Toy Dog Breeds: What They Are + 12 Top Breeds

Toy dogs are a group of around 20 dog breeds that are bred for and characterized by their small size – each weighing less than 15 pounds when fully grown.

Toy dogs are one of the seven dog groups recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

These dogs were originally bred as working dogs that were used to capture disease-ridden vermin. Today, they are bred to be lapdogs and companions, favored for their cute appearance and small size.

Toy dogs are loyal to their owners but tend to be aloof with strangers. Many of these breeds are energetic, but because of their small bodies and short legs, toy dogs don’t have as much stamina as big dogs.

Toy Dog Breeds Overview

Toy dog breeds

There are 23 types of toy dog breeds recognized by the AKC, and these dogs come in a variety of appearances.

Each toy dog breed has a unique fur length, coat color, ear length, tail length, face shape, height, and fur type. Long, short, smooth, and wiry coats are found on these breeds.

Top 11 Toy Dog Breeds

Every breed group of dogs has small dogs, but toy dog breeds were bred for companionship and intended to be small.

The ten most popular toy dog breeds are listed below.


Pug looking at the camera

The pug is a flat-faced, thickset dog with a distinctively wrinkled body that grows 10–13 inches tall and weighs 14–18 pounds as adults. Pugs are a double-coated breed recognized in four colors: black, fawn, silver, and apricot.

They are loyal, happy, and affectionate dogs with playful, mischievous personalities and a strong-willed nature that makes them difficult to train. These dogs need up to one hour of short walks and playtime per day.


Smiling Chihuahua on the grass

The Chihuahua is one of the smallest toy dog breeds with big, round eyes, pricked-up ears, and a slim body.

This breed has an average height of 5–8 inches, and an average weight of 3–6 pounds. They typically come in colors including black, white, fawn, cream, and chocolate, with two different coat types: smooth and long.

Chihuahuas are alert, feisty, outgoing, wary of strangers, and difficult to train due to their overly-sensitive attitudes. These dogs require 30 minutes of exercise per day, preferably divided into two short walks.


Havanese sitting on the grass

The Havanese is a long-coated dog with hairy, floppy ears and a plumed tail that carries over its back. Havanese dogs grow 8.5–11.5 inches tall with an adult weight of 7–13 pounds. Common full-body colors are white, fawn, black, and mahogany.

This breed makes affectionate, playful, and gentle pets that enjoy human companionship. Due to their intelligence and eager-to-please personalities, Havanese dogs are easy to train.

Healthy adult dogs need between 45 and 60 minutes of daily exercise. Feeding Havanese nourishing diets can help them maintain health and well-being.


Maltese standing on the pavement looking back at the camera

The Maltese is a compact-bodied dog reaching 7–9 inches tall and 4–6 pounds in weight. These dogs have tufted, curling tails and small, floppy ears. Maltese dogs have a single coat type and color: long, silky, and straight fur in pure white.

These dogs are lively, gentle, and affectionate. Because they are people-oriented, they are easy to train and respond well to positive reinforcements. They typically need up to 30 minutes of exercise per day.


Sad Pekingese lying on the ground

The Pekingese is a short-legged, long-bodied dog that grows 6–9 inches tall and weighs 7–12 pounds as adults. They have shortened muzzles and large, black eyes.

The Pekingese has a double coat with a long, straight, coarse outer coat and a soft, thick undercoat. Fur colors include white, black, fawn, cream, and gray.

Pekingese dogs are dignified, intelligent, loyal, affectionate, and make good guard dogs, but due to their stubborn traits, these dogs are difficult to train. These dogs requires a minimum of 30 minutes of light exercise per day.


Pomeranian smiling on a kitchen floor

The Pomeranian is a fluffy, square-bodied dog with a thick neck ruff and a tail that curls over its back. The average height of this dog is 7–12 inches, and the average adult weight is 3–7 pounds.

Pomeranians have thick double coats with soft, fluffy undercoats and straight, shiny topcoats.

