Dogs Under 20 Pounds – Top Small Breeds for Every Lifestyle [with Photos]

Dogs come in all shapes and sizes, but there’s something particularly endearing about those adorable pups that weigh under 20 pounds.

Perfect for individuals who live in smaller spaces or simply prefer a more portable canine companion, these pint-sized pooches have a lot to offer.

Not only are they generally easy to transport, but they also have lower food and medication costs than their larger counterparts.

When it comes to the variety of breeds that fit within this lightweight category, you’ll find an impressive array of options. From the royal Bichon Frise with its hypoallergenic qualities and history of accompanying European nobility, to the energetic and curious Alaskan Klee Kai, there’s a diminutive dog to suit every lifestyle and preference.

dogs under 20 pounds
Dogs Under 20 Pounds: Top Small Breeds for Every Lifestyle

If you’re searching for a faithful friend that’s big on personality but small on size, these under 20-pound dog breeds just might win your heart. So grab a seat (or your lap) and prepare to be charmed by these canine companions that prove size isn’t everything.

Popular Breeds Under 20 Pounds


Affenpinschers, also known as “monkey dogs,” are small, fearless pups with a big personality. Weighing between 7 to 10 pounds, they make excellent apartment pets and are low-shedding, making them suitable for allergy sufferers. Just don’t let their tiny size fool you – they have a large character and are known to be quite mischievous!

Affenpinscher on a leash
Affenpinscher out on a leash.


Dachshunds, often called “wiener dogs,” are small but mighty. These elongated pups weigh between 16 to 32 pounds for the standard size and under 12 pounds for the miniature size. They might be low to the ground, but their confidence reaches the skies.

happy Dachshund
Happy Dachshund standing on the floor.

Dachshunds can be a bit stubborn, but they’re also known for their loyalty and love of playtime.

Brussels Griffon

The Brussels Griffon may weigh in at around 7 to 12 pounds, but they have enough personality to fill a room. With their unique faces, quick intelligence, and boundless energy, they make great companions and apartment pets. Their expressive eyes and lovable antics can often provide a good giggle.

Brussels Griffon
Brussels Griffon sitting in the backyard.


Chihuahuas take the crown as one of the smallest dog breeds, weighing in at under 6 pounds. These pint-sized pups are the embodiment of “big things come in small packages.” They are fiercely loyal, super alert, and bold.

Chihuahua on his dog bed
Chihuahua sits on his dog bed and waits for his owner.

Don’t be surprised if your Chihuahua decides they’re the boss of the household!


These little bundles of fluff, known as Maltese, weigh between 4 to 7 pounds and are famous for their silky, white coats. They’re affectionate and playful, loving nothing more than being in your lap or entertaining you with their gentle games. Eager to please, Maltese dogs make for fantastic family pets or companions for individuals.

beautiful Maltese dog on a bench
A beautiful Maltese sits on a bench.

Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkshire Terriers, or “Yorkies” for short, are tiny dogs with big attitudes. Weighing in at 4 to 6 pounds, their long, silky coats often make them appear larger than life. Yorkies are quite adventurous and express their unique personalities with spunk and sass.

Yorkshire Terrier sits on a chair
A Yorkshire Terrier sits on a blue chair.


Papillon, French for “butterfly,” refers to this breed’s distinctive ears. With a weight between 5 to 10 pounds, Papillons make excellent companions, and their playful nature keeps their humans entertained. Fun fact: Papillons are also known to have a bit of a competitive streak – they excel in various dog sports such as agility and obedience.

Papillon dog
Papillons are tiny and cute pups! But they are ENERGETIC


The Pug is a small breed that typically weighs between 14 to 18 pounds. Their wrinkled faces and big, round eyes capture hearts easily, while their loyalty and good humor make them the life of the party. Pugs are quite content with a good snuggle, a tasty treat, and a short walk around the block.

two Pugs stand together
The two Pugs stand together and look confused.


Fluffy and energetic, Pomeranians weigh between 3 to 7 pounds and often resemble tiny foxes. Their spunky attitudes and sense of adventure make them big personalities in small packages. While Pomeranians have a reputation for being divas, they’re also delightfully affectionate and intelligent companions.

Pomeranian on the grass
A white Pomeranian smiling on the grass.


Wrapping up our list is the Corgi, a fan favorite and internet staple. Their adorable short legs, big ears, and friendly nature never fail to make us smile. Though they may weigh up to 30 pounds, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi is usually lower in weight, averaging around 20 pounds.

