Small dogs are very popular with families with young children, those living in apartments or where there isn’t a lot of space, and for those who are wanting a cute little companion to sit on their lap or to pop in their bag when they’re on the move.
Some may prefer a small dog as they are considered cheaper to keep than a larger dog as they eat less and potentially may have lesser veterinary costs. Small dogs are also known for their longevity – generally having a longer life expectancy than their larger cousins.
But what is even better than a cute little dog? An intelligent, cute small dog! Here we delve into eleven of the smartest small dog breeds. Small dogs typically weigh in at under 35 pounds.
Some dogs are more comfortable to train than others, but this doesn’t necessarily mean they are smarter. Some dogs have a strong ability to think, learn, and solve problems, while others can recognize social structures and their responsibilities.
Which dog to choose for your pet can be a difficult decision. What attracts us to our dogs can be various traits – some obvious – some not so. Just like in humans, we are attracted to some personalities and not others.
1. Miniature Poodle
Miniature Poodles are trained for various dog sports and make great companions. They were initially bred to hunt for truffles. They love attention, so they are anxious to please, making them easy to train.
However, they can be quite dominating. These dogs can bark and have been known to bite if overwhelmed with attention. Toy poodles are slightly smaller than Miniature poodles.
Weight: 9 to 17 pounds
Height: 10 to 15 inches
2. Yorkshire Terrier
A common dog to be found in their owner’s purse! These little terriers are energetic and were bred, in Yorkshire, UK, initially to catch rats. They have strong personalities and are relatively easy to train.
These little cuties make great companions for young and old. They look exquisite and delicate but can also be feisty and a little bossy – a faithful Terrier.
These fine-haired little pooches travel well but will need a jacket on in the cooler weather.
Weight: 4 to 7 pounds
Height: 8 to 9 inches
3. Shetland Sheepdog
Also known as the Sheltie, these dogs look like a smaller version of the Collie. As the name suggests, they originated from the Shetland Islands of Scotland.
They are very active, easy to train, and like their larger cousin, the Border Collie, they make excellent agility dogs. These dogs were herding dogs and had a lot of energy. They are quick learners and can follow complicated instructions.
An exceptional dog for sensing danger also. Due to their gentle and affectionate behavior, they make perfect family dogs.
Weight: 11 to 24 pounds
Height: 13 to 16 inches
The Papillon is a lovely little dog that gets its name from its butterfly-shaped ears. A Spaniel breed, they have another name, ‘the Continental Toy Spaniel.
These dogs are very social and are great sports dogs. They make beautiful playmates due to their eagerness to move and respond well to incentives, very energetic dogs who are smaller than their personality.
Of course, being so little, they are easily carried.
Weight: 4 to 9 pounds
Height: 8 to 11 inches
The Pembroke Welsh Corgi and Cardigan Welsh Corgi are very similar small dog breeds and are little herding dogs, thought to have been used to drive camels and cattle.
They are very active dogs, despite their small stature. They are eager to please and can be taught just about anything. This dog is known as the ‘dwarf dog’ due to its short legs with a relatively disproportionate long body.
The main difference between these two corgis is the Pembroke has a bobbed tail and pointed ears, whereas the Cardigan has a long tail and more rounded ears.
Weight: 24 to 30 pounds
Height: 10 to 12 inches
6. Miniature Schnauzer
These dogs are thought to have been bred from the Standard Schnauzers with Poodles. Amazingly they are hypoallergenic due to their wiry-hair, so they make the perfect pet for those who suffer from allergies. They do, however, require regular grooming.
This breed is known for its ‘schnauzer’ or mustache. They are speedy to learn new tricks and are very aware. Being this alert, they love to bark.
Weight: 11 to 20 pounds
Height: 12 to 14 inches
7. Brussels Griffon
These inquisitive dogs originate from Belgium (hence the name) as rodent hunters. They are easy to train and require a lot of attention.
They are active and curious little dogs and intensely fun-loving.
These hairy dogs have been likened in appearance to Chewbacca from Star Wars! Not an ideal lap dog due to their boundless energy.
Weight: 8 to 12 pounds
Height: 7 to 10 inches
The Schipperke originated from Belgium and, historically, was used for guarding boats on the canals. They need many exercises and are known to have a strong personality and can be a bit fiery.
The mischievous dogs have the nick-name of ‘Little Black Devil.’ As well as being used for guard dogs, they are also used now for drug-seeking, as rescue dogs, and as hearing-loss companions.
Weight: 6 to 19 pounds
Height: 10 to 13 inches
Pomeranians are long-haired lapdog who make great companions. This Spitz-type dog is named after the Pomerania region in Poland, where they originated from.
They have descended from the larger German Spitz dog. This is an active breed and can be easily trained. You will often see them competing in dog sports as they are easily taught various commands.
Now they are frequently trained as therapy companions for the ill or elderly.
Weight : 3 to 7 pounds
Height: 8 to 11 inches
10. Fox Terrier
These terriers have a keen sense of smell and were initially bred for hunting foxes and clearing them out from their hiding spots. They are fearless and love to dig and play, making them a great companion for any age group.
They make a fantastic watchdog due to their keen eyesight and an acute sense of smell. There are two varieties of Fox Terrier – smooth or wire-haired.
The Wire Fox Terrier is hypoallergenic, so a great companion for allergy sufferers.
Weight: 15 to 20 pounds
Height: 12 to 16 inches
11. Rat Terrier
As can be guessed by the name, this little guy has excellent hunting abilities and has been used mostly on farms to catch rats. This American bred dog is an agile and fast little hunter who loves to please. They are very loyal and loving and are easily trained.
Rat Terriers have been described as stubborn as they were prepared to be independent hunters, so they do not always work coherently with humans.
Weight: 9 to 24 pounds
Height: 9 to 18 inches
A dog can fulfill your life with so much fun, and a smart dog can be a terrific companion. When considering a dog to join your family, there are many factors to consider to ensure the breed you choose will be a suitable match.
If you are not particularly active, then best not have a dog that requires many exercises. If you have younger children, a dog that doesn’t like too much attention and having his ears pulled may not be a wise choice.
Intelligent dogs need to have stimulation and love to please their owners; this sounds great but could be problematic if you are busy or absent. A bored or frustrated dog can quickly turn into a naughty dog.