Toy Dog Breeds: The Top Cutest Companions for Small Living Spaces

Toy Dog Breeds
Emily Young
Written by Emily Young

When it comes to finding a new dog, toy dog breeds are becoming a more popular option for first time dog owners. Whether it’s the convenience of their size or their cute, adorable faces, people are starting to fall in love with these small dogs. This could be the result of more and more people moving into the urban lifestyle of apartment living, but still want the company of a dog to make it feel like a home. After all, who doesn’t want to have the pleasure of a small dog that they can carry around, take to the park, and require less feeding than a large dog?

However, there are always pros and cons to owning any dog, regardless of their size, and it’s important to keep these in mind when considering what kind of dog to get. These reminders are not serving to dissuade you from your choice of getting a small dog. Rather, it’s a reminder that you could be overestimating the ease of which it is to take care of a dog, even if it’s a lot smaller.

Toy dog in the park

The pros of small dog toy breeds


Small dogs fit very well into any kind of lifestyle, whether you’re living in the city or out in the country. They are quite suitable for apartment living, as they generally require less exercise than a dog two or three times its size. A daily walk is good enough for the majority of small dog breeds, with intermittent play time throughout the day when the owner is home. With enough training, small dogs can be taught not to bark unless necessary, which ensures that apartment neighbors and the landlord are kept happy.

Their small size also makes it quite convenient for travel. Instead of having to book your dog at a lodging place for a pricey sum, you can take your small dog with you on the plane. Providing that you have a sturdy enough carrier, many airlines allow you to take your dog in-cabin with you so that you can have an eye on your dog at all times, and ensure that he remained in good health. And the cost of flying with your dog is much cheaper than paying for your dog’s stay at a kennel.

And when you get to your destination, most hotels are more receptive to having small dogs stay within their rooms than larger dog breeds. This is because they generally cause less mess and are less likely to cause a disturbance with other patrons at the hotel, provided that they have been trained properly. Take the time to acclimate your dog to new surroundings to ensure that he can be on his best behavior when he’s away from home. Why not read our article on the smallest dog breeds and find out if they’re the right ones for you?


Due to the size of small dog toy breeds, they generally require less feeding, which means one bag of dog food can last a lot longer. You’ll realize that top dog foods for small breeds are also relatively affordable, as our past article has shown. This makes it easier for owners to budget more efficiently and still have enough left over to treat themselves at the end of the day. Along with food, trips to the vet will generally cost a lot less than those for a larger dog. This is because they require smaller doses of medication, and they’re easier to handle during medical or surgical procedures, which minimizes the amount of time necessary to take care of a problem.

Longer life

In general, smaller dog breeds tend to live a lot longer, upwards of twelve years. This makes it a lot easier to establish longer relationships with your dog and have them be a part of your family for an extended period of time. With proper care and medical treatment, many small dogs can even live up to twenty! That makes them the perfect addition to any family, as they grow to be an integral part of your family. Here’s our rundown on the dog breeds with the longest life span, check it out.

The cons of small dog breeds


Small dogs don’t understand that they’re much smaller than everything else around them, which makes them just as bold as big dogs. This may be seen as admirable, but it can lead to your dog taking dangerous risks that he may not be able to handle. He may try to start a fight with a much larger dog, make jumps within your home that are much wider and/or deeper than he can handle, or follow prey through difficult terrain.

The height of their legs and size of their paws can make it easy for them to get trapped or stuck, and may even lead to serious injury. And because of this boldness, small dog breeds tend to bark more often than larger dogs. Take the time to teach your dog when to speak so that he doesn’t result in being considered a source of noise pollution.

Difficulty with training

Because your small dog is mostly living indoors, it can be difficult for them to get a handle on potty training. Remember that smaller dogs have smaller organs, so it may require them to go outside more often than much larger dogs. But even with potty training being successful, there is always the risk that they will soil the house intermittently. Trying to correct the problem by placing newspapers in these pee spots can make training even more difficult, as it only encourages your dog to keep using these spots as their personal toilet.

Physically picking up your dog to place them outside to do their business isn’t going to work either, as he learns that he doesn’t need to take any initiative of his own to go to the toilet, as you are the means of getting him there. Outside of potty training, smaller dogs are generally no more difficult to train than larger dogs. So then why is it so common to see small dogs that misbehave? This is strictly due to their size. Having a small dog tugging on the end of a leash is easy to control and you don’t run the risk of  being pulled over.

However, this teaches your dog that it’s alright to act this way instead of teaching him good leash manners. Behavior problems in small dogs should be treated the same way as in larger dogs, and still requires a steadfast hand to ensure that they’re learning how to behave correctly.

