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10 Adorable Small Dog Breeds That Are Good for Your Health

Looking to improve your physical and mental health with the help of a dog? Good choice. Here are some adorable small breeds that'll fit into your world nicely.

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pets are good for your healthPhoto Credit: Pexels

Pets are good for your physical and mental health

We all know the joy a dog can bring us, so it’s no surprise that one can offer so many benefits to our health. According to Psychology Today, owning a dog leads to increased physical activity, which can lower cholesterol and decrease blood pressure. What’s more, research shows dogs can help calm us down and combat stress from everyday life or even a traumatic event. They can provide comfort and decrease feelings of loneliness, help teach us mindfulness and offer a bond that can help those with depression.

Onboard to get a pooch but worried you don’t have enough space? We’ve rounded up ten adorable breeds of dogs that stay small throughout their entire lives. We’re also highlighting some of their common health conditions you should be aware of so you’re prepared.

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dogs that stay smallElizabett/Shutterstock


Who doesn’t love a pocketbook pup? Chihuahuas are extremely affectionate dogs, who “love to burrow and be by their people,” says Lisa Bernier, CEO of BARK For Good. Their warmhearted nature helps them socialize well with children, making them the perfect family pet. (Psst: Here’s how dogs can benefit kids health.) In addition to being extremely lovable pups, Bernier says Chihuahuas often have a “Napoleon” complex, as they will bark loudly to alert their owners of “stranger danger.”

Health concerns

Throughout their 12-20-year life span, chihuahuas usually only reach three to six pounds and require minimal grooming maintenance. Other than getting cold easily and needing their dental hygiene to be monitored, Chihuahuas are generally a “hardy breed of dogs,” says Bernier. What could be better than these adorable dogs that stay small enough to fit in your day bag?

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dogs that stay smallEric Isselee/Shutterstock

Yorkshire Terrier

Ever wanted a tiny dog with hair as long and luscious as your own? You’re in luck—Yorkshire Terriers are famous for their ability to have lengthy locks, little bodies, and making their owners melt. According to Bernier, these dogs stay small throughout their entire 12-15-year life span, only reaching an average of five to seven pounds. Before you adopt your pup, you should consider that Yorkshire Terriers can be tenacious and feisty, which makes them “difficult to train,” says Bernier. However, Yorkshire Terriers are also exceedingly affectionate and protective of their people, making them warm and loyal companions.

Health concerns

The logistics? These tiny terriers need to be groomed regularly, watched for dental concerns, and prevented from jumping off of high places, as they are prone to joint and bone injuries.

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Miniature Dachshund

Miniature dachshunds, also known as “wiener dogs,” are some of the most adorable small dogs in the world. These puppies are “funny, affectionate, courageous, stubborn, and clever,” says Bernier. Throughout their 12-16-year life span, these dogs reach an average weight of 11-12 pounds. Since mini dachshunds love to burrow, crate training them is incredibly easy, says Bernier. That being said, Bernier warns that these dogs can be hard to house-train and can sometimes be snippy with children. While these pups may take some time to adjust to your home, you’ll never have to worry about finding your pet the perfect Halloween costume—just add a bun!

Health concerns

Since these mini dogs stay small and long, they are extremely prone to Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD), cautions Bernier. Therefore, it’s important to “watch their back, never let them jump up or off high places, and to keep them from doing too many stairs,” Bernier says. Other than monitoring this health concern, these funny dogs that stay small require minimal grooming maintenance and are sure to make you smile!

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These sweet pups will likely have you wondering whether you have accidentally adopted a stuffed animal (I mean look at that face!). Weighing in between four to six pounds, these dogs are sure to stay small throughout their 12-15-year life spans. Maltese pups are “gentle, very affectionate, and love to be pampered,” says Bernier. While these little dogs are not super high energy, they definitely need daily walks and tend to fall so in love with their owner that they can be prone to separation anxiety.

Plan on spending a lot of time outdoors? These are the times you’re most likely to get heatstroke.

Health concerns

Anyone looking to adopt a Maltese should be prepared to groom their pup on a daily basis (you didn’t think their fur was naturally that fluffy, did you?). While this may feel like a lot of work, this small dog breed makes up for it by being exceedingly healthy. The only health concern that is unique to Maltese dogs is being prone to dental problems, so be sure to monitor your furry friend’s teeth!

