Toy dog breeds have a lot to recommend them to owners from all walks of life – both those who are looking for an affectionate lapdog to curl up on the sofa with, and those that are looking for a smaller dog to suit a smaller home.
The Kennel Club in the UK recognises a total of 24 different dog breeds within the toy dog group, and whilst this list doesn’t include toy dog breeds that are not currently recognised in the UK but that may be popular in other parts of the world, it still represents a lot of variety for prospective puppy buyers to choose between.
Toy dog breeds are dogs that are bred to be lapdogs and/or companions, and this breed group is the only one of the Kennel Club’s seven different dog groupings that don’t have a shared working history and key abilities and skills in common – it is the only group without working origins. However, some toy dog breeds do have a working history at some point in their past, but have consequently been included within the toy group, reflecting their core traits and small size.
The uniting traits of toy dog breeds are small stature, friendly personalities, affectionate natures and the need for a lot of love and attention, as well as generally being moderate in terms of their exercise requirements.
However, even given these collective breed group traits, the different dog breeds that make up the Kennel Club’s toy dog group are often very different from each other in terms of personality and the type of demands they place on their owners, and the type of care they need – and so the right choice of toy dog will be different for each prospective owner.
Knowing which toy dog breeds are the most popular in the UK can help prospective puppy buyers to make comparisons, rule out unsuitable breeds, and narrow down their potential options, but this is information that can be very hard to come by.
Pets4Homes is the UK’s largest and busiest pet classifieds website, and we host more adverts for dogs for sale in the UK each year than any other website. By collating anonymous statistics from the adverts placed here by dog and puppy sellers within the course of any given year, we can draw up a list of the most popular toy dog breeds in the UK, as well as their average advertised prices and the level of their popularity.
In this article we will share our definitive list of the six most popular toy dog breeds in the UK, and some insights into what makes them so popular. Read on to learn more.
Before we explain a little bit more about the information we used to draw up our toy dog popularity list and share the list itself, first we’ll explain in a little more detail what the toy dog group actually is, and what makes a dog a toy dog.
The toy dog group is one of seven different breed groupings used by the Kennel Club, to group together different individually recognised pedigree dog breeds into larger, broader classifications reflecting a range of uniting traits shared by all of the breeds within them.
These groupings are used in formal dog shows as higher-level heats, to enable dogs of different breeds with comparable traits to compete against each other as they move up through the showing process to achieve potentially ever-higher level wins. This culminates within the UK showing calendar with the widely publicised and very prestigious Best in Show class at Crufts each year – where seven entrants make it through to the final, reflecting one dog from each of the seven breed groups.
In fact, Crufts Best in Show winner of 2019 was a toy dog breed – a Papillon named Dylan. However, Papillons don’t make it into our top six toy dog breeds list this year, but that may change next year as a high-profile Crufts win tends to raise interest in the winning breed as a whole.
Most of the dog breeds included within the toy dog group are breeds that have never been widely associated with a working role, which makes this breed group unique, as all of the other six Kennel Club breed groups have historical working origins of some type. A few of the dogs within the toy dog group may have had working roles at some point in their past, but are eligible for inclusion within the toy group rather than elsewhere as their core traits and applications have changed over time.
This also means of course that not all small dog breeds are toy dogs, and some of the toy dog breeds that do fall within the group could theoretically fit into other groups too – like the Russian toy terrier and Yorkshire terrier, which are both included within the toy group rather than the terrier group.
Non-pedigree dog types such as cross breeds and widely recognised hybrid dog types are not included within the Kennel Club’s breed groups, and whilst a mixed breed or hybrid breed might be of the toy dog type, they are not eligible for Kennel Club registration and so, formal inclusion within the group. This means that only recognised pedigree toy dog breeds will be included within our own breed group popularity list.
Toy dogs are also sometimes known as companion dogs or lapdogs, and the main uniting trait of this breed group is that the dogs within it make for excellent domestic pets and highly affectionate companions, which need plenty of company and attention and that form very strong bonds with their owners.
