The Top 10 Small Dogs in Australia

Small dogs are everywhere… whether running rings around the big dogs at dog parks or trotting alongside their owners along suburban streets, being chauffeured around the shops in a pram or carried about in a handbag or backpack, small dogs definitely appear to be some of our favourite companions.

There are lots of fantastic small dog breeds available, and most of them make wonderful companion animals. Perfect for those who haven’t quite got the space needed for a Great Dane or Border Collie, these pint sized pets are not just cuddly fluff balls or lap accessories – in fact, many of them have just as much personality and energy as their much bigger cousins. Plus they’ve got that cuteness factor!

There are a number of small breeds that have found permanent places in the hearts of Australians for generations, as well as some newcomers that have jumped into our hearts more recently. These breeds – and the even tinier miniature, toy and teacup varieties – are those that generally weigh under 10 kg. Here are the most popular small dog breeds in Australia at present, in no particular order,  along with a brief description. Is your next best friend on the list?

1. Pug

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Loyal and playful

An ancient breed, the Pug is a small dog known for its wrinkly face and curly tail. Pugs have square, compact bodies with deep chests and well-formed muscles. Their coat is short and glossy, and most often is fawn-coloured. Their lower teeth often rest further forward than the upper, and as a result most Pugs have under bites.

Pugs are well suited to many types of owners, including elderly people and families with young children. They are very loyal, affectionate and loving towards their owners and often follow them wherever they go. Though strong-willed, Pugs are very rarely aggressive and are very fond of children and get along well with other pets.

They are fine for apartments and small dwellings and will cope without a yard. Although playful and lively, they are a relatively inactive breed, they can be prone to overeating and so should be taken on daily walks. They do not cope well in hot or cold weather and therefore should be kept indoors at a comfortable temperature.

Healthy male Pugs weigh around 6 – 9 kg and stand at 30 – 36 cm tall, while females are usually 6 – 8 kg and between 25 and 30 cm tall. The life expectancy of the Pug is 12 to 15 years.


2. Miniature Dachshund

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Independent and loving

The Miniature Dachshund, affectionately known as Doxie, has a long muzzle, almond-shaped eyes, and three coat varieties – shorthaired, wirehaired and longhaired. They have an independent nature, which can make them more challenging to train.

With their loveable temperament and bright personalities, Miniature Dachshunds make great family pets and  loyal companions. They love nothing more than curling up under a blanket with their owners and they enjoy the company of other dogs, especially other Dachshunds.  They also make great watchdogs.

Be aware – their long back can be injured if not handled with care, so young children should always be supervised. They don’t require a huge amount of exercise, so are a great choice for the elderly and less mobile. They do need to be kept on the lead during walks because they have a strong hunting drive and will take off if they catch a scent.

The Miniature Dachshund weighs about 4.9 kilos at the age of 12 months and they stand at about 13 to 18 cm. Dachshund’s have an average lifespan of 12 to 15 years.


3. Cavoodle

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Affectionate and clever

The Cavoodle (a.k.a Cavapoo), a cross breed of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and the Miniature Poodle, is the most popular small to medium designer breed in Australia. Cavoodles usually have soft, wavy or curly coats which tend to shed a little since Poodles do not shed but Cavaliers do. Cavoodle puppies come in a variety of colours, and as it is not a standardised breed, no two puppies look the same.

The Cavoodle temperament combines the best traits from the Cavalier and the Poodle to create an intelligent, affectionate, playful and eager-to-please family companion. They are highly trainable, obedient and are very easy to teach. They thrive on the company of their family and other household pets, and do not like to be left alone.

As a mix between Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Poodle parents, you can expect Cavoodles to be small to medium, depending on the size of the Poodle parent. Generally, they stand at 30 – 35 cm tall and weigh between 5 and 12 kg, although many are smaller or larger. Their lifespan is around 10 to 14 years.


4. Chihuahua


Intelligent and devoted

The Chihuahua is the smallest breed of dog and is named after its place of origin in Chihuahua, Mexico.  The breed became exceptionally popular in the USA 1930s and 40s and since the 60s they have consistently ranked among the AKC’s most popular dog breeds. They are also very intelligent – in terms of body to brain ratio, Chihuahuas have the biggest brain of any dog breed.

Chihuahuas have big personalities and are often fiercely devoted to one of its owners – which can occasionally result in them become over-protective, snappy or reserved around strangers. This aspect of their temperament makes them a poor option for families with young children. On the other hand, as they are a low-maintenance breed, they can make great companions for the elderly and families with older children.

Despite their small stature and the temptation to carry them around, Chihuahuas have a lot of energy. They should be taken on a daily walk and allowed to roam in an enclosed indoor or outdoor space. If their exercise needs are not satisfied, the dog may become anxious, neurotic, and develop a number of other behavioural problems.

The average Chihuahua (both male and female) stands at about 15 – 23 cm tall and weighs just 1.7 – 3 kg. Like other small dog breeds, the Chihuahua has a rather long lifespan – up to 18 years.


5. Maltese

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Intelligent and lively

One of the oldest toy breeds, the Maltese a fine-boned dog with long white flowing hair, dark eyes and a dark nose. Maltese are very intelligent – they have been used for therapy dogs and have also competed in agility and obedience events. They can, however, be stubborn about their house training.

