safe spot to retreat to if they feel overwhelmed, overheated, tired or anxious. Also, make sure that your family and visitors know that when your dog is in his safe place, he’s off limits, its very important to respect their space as well.

Keep toys in your dog’s “safe area,” as well as potty pads and water. With small bladders, Small dog breeds will need to have access to a toilet area regularly, and potty pads are a good way to help keep your floors safe and mess minimized.

Dressing your small dog whenever you take him outside on cold days will protect them form the weather. A lot of small dog breeds are vulnerable to chills because they have no winter undercoat to help keep them warm. Clean the snow and ice from their feet when they come in, especially a long-hair breed. Ice balls could form on the hair between their toes and can be quite painful.

Small dog breeds generally have a long life expectancy. You may want to get joint care products, a heated bed and a ramp for stairs to greatly help your raging dog feel comfortable if they develops arthritis. Your local Vet will be able to best advise you when this is needed. If he starts to loose his teeth, gradually switch him to a high-quality canned food for mature dogs.


While Lassie and Lady and the Tramp are fun to view, they are not the easiest way to choose your new dog when you have children. So how will you go about selecting a pup from all the various small dog breeds available? A great principle is to choose a breed by its disposition, temperament, size, and energy level–all of which will suit your family’s lifestyle.

Even though some small dog breeds might have reputations as “accessories” for grown women, they can make great companions for your kids as well. What these small pets lack in proportions, they significantly make up for in personality and playfulness. In fact, your principal interest when adopting a small dog may only involve whether you and your family have the vitality to keep up with him.

Now, knowing which small dog is right for your family depends on many factors, such your lifestyle, the size of your family, age of your young ones, and your willingness to teach and groom the dog. Have a read of the post regarding the top 10 child-friendly small dogs centered on personality, trainability, considerations for care and, needless to say, compatibility with children.


Almost all small dog breeds make good little watchdogs–they will all make some sort of commotion (growling or barking)–when a stranger enters their turf.  A few small dogs are highly alert and will bark unrelentingly if a stranger is on “their” property. (Choose a breed rated 4 to 5 stars for “Watchdog if you prefer one the very best watchdog breeds.)

Allergies – Which are the best Hypoallergenic Small Dogs?

Despite popular belief, it’s not dog hair that causes allergies (sneezing, itchy eyes, runny nose) it’s dog dander (or dead skin flakes) that does. This microscopic dander floats through the air and when inhaled lands in the eyes it triggers the allergic-reaction.

All dogs with skin (which is all of them) produce dander. So there is no such thing as dog, big or small, that doesn’t produce it and is therefore totally safe for allergy-sufferers. Somehow, because small dogs have less skin, they produce less dander. It can also be believed that breeds that are low hair shedders also shed less dander.

If you have allergies to dander, then first look at a small dog breed (you’re at the right place) and secondly look at a low shedding small breed, just like a Poodle or Maltese, or one of the many other low shedding breeds. (Choose a breed who’s rated 0.5 or 1 out of 5 for shedding).

And, to be safe, if you do have allergies arrange to invest some time around some dogs of the breed you’re thinking about (maybe at a breeders home)–to make sure they don’t trigger your allergies… before you bring one home.


In Summary, there are many benefits to choosing a Small Dog breed to become your next family pet. Have a look through the descriptions of the breeds now that you have an understanding of the important factors that will ensure you pick the right small dog to suit your lifestyle.