All about toy dog breeds

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It’s true that the best things come in the smallest packages, solid evidence for this being toy dog breeds. Loving, lively and loyal, toy dogs are quick to capture your heart and become your best friend for life. Their small size doesn’t equal a small personality, they’re charismatic and super entertaining, you’ll rarely go without a smile on your face with a pocket-sized pooch.

If you want a dog that will stay the same size as a puppy forever, look no further than this list of toy dog breeds that we think make the perfect four-legged friends.

What is a toy dog breed?

Every dog breed gets classified into a group, for example, working dogs, gundogs and hounds. Toy dog breeds are just one of these classifications, and the group is comprised of the most miniscule mutts.

The toy group get their name because they often resemble the size of a toy stuffed animal. Toy dogs may include Spaniels, Terriers, Pinschers and more, they’re usually just standard breeds that have been selectively bred down to a smaller size. They’ll generally weigh around the 6kg mark or even less.

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Historically, most dogs were bred for a job, which is still true for some of the toy breeds. However, most were bred for the sole purpose of being a devoted companion to people. Loads of toy dog breeds are often referred to as being lapdogs, which means it’s in their nature to sit comfortably on someone’s lap all day, both because of their tiny size and a docile, lazy temperament that will be happy sitting and snoozing.

This means that toy dog breeds were typically owned by individuals with a lot of leisure time to sit around with a dog on their lap, so toy dog breeds are often considered to be symbolic of affluence, wealth and even celebrity status.

Why are toy dog breeds good?

Tiny dogs can do it all. Even though small dogs have a reputation for a lazy lifestyle laying on your lap all day, there are plenty that are bursting with energy and are crazily clever. Don’t be fooled into thinking they’re all the same - their personalities, exercise needs and desire for fun differs from breed to breed, there are even some that make great participants in canine sports! There’s a toy dog breed for everyone, lazy or lively.

There are loads of benefits to having a pocket-sized pooch over a larger dog, a smaller dog equals less expense, less cleanup and less hassle. They’re easier to pick up and transport and are perfect if you live in a smaller house with little or no garden.

Toy dog breeds

Here’s our round-up of our favourite toy dog breeds. This certainly isn’t an exhaustive list, we’ve just chosen some of the most popular toy dog breeds that make great canine counterparts for various types of lifestyles and situations.

Toy Poodle

Poodles are extremely cute, charming, and clever, they’re actually considered to be one of the smartest dog breeds according to Stanley Coren’s famous study, The Intelligence of Dogs. They come in 3 different sizes, standard, miniature and toy, and of course toy poodles are the tiniest.

Toy Poodles were bred from Miniature Poodles to be the perfect companion dog with both brains and beauty. If you’re looking for a brainbox that you can scoop up with just one hand, a Toy Poodle could be the dog for you.

Breed stats

  • Height: 24-28cm

  • Weight: 6.5-7.5kg

  • Exercise needs: High

  • Temperament: Intelligent, energetic, alert


Although the Pug has recently skyrocketed in popularity, they’re actually an ancient dog breed known to be living a luxurious life in China all the way back in 400 BC. Nowadays, you’re likely to see plenty of Pugs posing for photos on social media, still enjoying living the high life.

They’re small and sturdy with a trademark squashy face that makes them so cute and expressive. Pugs are friendly, charming and comedic all in one small, toy package.

Breed stats

  • Height: 25-33cm

  • Weight: 6-8kg

  • Exercise needs: Low

  • Temperament: Cheerful, friendly, loving


The only accurate way to describe the Maltese is a totally pampered pooch. Prepare yourself for long days with a hairbrush trying to maintain those smooth, silky, long locks that almost sweep along the floor as they walk.

Don’t mistake this aristocratic appearance for snobbery though, the Maltese is confident and sprightly, being the best friend of everyone they meet, human or hound.

They’re charming, good-natured and playful, relishing in both a lazy day snoozing on your lap or a good walk in the park.

