Top 10 Calm, Small Dog Breeds to Consider

Calm small dog breeds

Deciding to bring a dog into the family is a bigger deal than most people may think. It is as significant as deciding to have a child. As a doggy dad or mom, you will be responsible for raising the puppy to become a healthy, well-behaved adult dog.  Therefore, it might be best to start with calm & small dog breeds. Too many dogs land up in shelters because people fell in love with cute puppies, but fell out of love when they did not have the time, desire, or money to provide proper care. Those are not through and through dog lovers. It is said that many dog owners are not dog lovers.

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What to Consider Before Bringing a Dog Home

If you’re getting your first puppy ever, it might be wise to start with a calm, small breed. Those are the breeds we’ll discuss here. But first, go through this list of considerations before buying or adopting a puppy.

  • Lifestyle: Are you and your family members active outdoor types that go hiking, jogging, cycling, or skateboarding, or do you spend most of your time curled up with a book or watching telly?
  • Social life: Do you spend most of your time at home or have an active social life that takes you out often? Will the puppy be alone, or will some family members stay home?
  • Work hours: Does your job keep you away from home for eight or more hours on work days? Are your kids at school? Will the pup spend many hours alone?
  • Travel: Are you a frequent traveler, and could your pooch go along?
  • Living conditions: Do you live in a tiny apartment or a house in the suburbs? Do you have a fenced-in backyard or other outside areas where your dog can play?
  • Exercise Time: Do you have enough spare time to take the dog for daily walks, and time to play, and provide mental stimulation for your new canine companion?
  • Other family members: Do you have a spouse and children? Or, housemates if you are single? Is everybody eager to welcome a pooch into the home?
  • Does everyone agree on a small dog, or do you want to research large dog breeds or maybe look at gentle giants like Saint Bernards, Newfoundlands, or Mastiffs? Other options include large breeds like German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, and Irish Setters, or medium breeds like Bassets or Beagles.

If you do, we invite you to explore the rest of

What are the Monthly Expenses For Dog Care?

You should also familiarize yourself with typical dog care-related expenses, some of which are on the list below.

  • Food items
  • Veterinary care
  • Vaccinations
  • Preventive medicine
  • Toys
  • Pet Health insurance
  • Pet supplies like collars, leashes, harnesses, beds, food bowls, water bowls, etc.

Other potential expenses include training, socializing, doggy daycare, dog sitters, dog walkers, etc. Grooming could likely add a significant amount to the maintenance costs. If you choose a little fur ball pooch, they might need professional grooming.

How to ensure you get a healthy, purebred puppy?

Finding a reputable breeder or rescue facility is crucial. A good breeder will match you with the right puppy and will, unquestionably, have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible.

The best way to ensure you get a healthy puppy from a breeder or a rescue organization is to reach out to the registered organizations. The American Kennel Club (AKC) can put you in touch with a registered breeder or rescue shelter.

Recommended Calm, Small Dog Breeds to consider

Dog Food Care’s recommended calm, small dog breeds that follow in no particular order. We’ll tell you a bit about each breed and list their pros and cons. Keep in mind that even dogs from the same breed are unique. For example, one friend might have the calmest Bichon Frisé, while another has the same breed pup, but totally opposite. Hence, we describe the typical characteristics here. You should know that they could have unique attributes, not typical of the breed.

Read on if you still want to commit your love, share your cuddles, and accept unsolicited wet puppy kisses.

Pug Staring at Camera

Pug – Image Shutterstock

1. Pug

Hardly anyone can resist the clownish ways of the Pug. They are the entertainers of the doggy world.  They are actually full of energy despite their lazy look. A small dog that will want to stick right by your side like glue. Playful and adaptable, Pugs make excellent companions for children. These energetic and sturdy little dogs make ideal family dogs, and their small size means they are a good choice for families with younger children.

Pugs stand 9 to 15 inches high at the shoulders, and they weigh between 13 and 20 pounds.


  • Happy-go-lucky pooch and very affectionate
  • Good with other pets and children
  • Loves a cuddle on the couch and doesn’t need much exercise
  • Ideal for apartment living.
  • Not barkers
  • Friendly and playful, even with strangers


  • Prone to health problems, particularly breathing difficulties
  • Can show signs of separation anxiety if left alone too long
  • Suffers in excessive heat, prefers a more temperate climate
  • Can be stubborn

The average cost of purebred Pug puppies is between $800 and $1,500.


Cavalier King Charles Spaniel – Image-Shutterstock

2. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a small dog, between 11 and 13 inches high, and weighing 11 to 20 pounds. Its multicolor coat makes it extremely distinguishable as a purebred dog. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has roots in Britain, where it was kept as a royal dog. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is relatively calm and extremely attentive. Compared to other dog breeds on this list, it will need at least a bit of exercise every day.

The Cavalier Kings Charles Spaniel is the King of Cuddles. A dog who is free with kisses and who loves to play with its family. You’ll find this enchanting little spaniel full of devotion, making it particularly attuned to learning whatever you have in mind.