Small dog syndrome

This is an inevitable result of improper or lack of training with a small dog. Without correcting problem behavior, your small dog will learn that he is the one in charge. This can lead to aggressive behavior that is displayed to other people and animals, and eventually you as his owner. It’s a syndrome that should be taken quite seriously, as your dog may eventually bite you or someone else, and that can lead to fear.

The environment of your home can become quite hostile and make it an unpleasant place to live in, instead of the warm, comforting home it should be with the presence of a loving dog. Be sure to treat your dog like a dog and ensures that he follows the rules that you have set for the home, regardless of how cute he is. See our article on house-training your pooch to help you.

Problems with children

Small dogs tend to not do very well in homes that have very small children. Because they’re not very big, it makes it easier for young children to push them around. Toddlers tend to pull on ears and tails and try to push dogs over, which may lead to the injury of your small dog. Toy breeds also tend to not have the right temperament to deal with small children, and may react in a protective manner when it comes to their owners.

This isn’t to say that if you have babies or small children that you can’t get a small dog. This is merely a recommendation that if you do decide to get one, you should exercise more caution in ensuring that everyone is playing well together and that your dog is free to make his exit if he is starting to get annoyed with the attention of small children.


Despite the cost-effective of small dogs when it comes to buying their food and taking them to the vet, buying them from breeders is going to be a lot more expensive. Toy dog breeds tends to have smaller litters than large dogs, so there may be only a litter of three or four (or sometimes, only one!). Due to their increasing high demand, breeders tend to give their pups higher prices in order to compensate for the smaller litter.

It is always possible to adopt a small breed dog from a shelter, but it’s very rare that they remain there for very long as they get adopted quite quickly. This makes it very difficult to find one for adoption at a reasonable free outside of buying one from a breeder.

Special feeding care for small dogs

When it comes to feeding small dogs, one may believe that all you have to do is feed them less. However, small toy breeds require a different kind of diet than larger dogs. Especially when it comes to getting a puppy, they are known for having very high metabolic rates, so it’s important that you find high-energy food that can cater to their needs.

Chihuahua puppy

They’re capable of burning through one bowl of food in a few hours, and a lack of the proper number of calories can lead to severe problems. They can develop what is known as hypoglycemia, where they begin to suffer from muscle tremors, seizures, lethargy, weakness and sometimes death. In order to combat this problem, toy breed puppies should be fed a high-energy food at least three to four times a day.

They need roughly 40 calories per pound of dog, so it’s important that you look at the labels of your dog food. So although it may seem like you’re feeding your small dog less food, dog foods that have been designed for small dogs tend to be a little more expensive.

When small dogs get to their senior years, they also require a different kind of nutrition. They can live for a very long time, much longer than larger breeds, and so require a higher level of antioxidants in their food in order to keep them healthy.

Many of the brands of senior dog food for older dogs have higher levels of chondroitin and glucosamine in order to help with arthritic joints. The food you buy for your small toy dog may be lacking in these essential ingredients, so it’s important that you ensure he is getting the right amount in order to reduce the onset of this painful condition in his later years.

The most popular small dog breeds

Yorkshire Terrier

These small, intelligent dogs have become the status symbol of small dogs all over the world. Living for about thirteen to sixteen years, they can weigh anywhere from four to eight pounds, making them perfect for transportation and keeping your lap warm during the colder months. This toy breed originates from England and was developed to get rid of rats and other vermin.

Yorkshire Terrier

They have long hair that rarely ever sheds, so you won’t have to worry about clumps of shed undercoat all over your carpet and furniture. This is a great choice of toy dog breed for those who have allergies. However, they should be brushed on a regular basis in order to avoid tangling of their fine hair and should not have it trimmed too short. They’re known for being very alert and brave, and can adapt to any living environment.


Pugs have gained recent popularity when it comes to finding small toy breeds. With their cute smooshed noses and buggy eyes, they’re certainly the epitome of humor. They live for roughly twelve to fifteen years, and don’t weight more than seventeen pounds. They’re certainly robust, extremely playful and very attentive, but they do have a stubborn streak, so having a steady hand in training can certainly make the difference.

Pug dogs

They’re eager to socialize with other people and animals, so there should be no problem if you already have other dogs. They’re mostly quiet and don’t have a tendency to go on barking rants at random times of the day. Originally bred in China, they are also quite adaptive for any kind of living arrangements. Due to their short muzzles, they do have a tendency towards breathing problems, and the folds of their faces need to be cleaned on a daily basis in order to prevent hot spots from bacteria build-up occurring.