Breed stats

  • Height: 20-25cm

  • Weight: 3-4kg

  • Exercise needs: Moderate

  • Temperament: Affectionate, gentle, confident

Italian Greyhound

The Italian Greyhound, as its name suggests, is an Italian dog breed and is essentially a standard Greyhound made miniature. So, expect the exact same personality traits and appearance all packed into a smaller package. This means that they’re much more than a lapdog, they’re agile, athletic and elegant.

As a sighthound breed, they’ve got a high prey drive and a need for speed, as long as it’s followed by a long snooze with their human afterwards. Italian Greyhounds love to shower you in affection, just watch out for a few mad moments along the way.

It’s not unheard of to walk in on your Italian Greyhound stood on the kitchen countertops or the windowsill.

Breed stats

  • Height: 33-38cm

  • Weight: 3.5-5kg

  • Exercise needs: Moderate-High

  • Temperament: Loving, athletic, mischievous

Miniature Pinscher

Nicknamed the Min Pin, this toy dog breed originates from Germany, their ancestors potentially including the German Pinscher, the Italian Greyhound and the Dachshund. They do resemble a miniature Doberman, but the breed is actually much more historic than its large breed lookalike.

Although the Miniature Pinscher is little in size, they’re big and bold in terms of attitude, it’s no wonder that they’re classed as the ‘King of Toys’, they’re commanding and clever.

Breed stats

  • Height: 25-30cm

  • Weight: 3.5-5kg

  • Exercise needs: Moderate

  • Temperament: Clever, playful, outgoing


Clever and cute, the Papillon is a dog that’s eager to please. They might be small in size but they have brains bigger than most dogs, thriving from participating in agility and obedience competitions, some might even call them a show-off.

They’re curious, adventurous and quite easy to train due to their clever nature, you’ll just want to play some brain games in the house to keep their minds whirring.

The Papillon’s French breed name is attributed to their dainty, butterfly-shaped ears that are both distinctive and adorable.

Breed stats

  • Height: 20-28cm

  • Weight: 3.2-4.5kg

  • Exercise needs: Moderate

  • Temperament: Cheerful, clever, energetic

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Once upon a time, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was extremely popular with royalty, as their name would suggest. However, their popularity has never faded since, and it comes as no surprise that they’re consistently classed as one of the most popular breeds in the UK.

Cavaliers are loving, trainable and will greet anyone they meet with a waggy tail. They’re one of the larger dogs in the toy dog breed category, but they’re still the epitome of a lap dog, loving to lounge and snuggle the day away.

Breed stats

  • Height: 30-33cm

  • Weight: 5.9-8.2kg

  • Exercise needs: Moderate

  • Temperament: Loving, gentle, cheerful


Chihuahuas are probably most associated with the celebrity lifestyle, they’re a typical coveted after lap (or handbag) dog. If you were going to think of a toy dog breed, they’d probably be the first to come to mind as they’re the smallest breed of the whole bunch.

Sassy, loving and devoted, Chihuahuas get super attached to their humans, so be prepared for a new BFF and shadow for a very long time, they’re also one of the longest living dog breeds!

They get a bad rep for being a little too sassy, but it’s just because they often feel the need to protect their family, this can be trained out at an early age.

Breed stats

  • Height: 15-25cm

  • Weight: 1.8kg-2.7kg

  • Exercise needs: Low

  • Temperament: Loving, protective, devoted


The pocket-sized Pom is most recognisable by their puffball fur and fox-like face. Although they enjoy dozing the day away cuddled on your lap, Pomeranians have an adventurous nature that loves playtime.

They can be bossy with it too, if your Pom wants to play you don’t have much choice! They can be barkers, which makes them great guard dogs, but their bark tends to be much bigger than their bite.

Breed stats

  • Height: 18-30cm

  • Weight: 1.4kg-3.2kg

  • Exercise needs: Low

  • Temperament: Curious, confident, sassy

Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkies are one of the most popular toy breeds, probably because they’re tiny little dogs filled with life. Fun and fiery, it’ll never be a dull day with a Yorkshire Terrier around, they’ll be sure to keep you on the ball.

