Small Dogs Who Are the Healthiest

Have you ever wondered which small dog breeds are the healthiest? Due to poor breeding practices, some pint-size pups are prone to certain genetic health problems, such as hip dysplasia. This doesn’t mean that every dog of that breed will develop issues; it just means that they’re at an increased risk.

If you’re adopting a dog or bringing home a new puppy, it’s a good idea to find out which genetic illnesses are common to the breed you’re interested in. If possible, you can ask the breeder about the physical health of your potential pup’s parents and other relatives.


However, if you’re rescuing your canine companion, you often will not have genetic information available. In that case, you may benefit from learning which breeds are more likely to suffer from retinal degeneration, renal or kidney failure, and even torn ligaments.

For example, some breeds —including the Havanese, Miniature Pinscher, and Dachshund — are at risk for an inflammatory skin disease. In addition, Dachshunds are also at risk for another painful condition. With lumbosacral syndrome, the nerve roots in a Doxie’s spine can become compressed. Vet bills can really start to pile up in these special cases.

That said, little dogs have a lot of love to give. And, while they may be small, they’re often mighty where it counts! As such, this is our list of the healthiest small dog breeds.


Small Affenpinscher puppy dog in the park
(Photo Credit: Ilona Didkovska / Getty Images)

Affenpinschers are generally a pretty healthy small dog. And, while they may look like lap dogs, they won’t want to warm yours for too long. Not to mention, this breed prefers spending time with adults over children. Accordingly, this pooch can, at times, be stubborn. That said, his fiercely independent nature is one you’ll be thanking your lucky stars for when you see his intelligence in action.

Known as a “monkey terrier” for his primate-like face, this pup will love you unconditionally for all of his 12 to 15 years. This pooch is active and energetic, ready to be your guard dog and walking companion. Despite suffering from grandiose visions of being a big dog in a small body, this petite pup tops out at around 10 pounds. Learn more about Affenpinschers and see why this canine is a great fit for your life.

Australian Terrier

Pured Australian Terrier small, healthy dog outside on grass during spring/summer time.
(Photo Credit: Bigandt_Photography / Getty Images)

The Australian Terrier is the first native breed to be recognized and shown in Australia. Weighing in under 16 pounds, this tenacious terrier is spunky, obedient, and smart. He’s highly trainable and incredibly entertaining. The caveat is that he bores easily from repetition and will need engaging learning methods to fulfill his desire for a challenge.

If you’re considering bringing this pooch home, be sure to have a secure, fenced-in yard. Raised as a working breed, this pup has a high prey drive for small animals. Despite that, he has an upbeat and energetic personality which is perfect for a pet parent who is always on the go. Read more about Australian Terriers.


Funny, White Bichon Bolognese Dog sitting in green grass and sniffs dandelion flowers in park
(Photo Credit: bruev / Getty Images)

Unsurprisingly, this pup originated in Bologna, Italy. The Bolognese is also known as the anti-depressant dog. She’s happy, little, and healthy. Moreover, she boasts an adorable, fluffy figure — measuring less than a foot high and weighing in between eight and 14 pounds.

This comical, sweet girl doesn’t like to be left alone for long stretches of time, but she is always willing and ready to travel with you. In other words, this pup is a true companion dog. A note of warning is that this fluffball tends to be a bit manipulative; she will absolutely use her cuteness to her advantage. That said, be prepared to encounter a stubborn streak when it comes to housetraining this pooch.

Border Terrier

Happy Dog Border Terrier Looking into the Distance in Czech Mountain Krkonose
(Photo Credit: jarafoti / Getty Images)

With a typical life span of 12-15 years, the Border Terrier is a healthy little dog worth looking into! Raised as a fox hunter, this pup has a higher prey drive and the inclination to dig holes in your yard. For the same reason, this pooch is incredibly energetic and active — just an absolute bundle of energy! And, if you love the great outdoors, this pooch will be itching to go on a hike with you.

Weighing in under 15 pounds, this pup is intelligent, good with children, and very trainable. As such, they are protective of their families and wary of strangers. Given that, they tend to be a bit vocal and prone to barking frequently if they are bored or wary of their surroundings. Notwithstanding, these pups are affectionate and good-tempered.

Boston Terrier

Cute Boston Terrier running over dandelion field with ball in mouth.
(Photo Credit: Tereza Jancikova / Getty Images)

Over 100 years old, this small, healthy dog breed is clearly a fan favorite! A compact cutie with a short coat, this pooch weighs in anywhere between 10 to 25 pounds and is easy to train. While his grooming needs are low maintenance, his exercise requirements are rated as moderate. His muscular frame lends to his sturdy appearance.