  • They have a loving temperament.
  • They are polite with everyone they meet, no matter the species.
  • They have the most beautiful soft coat


  • Prone to separation anxiety when left alone too long. This Royal pooch will chew and bark until you return.
  • If they are not socialized properly when young, they can be timid and fearful.
  • They love to chase things. He requires a fenced-in yard or a long leash to get his exercise. If off the lead, he may take off in pursuit of whatever caught his attention.
  • This pooch requires regular grooming because they shed a lot.
  • They are predisposed to serious genetic illnesses that could shorten their life expectancy

Havanese – Image Shutterstock

3. Havanese

The Havanese is the national dog breed of Cuba, and the only breed of dog that is native to Cuba. These little dogs are great companion animals. The Havanese is a sturdy pooch, a member of the toy group. They weigh no more than 16 pounds, and stand about 10 inches high. These precious pooches were bred for companionship and their playful, springy movement sets them apart from other toy breeds. True family pets, the Havanese breed are incredibly loyal and love nothing more than being with their humans. Havanese is ideal for an inactive, laid-back family.


These silky-coated beauties are almost non-shedding, and people with allergies would hardly be bothered.

  • Amusing and adaptable to any house or apartment
  • Sturdily built for a small dog.
  • Playful and are good with children and other pets
  • Eager to please and loves human company
  • A mostly quiet dog, not a barker
  • Enjoys walking or playing
  • Easy to house-train


  • Their long coat needs frequent grooming to keep them clean and healthy.
  • Prone to separation anxiety and associated destructive behaviors
  • May bark excessively due to their watchful nature
  • May be aggressive with strangers if not fully socialized
  • Prone to hereditary illnesses that include hip dysplasia, juvenile cataracts, luxating patellas (bad knees), and cherry eye.
Miniature Schnauzer

Miniature Schnauzer – Image Shutterstock

4. Miniature Schnauzer

With roots in Germany, Miniature Schnauzers worked as vermin catchers in the 1800s. However, they are more laid-back than other traditional terriers with the same skills. Easily trained, Miniature Schnauzers have intelligent minds and love to please their owners. However, they won’t tolerate negative reinforcement in training. As a relatively healthy pooch, these dogs are equally happy to go hiking with their humans, or curl up on your lap by a fire. Weighing in at 10 to18 pounds and standing 11 to 15 inches high, these loyal pets will always watch out for you.


  • Hypoallergenic coat with low shedding
  • Excellent watchdog but NOT guard dog
  • Sturdy and a pretty healthy breed
  • They are intelligent and learn quickly.
  • Loyal to their family and eager to please
  • They enjoy activities like obedience and agility.
  • They adapt to their surroundings.


  • Can be stand-offish with strangers or snappy if nervous
  • Stubborn and doesn’t like harsh reprimands
  • Invents their own “fun” when bored, which may include digging up the garden
  • They do have a prey drive, so no pocket pets in the home.
  • Their coat needs special grooming to keep it looking sharp.
  • They can be barkers if not trained early.
French Bulldog - Image Shutterstock

French Bulldog – Image Shutterstock

5. French Bulldog

A descendant of the English Bulldog in France, the breed was developed in the 1800s as a companion animal. Widely known as “Frenchies,” they are popular dogs, instantly recognizable with their upright, bat-like ears and short nose. They might appear lazy, as they take long naps on the couch or their owner’s lap. However, these pups also have bursts of energy for playtime but don’t require a lot of exercise. Their ideal adult weight is 19 to 28 pounds, but they love food and are prone to become overweight.


  • Quirky, affectionate and playful
  • Suitable for families with or without children
  • Even-tempered and adaptable to new environments
  • Generally good with children
  • They bark rarely
  • With careful introductions and the right socialization, French Bulldogs can get along with other dogs and cats.


  • Doesn’t do well in hot climates
  • Can be stubborn if not trained properly
  • Maybe territorial with other animals
  • Can have breathing difficulties due to the shape of their noses
Two yorkshire terriers in a forest.

Yorkshire Terriers – Image Shutterstock

6. Yorkshire Terriers

It’s hard to imagine that these precious toy dogs were once working dogs in the mines of Yorkshire, England. “Yorkies,” bred as ratters, have evolved after domestication to become one of the most sought-after companion dogs and family pets. A daily walk is generally enough exercise for these pups, and they adore snuggling their tiny 4 to 7-pound fluffy bodies on their owner’s lap for a snooze. You can anticipate 13-16 years of affection from these curious and intelligent fur balls. They are exceptionally protective of their humans. Yorkies will take on dogs double their size to protect their territory.


  • Brave and protective of family
  • Loyal and very affectionate
  • Perfect for families with or without children.
  • Ideal for keeping older people company
  • Low shedding
  • Good watch dog but NO guard dog


  • Can be aggressive toward strangers and dogs if not socialized properly
  • Long coat needs regular grooming and brushing
  • They are fragile and can be injured if handled roughly.
  • May snap at small children who do not yet understand how to handle a small doggy.
  • Stubborn and willful without training
Bichon Frisé - Image Shutterstock

Bichon Frisé – Image Shutterstock

7. Bichon Frisé

Contrary to the myths and tales of the history of the Bichon Frisé, the breed originated in Spain. Later, specific trait development occurred in France to give us the lapdog, Bichon Frisé, that we know today. Roughly translated from French as “furry lapdog”, these fluffy, white clouds weigh in at 6 to 15 pounds. Their average lifespan is 12 to15 years. Regular grooming and bathing will keep a Bichon’s coat in perfect shape. Bichons are a relatively hypoallergenic pet for humans, unfortunately, Bichons can suffer from sensitivities and allergies themselves. Originally bred as companion dogs on sailboats, these moderately intelligent dogs are easily trained and tend to live well with children and other dogs.


