What's the smallest dog I can buy?
January 5, 2009 7:13 PM   Subscribe

Little dogs are a great alternative for apartment-dwellers, but chihuahuas are common. What are my other options? Are there specialty breeders of little dogs, or new breeds (like a puggle or labradoodle) designed for their cutting-edge super-small cuteness?
posted by emptyage to Pets & Animals (47 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Step 1: Go to rescue shelter/SPCA/etc.
Step 2: Say "I'm looking for a very small dog, not a fucking chihuaha though."
Step 3: Meet small dogs. Play with them. Make decisions.
Step 4: No, not that one, there's no way he'd get along with your cat.
Step 5: Yeah, that one. Take him home! Be happy.
posted by Tomorrowful at 7:25 PM on January 5, 2009 [31 favorites]

Yorkshire terriers are great small apartment dogs. They don't shed, they have hair, not fur.

Their cuteness factor is 1000.
posted by JujuB at 7:25 PM on January 5, 2009

There are lots of toy dogs. Get a pomeranian!!!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 7:29 PM on January 5, 2009

Boston Terrier! best apartment dog ever!
posted by smalls at 7:29 PM on January 5, 2009

Almost all small dogs are designed for cuteness.
posted by box at 7:32 PM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

Thanks Tomorrowful, I've thought of that of course, but that's not really my question. I'm looking for particular breeds or sub-breeds. A better way to think about it is as if I'd like to buy this small dog today, and then another one exactly like it in six months.
posted by emptyage at 7:32 PM on January 5, 2009

We (back in those days) loved our adopted Pomeranian, although she was an exceptionally well-trained and well-behaved ex-showdog.
posted by K.P. at 7:36 PM on January 5, 2009

Labradoodles are not small, and they have a ton of energy which wouldn't make them good for apartments. A friend has a French bulldog, which has a great personality and isn't yippy.
posted by sweetkid at 7:38 PM on January 5, 2009

And to be even more specific, I'd love to find specific breeders doing interesting things with little dogs.
posted by emptyage at 7:39 PM on January 5, 2009

Long-haired chihuahuas are relatively uncommon.
posted by availablelight at 7:40 PM on January 5, 2009

I've read that retired greyhounds make nice apartments dogs.
posted by chiababe at 7:44 PM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

sweetkid: right, sorry. I didn't mean to imply that labradoodles are small. Rather, they are specifically bred for certain traits. Same with puggles and other "designer" dogs.

But are there dogs designed specifically for smallness aside from the traditional breeds and micro versions of those breeds? What I've seen so far has seen rather haphazard. You get a miniature this or that breed -- whether it's a Chihuahua, Yorkie, etc. Is there some newer breed of dog like a puggle or cockapoo, but bred specifically for smallness? Or even, are there specialty breeders dealing in just in the absolute smallest micro sizes of traditional breeds?
posted by emptyage at 7:45 PM on January 5, 2009

(1) Size is less important than temperament. Great Danes and greyhounds can be better apartment dogs than many terriers. Disclosure: I do not like terriers.
(2) Uncommonness is not a virtue. Having a dog that looks like many other dogs out there is not a very heavy cross to bear. Having a dog that eats your furniture, OTOH...
(3) Labradoodles should not normally be particularly small. In any case, the place to get a puggle or labradoodle or schnoodle or goldendoodle or shit-poo or any other kind of mutt is from the pound, not from some breeder who is more or less by definition completely divorced from the world of ethical breeding.
(4) I would look more at dogs bred to be companions over terriers. A correct terrier temperament can be hard to deal with.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:46 PM on January 5, 2009 [7 favorites]

Do a search for "apartment dogs", you'll find all the information you could ask for. Be sure to read about each dog's noise/energy level.