Boston Terriers belong to a class of canines known as brachycephalic dogs as a result of their short upper jaws and flat-nosed faces. Resultantly, summer heat is hard on this pup. Many short-muzzled dogs are more likely to suffer from heat exhaustion and often aren’t strong swimmers because their bodies simply aren’t built for cooling down easily or staying afloat in the waves.

Check your area for breed-specific rescues to find one of these hearty chunks who are full of heart! Learn more about Boston Terriers.

Cairn Terrier

Cairn Terrier on the grass. Autumn Background.
(Photo Credit: Mindaugas Dulinskas / Getty Images)

Developed on the Isle of Skye in Scotland, this small breed is a working dog! Despite this pup’s small stature — measuring in at a mere nine to 10 inches tall and weighing less than 14 pounds— he has a big, high-energy personality. A family dog, he will bark, dig, and chew if he’s left for too long without you.

Having appeared in “The Wizard of Oz” as Toto, a Cairn Terrier on your lap can absolutely assure you that “there’s no place like home.” That said, you’ve got to do more than click your heels together three times to bring this pooch into your family’s abode. Start your journey down the Yellow Brick Road by reading more about the Cairn Terrier.

Coton de Tulear

Close up of cute Coton de Tulear dog sitting on green fresh cut grass.
(Photo Credit: SimonSkafar / Getty Images)

Originating in Madagascar, the Coton de Tulear is a people pleaser who is loyal to a fault. Accordingly, this pooch is an unquestioned companion dog who is highly-adaptable. Cotons — as they are affectionately known — will get along well with both children and other pets. What’s more, she can be perfectly content in a smaller apartment setting.

This pooch — weighing in around eight to 13 pounds — will gladly accompany you on any trip. With a history as a seafarer, the Coton de Tulear formerly traveled with women on long journeys across the ocean. Adding to her appeal, this long-haired pup will learn her human’s schedule and routines in order to be more accomodating. As such, this pooch is an excellent candidate for obedience and agility competitions.

Find out more about this delicate, cotton-ball of a cutie, the Coton de Tulear.

Fox Terrier

Happy and active Fox Terrier puppy dog running in the grass at the park.
(Photo Credit: SerhiiBobyk / Getty Images)

Bred to chase foxes from their hiding places during big hunts, this pooch is active and energetic. Accordingly, this pup has long legs and stands a bit taller than some of the other small breeds on our list. At up to 15 inches high at the shoulder, this pooch tends to weigh between 15 and 19 pounds. Sturdy and dependable, Fox Terriers are a hardy breed in general.

Coming in two varieties — smooth and wirehaired — Fox Terriers were bred to be mostly white in order to make distinguishing them from foxes easier. While known for having a strong prey drive, this intelligent pooch loves to play with his pet parents.

Boasting a clean bill of health, this pup made our list of small, healthy breeds with no major medical concerns. Learn more about Fox Terriers.

Lakeland Terrier

A healthy Lakeland Terrier Dog standing on the grass.
(Photo Credit: slowmotiongli / Getty Images)

Another hardy breed, Lakeland Terriers are not known to suffer from any major (or minor) hereditary health problems. Weighing between 15 and 17 pounds, this pooch tends to live for around 12 to 15 years. Given how affectionate this breed is, you’ll be happy to cozy up to this canine for each and every one of them.

Similarly bred for fox hunting, this pooch originated in Northern England to protect lamb populations. As such, this is another bred which needs early socialization to other household pets — such as cats — and which benefits from having a secure yard. Even though they love to run and chase, these pups easily adapt to apartments and do well with firm boundaries from their human companions. So, give this stout pooch a place in your life!

Manchester Terrier

A healthy, stout Manchester Terrier dog breed curiously alert outdoors.
(Photo Credit: Dahlya / Getty Images)

Bred in Manchester, England, this terrier is one of the healthiest small dog breeds. This pup is a high-spirited, very intelligent, and cunning dog who is eager to learn. Reminiscent of a miniature Doberman Pinscher, the Manchester Terrier sports both a similar coat pattern and pointy ears but only stands around 16 inches tall at the shoulder.

Galavanting about as a mini watchdog, this pooch has a strong bark and is undoubtedly loyal to her loved ones. She is also incredibly athletic and needs plenty of exercise to prevent obesity and boredom. As such, she excels at agility trials.

Find out more about health and care of the handsome Manchester Terrier.

Norfolk Terrier

Norfolk Terrier in Gloucestershire countryside
(Photo Credit: Michael Robbins / Getty Images)

Are you sensing a pattern? Yet another healthy terrier, this pup is perfection in a petite package! The Norfolk Terrier is a small, hearty, easy-to-care-for dog. Coming in around 10 inches tall or less and weighing approximately 12 pounds, this fearless, perky pooch will steal your heart.

