"What are the most popular small dog breeds in the UK? Pets4Homes reveals the answer

"What are the most popular small dog breeds in the UK? Pets4Homes reveals the answer

Life As A Pet Parent

There are a number of advantages to choosing a small dog breed over a larger one, not least the fact that they don’t need such a big home, and tend to be more economical to keep in terms of everything from food and accessories to flea and wormer doses.

Small dog breeds are also often easier to fit into our busy modern lifestyles than larger dogs, and many small dogs thrive in urban environments and with working owners when providing for all of the needs of a larger dog might be a much greater challenge.

Some of the smallest dog breeds are tiny enough to be portable and fit into a handbag or pet carrier too, which provides additional opportunities to include the dog in our day to day lives. The huge level of cute-appeal shared by small dog breeds helps to ensure that they have a huge following too – in fact, all of the dogs in the top three places in terms of popularity in the UK regardless of size are small breeds.

Whether you are looking for a lively, plucky and outgoing terrier or a quiet, affectionate lapdog type, there is sure to be a small breed to suit – and the variety and diversity of small dog breeds in terms of both appearances and temperaments means that there really is a small breed out there for almost everyone.

However, if you’re just beginning the search for the perfect puppy and so far you’ve only narrowed your selection criteria down to dogs that aren’t too large, you will still have a huge number of options to choose from. Learning about individual dog breeds to the point that you are able to make an informed decision about their suitability for you can be time consuming, but is unavoidable if you want to ensure that you make the right choice.

The very variable nature of the temperament and core traits of individual small dog breeds also further complicates matters for many. Unless you’re experienced with dogs and well versed with the ins and outs of a large number of different dog breeds, you would not be able to tell from a glance at a dog or a picture of a dog what breed they might be or the suitability of the traits that they have in order to know if they are worthy of further consideration or should be ruled out.

However, the chances are that if you tend to notice dogs when you’re out and about or often visit areas like parks where dogs play and congregate, you’ve probably already noticed that certain small dog breeds and types are far more common and numerous than others.

Small dog breeds that become hugely popular and that are present in large numbers become popular because the combination of traits that they possess appeals to or is a good fit for a wide variety of different types of owners – and knowing what breeds these are can be valuable information for puppy buyers.

Whilst it is entirely possible that a more unusual or less commonly seen small dog breed might end up being the best choice for you, it is certainly worthwhile to find out what type of small dogs most other puppy buyers pick most commonly, and learning more about the level of their popularity and how they achieved it.

However, if you Googled a list of the UK’s most popular small dog breeds, you’ll probably return a lot of results quite quickly – but they are all likely to be opinion pieces or based on the preferences and opinions of the piece’s author, rather than a definitive reflection of the statistically most significant breeds in the UK in terms of population numbers.

This is where Pets4Homes can help prospective buyers of small-breed puppies. As the UK’s largest and best-known dedicated pet classifieds portal, we host more adverts for small dog breeds each year than any other website, and by a significant margin.

By analysing advertisement data from the previous year encompassing small dog breeds of all types offered for sale in the UK, we’ve drawn up a definitive list of the UK’s most popular small dog breeds, based on hard data we’ve collated from 2018.

We’ve also put together information on the average advertised prices for the most popular small dog breeds, and how popular pedigree specimens are compared to non-pedigrees.

In this article we will reveal the most popular small dog breeds in the UK, presented in reverse order after a little supporting information. Read on to learn more.

What makes a small dog breed?

The fact that a dog is small or otherwise is of course self-evident when you look at them, and dividing dog breeds up into sizes to make them easier to classify has been a common practice since the formal recognition of different breeds began.

However, unlike other groupings and divisions commonly used for collectives of breeds, the size element alone does not also come associated with other common traits that all dogs within the same group might reasonably be expected to possess.

For instance, the Kennel Club in the UK doesn’t divide breeds into size categories for showing, but instead into breeds and common groups that reflect traits and shared origins possessed by all of the dogs within them. There’s the gun dog group for dog breeds used in gun sport, the pastoral dog group for herding dog breeds, and the toy dog group for toy dogs – and of course, all of the dog breeds within the toy dog group are small breeds.

