List of Types of Small House Dogs

The Shih Tzu was bred as a companion dog.
i Small dog image by Mat Hayward from

When you're looking for a small house dog, there are dozens of purebreds from which to choose and hundreds of mixed breeds. Some were originally bred to hunt or herd, while others were bred as lap pets. Knowing the breed's original "work" can be helpful in choosing the right dog.

Chihuahuas and Terriers

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The Chihuahua is among the most popular breeds of small dogs. While not a terrier, this small Mexican dog has a personality that is similar to many of the terrier breeds. Among the popular small terrier breeds are the Yorkshire, the West Highland white, and the Jack Russell. Most of the small terriers originally worked at hunting rats or as watchdogs. Some were bred for companion pets. The Chihuahua had a place in lore, including guiding the human soul through the afterworld.

Asian Breeds

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Among popular types of small house dogs are several Asian breeds. The Shih Tzu, Pekingese, pug and Japanese Chin were bred as companion pets. The Lhasa Apso's original work was as a watchdog in Tibet. The Chinese crested was originally bred for rodent control.


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There are several hound breeds that are popular small house dogs. The beagle's original work was chasing rabbits. The dachshund's unique body was useful for going into holes in hunting badgers and other rodents underground. The Italian greyhound is perhaps the only small house dog in the hound category that was originally bred as a companion animal. The miniature pinscher is thought to have been bred from the dachshund and an Italian greyhound, and its original work was to catch rats.


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Cocker Spaniel Puppy image by Philip Date from

Several breeds of spaniels are popular types of small house dogs. The Cavalier King Charles spaniel, the Bichon Frise and the papillon have a history as lap dogs. Both the American and English cocker spaniels were originally used in bird hunting.


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corgi image by Cindy Haggerty from

Many other types of dogs are popular as small house pets, including mixed-breed dogs under 20 pounds. You'll find plenty of these mixed-breed dogs in shelters and rescues, available for a reasonable adoption fee. Among other purebred small house dogs are the Shetland sheepdog and corgi, both of who originally worked at herding animals. The basenji, as well as miniature and toy breeds of poodles and schnauzers, come from dogs bred for hunting. The French bulldog was bred as companion pet.

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