7 Small Dog Breeds for People Who Like Big Dogs

Small Dog Breeds for People Who Like Big Dogs
Published 10-24-2023

Big dogs have their charms. But certain circumstances decide our preference for us. If you live in an apartment, have young children, no outdoor space or access to a nearby park, or "simply" cannot handle a big dog right now, you can turn to a smaller dog breed.

Don't you make that face when I say smaller dog breeds! Small dogs can offer as much energy and love as large dogs can. They are not limited to being just lap dogs; they are capable of much more.

Two pug puppies posing in a wicker basketHow to Find the Perfect Small Breed Dog

Some small breeds possess boundless energy and display a larger-than-life personality. This blog post aims to introduce six delightful and dainty small dogs that perfectly suit individuals who favor larger dog breeds.

These particular canine breeds will undoubtedly challenge and reshape any preconceptions or stereotypes you may hold about small dogs.

Finding the Perfect Small Dog

Larger dog breeds are undeniably athletic and versatile. However, let's not lose hope just yet! We have carefully curated a list of six smaller breeds with the same level of fun, activity, and energy as their larger counterparts.

6 Small Dog Breeds for People Who Like Big Dogs

1. French Bulldog

These dog breeds have sturdy builds and captivating bat-like eyes. Among the most popular small dog breeds in the world is the French Bulldog, which bears striking resemblance to its larger relative, the Bulldog. 

Frenchies are small dogs known for their oversized personalities. But don't take their small size lightly because these dogs have attentive personalities that help as incredible watchdogs. 

Nonetheless, French Bulldogs are highly adaptable. They can thrive in a spacious mansion or feel just as content in a cozy apartment.

These sociable canines get along well with other dog breeds and never miss a chance to make new human friends. An adorable breed that offers consistent devotion to their owners so you can enjoy every moment with them.

You will enjoy the time spent with your Frenchie because they are funny and loving. Picture them as bodyguards, giving off an intriguing aura of personality when you least experience it, but have a funny, notorious personality behind the scenes.

2. Pootalian

A Pootalian is an Italian Greyhound Poodle mix. So, if you're looking for something with the intelligence of an Italian Greyhound with the cuddle demand of a Poodle, then an adorable Pootalian is your answer. 

A Pootalian is an active and aggressive breed like their Italian Greyhound parents. They are affectionate to their owners but rough around other dogs and children. This breed is perfect for people who enjoy a dog that knows how to handle themselves but still clings to you all day!

3. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Golden Retrievers are famous for their goofy energy. Their high energy levels are the reason they are among the top three breeds in the United States. 

But there's no need to worry because we've discovered the delightful energy of Golden Retrievers in a smaller package.

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, being a toy breed, possesses an incredibly affectionate nature. These furry companions treat every dog and human as their friend (though they may not excel at guarding duties).

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are known for their friendly and playful nature, making them excellent companions in any household. Additionally, Cavalier enjoys participating in family activities, enhancing their role as the perfect house dog.

4. Cocker Spaniel

A breed so small that they will never accidentally knock over your kids. Their size ranges from 13 to 15 inches, making them suitable for any home. With their beautiful coat and charming eyes, it's hard to resist the allure of adopting a cocker spaniel.

Whether hunting in water or on land, this breed can do it all. But they will also never give up on any opportunity to spend time with their family. These gundogs are also therapy dogs due to their exceptional intelligence and gentle nature. 

If you appreciate the loyalty and playful nature of larger breeds, the company of a Cocker Spaniel would be enjoyable.

However, it's important to note that their top quality and fancy appearance require regular grooming and maintenance. Consider this before committing to adopting a Cocker Spaniel. Nonetheless, their trustworthiness and even temperament make the effort worthwhile.

5. Miniature Schnauzer

The Miniature Schnauzer, a small dog characterized by its beard and bushy eyebrows, is renowned for its signature "Schnauzer cut." Originally bred as a ratter, this working dog breed still has their ratting instincts.

This dog breed is known to be easily trainable and compatible with living arrangements. Their roof-touching energy levels and exciting personalities require regular exercise. However, it would be unwise to overlook their love for snuggling up in your lap.

Miniature Schnauzers are sociable pets that enjoy outdoor activities. They thrive on having a good time, and sharing the house with you adds to their enjoyment.

Children or other dog breeds, Schnauzers can win over their hearts with their irresistible charm. Moreover, they possess exceptional protective instincts with barks to alert you of potential threats (unlike Golden Retrievers who tend to befriend everyone).

However, Miniature Schnauzers can pose a challenge because they are oblivious to their size. They fearlessly engage in trash talk battles even with much larger dogs. Hence, it's crucial to keep a watchful eye on them for their safety.

6. Pug

Pugs, with their adorable wrinkled faces, make excellent companions. They are low-maintenance dogs, making them an ideal choice for those seeking a pet that requires minimal exercise and grooming. It makes them particularly suitable for new pet owners.

Despite their appearance not aligning with their temperament, pugs are like the family's personal comedians. They possess a friendly, affectionate, and loving nature that loves to play games. With their funny and charming personality, they effortlessly captivate even the most devoted enthusiasts of larger dog breeds.

A loyal dog breed that craves affection and cuddles can brighten anyone's day. However, Pugs also possess intelligence and stubbornness, which can make training a bit challenging. Nevertheless, early socialization, consistency, and positive reinforcement can help your Pug be a good little boy.

7. Shih Tzu

An unlikely addition to this list is the Shih Tzu, pronounced “Sheed zoo.” These little dogs steal the hearts of anyone they meet.  While the Shih Tzu loves his person the most, he’s known for being friendly and sociable even to strangers. 

Switching from their clownish personality to the more regal one that we see in dog shows, these dogs are very adaptable.  This trait of adaptability seems to enamor big dog lovers.  They might not be able to run a marathon, but they can walk, hike, camp, and hang out with anyone who gives them attention.

And attention is what they crave.  They want to be near the person they love, whether you visit a park or relax on the sofa watching television.  One big dog owner once told me that the Shih Tzu has the heart of a large breed and the body of a lapdog, with the bonus of a fuller wallet for him because small dogs eat so much less.


For people who fancy big dogs but prefer manageable small sizes, this blog post will guide them to create heaven at home. We believe that nearly every large dog breed has a compact counterpart that can win over your affection.

Large dogs have strong personalities. But we can't ignore the undeniable charm of small breeds. It is worth mentioning that certain smaller breeds are also capable working dogs, providing a range of choices according to individual preferences.

However, it is crucial to consider your lifestyle, activity level, and the time you can dedicate to a dog before getting a dog. Remember, there is always a miniature breed available that will perfectly meet your requirements.

So, don't be fooled by their size. These small bundles of energy have immense love and compassion to offer. Happy Exploring! We hope this blog post helps you find a suitable companion for your family.

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About Janice (author and voice behind this site)

Having lived with dogs and cats most of her life, Janice served as a veterinary technician for ten years in Maryland and twelve years as a Shih Tzu dog breeder in Ohio.

Her education includes undergraduate degrees in Psychology with a minor in biology, Early Childhood Education, and Nursing, and a master's in Mental Health Counseling.

She is a lifelong learner, a dog lover, and passionate about the welfare of animals. Her favorite breed for over 50 years has been the Shih Tzu, but she has also lived with Poodles, Maltese, Yorkshire Terriers, Beagles, English Bulldogs, Carin Terriers, and a Cocker Spaniel.

When not writing, reading, and researching dog-related topics, she likes to spend time with her eight Shih Tzu dogs, husband, and family, as well as knitting and crocheting. She is also the voice behind Miracle Shih Tzu and Smart-Knit-Crocheting

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