Don't let these wee wonders fool you—their bodies may be tiny, but their hearts are as big as they come.

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Let's face it: sometimes little replicas of normal things are simply precious, and this is also true of miniature dog breeds. They're just itty-bitty furballs of lap-lovin' goodness!

However, not all weensy doggos are related to their full-size lookalikes—they might be different breeds altogether, and not even from the same region. For example, although both sighthounds, a bellissimo Italian greyhound isn't the miniature version of a cosmopolitan greyhound.

Jo Myers, DVM, of Salida, Colo. is a telehealth practitioner on Vetster. She notes that it's essential for potential pet parents of mini dog breeds to carefully research their health. "A person who has fallen in love with a miniature dog needs to also be prepared to deal with the associated health problems that come along with these breeds," she says. "An unfortunate result of our selective breeding over the centuries is that we've also unintentionally increased the incidence of many types of illnesses."

Miniature dogs frequently have eye conditions, dental issues (which if unchecked, lead to more serious health problems), and heritable diseases specific to the breed. Petite pooches are also some of the longest-living dog breeds, so it might also be helpful to consult a veterinarian to learn more about a furry friend that's captured your fancy. Because one look at the diverse selection below of big-hearted, pint-sized pups, and they'll be hard to resist!

Miniature Pinscher

black-and-tan miniature pinscher
Credit: Tara Gregg / EyeEm / Getty

A miniature pinscher dog is barely a foot tall, but has an expansive personality! Expect about 10 pounds of spunky love from this little guy, who's 110 percent dedicated to his hooman and not hesitant to broadcast a rousing bark alarm if anything is amiss. A true original, a 'min pin' isn't a Doberman pinscher's mini-me, though. Both are dogs with German heritage, but aren't related.

Miniature Schnauzer

gray miniature schnauzer standing in grass
Bred to rid German farms of vermin, miniature schnauzers have a high prey drive. Keep your pup on a leash or in a fenced-in yard so he doesn't bolt after a passing squirrel.
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Even experienced dog owners are wowed by the wonderful talents of miniature schnauzers. Off-the-charts intelligence, an eagerness to learn new tricks, and mad agility skills are standard features of this bearded 11–20 pound pooch. Miniature schnauzer dogs are also huge lovebugs, so don't expect to nap or even shower in peace, as they don't understand personal space.

Chihuahua

young girl holding chihuahua
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Un poquito Chihuahua (so small—maybe 6 pounds and 6 inches tall overall, and that's generous) is one of the best miniature dogs ever. Fiercely loyal and full of pluck, she might be the most mini on this list, but transcends her size with a massive personality and ample amounts of adoration for you. A 'Chi' commands the spotlight, so positive reinforcement training is totally her jam.

Miniature Poodle

two rust-color miniature poodles
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The continental miniature poodle hails from both Germany and France. Is she brilliant? Ja! Is she sweet? Oui! This devoted middle child stands about 10–15 inches high, whereas standard poodles are larger and toy poodles are smaller. A sought-after miniature dog that doesn't shed (much!), she's quite content in a home with adults and older children where walks, games of fetch, and snuggles are frequent.

Miniature American Shepherd

miniature american shepherd standing in grass
Some miniature American shepherds have heterochromia, meaning the pup's eyes are two different colors. This unique trait just makes them look even more beautiful!
| Credit: Yuval Helfman / Adobe Stock

Blink, and you'll think an Australian shepherd just whizzed by! And with good reason, as the miniature American shepherd descends from the famed miniature Aussie cattle dogs of the Old West. Sliding into the upper range of miniature dog breeds at 20–40 pounds, an occasional grass-sniffing, squirrel-chasing routine won't be enough for this high-energy, whip-smart, people-lovin' doggo. Have your hiking boots ready and a few games, too.

Miniature Bull Terrier

Miniature Bull Terrier on sidewalk
Credit: Irina / Adobe Stock

Cheerful clown? Check. Mischievous? Check! Bull terriers used to come in standard, miniature, and toy sizes, but the toys decreased in popularity over time. Standing about 14 inches tall, the stocky, robust, and vocal miniature bull terrier looks like a real toughie but is actually a big softy. Because he's naturally rambunctious, he relies on you for early socialization and consistent skill training to amp up his charm.

Italian Greyhound

Young Italian Greyhound resting on young girl's lap on boat
An Italian greyhound's favorite place? In your lap! These dogs love being around their humans and don't do well when left alone for extended amounts of time.
| Credit: Ippei Naoi / Getty

She's an elegant Roman beauty, whereas her distant relative the greyhound consorted with queens and pharaohs of Egypt. The gentle, sensitive Italian greyhound is terrific for first-time pet owners if they keep in mind she's not a fan of being home alone. (We wouldn't want to be without her either!) While wee—about 7–14 pounds and 15 inches high—she's speedy, and likes to stay active.

Japanese Chin

black-and-white japanese chin
The ancient Japanese chin has been traced back to travelers on the Silk Road, where they kept traders company.
| Credit: Brooke Jacobs / Getty

Just signed an apartment lease and eager for a cuddly canine companion? A Japanese chin will put tiny paw prints all over your heart. At about 11 inches tall and 11 pounds, he's the most miniature of the brachycephalic dog breeds, but low maintenance and ready for a car ride anytime! Likes: chillin' out with calm adult pet parents, a movie, and plenty of treats. Dislikes: jobs to do, a lot of exercise.

Papillon

tan-and-white papillon lying on deck
Credit: Purple Collar Pet Photography / Getty

Once known as a 'dwarf spaniel' (averaging 5–10 pounds), the papillon is the most miniature dog breed in the spaniel line. Her silky-soft coat and wide, feathery ears (papillon is French for 'butterfly') convey a 'pamper me' come hither, but she's as ruff and tumble as a pooch twice her size! Full of feisty goodness and high intelligence, a papillon will beat you at any puzzle game, but give other dogs and cats in the family a freebie.

How to Choose the Best Miniature Dog for You

If you want to get a puppy from a breeder, Myers advises finding one devoted to their particular type of dog. "As a result, they'll be working conscientiously and ethically to produce puppies who are the best examples of this breed possible," she says. This helps you avoid puppy mills, scams, and other unsavory breeding operations.

She recommends these key questions to ask a miniature dog breeder: 

  • How long have you been breeding this type of dog?
  • What do you love about this particular breed?
  • Are your puppies raised in a home around family members?
  • Have your breeding dogs been screened for health issues like 'X, Y, and Z?' (For these questions, make sure to have a list of the predisposed medical conditions research associated with your desired pup.)
  • Can you please show me the results of the genetic testing for the sire and dam?
  • How many breeding dogs do you have?
  • What do you like to do with your dogs?

"A breeder who prioritizes healthy puppies over everything else will select which animals to breed based on their health and genetics, as opposed to which ones are the most 'typey' or popular based on superficial characteristics," Myers says.