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The 30 most popular small dog breeds in America

The dog is man’s best friend. Doggos are by far the most popular kind of pet in America, according to American Pet Products Association’s 2019-2020 National Pet Owners Survey.
To identify the most popular small dogs in the United States, 24/7 Tempo used the most recent rankings (from 2018) of the most popular breeds in the country, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC).

30. Border Terriers
Overall AKC rank in 2018:
88 out of 195
Life expectancy: 12-15 years
Temperament: Affectionate, happy, plucky

Border terriers stand out because of their unique head shape. The head looks like an otter’s head. These dogs, who were bred by farmers along the Scottish-English border to run along with foxhounds, stand about 15 inches tall and weigh about 15 pounds.

 

29. Basenji
Overall AKC rank in 2018: 87 out of 195
Life expectancy: 13-14 years
Temperament: Independent, smart, poised

The Basenji is a breed known for not barking — its nickname is Africa’s “barkless dog” (it originated in the Congo) —but it is not silent. This type of hound dog whines and whimpers just like any other breed.

 

28. Russell Terrier
Overall AKC rank in 2018: 82 out of 195
Life expectancy: 12-14 years
Temperament: Alert, inquisitive, lively

Russell terriers were originally bred to be used as foxhunters in England. They are very active and energetic. These small dogs don’t usually grow taller than 12 inches and weigh between 12 and 15 pounds.

 

27. Coton de Tulear
Overall AKC rank in 2018: 81 out of 195
Life expectancy: 15-19 years
Temperament: Charming, bright, happy-go-lucky

This tiny dog is known for its soft white coat that feels like cotton— or “coton” in French. Its nickname is the “Royal Dog of Madagascar,” because it’s originally from the island country in the Indian Ocean.

 

26. Chinese Crested
Overall AKC rank in 2018: 79 out of 195
Life expectancy: 13-18 years
Temperament: Affectionate, alert, lively

The Chinese crested belongs to the toy group: a class of small but very affectionate dogs. They are known for their spotted pink skin and feathery tail and ears. The coated variety is called the “powderdruff.”

25. Lhasa Apso
Overall AKC rank in 2018: 71 out of 195
Life expectancy: 12-15 years
Temperament: Confident, smart, comical

The Lhasa apso goes back more than a millennium with roots as sentinels in Tibetan monasteries high in the Himalayas. The breed is famous for its very long, flat-hanging coat. It is the earthly representative of Tibet’s mythical protector, the Snow Lion, according to the local folklore.

 

24. Miniature Pinscher
Overall AKC rank in 2018: 70 out of 195
Life expectancy: 12-16 years
Temperament: Fearless, fun-loving, proud

Min Pins, often called the “kings of toys,” don’t usually grow more than a foot tall. Where they come from is unclear but some experts say they may be a cross between a dachshund and an Italian greyhound.

 

23. Cairn Terrier
Overall AKC rank in 2018: 69 out of 195
Life expectancy: 13-15 years
Temperament: Alert, cheerful, busy

Cairn terriers were bred to be fearless and to hunt foxes and other small prey. They like to spend time outside where they can explore and dig around. After all, these dogs lived on preserves and farms in Scotland for centuries.

 

22. Cardigan Welsh Corgi
Overall AKC rank in 2018: 68 out of 195
Life expectancy: 12-15 years
Temperament: Affectionate, loyal, smart

Corgis are famous for being Queen Elizabeth’s favorite dogs and she’s had many since the 1940s. She has Pembroke Welsh corgis; the Cardigan Welsh corgis are their close cousins. The way to tell them apart is to look at the tail: Cardigans have tails; Pembrokes do not.

21. Scottish Terrier
Overall AKC rank in 2018: 57 out of 195
Life expectancy: 12 years
Temperament: Confident, independent, spirited

Scottish terriers have been among the most popular dogs in America since the late 1930s when Humphrey Bogart and Shirley Temple had them. Contrary to popular belief, Scotties can be trained, even though it may take longer because they are very independent.

20. Papillon
Overall AKC rank in 2018: 54 out of 195
Life expectancy: 14-16 years
Temperament: Friendly, alert, happy

Papillons belong in the toy group of dogs. They typically measure between 8 and 11 inches high and weigh between 5 and 10 pounds. One of their most distinctive features is their big, wing-shaped ears. They make the dog look like a butterfly, hence the name papillon, which means butterfly in French.

 

19. Bichon Frise
Overall AKC rank in 2018: 46 out of 195
Life expectancy: 14-15 years
Temperament: Playful, curious, peppy

It’s easy to see why many people would love to have a Bichon frise. Their baby faces and fluffy fur, which is always white, and the fact that they are always happy and affectionate, make them irresistible. The Bichon, as the breed is often called, descended from the Barbet of Water-Spaniel breeds, hence the name “Barbichon,” which was later shortened to “Bichon.”

 

18. Shiba Inu
Overall AKC rank in 2018: 44 out of 195
Life expectancy: 13-16 years
Temperament: Alert, active, attentive

The Shiba Inu is originally from Japan. It is the smallest, and some say the oldest, spitz dog that came from the country. Just like the Scottish terrier, it may take a long time to train the Shiba Inu, and training has to start when it’s really young because it’s very free-spirited and independent.

17. West Highland White Terrier
Overall AKC rank in 2018: 42 out of 195
Life expectancy: 13-15 years
Temperament: Loyal, happy, entertaining

Westies, as they are called for short, were bred to hunt underground rodents like rats. Don’t be fooled by their size,  standing just about 11 inches at the shoulder and their sweet personality, these white terriers are very strong and tough.

