Types of Toy Dog Breeds

Written by Emily Wolfel
Updated: September 15, 2022
Image Credit Jagodka/Shutterstock.com
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Key Points

  • Toy dog breeds are characterized by their small sizes and big personalities.
  • Because they’re small, they cost less to feed and fit better in apartments and small spaces.
  • While toy and other small breeds in general are popular pets, the toy poodle is the most popular toy dog breed.
  • Their hypoallergenic coat, soft fur, and energetic personalities are just some of the reasons toy poodles are the most preferred breed.

Cute, charismatic, affectionate, and among the cheapest breeds to own and care for, toy dogs such as spaniels, terriers, and pinschers are defined primarily by their small size. Many owners appreciate that they remain short and compact forever, almost like puppies. This article will cover some interesting facts about the most popular types of toy dog breeds from all around the world according to the rankings of the American Kennel Club. However, keep in mind that a toy dog is not necessarily the same thing as a lap dog. Not all of the breeds on this list have the temperament to be handled all the time.

#10: Italian Greyhound

Italian greyhound on green grass
An Italian greyhound running on green grass. This type of toy dog breed was immensely popular among the European nobility.

Kwadrat/Shutterstock.com

Weighing anywhere between 7 and 14 pounds, the Italian Greyhound is a mini version of the regular Greyhound and is considered to be a separate breed entirely. It is characterized by a sleek, athletic body and a thin coat of smooth brownish-gray hair. Alert, sensitive, and very fast, this sighthound was immensely popular among European nobility, including Frederick the Great and Queen Victoria. One of their most appealing qualities is the ability to match the pace and lifestyle of its owner. Assuming it receives enough daily exercise, this dog will curl up on the couch with its owner for the remainder of the day.

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You can read more about the Italian Greyhound here.

#9: Chinese Crested Dog

Chinese Crested Dog prancing like a pony
The Chinese crested dog is a type of toy breed that has smooth, hairless skin with a flowing mane and big, fluffy ears.

Abramova Kseniya/Shutterstock.com

Weighing no more than 12 pounds, the Chinese Crested Dog is a small affectionate breed with a spunky personality and upbeat attitude. The origin of the Chinese Crested is still shrouded in mystery. They may have been brought to China thousands of years ago from Africa. There are two different varieties: the hypoallergenic hairless dog has bare smooth skin almost everywhere except for long tufts around the head, tail, and legs (giving it a very distinctive appearance), whereas the powderpuff dog has a thick double coat of fur. Either way, they are great dogs for families and for kids alike.

You can read more about the Chinese Crested Dog here.

#8: Maltese

Prettiest / Cutest Dogs - Maltese puppy running on grass
Maltese are a type of toy dog breed. They are hypoallergenic dogs with white hair. Maltese were most likely bred from spitz-type dogs.

Kimrawicz/Shutterstock.com

Weighing no more than 7 pounds, the tiny Maltese is elegance personified. With its luxurious coat of long white hair, which nearly obscures the feet, this breed probably originated in Europe and eventually became synonymous with the small island state of Malta just to the south of Sicily. One of the more interesting facts is that the ancient Greeks appreciated this breed for its geometric precision, whereas some Romans considered it to be an eccentric fashion statement. Modern families are sure to be charmed by their playful and gentle personalities. The coat is hypoallergenic but will need extensive brushing and grooming.

You can read more about the Maltese here.

#7: Chihuahua

Pet dog Apple Head Chihuahua sitting on a deck outside.
Pet dog, Apple Head Chihuahua, sitting on a deck outside. This type of toy dog breed is a national symbol of Mexico.