Personally I can suggest miniature schnauzer and miniature poodle as fantastic apartment dogs. I've had both and they did very well in apartments.
posted by Sufi at 7:47 PM on January 5, 2009

You've got a lot of problems:

- The vast amount of "cute" breeders are not reputable and breed bad stock
- The vast amount of "reputable" breeders won't sell to you if you approach them with this attitude
- Dogs will vary even within a champion bloodline of a registered breed
- You've got the SFSPCA within walking distance, and they would be more than happy to find you dogs that meet your requirements, plus you save the soul of an animal that will love you forever.. make use of it. It's a best-in-class SPCA.
posted by kcm at 7:47 PM on January 5, 2009 [13 favorites]

Skippers (Schipperkes) are great little dogs.
posted by jamjam at 7:48 PM on January 5, 2009

Something to keep in mind: dogs "designed" for their super-small cuteness probably aren't going to be the most healthy creatures. Unless, of course, you would like for your dog to be more likely to develop respiratory problems and brain inflammations, I would suggest something a little more robust. Or, you know, stick with your original plan and replace it in 6 months.
posted by phunniemee at 7:51 PM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

What is your question? You want a dog now? You want another dog in six months? I'm so confused and honestly, I kind of think that this is a troll. I mean, people are trying to be helpful and the question keeps getting redirected. Can you be a little more clear?
posted by youcancallmeal at 7:58 PM on January 5, 2009

coton de tulear
posted by jeb at 8:01 PM on January 5, 2009

How about an Aibo?
posted by box at 8:01 PM on January 5, 2009 [3 favorites]

I have a lhasa apso (he is possibly purebred, possibly mutt, we don't know) that does really well in my tiny apartment. He goes out two to three times per day and on a long walk once or twice a day, depending on weather.
They are small and don't shed as much as other breeds. They do have guarding tendencies, as they were bred to be temple guard dogs in Tibet, but the two lhasa mixes I've had in the past didn't bark that much, and not nearly as much as most chihuahuas I've been around (and there are FIVE in my tiny apt complex).
The ones I've had have been really smart and expressive of what they want, to the point of being defiant and "bossy" sometimes. They're also affectionate, and get really attached to their owners, so if you're gone a lot, they may not be ideal.
I'm not sure how small you want, but they average 12-18 lbs (females on the smaller end, males on the larger).
Shih Tzus are similar, but usually are slightly smaller than lhasas.

Good luck on adopting a dog!
posted by fructose at 8:03 PM on January 5, 2009

As others have noted, most-to-all of the "new" breeds aren't so much new breeds as they are "two dogs of specific breeds being mated." I don't think there's anyone doing "interesting things" with them, because for one thing breed development takes time and doesn't mesh well with trendy things like "let's take the names of two popular breeds and smoosh them together!"

Miniature-of-big-dog-wise, of course there are those who breed, say, teacup poodles. Really, anything you want, someone will sell it to you - the problem is that almost without exceptoin, the "new breeds" aren't actually breeds, and you're getting all the downsides of a purebred (health problems, other inbreeding results) with the downsides of a mutt (unpredictability of, well, everything.)

To provide some more general input:

Echoing the comments re: temperament mattering more than size. I've known very small dogs that are horrible apartment pets because they're so high-energy that a few hundred square feet isn't enough; I also have friends with a modest-sized husky mix who's great, because he's very chill and doesn't have a problem being inside a lot as long as he gets to go out to the park and runrunrunrun for a while.

An ex of mine had Pomeranians - granted, they're the only Poms I'd ever met, but seriously, Worst Pets Evar. All the cliches about little yappy dogs were totally true; their knees were genetically ordained to be horrible, they yap yap yap yapped at all times, and were were incapable of not zooming around all available space at all times. A teething toddler would have been calmer, quieter, and generally more pleasant.
posted by Tomorrowful at 8:09 PM on January 5, 2009

I am not such a fan of small foofy dogs, but I've heard good things about Havanese.
posted by judith at 8:13 PM on January 5, 2009

The hybrid dogs you are referring to are not really consistent breeds in the standard definition of the term. The smallest breeds recognized today are toy dogs. These dogs have a history of being bred for small size and companionship. The hybrid breeds are new and are essentially mutts and cannot always be consistent looking.

Here is an excellent site with pictures of small dogs and info about them and choosing them.