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Toy Poodle

There’s a reason these pooches are called “Toy” Poodles—these dogs are so cute and cuddly that you could actually confuse them for toys! These dogs reach an average weight of four to eight pounds throughout their 10-18-year life spans. Since Toy Poodles can be extremely high energy and require daily exercise, they are one of the most fun breeds of dogs that stay small, Bernier explains. In addition to being entertaining companions, Toy Poodles are fairly clever and socialize well with children. Toy Poodles also have a feisty side, as they will bark at strangers, “can be a little nervous, and are prone to separation anxiety,” adds Bernier.

Health concerns

Since Toy Poodles are equipped with an adorable coat of curls, these dogs require regular grooming. These dogs are mostly healthy, other than being prone to dental problems and eye issues, Bernier says. If you’re looking for a furry friend that will perfectly fit with your family, toy poodles are a fun and loving choice.

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Shih Tzu

These little pups are “playful, affectionate, and love snuggling with their humans,” says dog expert Lisa Bernier. Shih Tzus tend to weigh about 9-16 pounds and can live for 10-18 years. Since these dogs were originally bred to live in royal palaces, they are very well behaved, require little exercise, and are the perfect pets for apartment living or homes without backyards. In their free time, there’s nothing these dogs love more than sitting on their person’s lap and showing off their long, beautiful coats. Since these dogs are great companions, Shih Tzus are prone to separation anxiety.

Health concerns

Since Shih Tzus are known for their long and impressive coats, it’s important to groom these dogs daily. Unfortunately, these dogs do have a lot of health concerns, including “hip dysplasia, kidney infections, dental issues, breathing problems, and eye and ear infections,” says Bernier. It’s also important to keep these dogs out of the heat.

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dogs that stay smallNew Africa/Shutterstock

Brussels Griffon

Brussels Griffons are some of the most lively, intelligent, and sensitive, dogs that stay small. The pups tend to weigh between 8-10 pounds and live for 12-15 years. According to Bernier, pups of this adorable breed are known as “Velcro dogs,” because they are prone to having separation anxiety. While this may be difficult to manage at first, Brussels Griffons have “a ton of personality and socialize well with children,” says Bernier. (Note: In order to keep their coats clean and pampered, these dogs should be groomed on a daily basis.)

Health concerns

Like most small dogs, Brussels Griffons must be watched for dental problems. The other health concerns that are unique to this breed include overheating “because of their squished faces, breathing problems, eye problems, and difficulty giving birth,” says Bernier. While this may sound like a lot to handle, it’s important to remember that these are only concerns—not all Brussels Griffons will experience these health issues.

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In the market for a loyal best friend? Look no further—an Affenpinscher puppy is the perfect pal. Weighing between 7-10 pounds, these dogs stay small throughout their entire 12-15-year life span. Despite their little size, Affenpinschers are confident, brave, and dependable. According to dog expert Bernier, Affenpinschers have “yapping tendencies due to their watchdog habits and significant separation anxiety.” However, a bit of extra training is a fair price to pay for their high energy and ability to “endlessly entertain their owners with their clowning,” says Bernier.

Health concerns

The only health concern unique to Affenpinschers is dental problems, says Bernier.

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Calling all homebodies, you probably don’t realize how badly you need a pug. These small dogs are “calm, very snuggly, and love nothing more than napping on their human’s lap,” says Bernier. Why curl up on the couch and watch a movie alone, when you can have a soft and sweet pug to cuddle with? According to Bernier, mellow pugs are perfect for apartment living and do not require a lot of exercise. Throughout their 13-15-year lives, these dogs usually weigh an average of 12-18 pounds.

Health concerns

Before adopting a pug, it’s important to note that these dogs are “brachycephalic.” This means that they have short heads, which make them susceptible to breathing issues. Additionally, pugs are also prone to dental problems, eye problems, sensitive to extreme temperatures, and require regular cleaning to prevent infections. Since a pug’s eyes are bigger than their stomach, it’s important to regulate their food intake so they don’t become overweight. Despite the small bit of extra care that’s needed to keep these pups healthy, pugs are low-maintenance and make for perfect companions.

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If you’re looking for a sweet and friendly dog that stays small, you should definitely adopt a Papillon. Papillon’s tend to weight between 5-10 pounds and can live for 14-16 years. According to Bernier, these dogs have a cheerful temperament, are loyal to their people, and are smart and easy to train. And since Papillons can be very high in energy, Bernier suggests taking your pup for daily exercise. These furry friends are prone to separation anxiety, but this is a small price to pay for such a loving pet.

Health concerns

Aside from dental problems, the only health concerns unique to papillons are joint issues and sensitivity to anesthesia. However, hopefully, your papillon will never have to experience these issues!

Next, find out how a service dog changed this little boy’s life.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest