October 22, 2021

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The 20 Most Affectionate Small Dog Breeds

Being greeted by an affectionate canine companion is undoubtedly one of life’s great joys.

From loving licks to wagging tails, dogs’ body language makes clear how devoted they are to their owners. Gina DiNardo, executive secretary at the American Kennel Club (AKC), believes prospective owners looking for a small dog breed should consider looking for characteristics tailored to their particular needs.

“Although cute, fluffy puppies may capture the hearts of so many potential owners, there are countless other aspects to consider when choosing a breed for your family,” DiNardo told Newsweek.

“Before bringing a new canine companion into your home, you should do your research to find a breed that will match your lifestyle, living quarters and even children’s ages, among other factors.”

She added: “Some breeds are known to be great with young children and sweet and affectionate with their people, while others are a little more independent and reserved. No matter what, it is important to find a breed that fits your needs.”

Here, Newsweek presents some of the AKC’s top suggestions for people looking for smaller dogs that are particularly loving and affectionate.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel’s sweet disposition makes this breed of dog a great choice for families
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A member of the toy group, the beautiful Cavalier King Charles Spaniel breed weighs between 13 and 18 pounds and is described as affectionate, graceful and gentle.

The AKC highlights the Cavalier’s “sweet disposition”, while their amplified sensitivity “makes this breed of dog a great choice for families.”

Italian Greyhound

Italian Greyhound
The Italian Greyhound small dog breed is a playful, highly affectionate companion
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The Italian Greyhound dog breed weighs approximately seven to 14 pounds and is part of the toy group.

The AKC describes these miniature Greyhounds as “playful, highly affectionate companions prized for their beauty and athleticism, who obviously adore being close to their humans.”

Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu
The Shih Tzu is particularly affectionate with children
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The Shih Tzu, which translates as “little lion”, is a toy breed, popular with families for their outgoing, affectionate and particularly playful natures.

The AKC’s Gina DiNardo told Newsweek: “Weighing between nine and 16 pounds and standing between eight and 11 inches tall, Shih Tzus are surprisingly solid for dogs of their size. They are especially affectionate with children.”

Maltese

Maltese
The Maltese is typically very sweet and affectionate with families
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The gentle, charming and glamorous Maltese dog weighs less than seven pounds and is part of the toy group.

The AKC describes this most companionable of dog breeds as “typically very sweet and super affectionate with family.”

Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkshire Terrier
The Yorkshire Terrier is a sprightly, tomboyish and affectionate breed of small dog
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Another member of the toy group, the Yorkshire Terrier is described as a “sprightly, tomboyish and affectionate” breed of dog and while this well-known breed weighs only about seven pounds, it is a true terrier, with a feisty side.

DiNardo said Yorkies are “extremely affectionate with families and young children and are also hypoallergenic, making a great fit for many homes.”

Biewer Terrier

Biewer Terrier
Biewer Terriers are an amusing and devoted small dog breed
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Amusing and devoted, the Biewer Terrier weighs a mere four to eight pounds, meaning the petite breed is part of the toy group.

DiNardo considers these energetic and lovable pups “affectionate with their family and even great with other dogs, making for a quality family pet.”

French Bulldog

French Bulldog
The French Bulldog small dog breed is depicted as playful, adaptable, smart and very affectionate
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Spiking in popularity in recent years, the French Bulldog is a member of the non-sporting group and stands roughly 11 to 13 inches tall, weighing less than 28 pounds.

This beautiful breed is depicted as playful, adaptable, smart and very affectionate with their families, with DiNardo adding: “They’re also great with young children and typically get along well with other dogs, too.”

Affenpinscher

Affenpinscher
Affenpinschers are great family dogs because they are loyal, affectionate and entertaining
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Described by the AKC as “confident, funny and fearless”, the Affenpinscher is part of the toy group, weighing approximately seven to 10 pounds.

DiNardo said these happy and mischievous companions are “great family dogs” that are loyal, affectionate and entertaining.

Toy Fox Terrier

Toy Fox Terrier
The Toy Fox Terrier is considered to perfectly combine the lovability of a lapdog with the tenacity of a terrier
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Although part of the toy group, the loyal and loving Toy Fox Terrier is also a true terrier, originating as a barnyard ratter working dog.

