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.

Related Story: 11 Tiny Dogs With Big Personalities

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


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.


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.

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

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.

Shibu Inu

Considered a national treasure in Japan, the Shibu 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).

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.


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

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.

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.

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

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.

By Laura Cross | vetstreet.com

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Mary Deforest
Mary Deforest3 years ago

I've many of the dogs on this list as being nervous, yappy, aggressive. Aussies try to herd the kids, even you like they herd sheep and cows, so they nip- and get in your way.
Many minitures are nippy and yappy. Somebody down the block got a little yapper this week. All of the time, and my coonhounds are baying and bawling, because the yapper sounds like it's hurt. The yapper is quiet today-maybe they took it back. Mine are happy and quiet. TG I have long-legged coonhounds- seniors-My next dog can't yap-especially shrill. I'd be looking for something on the lazy side-certainly not a terrier, doxie. If I weren't old and losing my walking abilities, I'd get another coonhound, so I don't want some yapper tripping me, nipping or tearing up the furniture. About the only dog on the list that makes sense is the Cocker Spaniel. They are usually pleasant-laid back dogs. Another bad thing about Doxies is that they are bred to dig, and they go crazy if they can't dig.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

donna m.
donna m3 years ago

I do have a Miniature Schnauzer, she's small for her breed, 10lbs and all noise. I've had several over the years, this one is typical is some ways and not in others. Size doesn't necessarily mean docile or easily managed.

donna m.
donna m3 years ago

lol, these small breeds can be little terrors, at the very least they are usually overly vocal. I've known several of these breeds and stay as far away from some of them as possible. However, that does not reflect on all of them I'm sure...just my unfortunate experience.

Valentina R.
Valentina R3 years ago

"If you live in an apartment or have small children you may want to consider a small dog"

And your whole article just lost half of its credibility in the very first paragraph. Way to go.

Many large or medium-sized dogs are better apartment dogs than several small ones.
Quiet giants such as Mastiffs and Saint Bernards are definitely more couch potatoes than the breeds you listed; the Jack "Devil" Russell, seriously? In a flat? With children? Why don't we give a Border Collie to your 90 years-old grandma?

And I would only recommend a handful of small dog breeds for a family with children. Out of this list, I'd say only the Boston Terrier, which is very playful and juvenile, and possibly the Beagle (only because it's very docile and has the perfect size for children, surely not 'cause it's affectionate as hell).

But what do I know, right?! I'm just a dog trainer and parent of two gorgeous medium-sized mutts who indeed HATE to stay indoor with us :-0 and you're one who likely thinks Labradors and Golden are the most perfectest dog breeds for children, evar.

Back on the title topic, there's no doubt some of these small breeds have a ton of character - a bad one. You can keep the "Toys" and "Miniatures", I'll stick with my normally-shaped dogs.

Glennis Whitney
Glennis W3 years ago

Great article, these dogs would be great for people who live in apartments, all nice little doggies, thank you for caring and sharing.

Rachel Nichols
Rachel Nichols3 years ago


Karen E.
Karen E3 years ago


Greg Harding
Greg Harding3 years ago

we are looking for a dog so this was a welcome read, thank you

Christine V.
Christine V3 years ago

First I've heard of the Schipperke