Toy dogs are always either smallor tiny dog breeds, although there is a reasonable amount of size variation even within the group, and they are all breeds that don’t have strong working abilities or core traits, and which tend to be moderate rather than highly challenging in terms of their need for exercise, although again this can vary from dog to dog.
Toy dog breeds may be either breeds that were originally developed as pets and companions rather than for working roles, or small or miniature versions of other dog breeds that were bred over time to better suit domestic life rather than working roles. This is why some of the breeds within the toy dog group might initially appear to fit another grouping, such as the two terrier breeds we mentioned above.
Historically, dogs were most widely used for working roles with their suitability as pets being a secondary consideration, and so owning a toy dog, or a dog that was intended to be kept solely as a pet rather than for a more utilitarian or useful purpose was often considered to be a status symbol, or an indication of affluence.
However, today, most dogs of all types in the UK are of course kept as pets rather than working dogs, and toy dog ownership is well within the reach of most dog lovers!
So that you can better understand the information we’ll share with you on toy dog popularity by breed and in order to enable you to interpret our results accurately, next we’ll explain how we came by the information we used to draw up our listing, and the parameters we used to do so.
Pets4Homes is by far the largest and busiest pet classifieds website in the UK, hosting more adverts for dogs for sale than any other portal, and attracting over a million visitors to the site each month.
By collating anonymous information from adverts placed on Pets4Homes – such as the breed of dog advertised, their pedigree status and advertised price across all adverts placed within a given time period – we can build up a range of data that allows us to compare different dog breed statistics side by side.
The information we have used to draw up our toy dog popularity list is based only on the hard data that we have parsed from Pets4Homes itself, and does not reflect figures for adverts placed on other parts of the web. This enables us to ensure that we’re working with only known factors and solid information that is accurate and realistic.
This means that our toy dog popularity list is based solely on information about dogs advertised on Pets4Homes rather than across the wider web, and so the figures we’ll share reflects this, rather than the complete potential market in the UK. However, as we are the largest pet classifieds site in the UK, the information that we are working with is more comprehensive than can be found anywhere else, and reflects an accurate snapshot of the larger UK market to use as a point for comparison.
Here’s how we’ve put together the facts and figures we’ll share with you shortly:
Next we will share our list of the six most popular toy dog breeds in the UK in reverse order, based on advertisement numbers from Pets4Homes in 2018.
The Maltese dog is one of several small, white and fluffy toy dog breeds that are popular in the UK, and which many dog lovers who are not overly familiar with different dog breeds often struggle to tell apart.
Non-pedigree Maltese dog adverts from last year outnumber those of pedigrees by almost two to one, and there is quite a steep jump in price between pedigrees and non-pedigrees too. With pedigree dogs of the breed changing hands for over £1,000 on average, this may place pedigree choices outside of the budget of many prospective puppy buyers.
The Maltese dog breed is one of the oldest recognised dog breeds of all, with a history going right back to before the Christian era.
Maltese dogs are tiny in size, with a soft, fluffy white coat that is very snuggly and nice to pet. This type of coat is also very low-shedding, and hair that is lost gets caught up in the remainder of the coat, where it needs to be combed out. This has the advantage of meaning that cleaning up around the home doesn’t require hoovering up a lot of dog hair, but also means that dogs of the breed need regular brushing and grooming.
Maltese dogs are real people-pleasers that bond strongly with their main caregivers, and that are highly affectionate and very loving. However, they don’t tend to be great with children, often finding them scary or daunting, which can result in defensive aggression. That said, older children that know how to treat a dog and when to leave them alone generally get on well with dogs of the breed too.
The Maltese dog isn’t overly challenging in terms of their need for exercise, but they are relatively clever and generally fairly simple to train, even if you have never trained a dog of your own before.
One downside of the breed is that they are highly intolerant of being left alone, and need someone around for company most of the day. Maltese dogs can also be quite noisy and quick to bark and make a fuss, although if you begin correcting this while the dog is still a puppy, you may be able to prevent issues further down the line.
Maltese dogs tend to be relatively long lived with an average lifespan of 12-15 years, but the list of hereditary health issues that can affect dogs of the breed is quite a long one. Many of the main conditions considered to pose a threat to dogs of the breed can be identified in breed lines with health testing prior to choosing a mating match, and you should ask any breeder you are considering buying from about the health tests they have undertaken on their own dogs.
Part of the reason why pedigree Maltese dogs cost more than non-pedigrees is because responsible breeders participate in health testing schemes, but do not assume that just because you have found a pedigree Maltese breeder that their dogs will have been health tested as standard. Many breeders of non-pedigree Maltese dogs undertake health testing too, although this is less common than within pedigree breeders.
The Cavalier King Charles spaniel is one of the few spaniel dog breeds that isn’t included in the Kennel Club’s gun dog group, instead being a member of the toy group, reflecting their small size and long history as companions and lap dogs.
Spaniels are a dog type that we most widely associate with historical gun dog roles and a very active, outdoors-y lifestyle rather than life as pampered pets, but the Cavalier King Charles spaniel is in fact one of the oldest recognised toy dog breeds of all. They also diverge from most spaniel dog breeds in terms of their need for exercise, being quite sedentary dogs that just need a couple of moderate length walks each day.
As you can see from the statistics we’ve shared above, non-pedigree Cavalier King Charles spaniel adverts outnumber those of pedigrees by a significant amount, and also, this is a relatively expensive toy dog breed to buy for both pedigrees and non-pedigrees alike.
Advertised prices of near to £1,000 per dog for pedigrees reflects the relative scarcity of pedigree Cavvies compared to non-pedigrees, and implies that most buyers aren’t concerned about showing their dogs or maintaining a pedigree breed line. Cavalier King Charles spaniels are great toy dogs that are relatively quiet and not overly lively, enjoying their home comforts and the company of their families.
Like most spaniel breeds, the Cavalier King Charles spaniel is also usually really good with children, and they’re often highly affectionate with the younger members of their families.
There are a lot of plus points to the breed if you are looking for a new toy dog, including a very handsome appearance with soft, tactile fur, kind faces, and a petite but well-balanced conformation.
Cavalier King Charles spaniels are around the middle of the pack in terms of intelligence, but they can be a little slow on the uptake when it comes to training, although they can generally be trained to follow all of the key essential commands that dogs should learn.
Cavvies need a moderate amount of brushing and grooming and many of them enjoy cuddling up on the sofa and enjoying a pampering session, and they’re about middle of the road in terms of how much fur they shed too.
In terms of the breed’s health, there are a small number of hereditary health conditions and conformation defects that appear within the breed, but that are reasonably widely spread and so, affect a small but notable percentage of Cavvies in the UK. A range of eye disorders as well as syringomyelia, and a predisposition in some breed lines to developing mitral valve disease are the best-known health challenges within the breed, and Cavvies are also quite prone to gaining weight, which can further exacerbate or even cause health problems.
The breed can also be sensitive to common canine vaccines, so you should discuss this with your vet when it is time to administer their shots.
Responsible Cavalier King Charles spaniel breeders undertake pre-breeding health screening on their dogs for conditions that can be tested and that may be a risk to the breed line, and there are several health tests that Kennel Club Assured Breeders are obliged to have performed on their dogs.
By choosing a pedigree puppy from an Assured Breeder, you can increase your chances of buying a healthy Cavvie, but always ensure that you ask to see the dog’s health test results before committing to a purchase. Buying a pedigree Cavalier King Charles spaniel does not of course guarantee good health, but health testing is more common among pedigree breeders than those producing non-pedigree specimens – but regardless of what type of Cavvie you choose, picking a breeder who undertakes health testing as standard is a very wise move.
The Yorkshire terrier is a toy dog breed that originated right here in the UK and as a result, that is very well known here – but not all dog lovers realise that the Yorkie falls within the toy dog group rather than the terrier dog group.
As you can see from the split between pedigree and non-pedigree Yorkshire terrier numbers, non-pedigrees outnumber pedigrees by a huge proportion, and puppy buyers seeking a pedigree dog of the breed might need to wait some time and travel some way to find one. This is a breed that has of course been very long established in the UK as a pet and companion, and the skew in favour of non-pedigrees indicates that this is what is important to most puppy buyers, rather than show potential or adherence to the breed standard.
Yorkshire terriers are also quite competitively priced, even for a small dog breed, at under £700 for a pedigree and just over £500 for a non-pedigree. This places them within the budget of most buyers, and so cost is unlikely to serve as a deterrent within the breed as a whole.
The breed’s long history in the UK, competitive pricing and readily available market of dogs for sale all helps to contribute to and maintain the breed’s overall popularity within the toy dog rankings, and there are a huge number of positive traits about Yorkies that make them many buyers’ breed of choice.
First of all, Yorkshire terriers can actually be quite variable in size from tiny up towards the upper end of the size spectrum for a toy dog breed, and their terrier personalities provide an added element to the breed that contrasts with what many of us think of as typical toy dog traits.
Yorkshire terriers are highly affectionate dogs that love the company of their favourite people and that bond strongly with their families, and cuddling up on the sofa to watch a film is one of their favourite pastimes. However, Yorkshire terriers also display a lot of the traits that we associate with terrier breeds as a whole, including a plucky personality, confidence, quick wits, and a strong prey drive.
The Yorkshire terrier is also one of the few toy dog group breeds that actually have an active working history way back in their development, and at one stage they were prized for their abilities as ratters and small dogs to use for rodent control. Whilst Yorkshire terriers haven’t been widely used for or associated with working roles for a great many decades, these core traits can still be seen in the breed’s prey drive, lively natures, and sometimes, propensity to dig!
Yorkshire terriers are quite lively compared to many toy dog breeds, and they like to lead a fairly busy, varied lifestyle with short, interesting walks to allow them to work off their excess energy levels. However, they’re not like many terrier breeds in terms of a high demand for walks and entertainment. On the toy dog side of the coin, they need company with them for the main part of the day and aren’t happy left alone for too long, although the company of another dog can help with this somewhat.
The breed comes in a couple of coat variants too, both short and long – and longhaired Yorkshire terriers have straight, long and luxurious fur that often reaches right the way to the floor, and which is silky and soft in texture. Longhaired Yorkshire terriers need daily brushing and grooming to keep their coats in good condition, and this provides a great bonding opportunity between dog and owner.
Shorthaired Yorkshire terriers need rather less grooming, but still enjoy being brushed, and neither variant of the breed tends to shed hair particularly heavily either, which is another point in their favour.
As a very well-established dog breed, Yorkshire terriers have a large and stable breed population in the UK, and they tend to be relatively long lived with an average lifespan of between 13-16 years when fed, exercised and cared for appropriately.
Whilst most dogs of the breed are healthy and robust despite their small size, the list of potential hereditary health issues that can affect dogs of the breed is a relatively long one, although this does not mean that all or even most dogs of the breed will inherit one or more such conditions.
A lot of these health issues can be identified in parent dogs prior to breeding from them, and so responsible Yorkshire terrier breeders often undertake health testing on their parent stock. This is more common amongst pedigree dog breeders than those producing non-pedigree breed lines, but regardless of what type of Yorkie you are considering buying, get to know the breed’s health first.
This will enable you to discuss the ins and outs of a breed line’s health with the breeder before you commit to a purchase, find out more about their health testing protocols, and help to ensure that you have the best possible chances of buying yourself a healthy pup.