Are you looking to get two similar looking dogs or are you concerned with other characteristics?
posted by CoralAmber at 8:14 PM on January 5, 2009

Lasha Apsos and Shih Tzus were bred as indoor watch dogs. They don't shed but rather have tufts of hair that are easier to deal with. They also rarely bark unless as a warning. We had a Shih Tzu in an apartment and she was perfect for that! She also lived to be 19 years old and was a wonderful pet.
posted by cainiarb at 8:22 PM on January 5, 2009

i have a chiweenie (dachshund and chihuahua) and she is great for my apartment. actually, i used to share your distaste for chihuahuas and i loves dachsies, so i applied for this dachshund rescue but ultimately fell in love with this little mutt who happened to be a chi/dox mix (they rescue purebreds and dachshund mixes.) all these dogs live in volunteer 'foster' homes so their personalities can be assessed before they are put up for adoption.

so anyway, my dream of owning a purebred dachshund died, but i'm starting to realize it's probably better that way- i thought i wanted a smart dog, but her half-smartness, half-dumbness is amusing and endearing. she's sneaky and mischievous and brainless all at the same time. plus it works to my advantage that she's too dumb to figure some things out (like how to push open a door or knock over the trash.) but somehow she's really good at learning tricks.

regardless of the breed you ultimately choose, the fact that my dog is a perfect apartment dog is not based on luck, or even necessarily on her breed (although it helps that she only weighs ten pounds!) some breeds may be known for certain traits, but all dogs are individuals and that's why rescue is so nice. in my application for rescue, i literally said: "i live in an apartment with a roommate and cannot have a dog barking all the time." so they MATCHED me, with this particular dog, KNOWING that she was not a barker. plus, she was already housebroken AND she knew how to use pee pads. but she was only about 1-2 years old when i got her, so i am not missing out on half her life or anything. but the fact that i was able to get a dog who didn't bark was based entirely on the magic of rescue. you can fill out an application about what your life is like, and what you want, and a good rescue WILL match you with a dog they think fits you.

sorry for the slight derail about rescue. but feel free to send a message if you want to know anything more about chiweenies!!! :-)

(also, about puggles! my sister has a puggle and the thing is a nightmare.) they got him as a puppy from a breeder and he is so wild and horrible they had to put him on meds and he barks constantly. i don't know why he's so bad, i suspect they may not have done the best job with training him. but either way it supports my argument that breed isn't everything- puggles generally have a good reputation, i think- but on the other hand, with the right rescue, you'll really know what you're getting before you sign off on it. good luck to you!
posted by lblair at 8:22 PM on January 5, 2009 [10 favorites]

I just have to add, i also think Doxiepoos are heartbreakingly adorable . . .
posted by lblair at 8:27 PM on January 5, 2009

A great site to research any type of dog (be it dogs that are small, dogs that are great in apartments, or whatever) is http://www.dogbreedinfo.com/ My advice is to do as much research as you possibly can before adopting or purchasing a dog. Dog Fancy contains great articles on different breeds, and includes important behavioral and health information, including health related questions to ask breeders to weed out good breeders from bad. Once you narrow your choice down to a few breeds, purchase a few good breed specific books to further learn about the best way to care for that particular type of dog.

One important thing to watch out for when getting a small dog is avoiding small dog puppy mills and backyard breeders. Pet shops are filled will small dogs because they are adorable and sell quickly, but these dogs are bought from puppy mills. Often puppies from puppy mills will have genetic defects and illnesses that you won’t know about until your beloved puppy becomes sick, and possibly dies a very tragic early death. Because small dogs are so popular, there are a huge number of bad breeders out there producing them. Researching the breed you want will help you avoid these people. For example, when I bought my poodle, I stayed away from breeders selling “teacup” poodles because “teacup” poodles are not a real breed, and are often bred for their small size without regard to health problems, which already plague poodles without bad breeders increasing poodle health problems more.

Personally, I have a miniature poodle, and just adore him. I chose a miniature poodle because the breed’s temperament matched what I wanted in a dog: the breed was cat friendly, non-shedding, highly trainable, and had a bladder big enough to allow my dog to sit at home for a while without having an accident. Tiny dogs have tiny bladders, so keep that in mind. You may want to invest in some potty mats if you go for a very small breed.

After you get your dog, make sure you invest in some puppy training classes. Many small dog owners neglect to train their dogs thinking that it isn’t necessary because the dogs are little. This results in the “armpit alligator” type little dog that gives all the other small dogs a bad rap.

