What Are the Smallest Dog Breeds? Toy, Teacup, Mini & Small Dogs Explained

Small dog sleeps while being pet gently on the head

Note: While the breeds in this collection tend to be small, individual pets will vary. Please consult the adoption organization for details on a specific pet.

For many pet owners, small breed dogs are the perfect companions. They’re cute, well-sized for snuggling, and can form strong bonds with their owners. 

Before you adopt a small dog, though, there are some important factors to consider. You want to make sure their personalities and activity levels align with your preferences. Their size can also make them prone to certain health conditions.

Additionally, there are some ethical concerns surrounding very small canines, which are sometimes referred to as micro dogs or teacup dogs.

So, if you’re wondering, “What are the smallest dog breeds?”, here’s what you should know about these little canine companions. 

What is a Small Dog Breed? 

Small dog breeds weigh between 10 and 25 pounds (although there is no official weight range). They have a range of personalities and coat lengths. It’s true that some may be content to lounge in your lap, but others, such as Dachshunds and Jack Russell Terriers, are often active and love to play.

If you’re asking, “What is a small dog breed?”, or are curious about the best small dog breeds, here are some common examples: 

Note that these small breeds are different from, say, a teacup dog. The latter is a smaller version of a bigger dog, but not a specific breed. 

What is the Smallest Dog Breed?

Chihuahuas top the list of smallest breeds. Other toy dog breeds, such as the Pekingese and English Toy Spaniel, are in the top 10 smallest dog breeds due to their small stature, but Chihuahuas may be the most compact, weighing between 4 to 6 pounds. You can find them in a variety of coat lengths. 

Small Dog Breed Health Issues

Certain breeds, no matter the size, can be prone to health conditions, but these are problems that are known to develop in small dogs. 

  • Dislocated kneecap (Patellar Luxation). No breed is immune to a kneecap dislocating from the thigh bone, but small canines, such as the Boston Terrier, are especially at risk.  
  • Pancreatitis. Pancreatitis occurs when the pancreas becomes inflamed, leading to symptoms such as fever, digestive upset and abdominal pain. Miniature Schnauzers can be affected. 
  • Intervertebral Disk Disease (IVDD). Dachshunds and Corgis have an elevated risk of developing IVDD, which happens when intervertebral discs (which provide cushioning between spinal vertebrae) push against the spinal cord.  
  • Periodontal disease. Small breeds tend to have dental problems often caused by plaque buildup.

What is a Toy Breed Dog?

Toy dogs refer to extra small breeds who typically weigh up to 12 pounds. Unlike other dogs who were originally bred for their hunting instincts, many toys were bred for their companionship. 

You can find toy breed dogs in various coat lengths, ranging from a toy Poodle to a long and silky-haired Maltese. Toys are often affectionate and social and don’t need as much exercise as bigger dogs.

While they can be great lap warmers, toy breeds may require specialized care in some areas.

They are sometimes prone to separation anxiety, given their close bonds with their owners. Toilet training can also take a little longer than it might with other breeds.

If you’re looking for toy dogs for sale, remember to consider the potential challenges in addition to all the benefits of caring for this breed.

Types of Toy Dogs

If you’re asking, “What is considered a toy breed dog?”, here are some examples: 

What is a Mini or Miniature Dog Breed? 

The term “miniature dog breeds” is often used to describe toy dogs. These adorable breeds can be ideal for smaller living spaces and for people who may prefer to bond with their pet at home, rather than on an active, outdoor adventure. 

Searching for mini dog breeds for sale or adoption? Look for breeds such as the Chihuahua, Havanese or Pomeranian.

Teacup, Micro & Pocket Dogs: Cute But Controversial 

Teacup dogs refer to canines whose size is far below average for their breed. Also referred to as pocket dogs, some people are drawn to their cuddly size; unfortunately, it’s their size that can be cause for concern.

Typically, teacup dog breeds are usually toy breeds that are already small, e.g., the Yorkshire Terrier or Toy Poodle. Teacup breeders breed these tiny dogs to be well under four pounds, which can be a dangerous weight.

Teacup dogs can face a variety of poor health conditions, including hypoglycemia, hydrocephalus, liver shunts and others.

Knowing this, you might be wondering, “How long do teacup dogs live?” The answer depends on factors such as breed as well as the seriousness of their health problems.

If you’re set on finding teacup dogs for sale or adoption, contact a reputable breeder who follows breed standards. They may be able to provide you with a pet who was born smaller (unintentionally) than what is typical for their breed.

Should You Adopt a Small Dog Breed? 

Before you adopt a small dog breed, consider if your lifestyle and living situation can accommodate this kind of pet. Small and toy dogs might be ideal if: 

  • You live in an apartment or smaller home 
  • Your dog can integrate into your household (some toy breeds can do well with children or other pets, for example, while others might feel overwhelmed by them) 
  • You’re not looking for a pet to join you on long hikes or runs 
  • You want to travel with your dog (provided they also enjoy or can tolerate the experience)

Choosing the Right Small Dog Breed for You 

If you’re interested in small dogs for adoption, create a pet adopter profile with Petfinder. You can search a large database of animal shelters and rescue organizations who may have small dog breeds in need of a home. Toy dogs for adoption may also be available.

Not sure which kind of small, toy or other type of dog is right for you? Take our Pet Selector quiz. Among other insights, this can help you answer the question, “What is considered a small breed dog?”

Explore more dog breeds and find your perfect canine companion with Petfinder. 

17 Dog or Puppy Breeds