Little-Known Facts About the 10 Most Popular Small Dog Breeds

There are a lot of things you probably already know about the most popular small dog breeds: Obviously they are incredibly cute, most of them are in the Toy Group and many of them are specifically bred to be companions. But do you know the origin of the Shih Tzu? Can you name the dog breeds that the Havanese descended from? If you don’t know the answers, you’re in luck: We have rounded up little-known facts about the 10 most popular small dog breeds registered with the American Kennel Club.

Test Your Small Dog Breed Knowledge

Pug

Karin Newstrom, Animal Photography

Pug

Famous royals and rulers have long been fans of the Pug. Admirers include King Louis XIV; Joséphine de Beauharnais, empress to Napoleon; Queen Victoria; and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

Maltese

Eva-Maria Kramer, Animal Photography

Maltese

It may seem unthinkable nowadays, but back in ancient Greece and Rome, Maltese dogs were popular as trade goods. Can you imagine swapping this little white pup for a few clay pots?

Havanese

Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography

Havanese

Revered as the national dog of Cuba, the Havanese descended from the now-extinct "Blanquito de la Habana" (which means “little white dog of Havana”). The Blanquito descended from the Bichon Tenerife, a breed that also no longer exists.

Chihuahua dog breed

Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography

Chihuahua

Due to the Chihuahua's small size, many people assume they're gentle lap dogs. But they are typically pretty feisty and can have a Terrier-like attitude.

Boston Terrier

Leesia Teh, Animal Photography

Boston Terrier

The Boston Terrier is famous for his dashing black-and-white tuxedo coat, but it also comes in brindle or seal with white markings.

Pomeranian

Karin Newstrom, Animal Photography

Pomeranian

The original Pomeranian weighed 20 to 30 pounds — much larger than the three to seven pounds he typically weighs today.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Tara Gregg, Animal Photography

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Long revered by nobility, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was especially popular with the Stuart royal family. In fact, it was England’s King Charles I and his son, Charles II (both Stuarts), who lent their names to the little dogs.

Shih Tzu Smiling at Camera

Barbara O'Brien, Animal Photography

Shih Tzu

It’s believed that Tibetan monks bred the Shih Tzu to be a tiny replica of a lion, which is associated with Buddhist mythology.

Salt and pepper Miniature Schnauzer standing on stairs

Karin Newstrom, Animal Photography

Miniature Schnauzer

Thanks to his wiry coat, the Miniature Schnauzer usually doesn’t shed very much, which may make him more tolerable to people who are allergic to dogs. But it’s important to keep in mind that dog dander and saliva — not fur — is what usually triggers allergies. So be wary if breeders try to guarantee that their dogs are hypoallergenic.

Yorkshire Terrier

Tara Gregg, Animal Photography

Yorkshire Terrier

Did you know that Yorkies aren’t born with their signature blue-and-tan coats? Puppies are born with black coats, which develop into the breed's classic coloring as they grow.

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