The Pomeranian, also known as the Pom-Pom or German spitz, is a toy dog breed of the spitz type and one that was historically developed from larger spitz-type dogs that were often used for working roles. This is a well-established toy dog breed that has been well known in the UK for a long period of time.
The first thing that may have jumped out at you looking at the statistics we’ve shared above is that the Pomeranian is quite an expensive dog breed to buy. Over £1,500 on average for a Kennel Club registered pedigree dog is around double the average advertised price across the board for all breeds, and almost £900 for a non-pedigree is more than the purchase cost of a pedigree from many other breeds too.
Non-pedigree Pomeranian adverts outweigh pedigree adverts by over two to one, which may indicate a lower level of importance placed by most buyers on Kennel Club paperwork, or may simply mean that many people who desire to own a dog of the breed cannot afford the purchase price of a pedigree specimen.
However, despite the comparatively high average prices for both pedigree and non-pedigree dogs of the breed, Pomeranians have secured the position of third most popular toy dog breed in the UK nonetheless – so what makes them so popular?
It is really the full Pomeranian package that helps to explain their enduring appeal, and there are plenty of good points about the breed that help them to appeal to many different types of owners.
First of all the simple advantage that all toy dogs have in terms of size is worth mentioning, as a small dog can live comfortably in a home of more or less any size, whilst a medium or large dog requires a reasonably large home. This means that many prospective dog owners are limited in terms of the breeds that they can consider buying.
The Pomeranian’s appearance is another core breed trait that appeals to many owners, and they have a very typical spitz-dog conformation in miniature, with a delicate but well-formed muzzle, petite, pointed ears, curled tail and of course, dense, rich and plush coat that is very tactile to handle. They are an undeniably handsome breed of dog, and one that often appeals to many people looking for a small dog that has a well-balanced conformation.
The Pomeranian coat is one of the main features that appeal to puppy buyers, being as it is luxurious, soft, and very nice to touch. This does also mean that Pomeranian owners need to dedicate quite a reasonable amount of time to brushing and grooming their dogs on a regular basis to keep them looking and feeling good, but the breed doesn’t shed as heavily as many spitz types and so, doesn’t make a huge mess around the home.
Pomeranians are fairly athletic and lively little dogs, but they are not too hard to tire out thanks to their small size. They have a fairly brisk trotting pace which helps them to keep up with people when out on walks, but just a couple of varied, energetic and interesting walks each day are usually sufficient for the average Pomeranian.
This is also a breed that is quick-witted, intelligent and keen to learn new skills, which means that training them is well within the grasp of most owners (even those who have not trained a dog before) and Pomeranians can often learn quite a wide range of different skills and commands, and may even be able to learn tricks.
The Pomeranian personality is fun-loving, alert and entertaining, and they are also very loving and affectionate dogs that need company with them for the main part of the day in order to thrive and be happy.
However, on the downside, the health of the Pomeranian breed as a whole is below average, and there are a number of hereditary health conditions that can be found within the wider breed population, and which can have a significant impact on the health and longevity of individual dogs of the breed.
Whilst the breed has an average lifespan of between 12-16 years when appropriately fed and properly cared for, the list of hereditary health issues that can be found within the breed as a whole is long, and many of the health conditions contained within it are complex and challenging to manage, and can have a significant impact on affected dogs’ quality of life.
Because of the breed’s well-publicised health challenges, responsible Pomeranian breeders participate in a number of breed-specific health testing schemes on their parent stock prior to breeding, to ensure that each litter has the best possible chances of being healthy. The cost of undertaking these health tests and of course, removing unsuitable dogs from the breeding programme and caring for them for the duration of the lives can be significant, which helps to contribute to the high average sale cost for dogs of the breed, particularly for pedigrees.
Breeders of non-pedigree Pomeranians may of course have their parent stock health tested too, although this is less common, and there is no rule or regulation that mandates health testing for registered pedigree dogs, and so pedigree status alone is no indication of future health.
Regardless of whether you are considering buying a pedigree or a non-pedigree Pomeranian dog, you