Corgi waits for food
The Corgi gets ready and waits for dog food!

These herders prove that good things really can come in small packages.


Family Compatibility

When looking for a dog that’s under 20 pounds and perfect for family life, there’s a wide range of breeds to consider. You’ll find that many small dogs are more than happy to snuggle up with you and your children, making them excellent family companions.

puppy growls when picked up
Reader Linda emailed us and asked “My puppy growls when I pick her up. Help!”

For families with young children, the Bichon Frise is a brilliant choice. These fluffy, affectionate pets have a history of being loyal companions to royalty, so they practically have “family dog” in their DNA. They’re not only great with kids but also friendly towards other pets.

Another small breed that fits well in family life is the Beagle. These energetic, vocal dogs might make you feel like you have a miniature Sherlock Holmes on your hands, as they love to sniff out mysteries (or, more likely, that missing sock). Beagles are wonderful playmates for children and are known for their gentle nature.

While coddling a Shih Tzu might make you feel like you’re treating yourself to a living pillow, bear in mind that this breed was once an “under the table” dog in China. Though they’re perfect cuddle partners, they also expect a lot of attention, which could be a consideration for families juggling many responsibilities.

Remember to think about your family’s specific needs and lifestyle when choosing a small dog. Some breeds require more exercise or grooming, while others are content with a slow walk or calm playtime.

Having a small family dog can bring joy and added warmth to your home. Just don’t be surprised if your pint-sized furry friend ends up ruling the roost with their adorable charm and undeniable love for their human pack.

Grooming and Shedding

When it comes to dog breeds under 20 pounds, grooming and shedding requirements can vary significantly. Some breeds require minimal grooming, while others may take a bit more effort.

dryer and slicker brush
A woman holds a dryer and a slicker brush.

Here’s a closer look at some examples of low-shedding and easy-grooming dog breeds under 20 pounds:

  • Greyhound: Despite being small, Greyhounds are known for being very clean house dogs. Their smooth coat sheds less than other short-haired breeds. You might not even need to brush it—just give them a good rubdown with a soft, damp towel. However, don’t let their speed fool you into thinking they’re high-maintenance pups!
  • Coton de Tulear: This fluffy, toy dog sheds minimally and gets along well with both people and other pets. The Coton de Tulear spends most of its day lounging around the house with its family, proving that not all small dogs require a rigorous grooming routine.
  • Dachshund: A lovable and affectionate dog breed, the Dachshund makes a great couch buddy. Long-haired doxies need slightly more grooming than the short-haired or wire-haired variety, but all of them make excellent companions. Just be patient with their stubborn personalities!
  • Beagle: This small scent hound is known for its intelligence, stubbornness, and generally low grooming needs. Brushing them every few days is all they need to stay fresh and clean. Plus, they have a knack for making you laugh with their antics.
  • Boston Terrier: With a weight range of 12-25 pounds, Boston Terriers not only fit the size requirement, but they also boast low shedding and easy grooming. They’ll appreciate a good brush every now and then, but they certainly won’t take up your entire day primping in front of the mirror.

It’s important to remember that each dog is unique, and grooming and shedding requirements may depend on factors such as their environment, health, and age. However, these breeds tend to be lower maintenance in general, without any excuses for their fabulous, cozy fur. So go ahead, cuddle up to your low-shedding, easy-grooming pup—they just might persuade other dog lovers to join the small dog club!

American Kennel Club (AKC) Categories

When it comes to small dogs under 20 pounds, the American Kennel Club (AKC) has got you covered. There are numerous breeds in this weight range that belong to various AKC groups. To give you a better understanding, let’s explore some of the AKC’s Groups that include these tiny canine companions.

gently walks towards owner
A small dog walks gently toward the owner.

Out of the seven AKC groups, the Toy Group is the one where you’ll find most dogs under 20 pounds. These breeds are known for their small size and, as the name suggests, lovable, toy-like appearance. They often serve as companions, warming people’s hearts and laps alike.

Some well-known Toy breeds include:

  • Pomeranian
  • Chihuahua
  • Pekingese
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Pug

Another AKC group that features small dogs, albeit to a lesser extent, is the Terrier Group. Terriers are feisty, energetic, and love to dig. Fun fact: The word “terrier” actually comes from the Latin word “terra,” which means “earth.” Here are some Terrier breeds that fall under 20 pounds:

  • Norwich Terrier
  • West Highland White Terrier (aka Westie)
  • Scottish Terrier (aka Scottie)

That’s not all, some smaller breeds from other AKC groups might also weigh less than 20 pounds. So, while browsing through the Sporting, Hound, Working, Non-Sporting, and Herding Groups, keep an eye out for some small wonders, like the Dachshund or the Schipperke.

