Small dogs are perfect, pint sized, pillowy pets that pack all the personality of a big dog into the accessibility of a little one.
We love dogs of all shapes, sizes and temperaments, but for some walks of life a smaller breed is just what an owner needs – whether you’re in a small apartment in a big city, or you just want a canine companion that’s easy to hold.
There’s many advantages to owning a small dog – they’re not only easier to transport – their size makes the essential roles of cleaning and grooming take less of a bite out of your day, and their food consumption is much lower that bigger breeds.
Smaller dog, smaller fuss – just as much love, loyalty and affection.
Here’s seven amazing 20lb dog breeds that you should consider bringing into your life.
Few dog breeds are as iconic as the Beagle, and coming in at 20-30lbs for dogs of 13-15 inches in height, these small, merry fellows are fantastically friendly with young children and other dogs alike.
The beagle’s dutiful, healthy posture and curious demeanour are the result of its long heritage as a hare hunter, with a famous sense of smell and a clever instinct.
They like to be sociable, and enjoy at least an hour of exercise out and about during the day among company.
These small dogs were once smaller still, Queen Elizabeth I used to carry one in her handbag during hunts.
From there, they would earn heroic associations with Britain’s adventurous spirit, as the namesake of the boat Charles Darwin used to travel to the Americas – where they would become a favourite breed.
President Lyndon B. Johnson would let his beagles scurry around the White House lawn.
Their recognisable tricolour coats, which come in black, white and tan/brown, require once a week brushing.
The Dachshund weighs between 16-32lbs in its standard size.
Known for its short legs and long body, this beloved German breed ranks 12th in popularity of all dogs in the United States, and is affectionately known as the wiener dog.
Despite its charmingly silly nickname and small stature, this curious breed has a large personality, with a decibel bumping bark that will beat out bigger dogs.
Combined with its intelligence and vigilance, it makes for an excellent watchdog.
The history of the dachshund is difficult to follow, but we know that it was predominantly bread to hunt badger – hence its name – dachshund means “badger dog” in German.
Known for their devotion to their owners, they were favourite pets of famous figures from all walks of life, from presidents in Grover Cleveland and John F. Kennedy, to artists and media moguls in Andy Warhol and William Randolph Hurst – although it is a sad fact Kennedy’s dachshund Dunker never left Germany, the later president was unfortunately allergic!
Despite their size and short legs, they require enough exercise to stay fit.
The AKC recommends two moderate walks a day.
Their level of grooming varies on the type of coat – dachshunds have coats that vary in length, thickness and texture, and a range of colours.
The Shetland Sheepdog – the Sheltie – with its long, double coat that sticks out like a balloon rubbed against a piece of woollen cloth, comes at a weight of 15-25lbs.
Resembling a rough collie in appearance, the story of the Shetland sheepdog began amongst the craggy cliffs and bracing weather of Scotland’s northern isles.
But despite the harshness of its origins, it is one of the friendliest, most loyal, most affectionate small breeds – endearingly cute looking as well.
The purpose of these energetic, adaptable dogs is apparent in their name, but they’ve come to make great city pets, granted they get a moderate amount of exercise.
Their flowing coat sheds profusely, and requires a weekly brush, coming in a range of colours. Classically – sable, a tricolour of black, white and tan, and black and white.
But colour modification genes have led to blue, white and tan coats, blue and white coats, and sable merle coats, occasionally with piercing, pale blue eyes.
Their happy temperament makes them excellent therapy dogs, and they are great with children. I’ve been asked to point out my favourite breed on this list, and if it wasn’t obvious from my unreserved praise – I just adore the Sheltie.
The Shiba Inu – varying from 17-23lbs depending on sex – is a compact, proud looking small to medium breed native to Japan, and remains a favourite in its home country.
In fact it’s the most popular breed in the sunrise kingdom.
Known for their alertness, confidence and adaptability, the Shiba Inu is a relatively recent edition to the United States, arriving only 60 years ago, but it is now cherished worldwide – in no small part to the enduringly popular internet meme, ‘doge’, which went viral when an image of a concerned looking Shiba circulated around online spaces in 2013.
Shibas are heavy shedders – so owners should seek to brush or comb the dog during periods of heavy shedding to stop the build-up of hair around the house.
Fortunately, the coat does not mat, so infrequent brushing will not result in discomfort.
Other than that, the shiba has been described as taking great care in maintaining its coat and appearance and licking its paws in a fastidious, feline nature.
In terms of exercise and temperament, Shibas have a fairly energetic personality – they love walking, and are both loyal and vigilant in respect to their owners.
More than a meme, the Shiba Inu is an attentive, adorable pet.
A second German breed to make this list – the German spitz comes in at between 15-25lbs, in its medium variety.
‘Spitz’ comes from the German word for pointed, and you’ll no doubt notice its adorably pointed ears, thick double coat and bushy tail. One of the oldest dog breeds originating in Europe, its dense, wool like undercoat is no doubt adapted for the various Nordic adventures of the breed’s bristling heritage.
According to the UK kennel club, they’re thought to be the descendants of larger spitz dogs bred by the Vikings. But after years of herding and guarding, they would eventually take their place as a fine companion dog. The breed is also easy mistaken for the Pomeranian, one of its ancestors.
A small, nimble, mobile fellow, moderate exercise is recommended, and owners will appreciate that indoor exercise is sufficient, as long as it’s frequent enough – up to an hour a day. The breed is very energetic, and can be yappy and get frustrated if it becomes bored. Owners should take care to brush daily, when heavy shedding begins.
Finishing off our list with two terrific terriers – the Scottish terrier, like the Shetland sheepdog, is another breed with its origins in the craggy landscape of Scotland.
At an average weight of 19-22lbs for a male, and 18-21lbs for a female, this wonderfully confident dog is considered to have an independent character compared to other breeds on this list – an excellent, vigilant watchdog – though equally as affectionate with their owners.
All terriers were bred to hunt mice and rodents – hence the name – terrier, ‘earth dog’, in their native French. But their popularity saw them appearing across the continent and beyond. And now they serve a faithful, dignified place at their owner’s sides in all corners of the globe.
Prospective owners should be aware that their centuries old hunter’s instincts manifest in a suspicious personality, which can lead to difficulty with other dogs, and the breed requires frequent grooming and exercise. But their timeless appearance and intelligent, spirited nature make this wonderful Scottish companion a welcome fit among those with an adventurous side.
We’ve featured dog breeds from across the world on this list, but for our final pick, we’re heading back stateside to meet an animated American companion.
The Boston terrier comes in at a varying weight of 12-25lbs, but its friendly demeanour and iconic two tone coat carry across all sizes.
With an affectionate attitude that makes it a fantastic pick for families with young children, this ‘American Gentlemen’ has all the brightness of other terrier breeds, but with far less grooming required – a small, smooth, only somewhat shedding coat in black and white.
The amount of exercise varies from dog to dog – but owners should make an effort to allow their cheerful companion to take walks at least twice a day, and play when they can.
Like so many other small dogs, the Boston terrier packs a big personality into a little package, and owners should be aware that the breed can become frustrated if left without attention. With this breed, the effort you put in as an attentive owner only provides greater, happier dividends.
With a temperament that can be best defined as refined – the breed is more relaxed around other dogs than other excitable terriers. Easily trained and fantastically sociable, adaptable to life in the city and beyond, this breed proves itself worthy of its namesake, a true American gent.
¹ Photo by Jaspal Kahlon on Unsplash
³ Photo by Jonas Lowgren on Flickr