The toy dog breeds represent some of the smallest dogs in the world, but these tiny fur-babies are anything but toys. They love to think of themselves as just as big as any dog and many of them have that big dog bark to back up those assumptions.
“Toys” or “Companion dogs” as they are known in many parts of the world are just as varied as other groups but do have one thing in common: their size.
They are small and with that diminutive size comes the fact that they are cheaper to own, easier to manage, take up less space, and are more portable than their larger cousins.
Don’t assume, however that they are the only small dogs. There are small dogs that fall into other groups such as the Dachshund, the Bichon Frise, or the Lhasa Apso.
Some members of the Toy dog breeds group got to be tiny through selective efforts by breeders, so these dogs are closely related to their larger counterparts. Examples of these include the Toy Poodle and Italian Greyhound.
Others, like Pomeranians, are tiny Spitz-type dogs that share a family inheritance with the Siberian Husky and Alaskan Malamute. Still others are bred down from the massive Mastiffs. Do you think that Bullmastiffs and Pugs have nothing in common? Think again—they are related.
Toy Dog Breeds
Most Toys were developed for one purpose in mind: To be a friend or companion to their owner. Over many generations and countless breeding attempts, people have managed to make bigger dogs into pint-size versions capable of being picked up, carried, and held comfortably on our laps.
This group of dogs is very versatile. They make great pets for elderly dog lovers, serve as child-surrogates for couples without children, and fulfill the role of loyal family dog to families with children.
Size does matter when it comes to costs of dog ownership. The larger the item, the greater the costs. Beds, toys, crates, and food are always less costly for small breed dogs.
Many can fit in a small crate and be brought onto the airlines as a carry-on. Grooming cost differences for a toy poodle versus a Standard can be substantial in some locales.
Toy Dog Breeds
Toys can be loving, cuddly, playful and sparky. Much of their exercise needs can be met by running around the home or outside garden.
Many love a walk, but some, such as the brachycephalic breeds, can only walk so far without getting too out of breath.
Most toy dog breeds serve as good watch dogs and bond very closely to their people. They want to please you, but in some areas, they are hard to train.
As a whole, toy breeds are harder to housebreak and will have more accidents in the house than their larger counterparts.
Some tend to bond very closely with one person, which is great if you live alone, but may be harder to manage if you have a family with children.
Grooming needs vary widely from the short haired Chihuahua that is relatively easy and quick to groom, to the Shih Tzu, the Maltese, or Toy Poodle that requires daily attention. But, if you want a companion that is easy to manage, consider one of the toy breeds.
AKC Toy Dog Breeds
These dogs belong to the American Kennel Club, Toy Group
Although they may look like Terriers, they are actually from the Schnauzer/Pinscher family. The breed originates in Germany, and was developed to catch rodents. They are intelligent, easy to train, and make good watchdogs.
This breed does not shed much, and can be considered low-allergy. They don’t require much grooming, as their short, shaggy coat doesn’t need trimming, only occasional brushing.
An inquisitive little companion dog that also makes a good little watch dog. They love human company, and want to be with their owners 24/7. They come from Belgium, where they were bred by coachmen to keep rats down in stables.
The Brussels Griffon is not an easy dog to train, and needs patience and consistent treatment. They do not need much exercise, and are happy to run around indoors, but of course a daily walk out doors will be appreciated.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
These are great family dogs. They are gentle and calm, and are good therapy dogs. They love human company and do not do well if left alone for long. They are generally quiet, and don’t bark much. This means they do not make for great watch dogs!
This is the world’s smallest dog, but with a huge personality. They bond very strongly with their owners, and can suffer from separation anxiety if left alone for long. They are wary of other dogs, and generally don’t get on well with other pets in the house.
They are nervous of strangers, and defensive of their patch. This makes them unsuitable for living in an area with high density population. They tend to bark at any passer bye, and can be aggressive with people they don’t know. This mercurial personality can be a test for the owner!
These are lively little dogs, but also enjoy chilling out with their owners on a sofa or couch. They are usually relatively quiet, and don’t bark much. This, combined with their small size, makes them ideal dogs for apartment living.
The Chinese Crested do not tolerate cooler temperatures, and snuggle up with their owners for warmth. They are relatively easy to train, but house breaking may take a while.
English Toy Spaniel
English Toy Spaniel
The Havanese loves everyone, and thinks everyone is a friend! He will follow you around, and get most of his exercise needs like this. The Havanese hates being alone, and should not be left alone for long.