Do lots of research, and choose a good breeder or a rescue group to adopt from. A bit of research now and training later will pay off when you find the dog that’s just right for you!
posted by Nematoda at 8:27 PM on January 5, 2009 [3 favorites]

For what its worth, if you are really hung up on getting a purebreed dog of a particular variety you can split the difference on rescue and contact a rescue organization that specializes in that breed of dog. This is a lot easier with "problem" breeds that are adopters frequently find problematic (border collies, big working breeds) despite being warned, but it might work for breeds you are interested in too. That way you are still saving a dog from eventual doom but you might also get the breed of dog you are interested in (you might have to travel pretty far though and wait a while).
posted by jeb at 8:41 PM on January 5, 2009

Or even, are there specialty breeders dealing in just in the absolute smallest micro sizes of traditional breeds?

Yes. Many of these are are unethical people who intentionally create stunted, unhealthy dogs. This is not a good practice to support.

The good news is that the world is already full of tons of great toy dogs, so there's no need for you to go to a breeder at all. This is especially true since you're open to getting a mixed-breed dog (you mention "puggles" and "labradoodles", which are mutts rather than breeds.)

You live in San Francisco, right? Here's some possibilities from Petfinder. Some of the results are from breed-specific groups that mostly advertise on the internet. Others are from shelters like the SPCA, which would also be a good place for you to look for a small dog. Good luck!
posted by lemuria at 8:44 PM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

A friend of mine has a Moodle (Maltese Terrier x Poodle) that is supercute.

Get a brown one and teach it to play piano.
posted by robotot at 8:52 PM on January 5, 2009

Bostillons are my new favourite dog.
posted by riane at 9:45 PM on January 5, 2009

I've heard great things about toy poodles. They're supposedly cute, smart, affectionate, easily trainable and need only a moderate amount of exercise.
posted by bananafish at 10:02 PM on January 5, 2009

miniature dachshunds
posted by Jacqueline at 10:34 PM on January 5, 2009

Seconding a lhasa apso. My brother's is the most awesome dog I've ever met.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 11:29 PM on January 5, 2009

Puggles and other assorted "designer dogs" are not breeds, they are mutts renamed to trick people into paying lots of money for unhealthy (and probably unethically bred) mutts. Go to the Humane Society and pick a small dog that strikes your fancy - you'll avoid the scam and not encourage people who are churning out more dogs to make a quick buck in already dog overpopulated world.
posted by bradbane at 2:01 AM on January 6, 2009 [5 favorites]

Warning: Cat owner, thus slight cat bias. Just a bit.

@sweetkid: My mother's two frenchies would like to have a word with you.

Frenchies... yippy? No, but they do bark. A lot. Oh cripes do they bark... and they're these bold, guttural loud barks, too. We have two males (against my advice and that of several others, including the vet... but my mother just HAD to get that male cream Frenchie on the spot rather than wait on a female to become available) and several times a day they get into this snarly tumble-fest. Same-sex aggression between Frenchies is soooo NOT cute.

(And, ow, the ~$2000 that many breeders are asking for a Frenchie pup? Maybe it's just me, but I can't justify paying that much for ANY pet, especially in these times. I got my first cat for the $45 adoption fee that the shelter charged me, and my second cat was one of those "free to good homes" things. )

So, uh, count me as a staunch vote against French Bulldogs, especially as apartment-dwellers. Though, if you MUST go Frenchie... also make sure you're actually getting a Frenchie; my mother got duped by one breeder who actually sold her a Frenchie/Boston Terrier mix rather than a purebred Frenchie. (There was much facepalming, indeed.)

And regardless of what breed you get please please please invest in obedience lessons, even if you've had dogs before. You can never be trained enough in dog obedience, ESPECIALLY if you've an impatient personality. It is just depressing how many pets get dumped at the pound because the owners weren't patient enough or couldn't be bothered to go through obedience training. I'm tempted to get my mother additional, in-home puppy lessons, since it looks like she's either still having trouble keeping them under control, or is just blatantly disregarding the lessons and spoiling the dogs (her most common excuse: "Look at that cute face, how can you be mad at that?").
posted by Yoshi Ayarane at 3:43 AM on January 6, 2009