Initially bred to be ratters, this dainty dog with a not so dainty personality was the perfect fit to sneak down into the tiny crevices in pursuit of vermin. Many Yorkies sport a funky hairstyle, with long, silky hair that’s sometimes tied up with a ribbon!

Don’t let this trick you into thinking the Yorkie is a posh pooch however, they’re lively and loud with classic Terrier tendencies.

Breed stats

  • Height: 20-22.8cm

  • Weight: 1.8-3.2kg

  • Exercise needs: Moderate

  • Temperament: Loving, tenacious, plucky

Brussels Griffon

Sometimes referred to as the Griffon Bruxellois, with their name coming from their city of origin, Brussels in Belgium, this breed has a ton of character in a tiny package.

To other people and pooches the Brussels Griffon might seem a bit cocky and aloof, but don’t be mistaken by this as they’ve got nothing but love for their humans. They’d be perfectly happy to spend their days by the side, or on the lap of their human, they’re known to be a little clingy.

They tend to pick their person and get super attached to them, desiring all their person’s time, attention and focus to be on them and only them.

Breed stats

  • Height: 23-28cm

  • Weight: 4-5kg

  • Exercise needs: Moderate

  • Temperament: Confident, devoted, sensitive


Known by some as the ‘Monkey Terrier/Dog’, because ‘affen’ means ape and ‘pinscher’ means Terrier in German, the Affenpinscher is bold and boisterous due to their Terrier traits.

Initially, the Affenpinscher was bred to be a ratter, but nowadays they enjoy life as companion dogs who love to cause a bit of mischief.

You won’t be able to stay mad at them for long though, one look at that thick moustache and bushy pair of eyebrows will put a smile on your face. They’re definitely a comedic character, and although they’re toy-sized, they’re not afraid of anything.

Breed stats

  • Height: 23-30cm

  • Weight: 2.9-6kg

  • Exercise needs: Moderate

  • Temperament: Adventurous, cheeky, fun-loving


Despite their small size, the bouncy, bubbly personality of the Havanese is enough to light up the room with their charm.

Just don’t expect to be able to leave the room without your Havenese following you right under your feet, these breeds get incredibly attached and devoted to their owners, wanting nothing more than to please you. Prepare to never do anything alone again.

The breed is sweet and good-natured, boasting a long, silky coat that seems to never end.

Breed stats

  • Height: 22-25cm

  • Weight: 4-7.5kg

  • Exercise needs: Low-Moderate

  • Temperament: Loyal, affectionate, playful


If you’re looking for a canine couch potato, look no further than the Pekingese. Historically, this breed was bred to be a companion dog for nobility in China, which probably plays its part in why they love a luxurious, lazy lifestyle in the modern day.

Intelligent but fiercely independent, the Pekingese is much tougher than their unique, fluffy appearance would first suggest. This little ball of fur will bond closely with their family but may be slight standoffish with strangers.

Breed stats

  • Height: 15-23cm

  • Weight: 3.2-6.4kg

  • Exercise needs: Low

  • Temperament: Affectionate, stubborn, independent

Chinese Crested

The Chinese Crested dog is definitely a dog breed that will stand out in the dog park. They come in two types, which can actually be born within the same litter, the Powderpuff Chinese Crested and Hairless Chinese Crested.

To state the obvious, the Powderpuff form has a fluffy coat and the Hairless form is, well, hairless.

They make the perfect lapdog but their personality is quirky and comedic, you won’t be short on entertainment. This temperament is the same with or without hair. Realistically, hairless might be the way forward, less mess and less shedding!

Breed stats

  • Height: 23-33cm

  • Weight: 2.3-5.5kg

  • Exercise needs: Low

  • Temperament: Loving, quirky, fun


Although we can’t say toy dog breeds come in all shapes and sizes, as they’re all pretty tiny, we can say that their range in personalities mean there’s a toy breed to suit everyone.