The breed originated in the Mediterranean area, and was popular in Spain. After the Spanish colonization of Cuba, these dogs were taken there by new settlers, and was bred to tolerate the heat of the region. A great apartment dog!
A very old breed that was popular with the aristocracy in the 1500s – 1900s. Alert, playful and smart, but with an independent streak typical of sight hounds. They do not tolerate cold weather, and don’t like getting wet. Definitely an indoor dog, great as a companion, but not best suited if you have very small children or other small pets.
A very compact toy dog breed that is calm and chilled, and they don’t bark much unless alerting their owners to something. They have a cat-like appearance, and move in a quiet manner, sometimes climbing up to a perch on a sofa back to watch the world go by. Their quiet nature makes them ideal for apartment living.
They are intelligent, and learn quickly, although housebreaking may take a bit longer than expected. Grooming is straightforward, as their coat only needs brushing once or twice a week.
The Maltese was bred to be a companion dog, or a lap dog, as some prefer to say. They are lively, bright and playful. Usually weighing less than 7 lbs, this is truly a small dog! People fall in love with its big character and big heart.
Grooming is easy if you trim the coat short, as they have no undercoat. Great for allergy sufferers. But they are not good with cold weather nor wet weather.
Bred to hunt and kill rats, the Manchester Terrier is alert and wary of strangers. This makes him a good watch dog, who will quickly alert his owner to any unusual activity. They are lively and active, and tend to chase and dig.
They are exceptionally smart and learn quickly. Grooming is very easy, as they have a short smooth coat that doesn’t get matted or tangled.This is a healthy breed, and don’t tend to suffer from many problems.
This is one of the German Toy dog breeds, lively and energetic. They are very active and alert, and don’t seem to sleep much during the day. This breed is quite territorial and suspicious of strangers, and needs early socialization and consistent training.
Energetic and playful, this breed loves being active and social with humans and other dogs – as long as the size difference isn’t too great. They tend to bark quite a lot at anything passing by, and so may not be the best breed for apartment-dwellers with sensitive neighbors!
They are quite easy to train, as long as you are firm but fair and always consistent. They have a single-layer coat, and are easy to groom, although their large ears need special attention!
The Pekingese is also called the Lion Dog of China, due to its shaggy mane of hair around its head that is reminiscent of a lion’s mane. They do best in an adult environment, or with respectful teenagers. They don’t do well with small children.
Compared to most Toy breeds of dog, they don’t mind being left alone for periods of time. They have an independent nature, and don’t need constant human company to be happy. They are not energetic, and don’t like to run around much – a stroll outside is all the exercise they need. This makes them ideal for less active owners.
The Pomeranian is alert and lively, and makes an excellent apartment dog. This toy dog breed was a favorite of Queen Victoria of England, and she was instrumental in breeding the dog down from around 30lbs to the present day size of 10lbs or less.
Toy Poodles are quite active, and love running around. They are well known to be very intelligent, and learn quickly. They need a certain amount of grooming, as their coat needs attention to keep it from becoming matted and tangled. Many owners will get their poodle’s coat trimmed.
The Pug makes a great family dog, as they get on well with everyone. They were bred to be companion dogs, and so they love human company, following their owners around the home.
Despite their playful nature and comical antics, they are very smart and relatively easy to train. However they do need firm, consistent training in order to make sure they regard their owner as the boss!
The Shih Tzu is a little larger than most Toy breeds, and can weigh up to 16lbs. They make excellent family pets, and do well with children. They suited to apartment living, and do not bark excessively, but they will certainly alert you to anything happening nearby.
This breed has a long coat, and grooming is the biggest job when owning a Shih Tzu. They will need combing and brushing at least every other day. A professional trim every 3 to 4 months will help to reduce the amount of work involved.
Height: Up to 9 in (Up to 23 cm)
Weight: Up to 9 lb (Up to 4 kg)
Ease of Training: Challenging
Toy Fox Terrier
Height: 9-12 in (23-30 cm)
Weight: 3.5-7 lb (2-3 kg)
Ease of Training: Medium
Bold, affectionate, bright and fearless are words often used to describe the Yorkie’s personality. They enjoy adventures as well as snuggles, but they still maintain the terrier part of their temperament, which means they can be feisty and vocal.
Some Yorkies are great off leash, but since they are terriers and have that terrier mentality, they shouldn’t be left off leash until they have a firm recall. They are small and fast and if something catches their eye, you can lose your little guy in an instant.