Dog Breeds
top 10 small breeds

Small Dog Breeds UK - The Top 10 Small Dog Breeds

Written by Steph McCulloch


Discover the top 10 small dog breeds for your lifestyle. Learn about characteristics, care tips, and more in our comprehensive, expert Waggel guide!
Two small dogs playing together


Small dogs can have a little bit of a bad rep at times. Often stereotyped as yappy and shrill, we think this is unfair and like most stereotypes - completely untrue. At Waggel, we’re here to challenge that opinion!

Small dogs are among the most popular breeds for families and it’s not hard to see why. Tiny but mighty - small dogs are just as full of love as any gentle giant.

Perfectly suited to studio apartments or van life, small dogs deserve just as much recognition as their large counterparts. You can’t exactly fit a Rottweiler in a backpack now, can you?

Just like humans, no two dogs are the same. So we've created this guide to help you learn more about the wonderful world of tiny dogs. Continue reading to find out all there is to know about the best small dog breeds UK!

If you're looking for super cute cross breeds, our guide to the top poodle cross breeds is the perfect place to start.

Top 10 Small Dog Breeds in the UK


a cute pug small dog breed

Coming in strong is the Pug. Pugs hail from China and are one of the oldest recognised small dog breeds in the world - we’re talking roots back in 400 B.C.

Small but compact, this toy breed is the perfect addition to any family home, getting on extremely well with adults and children alike. Considered the perfect little pooch, Pugs are a kind-natured and friendly small dog breed sure to make the ideal companion for any dog lover.

French Bulldog

small dog breeds, French bulldogs

Bred for human companionship, the loyal French Bulldog is a lovable small breed guaranteed to be obsessed with their owner and make excellent family dogs.

Everything about the French Bulldog is small and compact until you get to the ears - giving them a bat-like appearance that is just too cute to resist. As a flat-faced dog, they're instantly recognisable, especially with their funny facial expressions.

French Bulldogs - affectionately known as Frenchies - love cuddling and make the perfect couch potato pet if you’re into lazy weekends spent watching TV.


bulldog small dog breeds photo

Similar to their French counterpart, the English Bulldog is a larger, mastiff-type of dog with a wrinkly face and adorable personality.

Contrary to popular belief, the English Bulldog has a gentle personality and is great with children.

Although on the larger end of the small dog breed scale, the English Bulldog is a kind, friendly dog with an easygoing nature.

They're also easy to take on their walkies as they have little excess energy. This means a 15 min walk or short daily exercise is enough for them to crash out for a doggy nap when they get home. Perfect for those with a busy family life.

A short playtime for their enjoyment and mental stimulation is also something they will surely appreciate.

Miniature Schnauzer

Miniature Schnauzer small dog breed

The Miniature Schnauzer is a German breed that is highly trainable (they're one of the more intelligent dog breeds - no offence to the others) and are also hypoallergenic - meaning you can wave goodbye to your antihistamines and say hello to an obedient best friend.

If you'd like to see a full list of low-shedding dogs, you can see our post here: dogs that don't shed.

Miniature Schnauzers are full of personality making them feisty sidekicks for all of life’s adventures. If you’re looking for a big character in a small package, the Miniature Schnauzer may just be the perfect pet for you.

Jack Russell

Jack Russell Small Dog Breed Photo

The Jack Russell is a firm favourite when it comes to small dog breeds UK. Despite their size, Jack Russells are fearless with a big appetite for adventure - their loyalty truly knows no bounds.

What Jack Russells lack in size, they make up for in their huge character providing hours of entertainment for you and your family. Due to their high energy levels, they’re sure to keep you on your toes and need lots of exercise - think of them as a personal trainer that keeps you active though might occasionally try and steal your shoes.

Yorkshire Terrier

A Yorkshire Terrier Small Dog

Yorkshire Terriers are actually a unique mix of both terrier and toy dog making them feisty but small enough to pick up and sit on your lap.

Whilst you may feel tempted to pop your Yorkie into a fashionable bag and parade them around - allowing them to walk as much as possible on their own four feet will help them to become independent and confident.

