10 Best Small Dog Breeds for First-Time Dog Owners

Jenna Matisz

Congrats! You’ve made an important decision – to own your first dog!

Looks like you’ve decided to get a small dog too. Great choice! Small dogs tend be less expensive (less food, don’t outgrow beds and collars), great to have around kids due to their size, of course, more portable!

But we get it. How do you go about choosing which breed to get? It can be overwhelming, especially with all of the new cross-breeds on the market. But fear not – we’ve got you covered with a list of 10 of the best small dogs for first-time owners. Happy shopping!

Bichon Frise

bichon frise

This cute and fluffy breed of pups has a bright, playful, and loyal personality. They tend to weigh between 7-12 pounds fully grown and stand approximately 9-11’’, which makes them the perfect companion for small spaces. An added benefit: they don’t shed, so even your small space will be free of fur!

Known to be a generally healthy breed of dogs, Bichon Frises love to exercise and play.

Just a heads up: Bichons require regular high-maintenance grooming due to their coat and don’t like to be left alone for long periods of time.

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Boston Terrier

boston terrier

Although originally bred to be fighting dogs, Boston Terriers are now known for their gentle and affectionate personalities and have even achieved the nickname of “American Gentleman”. They tend to have happy-go-lucky personalities along with a good sense of humour. As an added bonus, they require only minimal grooming.

Growing to about 1 foot tall and between 10-25 pounds, Boston Terriers typically live to the age of 13-15 years old.

Just a heads up: Boston Terriers can sometimes have respiratory difficulties due to their little noses.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

cavalier king charles spaniel

Natural companions, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels love to sit on laps and get belly rubs!. But don’t think they’re lazy – this dog breed also has a sporty side and tends to enjoy athletics and being outdoors. Cavaliers are most definitely people-dogs and will happily greet anyone they meet

This breed tends to grow to around 1 foot tall, weigh between 13-18 pounds and live approximately 9-15 years. They are known to be friendly with children, especially if they are willing to play with them!

Just a heads up: Get ready for brushing as Cavaliers tend to shed regularly.



Cockapoos tend to have big, playful personalities and will happily follow you around wherever you go! Known to be people-oriented, this breed is incredibly friendly and affectionate.

They tend to live between 12-15 years, grow to 1ft 3’’ and weigh approximately 20-25 pounds. An added bonus? They produce low amounts of dander and hair so your home should be mainly free to allergens and fur.



Nicknamed the “Velcro dog”, the Havanese breed is well known for its loyalty and attachment to its owners. They do well in both large and small homes and tend to be active climbers and explorers, which means they need their exercise!

Weighing in at 7-13 pounds and standing between 8-11 inches, Havaneses typically live between 12-15 years.

Just a heads up: Because of their love for their owners, the Havanese breed can sometimes suffer from separation anxiety.



Although the Maltese breed looks like royalty, they are known to be great companions to their owners. They have lively personalities and love to make their owners laugh and smile. They’re also friendly to strangers, both human and animal.

Growing to about 7 pounds and 8-10 inches, Maltese dogs live approximately 12-15 years long. They tend to train well and.

Just a heads up: Maltese dogs can be picky eaters!



The Maltipoo is a popular cross breed of the Maltese and Poodle, making them both fun and affectionate. They love children, being active, and being around other animals.

Maltipoos can range heavily in their weight, typically between 5-20 pounds. They live approximately 10-13 years and grow to stand about 1 foot tall.  They are known to be good dogs for those who have allergies, as they shed very little.

Just a heads up: The Maltipoo loves to bark and will be a loyal watchdog (whether you like it or not!).



Appropriately named with the French word meaning butterfly, the Papillon breed is well known for it’s perky ears that look like butterfly wings. But these dogs are more than just cute. They are highly intelligent and quick learners. They also love to be active and will loyally watch your door for intruders for hours on end.

Papillons tend to live about 12-16 years and are small in size, weighing in at 4-9 pounds and standing between 8-11 inches.

Just a heads up: Papillons tend to be cautious around strangers and other animals.



Peekapoos are family dogs and love being included, especially in active games. This active breed is both loving and protective, making them quick to defend and bark at any potential danger!

Peekapoos grow to be between 10-15 years old, between 4-20 pounds, and approximately 11 inches tall. They live well in apartments and are gentle with children.



Pugs are known for their dramatic sense of humour and their love of showing off. Their well-known wheezing and snorting makes them funny little companions and they love the attention that they get from their owners, so be prepared to have a walking shadow!

Pugs typically grow to be about 1 foot tall, 14-18 pounds, and live approximately 12-15 years. They aren’t thought to be overly active dogs and are usually content spending their time relaxing in your lap.

Just a heads up: Pugs can sometimes be stubborn and difficult to train.

Shih Tzu

shih tzu

This fluffy little breed of pups thrive off of affection and live to be your companion. Though they aren’t likely to hunt or retriever, Shih Tzus will happily welcome your guests and get along excellently with children and other pets.

Due to their small size, Shih Tzu are popular pets for small homes and apartments. They grow to be about 10 inches tall, weigh between 9-16 pounds and will live 10-16 years.

And there you have it! A few of the top small dog breeds for first time owners. Whichever breed you choose, we hope you find joy and companionship in your new family member!

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