Lesia Kapinosova/Shutterstock.com

A national symbol of Mexico, the affectionate and sassy Chihuahua may be the smallest dog breed in the world and one of the cheapest to own. It measures no more than 8 inches at shoulder height and never exceeds 6 pounds. Exceptionally small members of this breed are known as teacup Chihuahuas, so-named because they can fit inside of a teacup. While not technically its own variation, the teacup Chihuahuas are the smallest puppies in the litter and weigh no more than 3 pounds. However, it’s possible to “customize” the Chihuahua in almost endless ways, including deer head vs. apple head, short hair vs. long hair, and almost any color and pattern you could desire. It has a typical lifespan of 14 to 16 years.

You can read more about the Chihuahua here.

#6: Pug

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A pug lying on the grass. This type of toy dog breed has a somewhat mischievous personality that is perfect for kids of all ages.

Africa Studio/Shutterstock.com

Originating some 2,000 years ago from China, the Pug is a flat-faced breed with a fawn-colored coat and a black mask and ears. This small dog stands up to 13 inches at shoulder height and weighs between 14 and 18 pounds. The Pug’s charming, affectionate, and somewhat mischievous personality is perfect for kids of all ages. It regularly ranks among the top 30 of AKC’s most popular breeds. One of the most interesting facts about them is that Napoleon’s wife Josephine had a loyal pet pug named Fortune. He was said to carry messages back and forth between Josephine and her first husband when he was imprisoned during the French Revolution.

You can read more about the Pug here.

#5: Havanese

Playful Havanese puppy dog walking with a red ball in his mouth in the grass
A Havanese playing with a ball on the grass. This type of toy dog breed is the only dog breed entirely native to Cuba.

Dorottya Mathe/Shutterstock.com

The Havanese is the only dog breed entirely native to Cuba. Weighing between 7 and 13 pounds, it is characterized by a long silky coat with a huge variety of different colors, including black, cream, fawn, red brindle, red sable, and many more. This intelligent, outgoing breed, which thrives on human attention and companionship, is great for families of all kinds. Thanks to their friendly attitude and trainable disposition, they are natural trick dogs. While ideal for city living, they do extremely well in almost any situation.

You can read more about the Havanese here.

#4: Pomeranian

Pomeranian puppy laying on rug
Although Pomeranians are strong-willed and confident, this type of toy dog breed is a charismatic little puffball.

iStock.com/FaST_9

Weighing anywhere between 3 and 7 pounds, the Pomeranian is a charismatic little puffball. It has a long double coat of orange or red fur (as well as many other color combinations), dark round eyes, a smiling fox-like face, and a vivid, beaming personality. The Pomeranian is ideal for families with slightly older children who are mature enough to handle such a small breed. It is fairly easy to train and loves both indoor play and short walks outdoors. It even makes for a surprisingly decent watchdog. Another appealing quality is that it ranks among the cheapest dogs to care for. This breed originated from the region of northern Europe along the Baltic coast that bears its name.

You can read more about the Pomeranian here.

#3: Shih Tzu

Prettiest / Cutest Dogs - Shih Tzu - running through grassy field near lake
The Shih Tzu was bred solely to be companions, and this type of toy dog breed is affectionate, happy, outgoing house dogs who love nothing more than to follow their people from room to room.

rebeccaashworth/Shutterstock.com

Weighing anywhere between 9 and 16 pounds, the Shih Tzu is a spunky little dog with a big personality. The name is even derived from the Chinese word for lion. With its long flowing coat of elegant fur, which comes in a large variety of different colors and patterns, it was once a popular breed among the Chinese royalty. These days the affectionate, playful, and outgoing personality traits, combined with their tender habit of resting on laps, make them an ideal companion for families of all kinds. They require minimal exercise but should be trained thoroughly to obey your commands.

You can read more about the Shih Tzu here.

#2: Yorkshire Terrier

Cute small Yorkshire Terrier is playing with ball on a green lawn outdoors.
A Yorkshire Terrier playing with a ball. This type of toy dog breed routinely ranks among the AKC’s top 10 most popular types of dog breeds.

