As a future or current small dog owner, the distinctions between breeds are probably on your mind now and again. If you are interested in purebreds, competitions and shows, or breeding, learning about these breeds is essential, as simply having one distant relative of your dog that is the wrong breed can disqualify him or her from competition.
Even if you’re only interested in owning a dog as a companion and not a competitor in formal events, it’s useful to know what breed your dog is. A purebred is often susceptible to certain genetic conditions and more likely to develop maladies depending on their breed. Even if they are a mixture of breeds and you can identify them, you can pay attention to the susceptibilities of each breed to identify what may be a future health risk for your beloved pet.
As dogs have been owned and bred for specific purposes such as hunting and guard duties for hundreds of years, there are also hundreds of varieties of dogs � some created accidentally, others on purpose. Small dog breeds still number in the dozens… and those are just popular breeds. At least two hundred small dog breeds likely exist when you count obscure breeds and rare ones, and mixtures of breeds can produce entirely new ones.
In the terrier family, there are a number of small dog breeds that are worth mentioning. Since most terrier breeds are relatively small, and terriers have been bred into a number of different varieties, this is likely the most extensive segment of small dog breeds.
In order of popularity, according to the American Kennel Club, they are: Yorkshire, Boston, West Highland White, Scottish, Cairn, Staffordshire Bull, Silky, Border, Tibetan, Parson Russell, Wire Fox, Toy Fox, Norwich, Welsh, Smooth Fox, Norfolk, Manchester, Australian, Miniature Bull, Lakeland, Bedlington, Sealyham, Glen of Imaal, Skye, and Dandie Dinmont. There are additional breeds that the AKC does not yet recognize, such as the Jack Russell Terrier, but these tend to be most of the popular small dog breeds of terriers.
Another popular small dog family is Spaniel breeds, like the American Cocker Spaniel, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, English Cocker Spaniel, English Toy Spaniel, and Tibetan Spaniel.
Other various breeds come from different families, and include the Affenpinscher, miniature and toy breeds of the American Eskimo Dog, Basenji, Beagle, Bichon Frise, Bolognese, Brussles Griffon, Cardigan Welsh Corgi, Chihuahua, Chinese Crested, Coton De Tulear, Daschund, French Bulldog, Havanese, Japanese Chin, Lancashire Heeler, Lhasa Apso, Maltese, Miniature Pinscher, Miniature Schnauzer, Papillon, Pekingese, Pomeranian, Pug, Shetland, Shih Tzu, and Volpino.
This is just a sampling of the small dog breeds out there. More exist that are not as well-known, so if none of these many options appeal to you, consider seeking out a dog breeder who works with rare and “specialty” dog breeds.
Of course, nothing says you have to own one of the many purebred small dog breeds out there � they are often expensive, have health and temper issues caused by breeding and the conditions in which they were raised, and the personality of a breeder-raised dog is not that different from a dog available at a shelter. Consider showing some love to a dog that needs a “forever home” instead… your local shelter probably has several small dogs waiting right now.