This breed usually stands approximately 8.5 to 11.5 inches tall and is considered to “perfectly combine the lovability of a lapdog with the tenacity of a terrier.”

Brussels Griffon

Brussels Griffon
The Brussels Griffon small dog breed is intelligent, sensitive, and generally warm and affectionate with families
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The Brussels Griffon, a distinctive former Belgian street dog, weighs approximately eight to 10 pounds and is roughly seven to 10 inches tall.

Part of the toy group, the AKC says the Brussels dog breed is “intelligent, sensitive, and generally warm and affectionate with family.”

Pomeranian

Pomeranian
The lively and bold fox-faced Pomeranian is very affectionate and sweet, making it a great family companion
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The lively and bold fox-faced Pomeranian stands at just six to seven inches tall and weighs a mere three to seven pounds—but that certainly does not mean they lack anything in personality.

Part of the pint-sized toy group, DiNardo said these purebred Poms are “very affectionate and sweet, making great family companions.”

Bichon Frise

Bichon Frise
The Bichon Frise is a playful and curious small dog breed popular for being excellent at getting along well with both their human and canine counterparts
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The Bichon Frise is a playful and curious pet dog popular for being excellent at getting along well with both their human and canine counterparts.

DiNardo said of the perennially cheerful breed: “Members of the non-sporting group, Bichons are sweet, affectionate dogs, weighing about 12 to 18 pounds.”

Border Terrier

Border Terrier
The Border Terrier is known to be good-tempered, affectionate, and trainable at home
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Although Border Terriers are tough working dogs, this purebred breed is known by the AKC to be “good-tempered, affectionate, and trainable at home.”

Alert and good-natured, the dogs usually weigh up to 14 pounds and stand between 12 and 15 inches tall.

Boston Terrier

Boston Terrier
Boston Terriers are people-oriented, eager-to-please dogs that are warm and affectionate with their people
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The non-sporting, gentle and affectionate Boston Terrier dog breed is also friendly and amusing, weighing between 12 and 25 pounds and standing at 15 to 17 inches tall.

The AKC told Newsweek: “Boston Terriers are people-oriented, eager-to-please dogs that are warm and affectionate with their people and get along well with young children and other dogs.”

Coton De Tulear

Coton De Tulear
Coton De Tulears have bright personalities, making them a great choice for a small pet
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The cuddly and slightly clownish Coton De Tulear dog breed is a member of the non-sporting group, standing at approximately nine to 11 inches tall and weighing between eight and 15 pounds.

Cotons are extremely affectionate with their owners, young children and even get along well with their canine counterparts. DiNardo said: “Their happy-go-lucky, bright personalities make them a great choice for a pet.”

Lowchen

Lowchen
The Lowchen is an affectionate small dog breed
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Often described as outgoing, positive and affectionate, the Lowchen dog breed is part of the sporting group and can weigh just 15 pounds.

These purebred pets are described as “sturdy, brave dogs [making] excellent companions and are warm with their families.”

Pug

Pug
Pugs are charming and affectionate little toy dogs
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The popular compact, snub-nosed Pugs are charming little toy dogs, weighing about 14 to 18 pounds.

The AKC dubs Pugs as “typically very sweet with their people and great around young children. Pugs enjoy loving their people and being loved in return.”

American Eskimo Dog

American Eskimo Dog
American Eskimo Dogs are known for their sweet disposition and cheerfully affectionate personalities
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The striking American Eskimo Dog is a Nordic dog breed and member of the Spitz family.

In addition to their wonderfully white coats, these small companion dogs are known for their sweet disposition and cheerfully affectionate personalities, the kennel club says.

Bedlington Terrier

Bedlington Terrier
Bedlington Terriers adore being at the center of attention among their human families
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Affectionate and playful, Bedlingtons adore being at the center of attention among their human families.

Although these dogs are friendly to almost all people, this trait may result in these adorable animals preferring to be the household’s sole pet.

Bolognese

Bolognese
The Bolognese dog is thought by fans to be a perfect affectionate companion dog
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The Bolognese dog is thought by fans to be a perfect companion dog, as the petite breed enjoys life at their family’s side.

Comical and curious, these intelligent and devoted dogs love socializing with their household, from going on daily walks, accompanying humans on errands, or gently playing with children.