 

16. Basset Hound
Overall AKC rank in 2018: 39 out of 195
Life expectancy: 12-13 years
Temperament: Charming, patient, low-key

Basset hounds, also known as hush puppy dogs, were bred to hunt rabbits and other small prey by following their scent. They are known for their long low-set ears that drag on the ground (which helps them pick up a prey’s smell).

 

15. Maltese
Overall AKC rank in 2018: 37 out of 195
Life expectancy: 12-15 years
Temperament: Gentle, playful, charming

The Maltese is one of the friendliest dogs out there. It is extremely social and does not tolerate being alone very well. This toy dog is known for its silky, straight and thick fur covering its body. The Maltese may be a good choice for people with allergies because it sheds very little.

 

14. Miniature American Shepherd
Overall AKC rank in 2018: 34 out of 195
Life expectancy: 12-13 years
Temperament: Good-natured, intelligent, devoted

The miniature American shepherd looks just like a regular American shepherd but smaller. Similar to other herding dogs, the mini has a lot of energy and is very loyal. It also loves horses.

 

13. Chihuahua
Overall AKC rank in 2018: 33 out of 195
Life expectancy: 14-16 years
Temperament: Charming, graceful, sassy

The chihuahua is among the smallest dogs. It is no more than 5 to 8 inches tall and weighs no more than 6 pounds. It is one of the oldest South American breeds dating back to the 15th century and is a national symbol of Mexico.

 

13. Chihuahua
Overall AKC rank in 2018: 33 out of 195
Life expectancy: 14-16 years
Temperament: Charming, graceful, sassy

The chihuahua is among the smallest dogs. It is no more than 5 to 8 inches tall and weighs no more than 6 pounds. It is one of the oldest South American breeds dating back to the 15th century and is a national symbol of Mexico.

 

11. Havanese
Overall AKC rank in 2018: 24 out of 195
Life expectancy: 14-16 years
Temperament: Intelligent, outgoing, funny

Havanese is the only dog breed of Cuban origin. It is very social and makes a wonderful city dog. Two of the more famous people who had Havanese are Charles Dickens and Ernest Hemingway.

 

10. Pomeranian
Overall AKC rank in 2018: 23 out of 195
Life expectancy: 12-16 years
Temperament: Inquisitive, bold, lively

The Pom, the smallest of the spitz breeds, is one of the world’s most recognizable toy breeds thanks to its double coat and foxy face. It is very easily trained and can quickly master tricks. The dog is typically about 6 inches tall and weighs between 3 and 7 pounds.

 

9. Shih Tzu
Overall AKC rank in 2018: 20 out of 195
Life expectancy: 10-18 years
Temperament: Affectionate, playful, outgoing

The Shih Tzu, which means “lion dog,” is famous for being really sweet with children. It was developed by imperial breeders in the palace of the Chinese emperor, but does perfectly fine living in an apartment.

 

8. Miniature Schnauzer
Overall AKC rank in 2018: 19 out of 195
Life expectancy: 12-15 years
Temperament: Friendly, smart, obedient

These minis were bred to be all-around farm dogs and are great watchdogs. Two of their signature features are the bushy beard and eyebrows. They were bred from their cousin, the standard schnauzer, which has a lineage going back to the 1400s.

 

7. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Overall AKC rank in 2018: 18 out of 195
Life expectancy: 12-15 years
Temperament: Affectionate, gentle, graceful

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel breed is about a century old. It is a mixture of a toy breed with the athleticism of a sporting dog. It is a house dog that loves to hang out with people and doesn’t like to be left alone.

 

6. Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Overall AKC rank in 2018: 13 out of 195
Life expectancy: 12-13 years
Temperament: Affectionate, smart, alert

Fans of “The Crown,” a popular Netflix show about the British royal family, will recognize the Pembroke Welsh Corgi as it is Queen Elizabeth’s favorite dog breed. It is a herding breed that can be a wonderful pet if its owners are as physically active as it is.

 

5. Dachshund
Overall AKC rank in 2018: 12 out of 195
Life expectancy: 12-16 years
Temperament: Friendly, curious, spunky

The dachshund, which belongs in the hound group of dogs, is known for its long, low body and little legs. The standard breed does not usually grow higher than 8 or 9 inches and the miniature is about 5 or 6 inches tall. It is a national symbol of Germany.

4. Yorkshire Terrier
Overall AKC rank in 2018: 10 out of 195
Life expectancy: 11-15 years
Temperament: Affectionate, sprightly, tomboyish

Yorkies are known today as cute lap dogs, but they were originally bred to be ratters in mines and mills. They may be tiny and weigh no more than 7 pounds, but they have the personality of a real terrier: tenacious, feisty and brave.

3. Poodle
Overall AKC rank in 2018: 7 out of 195
Life expectancy: 10-18 years
Temperament: Active, proud, very smart

Poodles are perhaps the most famous aristocrat dog breed. They have a reputation for being dumb and sassy but this could not be farther from the truth. They are actually among the smartest dogs. Poodles are also very athletic and can be easily trained. Standard poodles are larger dogs while the miniature and toy breeds are small.

2. Beagle
Overall AKC rank in 2018: 6 out of 195
Life expectancy: 10-15 years
Temperament: Friendly, curious, merry

The beagle, a scent dog, was bred to hunt and live in packs. It is very social and likes the company of other dogs as well as people. There are two types of beagles but neither grows taller than 15 inches.

1. French Bulldog
Overall AKC rank in 2018: 4 out of 195
Life expectancy: 10-12 years
Temperament: Adaptable, playful, smart

Famous for their “bat ears,” the French bulldog is great for people who live in the city, as it is very adaptable. The French bulldog is a relaxed and loyal dog, which makes it ideal for single owners as well as couples and families.