11 Small Dog Breeds for People Who Like Large Dogs

Many people adore large dog breeds such as Labrador Retrievers and German Shepherds for their energy, athleticism and versatility. But big breeds aren’t for everyone. If you live in an apartment, have small children or aren’t strong enough to handle a canine who weighs more than 70 pounds, you may want to consider a small dog. Now, large dog fans, don’t turn up your nose at the idea of a little breed. Just because a dog is small doesn’t mean he’s a lap dog or can’t do all the things a big dog can do.

We found 11 small dogs whom you just might find to be as active, athletic and spirited as their larger cousins.

Small Dogs for Big Dog Lovers

Longhaired, smooth and wirehaired Dachshunds by the sea

Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography


There’s no mistaking the Dachshund’s signature short legs and long body. Yes, he is the smallest hound, but he certainly has a big personality. The bold and fearless breed never gives up and is known for his determination. These traits can make him difficult to train, so you’ll need to find something that motivates him.

Jack Russell Terrier dog

Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography

Jack Russell Terrier

The Jack Russell Terrier may be only 13 to 17 pounds, but don't expect her to spend much time in your lap. The highly energetic breed needs a full-time job so she doesn’t get bored and destroy your house or yard. Namely, JRTs are diggers. That’s what they were bred to do, so you’ll want to find a way to celebrate — not punish — her drive for digging.

Shetland Sheepdog in a field

Barbara O'Brien, Animal Photography

Shetland Sheepdog

Are you a fan of walking, running or hiking? Then the Shetland Sheepdog is the dog for you. This superb canine athlete, who weighs 30 pounds or less, tends to excel at agility, herding trials and other dog sports. Plus, he’s generally easy to train and can often learn an arsenal of fun tricks.

Miniature Pinscher

Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography

Miniature Pinscher

The tiny and spirited Miniature Pinscher is a Toy dog weighing only 8 to 11 pounds, but he typically doesn’t act like it. Known as the King of the Toys, the Min Pin is an active breed that needs regular exercise and mental stimulation so he doesn’t use his pent-up energy for digging, barking or chasing wildlife.

Beagle dog breed walking

Anna Pozzi, Animal Photography


At 20 to 35 pounds, the popular and outgoing Beagle is a compact dog that can be a great choice for families with kids. Despite his small stature, he’s very much a hunting dog. The breed’s powerful sense of smell, combined with his tendency for selective hearing, can sometimes mean he won’t listen all that closely to your commands. The key to training a Beagle is to make everything you do seem like fun and praise him with treats.

Cocker Spaniel

Olivia Hemingway, Animal Photography

Cocker Spaniel

Generally loving, affectionate and gentle, the Cocker Spaniel can be a great family dog. At less than 30 pounds, the breed is fairly small, so he's unlikely to accidentally knock over young kids, but he's big enough not to be easily harmed by them. The breed needs daily exercise and usually appreciates a game of fetch or dip in the water.

Schipperke dog breed

Lee Feldstein, Animal Photography


Nicknamed the “black little devil,” the 10 to 16 pound Schipperke usually has the brains, speed and athletic ability to rival almost any large dog breed. You’ll want to channel his energy into daily 20- to 30-minute walks or dog sports such as agility, flyball, obedience and rally. And if he’s in good health, he can even be a good jogging buddy.

Miniature Bull Terrier lying on grass with a toy

Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography

Miniature Bull Terrier

Generally fun loving and mischievous, the Miniature Bull Terrier is sometimes called the “kid in the dog suit.” While he is smaller than the bigger Bull Terrier, he typically has just as much energy as his larger counterpart, so it’s a good idea to keep this rambunctious breed busy with activities like agility, earthdog trials or therapy dog work.

Shiba Inu

Tara Gregg, Animal Photography

Shiba Inu

Considered a national treasure in Japan, the Shiba Inu is a small dog with a spirited nature who appreciates a nice walk or hike with his family. Just be prepared: If Shiba Inus are not properly trained and socialized, they can sometimes grow up thinking the world revolves around them. And they have a special way of getting what they want (hint: yodeling).

Pembroke Welsh Corgi dog breed

Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography

Pembroke Welsh Corgi

With his take-charge attitude and friendly smile, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi is often described as a cross between a cruise line director and a school hall monitor. Like many herding dogs, he can be a little bossy. But thanks to his small size, the breed generally adapts well to almost any living situation as long as he gets enough exercise.

Boston Terrier

Leesia Teh, Animal Photography

Boston Terrier

Whether you want a canine athlete or couch potato, the Boston Terrier is usually happy to do anything — as long as she’s by your side. The small but sturdy dog is portable, fun and tends to like everyone she meets.

More on Vetstreet.com:


Join the Conversation

Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!