The Maltese is a spirited, lively little dog with a great personality that is suited to all type of owners and that thrives in its owner’s company. Considered to be the ultimate lap dog, the Maltese is not really suited to households with very young children because of its fragility. Maltese are very suitable for apartment dwellers as they don’t really require a backyard or a whole lot of outside exercise, but they do love to play games. Maltese do tend to be prolific barkers especially if they are left alone for extended period.

Maltese weigh about 3 or 4 kgs.  Males stand 21 cm to 25 cms and females stand 20 cm to 23 cm. The lifespan of the Maltese is 15 years or more.


6. Pomeranian

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Playful and alert

The Pomeranian, affectionately known as the “Pompom”,  is a small, Spitz-type toy dog known for its long, soft fur that comes in the widest variety of colours of any dog breed. The Pomeranian has featured in the top 20 most popular dog breeds in the USA every year since at least 1998.

Very playful, active, friendly and intelligent dogs, they are incredibly alert and will often bark when encountering new environments, people or animals. They are great watchdogs and will alert you when there are visitors. However, this behaviour can often get out of hand and they can develop a habit of barking excessively.

Pomeranians make great companions for elderly people and people who live in apartments as they are very active indoors, especially when given toys. They do, however, need a daily walk – Pomeranians who do not receive sufficient mental and physical stimulation can develop behavioural problems.

The Pomeranian weighs less than 4 kg and is usually around 13 – 28 cm tall. The life expectancy of a Pomeranian is between 12 and 16 years, but a well-bred, well-fed and well exercised dog can live even longer.


7. French Bulldog

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Loyal and friendly

The French Bulldog has a small to medium stature and a lean and muscular build, with a large head and short legs. They have proven a popular choice for families and people living in apartments as they don’t require a lot of space to keep them occupied and aren’t prone to barking without good reason.

The French Bulldog is popular for its unique appearance and clownish, good-spirited behaviour. A playful, friendly and reliable dog with a good reputation for playing nice with kids, it is an energetic and loyal companion. Although the breed requires little dedicated exercise beyond a daily walk, consistent human contact is required and indoor living is a must.

A healthy French Bulldog will weigh between 10 – 13 kg and will generally live for between 12-16 years.


8. Jack Russell Terrier

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Happy and energetic

The Jack Russell Terrier is compact and muscular, very spirited and energetic, with a reputation as being the small dog with the big attitude. Developed as a fox hunting breed, the Jack Russell is a tenacious and stubborn breed that tends to show aggression towards other dogs, especially those of the same sex. Its hunting background is also strongly reflected in its drive to pursue prey, whether people, other animals or cars.

Jack Russells have a great reputation for being happy and adventurous little dogs. As hunting dogs, they are extremely energetic and require a great deal of physical and mental stimulation, as well as human interaction, to remain healthy and happy. While they do enjoy living indoors, a backyard is best for the breed and daily walks are essential. If you’re not in the position to thoroughly exercise your Jack Russell at least once or twice a day, it may not be the breed for you.

The average Jack Russell Terrier measures between 25 to 38cm and should weigh between 6 to 8 kg. They are known to generally live to a good age and rarely come down with serious illnesses during their lives. A healthy Jack Russell will live to a ripe old age of between 13 and 16 years of age.


9. Miniature and Toy Poodle

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Eager and loyal

The Miniature Poodle and Toy Poodle are smaller versions of the Standard Poodle, a water retriever hunting dog. Poodles of all sizes are known for their thick, tightly curled and hypoallergenic coats that came in a variety of colours and require professional grooming and clipping to look their best.

Regardless of their beautiful and delicate appearance, the Miniature and Toy Poodles have an alert, eager and energetic nature. They are very intelligent, loyal, joyful and playful, with a reputation for getting into mischief if they’re not stimulated with games and exercise – at least one or two daily walks – and they can develop ongoing behavioural problems if not given enough human attention.

While generally good-natured, the Toy and Miniature types aren’t recommended for small children, who can inadvertently hurt them. Toy Poodles don’t have as much patience for kids as the standard type; they will nip and growl if they feel fear and confusion, and younger children may unknowingly provoke them.

Miniature and Toy Poodles generally measure between 24 and 28cm and should weigh between 3 to 4 kg. The average Toy Poodle will live for between 12 to 15 years.


10. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

Affectionate and good-natured

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has long floppy ears, a short, stubby nose, a moderately long coat, and a well-feathered chest and tail. Officially classified as a toy breed, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was originally developed by crossing King Charles Spaniels with Pugs.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are very affectionate, energetic and eager little dogs. They are very gentle, kind and good-natured, love human contact and need a good deal of it to thrive. They have a great reputation with children, and are generally very tolerant of other pets in the home, even cats. They are keen to please and are therefore quite easy to train.

They are extremely happy indoors, even smaller dwellings like apartments or townhouses, but a small backyard is best. Their high energy requires that they be walked at least once a day, but keeping them on a leash is essential. Because of their hunting background, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is prone to chasing cars, bikes and other smaller animals.

The average Cavalier King Charles Spaniel measures between 30 to 33cm and a healthy dog will weigh between 5 to 8 kg. The life expectancy for a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is about 9 – 14 years.


If you’re interested in looking at some other small dog breeds, visit our complete list of small dog breeds available in Australia.

*Please note, any pet insurance advice provided is general only. Refer to the applicable Product Disclosure Statement for details of Bow Wow Meow Pet Insurance cover.
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