Don’t let this furball’s wiry hair and short legs fool you: she is just as adept at running circles around you as she is snuggling up under a blanket on the couch. Well-suited for living in a small apartment or chasing rats on a farm, it’s no wonder this breed made our “best of” list. Too bad this is a relatively rare breed in the United States.

Norwich Terrier

A small, Norwich Terrier dog stands in the green grass
(Photo Credit: Ruslan Salikhov / Getty Images)

Yes, this furball is yet another Terrier. The Norwich Terrier is, of course, a small, generally healthy breed. Adorable, loving, and whip-smart are all apt descriptors of the traits which this pooch brings to the table. Albeit, his tiny stature of less than 10 inches high likely couldn’t reach any tables in your home.

This breed is playful and makes for an ideal family companion. While this pooch has lots of energy to burn off, he does just fine living in a smaller abode — whether it’s an apartment or a condo.

Schnoodle (Toy and Miniature)

Mixed-colored coat Schnoodle posing in a park or back yard.
(Photo Credit: Danita Delimont / Getty Images)

Being a cross between two breeds, each with multiple sizes of their own, we’re specifically referring to toy and miniature Schnoodles for this list. The appeal of this hybrid is that they generally have the Poodle’s willingness to please, mixed with the sturdiness and activity of the Schnauzer. To this end, their sharp intellect and liveliness necessitates a daily need for physical activity and intellectual play in order to stave off boredom. Otherwise, be prepared to address this pup’s potentially destructive behavior, which can also stem from separation anxiety.

Playful and lovable, this healthy, small breed lives to have fun and is always the center of attention. Schnoodles can be stubborn, but they are intensely loyal and stunningly brilliant. They will even make up games to play with their favorite humans! What’s more, this breed loves couch snuggles just as much as car rides to visit the other people they like.

Do yourself a favor and learn more about the smart, silly Schnoodle!

Scottish Terrier

Scottish Terrier close up portrait in autumn forest
(Photo Credit: Nemyrivskyi Viacheslav / Getty Images)

Who doesn’t love a Scottie dog? If you’re anything like us, your loving grandmother gave you adorable holiday sweaters emblazoned with this tiny terrier. Earning a spot on our list, Scottish Terriers are, overall, a healthy breed. They’re also pretty iconic!

Short and stout, this pup is only 10 inches high at the shoulder and tends to weight 22 pounds or less. Even though they’re light on their feet — or rather, paws — and small in size, Scotties don’t let their fun-size reality prevent them from having a big personality. For that reason, the character of Jock — a temperamental and easily irritated Scottish Terrier — stole hearts from the moment he appeared on screen in the beloved Disney classic “Lady and the Tramp.”

Shiba Inu

Portrait of a dog breed Shiba Inu dog in autumn Park.
(Photo Credit: Evgeniya Shihaleeva / Getty Images)

Making a comeback in the popularity contest for the past few years, the Shiba Inu is here to stay. This pup is known for his spirited personality, small upright ears, and cat-like agility. For generations, this pooch has primarily served as a companion dog in Japan and the United States. More recently, this healthy, small breed has risen to fame in internet circles because of their status as the “doge meme.”

Weighing anywhere from 17 to 27 pounds, this pooch has a thick, double coat and looks a bit like a fox. An ancient breed, dating back to the 3rd century BC, this pooch faced extinction in the early part of the 20th century before becoming a special focus of breeders in Japan. As one of the country’s six native breeds, it was culturally important to preserve the dog’s lineage and existence.

Welsh Terrier

A Welsh Terrier dog in an Autumnal wood runs at full speed toward the camera. The small dog is airborne with all four paws off the ground.
(Photo Credit: James Drury Photography / Getty Images)

The Welsh Terrier is a cheerful, intelligent dog who loves to have fun and is always affectionate. He’s energetic and has a playful nature. Loyal and devoted to his family, he can nevertheless be quite the social butterfly.

While this little buddy can reach up to 20 pounds, he’s only 14 to 15 inches high at the shoulder. Sporting a distinctive beard, it’s hard not to appreciate the distinguished nature of this smart pooch. This pup also has a wiry, dense coat which requires regular maintenance and stripping.

Welshies have high prey drives, like most terriers. They also have a reputation as climbers. No matter, you’ll love this healthy, small pup even when he’s sitting on your furniture or tabletops.

The other healthiest small dogs

There are so many wonderful healthy dogs who did not make the list. When considering adoption, please check around for shelters and breed-specific rescues. There are countless healthy pups awaiting to find forever homes, so why not open your peaceful abode to one of them?

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