8 Small Dog Breeds You've Probably Never Heard Of

We’re all familiar with Toy and Miniature Poodles, Pugs, Lhasa Apsos, Shih Tzus, Yorkshire Terriers and Chihuahuas. They’re the little dogs who often have big brains, big hearts and big attitudes. But they’re not alone. The world is full of small dogs with special characteristics.

Let us introduce you to eight small breeds you might not be aware of — yet. We're sure you'll fall in love with at least one of them.

Lesser-Known Small Dog Breeds

Alaskan Klee Kai Curled Up on Carpet

Leesia Teh, Animal Photography

Alaskan Klee Kai

When you see this dog, you might assume he’s a Siberian Husky puppy, but chances are he’s full grown and full of himself. This pint-size Spitz breed, developed by an Alaskan woman who wanted a companion-size version of the Alaskan Husky, is known for his alert nature and high activity level. He typically enjoys going for runs and can be a super watchdog who tends to be reserved toward strangers. The dogs weigh between 10 and 20 pounds and are 13 to 17 inches tall.

Bolognese dog playing in field.

Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography


We’re not talking about a tasty spaghetti dish here. This typically smart and comical member of the Bichon family of dogs has long, wavy hair and a strong need for human companionship. The Bolognese tends to prefer to be in your lap or accompanying you wherever you go, whether that’s for a walk around the block or on a vacation to his homeland of Italy — the city of Bologna, of course. The Bolognese can be good with children, but perhaps does best in a home with older children, who will treat him respectfully, and can require daily grooming to keep his curls comely.

Dandie Dinmont

Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography

Dandie Dinmont Terrier

Meet the only dog breed named for a fictional character. Guy Mannering, Sir Walter Scott’s 1814 novel, features a farmer named Dandie Dinmont and his six Terriers, whose names all include the terms "mustard" and "pepper." These unusual dogs have a long, low body; a large head with a silky topknot; and a tail that curves upward like a scimitar, or sword. Dandie Dinmonts weigh 18 to 24 pounds and come in two colors related to their fictional forebears: pepper, a dark bluish-black to light silvery gray with tan legs and feet; and mustard, reddish-brown to pale fawn with a creamy white topknot and ear feathering, and legs and feet that are darker than the topknot.

English Toy Spaniel

Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography

English Toy Spaniel

You’re probably quite familiar with his slightly larger cousin, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, but the ET, as he’s known for short, has his own special set of charms. Generally quirky and quick-witted, the English Toy Spaniel can be regally aloof one minute and goofy and giddy the next. He tends to be a curious and gentle dog whose activity level varies, ranging from moderately active to sedentary lap dog. He weighs eight to 14 pounds and is 10 inches tall.

Lowchen Dog Breed

Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography


This dog’s name is German for “little lion,” and he often has the charismatic personality of the king of beasts, if not the size. The Lowchen's long, soft coat can be trimmed to enhance the resemblance with a mane, “cuffs” of hair around the ankles, a bare rear end and a bare tail with a pouf of hair on the tip. This tends to be a lively and humorous dog who typically loves people. He weighs about 15 pounds.

Manchester Terrier dog breed

Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography

Manchester Terrier

The sleekly handsome Toy variety of this breed weighs up to 12 pounds, but he often has the ratting instincts that made him popular in the British city of Manchester, from which he takes his name. No rodents are safe when he’s around. The typically energetic, alert and playful Manchester also comes in a Standard but equally portable size of 12 to 22 pounds.

Portuguese Podengo Pequeno  dog breed

Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography

Portuguese Podengo Pequeno

If you’ve seen the movie Three Wishes, Soccer Dog or Zeus and Roxanne, then you’ve seen a Podengo. The breed comes in three sizes, the smallest of which — the Pequeno — weighs eight to 14 pounds and stands eight to 12 inches tall. Despite his small size, he can be an avid hunter and alert watchdog who is typically wary of strangers. Think twice before bringing him home if you have a cat or pocket pet, such as a hamster.

Silky Terrier

Tetsu Yamazaki, Animal Photography

Silky Terrier

Often mistaken for a large Yorkie or small Australian Terrier, the Silky is actually a descendant of both breeds, created in Australia in the late 19th century. The eight-to-10-pound Terrier is typically smart and sassy, energetic and playful. He can be as much of a digger as any other Terrier and often enjoys barking at and chasing furry critters. The Silky’s long blue-and-tan coat should be brushed and combed several times a week to help keep it tangle free.

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