Intelligent, playful, and friendly, these dogs are loyal to their families, but their bold and independent nature means that they require patience when training.

Pomeranians have low exercise needs, requiring around 30 minutes of walks and playtime per day.

Toy Poodle

Toy poodle looking up at the camera from a patio floor

The toy poodle is a curly-coated dog that was bred down from the mid-sized miniature poodle. These small dogs grow 9–11 inches tall and weigh between 6 and 9 pounds.

Toy poodles have medium curly coats in block colors of black, cream, gray, white, chocolate, liver, and fawn gold.

This breed has a friendly, outgoing personality and is dedicated to its family. The toy poodle is one of the smartest, most trainable toy dog breeds and follows commands easily. In addition to their charming traits, it’s important to note that Toy poodles require proper nutrition to maintain their health and well-being. Along with their need for between 20 and 40 minutes of daily exercise.

Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu sitting on pavement

The Shih Tzu is a sturdy-bodied, silky-coated dog that grows 8–11 inches tall and weighs up to 15 pounds. It has a short muzzle and a curled tail.

The coat of a Shih Tzu is long and silky, coming in colors including black, white, gold, blue, liver, and brindle.

Shih Tzus are happy, affectionate, and outgoing dogs who love to follow their owners around their homes. As an intelligent breed who loves to learn, these dogs are highly trainable.

They typically need two to three separate walks per day, totaling 70 minutes.

Silky Terrier

Silky terrier sitting on fallen leaves in the park

The silky terrier is a fine-boned, low-set dog with a wedge-shaped head and upright, v-shaped ears. These dogs are between 9 and 11 inches tall and weigh 8–10 pounds as adults.

Silky terriers have a single straight, long, glossy coat in shades of tan or blue with red markings.

This breed is playful, adventurous, and active, responding well to training especially when food is used as a reward.

The silky terrier requires more exercise than most toy dog breeds — around one-and-a-half to two hours per day.

Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkshire terrier sitting in the forest

The Yorkshire terrier has a compact body, a small head, and erect, v-shaped ears. Among the smallest toy dog breeds, these terriers grow 8–9 inches tall and weigh between 2 and 7 pounds.

Yorkshire terriers have feisty, intelligent, domineering personalities, and are receptive to reward-based training, despite their stubborn nature.

As energetic dogs, this breed needs between 30 and 40 minutes of daily exercise.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier king charles spaniel

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a loving and elegant breed, standing at 12–13 inches and weighing 13–18 pounds. They have beautiful coats and are known for their friendly and trainable nature.

It is important to choose the proper diet for toy dog breed like Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. Opt for high-quality, small-breed-specific dry and occasional wet dog food. Consult your vet for a personalized diet plan based on age and activity level.

These dogs enjoy daily walks and playtime. Their affectionate nature thrives on human interaction, making them great companions.

Toy Australian Shepherd

Toy Australian Shepherd

The Toy Australian Shepherd is a compact breed known for its distinctive traits. These dogs typically measure 10–13 inches in height and weigh between 14–18 pounds when fully grown. They sport a double coat and come in four recognized colors: black, fawn, silver, and apricot.

Toy Australian Shepherds are characterized by their loyalty, happiness, and affectionate nature. They have a playful and mischievous personality, along with a strong-willed disposition that can make training challenging. To keep these dogs content, they require about one hour of short walks and playtime daily.

Should You Get a Toy Dog Breed?

Toy dog breeds make excellent companion dogs, with their small size and cute appearance. They are ideal for people who live in apartments and small homes, or inactive people who don’t want to walk their dogs for hours every day.

Many toy dog breeds thrive off human interaction, so don’t get one if you’re regularly away from home or you don’t have the time to give a dog your full attention.

About Thomas Woods 224 Articles
Thomas has been a dog lover since he was 6 years old when his parents got him a rescue Labrador. Since then his love for dogs has lead him to study Animal Behavior & Welfare. He now keeps a six year old English Bullmastiff and educates pet parents through his online publication Perfect Dog Breeds.

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