However, the toy dog group doesn’t include all types of small dogs, many of which are grouped into other sections containing a wide variety of different dog sizes, like the terrier group, which includes the West Highland white terrier (a small dog) and the Airedale terrier (a large breed) alike, and means that these two breeds can and do compete head to head in group classes within formal dog shows, despite their difference in sizes.

Even when you only consider dogs that are objectively small in size, there is still a fair degree of size variance. The tiniest breeds like the Chihuahua might weigh as little as 1.8kg, whilst the still-small Beagle, on the other hand, can weigh up to 11kg, or six times as much!

Next, we’ll explain how we decided what dog breeds to count as “small,” and how we came by the information we’ve used to draw up our small dog popularity list, and what this information can tell you.

How we determined the rankings of our small dog breed popularity list

Before we introduce the small dog popularity list itself, first of all let’s talk about the information we used to populate it, how we got this information, and how you can assess its meaning and accuracy.

Pets4Homes will be releasing a series of exclusive articles over the course of the next couple of months to share our statistics on the popularity of different dog breeds within specific size groups, and small dogs are just one of them.

In order to ensure that this information is accurate for our readers and provides the most value for those seeking to choose a dog based on size, we’ve divided all of the dog breeds advertised here into five size categories – tiny, small, medium, large, and giant respectively.

This means that the very smallest dog breeds of all like the Chihuahua can be found within our tiny dog popularity list, rather than here in the small dog list – and you might want to check those breeds out too if you’re shopping around for a little dog.

With this in mind, here’s how we worked out the popularity of different small pedigree dog breeds in the UK.

Pets4Homes is the busiest and most popular dedicated pet classifieds website in the UK, and we host more adverts for dogs for sale and receive more unique visits from prospective puppy buyers every month than any other online portal.

With over 3 million unique visitors using and interacting with the site each month, Pets4Homes has exclusive access to site data that allows us to build up a picture of the current state of the market and puppy selling and buying trends, in terms of the popularity of each individual dog breed, the number of adverts placed for them, and how they compare to other breeds.

When a puppy seller places an advert here for dogs for sale, they’re asked to submit a range of information such as the dog’s breed, pedigree status, and asking price.

By collating anonymous data across these and various other areas within seller adverts for specific set time periods, we can rank dog breeds based on real information supplied by real site users, which collectively, indicates the state of the market and demand for different dog breeds at any given time.

The timeframe that we’ve worked with to draw up this list of small dog breeds based on their popularity is the year of 2018 – the most recent year for which we’ve got a full twelve month set of data to work with.

For every single small dog breed that was offered for sale here in 2018, we’ve put together a database showing how many dogs of each breed were advertised over the year, how many of each breed were pedigrees, and how much sellers advertised them for.

Here is how we put the data together

First of all, we ranked all of the small dog breeds we looked at in popularity order based on the total number of adverts for dogs of each breed placed here last year to determine the list’s order.

We included adverts for both pedigree and non-pedigree dogs of each breed within the total, but only included recognised pedigree dog breeds and not popular hybrid or designer dog types that are also small in size, as these are not technically formally referred to as dog breeds, but dog types.

We have also supplied information on the split within each breed in terms of pedigree versus non pedigree advert numbers, as this information can help to provide insights on what is important to the buyers of dogs of each breed and sometimes, can provide direction on why as well.

We have also published information on the average asking price across the board for each small dog breed, based on the details that the sellers provides. Again, we have also shared information on the average prices of pedigree and non-pedigree dogs separately.

This shows the difference between the prices for each breed depending on their pedigree status, and some breeds have a much wider price gap in this respect than others.

When it comes to how we worked out the average prices themselves, this requires a little clarification of its own.

The pricing information we have to work from comes from information submitted by puppy sellers within their own adverts, and so represents the price the seller wishes to attain, but does not indicate whether or not it is actually achieved in reality.