My mother has a Mi-Ki, and they were apparently bred to look like gremlins (the cute ones that didn't eat after midnight and they don't multiply when they get wet or anything). Great little dogs! I can probably get some good breeder info from my mom for you if you are interested, just send me a mefimail if you want it.
posted by Grither at 4:55 AM on January 6, 2009

Oh, and I forgot to mention that it's a relatively new breed, they are just now going through the process of getting it recognized in the US Kennel Club or whatever it's called these days...
posted by Grither at 4:58 AM on January 6, 2009

Shih-Tzus. I have had 2 and they're extremely popular as family dogs. Like any dog get them as puppies and socialize them well. Their personalities are funny as anything. They were originally Chinese emperor lapdogs so they do well with varying amounts of exercise. Mine is 5 years old and still loves to play.
posted by PetiePal at 7:03 AM on January 6, 2009

Whatever you do, think of the dog. Will this dog be happy in its life in your apartment? I generally don't like dogs, and that's because most dog owners don't give them what they need to be happy animals.
posted by gjc at 7:14 AM on January 6, 2009

My sister has a female French Bulldog. The dog is super sweet, barely barks, barely sheds, and is very well behaved. She did go through training at the breeder's. This dog was *not* cheap though. Man.
posted by medeine at 9:36 AM on January 6, 2009

Shelters are full of little dogs that people bought because they are cute.
Small dogs are trendy, and people happily purchase whatever is adorable, and then dump them. Read miss lynnster's comment, because if you are looking for a lifelong companion (my chihuahua/pom/peke mutt turned 15 in September), that is how you do it. If you are just looking for a decorative designer dog, I have no advice for you.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:51 AM on January 6, 2009

Small dogs are not necessarily good apartment dogs. I'm seconding ROU_Xenophobe and all the others pointing you to do research -- and then go to a shelter or Petfinder.
posted by canine epigram at 6:28 PM on January 6, 2009

"smallest micro sizes of traditional breeds"?

Once they get past a certain point, dogs are too small to give birth without surgical assistance. We now have the term "free whelp" to describe what would, in other creatures, be called "giving birth."

Not sure how to put this so it's not rude, but is it possible you are in the market for a cat, or maybe a guinea pig? Teeny tiny dogs and giant insects are for science fiction.

If you really want a super teeny dog, check with your local shelter. Good chance they have some "evidence" seized from a puppy mill in a back room with the fighting dogs and those poor things will be destroyed after their court case is done.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 9:08 PM on January 6, 2009

chiweenie? moodle? bostilion? and puggles, and on and on and on.

as bradbane said, these are not purebred dogs. they are mixed breeds. aka mutts. mutts that you are paying at least a couple grand for. there are a whole lot of other reasons why the concept of "designer dogs" is repugnant but i'm not going to go into it here.

Are there specialty breeders of little dogs, or new breeds (like a puggle or labradoodle) designed for their cutting-edge super-small cuteness?

if you are a breeder and your whole goal for breeding is to create "cutting edge super small cuteness" than you should be shot.

A better way to think about it is as if I'd like to buy this small dog today, and then another one exactly like it in six months.

well, because they are mixed breeds and not purebreds, you are going to find very wide variations in physical appearance and temperament.

And to be even more specific, I'd love to find specific breeders doing interesting things with little dogs.

what? a responsible breeder only breeds when s/he feels s/he can better the breed; better their temperament as well as the traits and qualities for which the breed had been developed. if that is what you mean by "interesting" but i suspect it's not. and, sorry to sound rude here but i suspect your meaning is really based in ignorance about dogs and breeding.

Or even, are there specialty breeders dealing in just in the absolute smallest micro sizes of traditional breeds?

okay, just stop. OP, educate yourself about dogs, breeds, and caring for dogs before you get one. otherwise, as someone else suggested, get yourself a cat.
posted by violetk at 9:39 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

A schipperke might be small and unusual but this is one dog who generally fell in the wrongs hands. I fostered a schipperke pup few months ago. The poor thing was too active for his previous family who was looking for a lap dog... The other schipperke I met was also ``found`` on the street! Size doesn't mean a thing! Maybe start as foster family? Then you'll get a better idea of what would be the best forever match...
posted by Ahhhnouck at 8:41 PM on January 12, 2009

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