  • Easily trained
  • Bred to be hypoallergenic
  • Loves the human company
  • Happy to curl up on the couch or go for a frolic in the forest
  • Small enough to fit in a puppy purse and go along anywhere


  • Lots of grooming required to maintain their coat
  • Yorkies may show separation anxiety if left alone too long
  • Can be territorial and vocal
  • Prone to skin conditions, cataracts, and liver shunts
shih tzu dog

Shih Tzu – Image Shutterstock

8. Shih Tzu

With Tibetan roots, Shih Tzus are sturdy, long-haired pooches. They weigh between 8 and 16 pounds, and have a lifespan of 10-15 years. Shih Tzus tend to have an underbite and a confident strut to their walk with their tail over the back. The Shih Tzu’s happy personality makes it a great fit for most families looking for a small, well-mannered pet. The breed is exceptionally sweet-natured; however, you will have to earn the pooch’s trust. But once you have, you will be rewarded richly with a dog who loves to please you. You will have their loyalty and be their best friend for as long as they live.

The Shih Tzu‘s silky coat requires daily brushing and regular grooming to maintain its glossy glory. These pooches tend to be suitable for families, but can be possessive of toys and food when other pets interfere. They are not an aggressive breed, which is fantastic with kids. 


  • Need little exercise, prefer to snuggle as couch-potatoes
  • Friendly and craves human company
  • Good with children and other dogs
  • Easily trained


  • May bark excessively
  • Can be aggressive or snappy if not properly socialized
  • Can show signs of separation anxiety if left alone for too long
  • Prone to dental disease from an early age
Cute Italian Greyhound dog on yellow background

Italian Greyhound – Image Shutterstock

9. Italian Greyhound

This breed is over 2000 years old and was popular during the Renaissance in Italy. Affectionately called “Iggys”, these slim sight hounds were developed as companion dogs that could hunt small game. They form a close bond with their owners and love curling up under blankets with their humans on cold days. With an average weight of 6 to 11 pounds and a lifespan averaging 12-15 years, these adoring pups will be intensely loyal to their owner.

The Italian Greyhound has a short, smooth, satin-type coat that is easy to maintain. Gently brush him once or twice a week, being careful not to press down hard as he has frail, Bambi-like legs. He also sheds little, making him a low-maintenance breed. Because of the short coat, take particular care of him in the Winter and don’t allow him to become overly cold.

If you’re looking for a sweet, gentle canine friend that does not shed, the Italian Greyhound promises to be just that. They just crave human companionship and are eager to please. He isn’t the ideal playmate for children, simply because he is frail and can get hurt easily in rough play.

Small he may be, but he is intelligent and alert, and he will bark to warn you of strangers. They are essentially indoor dogs, and when you bring one of them into your home, you’ll be rewarded with a devoted, loving and loyal canine friend.


  • Athletic yet needs little exercise
  • Affectionate and trusting
  • Excellent watchdog
  • Good with other dogs
  • Good for older people


  • Wary of strangers
  • May show signs of separation anxiety if left alone too long
  • Energetic and rowdy as pups and loves to dig
  • Can be difficult to train
lhasa apso

Lhasa Apso – Image Shutterstock

10. Lhasa Apso

One of the oldest dog breeds in the world, Lhasa Apsos were developed in Tibet as an indoor guard dog for Buddhist monks. These long-haired beauties weigh between 10 and 18 pounds, and their lifespan averages from 12 to 14 years. Lhasa’s can be different colors, but all will have dark eyes and noses, with curled tails wagging happily over their back. Lhasa coats tend to be long and dense, needing regular brushing and grooming to maintain.


  • Loyal to loved ones
  • Needs little exercise
  • Low shedding breed
  • Protective, good watchdog with excellent hearing


  • Can be stubborn if they would rather not obey an order
  • Need early socialization to prevent aggressive tendencies
  • Can be territorial with other animals
  • Rowdy as pups, Lhasas need patience when training

Additional Options

Other calm & small dog breeds not listed here include:

  • Poodle
  • Welsh Corgi
  • Pembroke Welsh Corgi
  • Maltese
  • Pekingese
  • Pomeranian
  • Boston Terrier
  • Skye Terrier
  • Miniature Poodle
  • Shetland Sheepdog

Hopefully, we’ve given you some

options to consider. 10 big white fluffy dogs

For those who prefer large breeds but are

dead set on a white pooch to love,

here’s more information just for you.

OR dogs that don't shed

for those with allergy issues,

why not pick a pooch that doesn’t shed?



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Mari Serfontein