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Popular Small and Toy Dog Breeds in the UK

Small dog breeds have become much more popular within recent years. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Pomeranians, French Bulldogs and of course, Chihuahuas, are the focus of a lot of social media accounts and can be perfect companions for a lot of people! Find out what the most popular small dog breeds in the UK are and learn a bit about them here.


Small dogs have captured the hearts of dog owners for generations, and while they may be small in stature, they’re big in personality. Historically, small dogs were bred for many reasons, using their size as an advantage. The smallest dog recorded was a Chihuahua that measured at 3.8 inches, but there is a lot of size variation within breeds. Dachshunds were originally bred for hunting in burrows, whereas the Pekingese was bred to be a lap-dog companion. Nowadays, small breeds are seen as dogs that can easily fit into any lifestyle due to their small size, however, this is not necessarily the case! Here we outline some things to consider before you get a small dog breed, and take a look at three popular small dog breeds in the UK.  


Which food to feed your small breed dog

A lot of pet food manufacturers produce diets designed for smaller breeds. James Wellbeloved makes specific diets for small breed dogs . These foods come in all four protein variants (duck, fish, lamb and turkey) and are available in grain-free as well. This food has a higher energy density to meet their needs and is a smaller kibble to ensure it is manageable for even the smallest of mouths!  


Exercising your small breed

As a rule, it is thought that smaller dogs require less exercise, however each animal is different, so the activity levels of each dog aren’t necessarily breed-dependent.  Jack Russell Terriers were originally bred to help with hunting and so can be very bouncy, high energy dogs that require a lot of exercise and mental stimulation. Brachycephalic breeds, such as French Bulldogs and Pugs, are characterised by their short flat noses. Due to this, these breeds should avoid strenuous exercise.  


How often should I groom my small breed?

How often you should groom your small dog will vary depending upon the length of hair and their daily activities. The commonality among a lot of small breeds of dog is that you can often give them a variety of different looks. There are a lot of long-haired small dogs, and each breed will typically have a specific clip, but at the end of the day it really is up to you. Some people like to clip their Yorkies’ fur short, whilst others like them to have a long skirt. If you choose to keep your dog’s fur long, it’s important that you groom your dog a couple of times a week to make sure that their fur isn’t matting or storing anything it shouldn’t be!  


What are the most popular small dog breeds in the UK?


Shih Tzu


Shih Tzu


The Shih Tzu is a very common breed that looks like a miniature lion, but a whole lot cuter. This boisterous little breed requires a lot of love and affection as they generally thrive on human attention. Shih Tzus often have a happy temperament and can get along with pets and humans alike, making them a perfect addition to the family home. However, be warned, if you’re looking for personal space then a Shih Tzu may not be the dog for you – they require almost constant attention.  

Quick facts:

  • Adult weight (Male and Female): 4-7 kilos, reaching adult weight at 10 months
  • Height of around 8 – 11 inches
  • Will generally live to between 11 and 14 years
  • Can be prone to heat stroke


Jack Russell Terrier


Jack Russell


Small but strong, the Jack Russell is a devoted companion who always wants to help. Whether you’re looking for someone to share a home with, or a means of managing unwanted pests in sheds, you get everything rolled into one with this diligent breed. Be warned garden owners – Jack Russells often love to dig. Your new companion might take it upon themselves to clear your garden of all rodents and if so, you can say goodbye to that lovely lawn – it’s just part of their nature. With this much energy, you’re going to have to put the effort into training your new Jack Russell to have any form of control over it. By keeping them busy though, you shouldn’t have too much hassle with this breed. As hunting dogs, they’ll see cats as prey – so we recommend that you don’t mix and match pets if you’re considering a Jack Russell. They can get along with other pets, but it generally helps if they’re introduced as puppies. If you’re looking for a loyal dog with plenty of love to give, then the Jack Russell is definitely the breed for you.  

Quick facts:

  • Originally bred for fox hunting
  • Generally reaches between 6-8 kg in weight
  • Although a terrier, the Jack Russell is generally smaller than other breeds of terrier
  • Life span of 13 – 15 years


Yorkshire Terrier


Yorkshire Terrier


The Yorkshire Terrier, affectionately known as a Yorkie, is one of the most characteristic toy dogs in the canine universe and will certainly add a new lease of life to your home. If there’s one stand-out feature of the Yorkie, it’s their wonderful coat. Long, fine and incredibly smooth – it’s one of the most glamorous coats going. With steel blue hair throughout and a tan face to contrast, the Yorkie is a stunner. Yorkies can come in a wide variety of sizes, but all are within the category of the UK’s smallest dogs. They can lack confidence and may be nervous or snappy towards younger children as a result, so if you have small children in your household the Yorkie might not work out. Otherwise, we’re sure your new Yorkie will fit right in straight away.  

Quick facts:

  • The Yorkie was bred for vermin hunting originally
  • Can reach between 1.8-7kg in weight
  • Will live to around 16 years old


Smaller breeds of dog can make great family pets, but it’s really important to research the breeds you are considering before getting one. This way, you can ensure that you can meet all of their needs and that they are the perfect fit for your lifestyle!