Originating from France, this plucky little dog is known for their large perky ears, reminiscent of butterfly wings. That’s the origin of the name, as «papillon» is French for butterfly. They’re quite friendly and alert, and can live anywhere from ten to fifteen years and usually weigh no more than ten pounds.

Papillon dog breed

They’re highly intelligent which makes it very easy for them to be trained, and are quite hardy any living arrangement. Care should be taken when engaging with activities, as they are known to have slightly thin bones which makes them prone to breaking. Though they are quite active, don’t overexert them in order to minimize the risk of this occurring.


These plucky little dogs were originally bred in China, and became quite a popular breed of lapdog in the 90s. They live for about twelve to fifteen years, and can weigh up to fourteen pounds.

Pekingese lazy

They’re intelligent, affectionate and quite good-natured, but they can also be stubborn and opinionated, making it difficult for any training to set in. A firm hand should be taken to ensure that they don’t get the run of the household when you aren’t looking. The coat is very thick and long and does require brushing in order to prevent matting.

Bichon Frise

These fluffy white dogs, originating from Belgium is a non-sporting toy breed, and is known for its fluffy white coat and playful expressions. Living up to fifteen years, they’re very cheerful and feisty, making them very energetic dogs that require more attention than you would believe.

Bichon Frise

They come in a wide variety of colours, but the most prominent is white. Weighing no more than eleven pounds, they’re compact and sturdy dogs that can still be carried around. It’s fur coat is quite dense, and the outer coat has a bit of curl to it, so grooming is important in order to prevent tangling and matting. However, they rarely shed, which makes them a perfect hypoallergenic dog. Extremely friendly and affectionate, they’re adequate watchdogs and are very good with children.


A dog from the Spitz family; these active little dogs have gained popularity over the recent years for their cheerful expressions and disposition. Weighing no more than seven pounds, they can live up to sixteen years.


They’re extremely cat-friendly and easy to train, so finding a pomeranian that is prone to misbehaving is quite difficult. They’re extremely extroverted and sociable, eager to greet new guests in the home, but they are not very good with children. This is due to their size and makes them prone to injury if left unsupervised with very young children.

They’re available in a wide range of coat colours, including white, black, black and tan, and the most popular color: orange. It is quite thick, and does require constant grooming in order to maintain their appearance. Their fox-like faces are responsible for the surge in their popularity; eyes should be cleaned on a regular basis in order to prevent staining of the fur around the face.


This is a dog that is the epitome of elegance and grace. From the long flowing hair, to the inquisitive expression, a Maltese can certainly be a wonderful addition to your home. They’re very active and quite playful, which is not something very many people expect from a dog with such long flowing hair. Because they can live for roughly fifteen years, keeping thing active will help to minimize the effects of aging in their senior years.

Runing Maltese

They can be very docile with strangers, and are known for being very dog and cat friendly, so there’s no need to make them the solitary companion in your home. As puppies, their hair is quite thick and tends to stand out, but as they grow older, the hair gets much longer and silkier. In order to maintain appearance, daily brushing is encouraged, and a clip or rubber band is recommended to help keep the hair out of their eyes. They have minimal shedding, so you don’t need to worry about your carpet and furniture, as well as your allergies.

Miniature Pinscher

This peppy little German dog has sometimes been called the «miniature Doberman», but it’s not the same breed at all. With its perky tail, short coat and curly little tail, you’ll fall in love with, that «smile» that they’re known for when they greet you at the door. They live for roughly fifteen years and weigh no more than eight pounds. This is because they are quite energetic and burn a lot of calories serving as loyal watchdogs.

Miniature Pinscher

They’re very easy to train, easy to groom, and are very good with children. However, because of their short coat, they’re prone to shedding in the spring months, so this is not a toy breed that is fit for those with allergies. If you want a dog that is loyal and brave, then the miniature pinscher is right for you.

Small doesn’t mean untrainable

No matter the size of the dog breed that you choose from as your new pet, it’s important that you remain steadfast when it comes to training. Our puppy training schedule will ensure that your start your regimen early on.

Smaller dog breeds may seem cute, but allowing them to run rampant with behavior you wouldn’t let a big dog get away with, tells them that it’s fine to continue with the bad behavior. Having a big heart for your dog is fine and is encouraged, but you should learn the importance of when to put your foot down.

About the author
Emily Young
Emily Young

Emily is originally from China where she graduated from The University of Hong Kong with high distinction learning about fashion and design. During university she opened her own magazine about Dog Fashion as dogs were always in her heart. She was surprised, when she moved to a beautiful British Columbia 10 years ago, to see many great Boutiques with dog's designer clothing and desire of pet owners to make their babies look nice.