Artush/Shutterstock.com

Weighing no more than 7 pounds, the Yorkshire is among the smallest terriers (vermin-hunting dogs) in the world. Feisty and affectionate, it originated from the English county of Yorkshire in the 19th century and was among the earliest breeds to be recognized by the American Kennel Club. Today it routinely ranks among the AKC’s top 10 most popular types of dog breeds. The Yorkshire is characterized by a straight silky coat that reaches the floor. It comes in several variations, including black and tan, black and gold, blue and gold, and blue and tan. The lifespan is normally between 11 and 15 years.

You can read more about the Yorkshire Terrier here.

#1: Toy Poodle

White toy poodle playing in the garden
A Toy Poodle playing on the grass outside. This type of toy dog breed is a great choice for kids and adults alike.

Rin Seiko/Shutterstock.com

Topping the list of the most popular types of toy dog breeds is the toy version of the poodle. Despite the small size (it weighs a mere 4 to 6 pounds and has a shoulder height of 10 inches), the toy version has the exact same proportions as the standard-sized poodle. It originated early in the 20th century by breeding an even smaller version of the mini poodle.

The hypoallergenic coat, which can vary from coarse and woolly to soft and silky, comes in a diverse range of different colors, including black, apricot, blue, red, and brown. While there are some straight-haired poodle varieties, most poodles have curly, dense fur that requires frequent brushing. It’s important to understand the grooming requirements before choosing a poodle as your next pet, since their curly manes are very prone to painful mats and tangles if they aren’t properly maintained.

The toy poodle is one of the most intelligent and trainable breeds in the entire world with an excellent lifespan of 10 to 18 years. The poodle as a whole, regardless of size, regularly ranks as the AKC’s 7th most popular breed. It is a great choice for kids and adults alike.

You can read more about the toy Poodle here.

Top Toy Dog Breeds Summary

Toy dog breeds are often small and affectionate, making them a popular choice for pets. Below you’ll find a summary of the most popular toy dog breeds, ranked in order:

RankDog BreedConsiderations
1Toy PoodleHypoallergenic coat
2Yorkshire TerrierWeighs under 7 pounds
3Shih TzuAffectionate and playful
4PomeranianUndercoat helps them thermoregulate
5HavaneseGreat at learning tricks
6PugSweet and affectionate – their flat noses cause health issues
7ChihuahuaTeacup variant weighs no more than 3 pounds
8MalteseHypoallergenic coat
9Chinese Crested DogTwo types: hairless hypoallergenic and puffy
10Italian GreyhoundNot considered the same breed as regular greyhounds

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About the Author

Emily is an editor and content marketing specialist of five years. She grew up in rural Pennsylvania where you can regularly encounter anything from elk to black bears to river otters. Over the years, she raised livestock animals, small animals, dogs, cats, and birds, which is where she learned most of what she knows about various animals and what allowed her to work as a dog groomer and manager of a specialty pet store. She now has three rescue cats and two high-needs Pomeranian mixes to take up her love and attention.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What's the most popular toy dog?

That depends on your criteria. The American Kennel Club popularity ranking makes no distinction between the toy, mini, and standard Poodles because they’re all technically the same breed, so it’s difficult to tell exactly how popular the toy Poodle would rank. The most popular toy-only breed is probably the Yorkshire Terrier.

What breed of dogs comes in toy size?

There are several breeds that come in both standard and toy sizes, including the Poodle, the Greyhound, and the Fox Terrier.

What is the smallest toy dog?

The smallest toy dog breeds are probably the Pomeranian, the Yorkshire Terrier, the toy Poodle, and the Chihuahua. All of these breeds top out at around 6 to 7 pounds. The teacup version of the Chihuahua might narrowly beat out the others for the smallest dog in the world. These dogs don’t grow much larger than puppies.

What are teacup dog breeds?

To be considered a teacup, a dog must be under 9 inches tall and under 6 pounds in weight. Some adorable teacup dog breeds include the teacup Chihuahua, Poodle, Yorkie and Maltese.

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