Smallest Dog Breeds

Dogs come in all shapes and sizes – from great Danes and mastiffs to Chihuahuas and Yorkies. If a shrimp-sized canine best fits your lifestyle, certain breeds consistently average just a few pounds. But just because your pooch is tiny, don't neglect training or you'll have a pint-sized terror on your hands.



On average the world's smallest breed, this Mexican native averages around 4 to 6 pounds. Chihuahuas have a reputation for bad dispositions, but this can usually be traced to the way their humans spoil them. Quirky and comical, owners often describe their pups as unique. These warmth-loving dogs can live 16 years or more.


This spirited little dog weighs in at around 4 to 6 pounds. Intelligent and curious, his fox-like face and pointed ears will charm you from the start. He's active and alert and likes to hear his own voice, so train him early to control that barking. Poms also need lots of grooming, and they shed a good bit.


Affenpinscher is roughly translated from German as monkey-terrier. His face resembles a monkey's, and he also engages in impish antics. At 6 to 8 pounds, he's a little spitfire. He takes his role as watchdog very seriously, and his strutting around the property can be comical, given his small size. Spunky to the extreme, he will certainly amuse you!

Yorkshire Terrier

These lively little dogs spend a lot of time darting around and investigating. Averaging around 6 pounds, the Yorkie enjoys cuddlling and snuggling. His silky coat doesn't shed much, so he's great for allergy sufferers. He'll announce all visitors with sharp barking, so train him early to control that tendency. Yorkies can be overwhelmed by small children, but other pets are OK.


The Maltese is gentle, playful, spirited and loyal to his human family. His long coat needs daily brushing but sheds very little. An average Maltese weighs about 7 pounds. He likes games and excels in obedience competitions. Curious and quick, these dogs get along with everyone.

"Teacup" Dogs

Teacup is not a breed in itself, but is a term used for extra-small specimens within a breed. Toy breeds such as Chihuahuas and Yorkshire terriers are most commonly bred for teacup size and can be as small as 2 to 4 pounds. Sometimes the runt of a litter is called a teacup. Their small size can be absolutely adorable, but unscrupulous breeders who breed only for size (and profit) are not likely to offer the healthiest of dogs, and may even breed runts to other runts. So, if you rescue a "teacup" sold by such a breeder, be prepared for the responsibility ahead, as these dogs are susceptible to a variety of health issues and can be quite fragile.

by Leslie Darling


About the Author
Leslie Darling has been a writer since 2003, writing regularly for "Mississippi Magazine" and "South Mississippi Living," specializing in food and wine, animals and pets, and all things Southern. She is a graduate of the University of New Orleans.