By Dr. Becker
Small dogs are often the best choice for first time owners because they're easier to physically control in unexpected or dangerous situations, and less expensive to care for (food, bedding, toys, etc.) due to their smaller size.
Topping the list of excellent canine companions for first time dog guardians is the Bichon Frise. If you're thinking of adding a small dog to your family, be sure to check your local shelters and rescue organizations for adoptable animals.
10 Great Small Dogs for First Time Owners
✓ Bichon Frise
The Bichon Frise tops the list of good small dogs for first time owners. These little white fluff balls are known to be affectionate and eager to please, intelligent, and happy-go-lucky.
Early socialization and obedience training will insure your Bichon doesn't grow up to be a yappy or snappy small dog.
✓ Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a lap dog and devoted (bordering on dependent) companion. This is a toy breed, but a sturdy one, with a lively, cheery personality.
Despite his love of lap time, the Cavalier can be an excellent candidate for agility or obedience.
This good-looking little fellow was bred as a companion to Cuban aristocracy in the 1800s. He's sometimes called the "Velcro dog" because he likes to be right by his human's side at all times.
The Havanese is easy to train and energetic. His versatility makes him a great competitor in dog sports, and a good candidate for assistance dog training.
The Papillon, once known as the dwarf spaniel, is a tiny dog with an average weight of 4 to 9 pounds, and a height of 8 to 11 inches at the shoulder. The word Papillon is French for "butterfly," and refers to this little dog's large, fringed, upright ears, which look like butterfly wings.
Papillons typically have big dog personalities, and are energetic and intelligent. However, without proper obedience training and consistent guidance, she can become yappy. These dogs love long walks, and often excel at agility or flyball.
The irresistible Pug tends to get along famously with kids, cats, and other dogs. This breed is compact and muscular — not as fragile as many other toy breeds.
Pugs are often referred to as the clowns of the canine world for their endlessly entertaining antics. They are much more suited as lap dogs than workout partners, and do best with near-constant human companionship.
✓ Miniature or Toy Poodle
Don't let the foo-foo hairdo fool you — the Poodle is one of the smartest and most capable dog breeds around. These dogs are known for being easy to train, outgoing, and great competitors.
Obedience training is a must for these intelligent, fun-loving dogs. Poodles need plenty to think about, new things to learn, and physical activity to prevent them from become bored and destructive.
✓ Shih Tzu
Shih Tzu means little lion, but this furry fellow is a lover, not a fighter. The Shih Tzu was bred for no other purpose than to be a companion, which is why he'll want to be wherever you are.
The Shih Tzu is happy, friendly, and affectionate, and many show a talent for agility, rally, and obedience competitions.
This spunky little dog often acts like a puppy throughout his life. When you combine his endearing personality with his fluffy white coat and bright eyes, he's almost irresistible!
The Maltese tends to be gentle, yet fearless. He's light on his feet and agile, which makes him an excellent competitor in dog sports. This little guy can also be a great therapy dog.
✓ Yorkshire Terrier
Yorkies are tiny dogs with larger-than-life personalities. They are very intelligent, love to play, and need to be kept busy and mentally stimulated. Your Yorkie will always agree to a long walk. She can also do well in dog sports like agility or rally.
These dogs can be willful, so obedience training is a must. A home with gentle children is fine, as long as everyone understands just how fragile these tiny dogs can be, especially as puppies.
✓ Small Mixed Breed Dog
In your search for a small dog as your first canine companion, keep in mind that your local animal shelters and rescue organizations often have small purebred and mixed breed dogs available for adoption. You can also search Petfinder.
Most shelters have a general idea of the breeds that make up their mixed breed dogs, and you can also do a doggy DNA test on your new little friend to learn more about his lineage.
More often than not, small mixed breeds are descended from two or more small breeds or breed mixes, so you're getting the small dog you wanted while also providing a forever home for an abandoned animal.