In summary, the American Kennel Club is a treasure trove of information on petite pups. So, whether you’re a fan of Toys or an earth-loving Terrier fanatic, the AKC has a small breed for every dog lover. Just remember, they might be small in size, but they’re big in personality!

Other Small Dog Breeds

different puppy breeds
Different breeds of puppies running at the beach!

Bichon Frise and Bolognese

These fluffy companions, the Bichon Frise and Bolognese, are known for their playful demeanor and adaptability to small spaces. They both typically weigh under 20 pounds. With their history of royal companionship, it’s no wonder they’re popular choices for small dogs!

Boston Terrier and Cairn Terrier

Both the Boston Terrier and Cairn Terrier make excellent small companions, with the Boston Terrier often being nicknamed the “American Gentleman” for its tuxedo-like coat. These charming buddies are known for being intelligent, making them a great addition to the family.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Italian Greyhound

The affectionate Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and the agile Italian Greyhound are examples of small dogs with contrasting appearances. While the Cavalier has a regal look with long, flowing fur, the Italian Greyhound is more streamlined and athletic.

Miniature Pinscher and Australian Terrier

The feisty Miniature Pinscher and the versatile Australian Terrier both showcase big personalities in small packages. Don’t be fooled by their size; these little dynamos can impress with their energy and loyalty.

Dachshunds and Alaskan Klee Kai

With their unique body shapes, Dachshunds (often called “wiener dogs”) and the Alaskan Klee Kai offer fascinating alternatives to the standard small dog breeds. Though different in appearance, both breeds are known to be energetic and full of character.

Bedlington Terrier and American Hairless Terrier

The Bedlington Terrier, with its unique lamb-like appearance, and the American Hairless Terrier showcase how diverse small dog breeds can be. From the adorable to the exotic looking, there’s a small dog breed for every preference.

Basenji, Border Terrier, and Havanese

All three of these breeds – the intelligent Basenji, the agile Border Terrier, and the social butterfly Havanese – offer engaging personalities and manageable sizes. They each have distinctive traits, suitable for numerous preferences.

Japanese Chin, Maltese Dog, and Pugs

Small but mighty, these three breeds are known for their loving nature and distinctive looks. The Japanese Chin, Maltese Dog, and Pug are each excellent examples of how small dog breeds can cater to various tastes and lifestyles.

Whether you prefer a little lap dog, like the Toy Poodle or a sturdy worker like the Pembroke Welsh Corgi, the American Kennel Club has a diverse range of small dog breeds under 20 pounds. From the show stoppers like the Chinese Crested to the ever-popular French Bulldog, there’s a loyal, pint-sized companion for any pet lover out there. Just don’t forget to keep the Miniature Schnauzers away from the Biewer Terriers, as they might think they’re encountering a kindred spirit – with a totally different haircut!

Selecting the Right Small Dog

Pembroke Welsh Corgi with a woman
Pembroke Welsh Corgi cuddles with her owner.

Activity Level

When choosing a small dog under 20 pounds, it’s important to consider their activity level. Some small breeds, like the energetic Alaskan Klee Kai, may require more exercise and mental stimulation, while others, like the Yorkshire Terrier, are content with a daily walk and some playtime. It’s essential to find a dog that matches your lifestyle to ensure a happy and healthy relationship.

Coat Type

Another factor to consider when selecting a small dog is their coat type. Some small breeds have low-shedding coats, like the Bichon Frise, which can be great for those with allergies. On the other hand, breeds like the French Bulldog have short, smooth coats that require minimal grooming.

Considering your preferences and capabilities for coat maintenance will help you choose the right dog for you.

Delicate Dogs

Lastly, it’s important to be aware of the delicate nature of some small dog breeds. For example:

  • Tiny dogs like the Japanese Chin can be more prone to injuries, especially when interacting with larger dogs or children.
  • Overfeeding can lead to weight gain, which can cause health issues in smaller dogs, such as the Affenpinscher.

Being conscious of these factors will help you provide a safe and nurturing environment for your new small dog.

In conclusion, considering the activity level, coat type, and delicate nature of small dog breeds will help you make an informed decision when selecting your new pet under 20 pounds. Happy dog hunting!