We know it can feel natural to want to baby your tiny pup, but Yorkshire Terriers have innate territorial instincts and will happily warn off any threats and bad vibes. They’re also cuddly at times and like to snuggle with their owners. Best of both worlds, right?

Bichon Frise

small dog breeds photo of a Bichon fries

The Bichon Frise is the powderpuff of the dog world. With their happy-go-lucky temperament and playful personality, the Bichon Frise is a chilled-out dog and can often be left alone for hours at a time.

As long as you’re prepared to come home and offer your undying love, the Bichon Frise will be your new best friend for life. They also make great little watchdogs so be prepared for the occasional bark at the postman - who likes those guys anyway?


Pomeranian dog breed

Like the Bichon Frise, Pomeranians are also great watchdogs - despite looking adorably cute and fluffy. Great with children, these alert pooches are also very clever and can be easily housetrained.

If you look up the word ‘self-aware’ in the dictionary, you’re sure to find an image of a Pomeranian.* This small breed is independent and intelligent - taking to potty training super quickly and content with being left alone in the home.

*This could potentially be a lie.


a chihuahua

All hail the Kings and Queens of Small Dogs. The Chihuahua is one of the best breeds of small dogs UK. Adored by celebrities in the early 2000s, the Chihuahua has remained a well-recognised small dog breed ever since.

Though technically they’re considered lap dogs, Chihuahuas are very active and like to be kept busy with toys and training. They’re also super loyal and would do their very best to protect you, though they are indeed tiny dogs so we wouldn’t advise you to promote your Chihuahua to bodyguard duties any time soon.

Shih Tzu

A shitzu laying in grass

The Shih Tzu has become one of the most popular small dog breeds, especially in the UK. This is because they have adorable faces and sweet personalities making them great family pets.

They’re friendly, playful, and cute. What more could you possibly ask for? The Shih Tzu also has a very low prey drive meaning they’re great with children and other pets. Taking this into consideration, it really is no wonder they’re such a popular small dog breed.


a group of small dogs

Small dogs are often misunderstood and, in fact, make great pets! Small dog breeds are loyal, affectionate, and independent making them the perfect pet for both new and experienced owners. They often adapt quickly to changes in environment and tend to get on well with children.

We hope that if you’ve had any misconceptions about small dog breeds our guide of the top 10 best small dog breeds UK has changed your mind for the better and helped you to realise how great these tiny cuties can really be.

Contrary to popular opinion - small dog breeds are not as needy as some people may think! If you’re a busy bee and always on the move - a small dog could be perfect for you as they don’t require as much exercise as a larger dog would and are often happy to be left alone if you need to pop out of the house.

As always, it is important to remember that every dog has a different personality and no two can be compared so before buying or adopting a dog do your research.

If opting for a longer-haired small dog, it’s important to consider grooming responsibilities as forgetting to do so can result in a very unpleasant experience for your pooch and let’s be honest - who would want tatty hair?

Whilst they may look like adorable furry babies, allowing your dog to remain independent and adventurous will help you (and your family) experience the joy of owning a small dog for many years.

It can be difficult not to, but overprotecting your small dog can cause them to feel nervous and anxious. It can also lead to health issues if they’re not able to stretch and walk freely - so maybe put the dog handbag back for now and let them roam around on all fours.

You’ll be surprised at how independent and confident these little guys can be!

If you're looking for other small dogs, we have another super informative guide to teacup dogs.

Alternatively, if you are looking for the perfect family dog, check out our best family dogs guide. We also have guides to breeds with long ears and breeds with pointy ears. Our guide to all the Spaniel breeds is also chock full of amazing breed photos so you can see all the different types of spaniels.

Waggel Pet Insurance

Need more help? You're in luck if you're a Waggel Pet Insurance member. Along with our excellent coverage, we offer access to a 24/7 online vet to answer all your sticky questions, especially if you need grooming assistance.

Not a member? Why not get a quote now and cover your furry friend for a range of illnesses, all while enjoying our amazing perks and rewards.

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