Some of the smallest canine breeds in the world have enormous impacts on human society. Many people find it difficult to conceive of their lives without a little puppy, what with their expressive expressions and cute antics (not to mention the endless outfit choices).
On average, small canines can outlive their larger canine counterparts by 12 to 14 years. In general, smaller dog breeds can be cheaper to maintain because they consume less food (although grooming fees may balance out potential meal savings). But, there are other considerations beyond financial feasibility when it comes to bringing home a small dog breed. Many people’s top priority is getting a small dog because of the unconditional love and happiness they bring, whether by playing with a toy or curling up on a warm lap.
So, which dog breeds are the tiniest in the planet? In no particular sequence, I present seven of the most well-liked tiny dog breeds, including one that will become a recognized breed for the first time in 2022.
The Russian Toy dog was officially recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 2022. The little breed can have either short or long hair, but the long, silky ears are what really set it apart. The breed is distinguished by its ebony gumdrop noses, big eyes, and ears that sometimes resemble ponytails. Russian Toy dogs can reach a maximum height of 11 inches (28 centimeters) and a maximum weight of 6.5 pounds (3 kilograms), but their large intelligence and relative ease of training more than make up for their little stature. Now acknowledged by the American Kennel Club, these toy dogs make wonderful household companions who are just as happy chasing thrown toys in the backyard as they are dozing down in a lap. Their coats can be any color from black and tan to a stunning crimson sable or brown.
The Maltese is a small dog that can weigh as little as 3 pounds (1.36 kilograms) and as tall as 9 inches (23 cm). It’s no surprise that Roman Empire elites bred them as both a status symbol and a fashionable companion; their show-stopping white coats make them appear sumptuous, and their obsidian eyes and black button noses add to their charm. Maltese dogs still have long, flowing white coats, but now days the coats can be any combination of white, lemon, or tan. Maltese are strong dogs that make excellent watchdogs and skilled athletes who frequently participate on agility courses despite their fragile appearance. The little breed’s tendency to bark excessively may bother light sleepers, yet it makes for a vigilant guard dog.
The Chihuahua, with its maximum allowable weight of only 6 pounds, is the tiniest dog breed in the world (2.7 kilograms). Chihuahuas typically stand about 9 inches tall (23 centimeters). Because of their fragile skeletal structure, these dogs are not recommended as pets for young children. Chihuahuas can have either short or long coats, but regardless of length, they always have huge eyes and perky ears. These dogs can have solid coat colors like black, white, red, and tan, or a combination of two colors. They are loyal and active, with big personalities and a penchant for playing with other Chihuahuas. It’s generally agreed that the breed was named after the Chihuahua region of Mexico. Several others, however, believe that the tiny dogs originated in China or that they were introduced to Malta by Spanish conquistadors.
In northeastern Europe, in what is now Poland and western Germany, the Pomeranian toy breed was developed. Often referred to as “Poms,” these intelligent, obedient, and sociable dogs first gained widespread attention as Queen Victoria of England’s (1819-1901) favorite pet. The Akita, Alaskan Malamute, and Samoyed are all spitz dog breeds; Pomeranians are just the miniature versions of them. They seem like curious foxes with their delicate features and curled tails. These small dogs can reach a height of 11 inches (28 cm), weigh between 2.7 and 3.17 kilos, and have coats that can be any shade from black and white to red and orange to brindle.
The Shih Tzu, a dignified and affectionate toy breed that was originally developed to fill the laps of royalty and emperors, is now one of the most popular dog breeds in the world. The little Shih Tzu breed (whose name means “lion dog”) was initially bred by imperial dog-keepers for the Chinese emperor and his family. Until the 1930s, when breeders in China and England grew small populations, the gregarious breed was mostly maintained within the confines of palace gates. Beautifully long-coated, with huge, expressive eyes and playful personalities, these dogs continue to be favorites among pet-loving families despite their weight (up to 16 pounds/7 kilograms) and height (up to 11 inches/28 centimeters).
Even though they only reach a height of 8 inches (20 centimeters) when fully grown, Yorkshire terriers are remarkably courageous. This dog, for example, boldly approached a coyote to protect his 10-year-old owner. Yorkies, a breed of dog that typically weighs around 7 pounds (3.17 kilograms), are known for being friendly, active, and cuddly. Yorkshire terriers have their roots in England, where they were developed specifically to be fierce ratters. As many modern Yorkies are kept as house pets, it’s not uncommon to see them decked out in fashionable sweaters or coats in the winter.
Faithful, loving, and temperate? This may sound like a perfect description for a pet, but it actually sums up the qualities that make Japanese Chins so special. With the addition of “kind” and “clever,” it becomes clear that this is a potential lifelong partner. The average Japanese Chin is only 11 inches tall and weighs only 4 to 9 pounds (1.8 to 4 kg) (28 centimeters). It has a long, silky coat that is glossy and can be a variety of colors, including black and white, lemon and white, sable and white, or black, tan, and white. First recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1888, the breed is thought to have originated in China or Korea more than a thousand years ago. The Japanese Chin, with its feline features like floppy ears and a flattened face, is a popular lap pet.