We also discounted the price information provided by sellers where this was anomalous or potentially misleading – such as adverts with no price stated, or a price way outside of the norms, being under £100 or over £8,000 respectively.

Finally, we’ve also included some further supporting information to help prospective puppy buyers to make a decision, such as each breed’s overall popularity in the UK regardless of dog size, and which Kennel Club breed group each small dog breed falls into, to make it easier for you to learn more about them.

Please don’t lose sight of the fact that this list covers small but not tiny breeds – so if you’re seeking to find out how popular very small breeds like the Chihuahua or the Pomeranian are, check out our tiny dog list instead. You might also want to check out some of our other popularity reveals for the different Kennel Club breed groupings, most of which include small dog breeds of some ilk!

Here is our list of the five most popular small dog breeds in the UK, in reverse order.

Number 5: The Dachshund

The Dachshund or sausage dog is instantly recognisable thanks to the breed’s short legs and long back, which originally made them a good choice for working roles that involved entering underground burrows.

Facts and figures

  • The Dachshund is the 5th most popular small dog breed in the UK, based on the number of adverts for dogs of the breed placed on Pets4Homes in 2018.
  • The Dachshund is also the 14th most popular dog breed in the UK overall.
  • Over the course of 2018, a total number of 3,412 adverts were showcased on Pets4Homes for Dachshund dogs and puppies for sale in the UK.
  • The average advertised asking price for Dachshunds in 2018 was £956 each.
  • Out of the total number of Dachshund adverts placed here in 2018, 1,122 of them were for Kennel Club registered pedigree dogs and litters.
  • Pedigree Dachshunds were advertised for sale at an average cost of £1,248 each in 2018.
  • The remaining 2,290 Dachshund for sale adverts placed here in 2018 were for non-pedigree or unregistered dogs of the breed.
  • Non-pedigree Dachshunds were advertised for sale at an average cost of £812 each in 2018.
  • The Dachshund falls within the Kennel Club’s hound dog group.

The Dachshund’s personality and popularity

The Dachshund is a very unique looking dog breed, being one of the few that exhibits a form of canine dwarfism and resulting in abnormally short legs coupled with a much longer body. This physical trait made Dachshunds a good fit for one of their historical working roles, as it allowed the dogs to pursue prey into underground burrows that a dog with longer legs would not be able to access!

The Dachshund has been popular and fairly stable in terms of population numbers in the UK for many years now, and this breed made an effective transition to life as pets relatively easily when their original working roles began to fall out of fashion.

The relative stability in terms of population numbers and a generally fairly even match between supply and demand means that Dachshund advert numbers and average prices haven’t fluctuated a huge amount over the last few years, and this is quite an expensive dog breed to buy, particularly for a small dog.

With the breed’s average sale prices being not far off £1,000 each and generally being rather more for pedigree specimens, the Dachshund is far from the cheapest of small dog breeds to buy. This does mean that not everyone who would like to buy a Dachshund can afford to, although there is over £400 difference between the average cost of pedigrees versus non-pedigrees, which is not to be sniffed at!

As non-pedigree Dachshund adverts from 2018 outnumber those for pedigree dogs of the breed by over two to one, it is clear that a significant number of prospective buyers choose non-pedigrees, or don’t place a lot of weight on the paperwork that accompanies pedigree dogs.

In terms of the Dachshund’s size, they are objectively small dogs thanks to their short statures, but they are actually rather larger in the flesh than many people expect. Dachshunds can stand up to around 27cm tall at the withers, and weigh up to 12kg, which gives you some indication of the substantial difference between the size of the dog’s body compared to their legs!

As a dog breed from within the hound group, Dachshunds are dogs with some working abilities and tenacious natures, and they also tend to have a strong prey drive too. However, whilst they do need a couple of reasonably long walks each day to fulfil their need for exercise, they are not hugely fizzy dogs and cannot walk for huge distances comfortably due to their long legs, although they do have a brisk trot that allows them to keep up with their owners on walks.

Dachshunds are around the middle of the canine intelligence spectrum, but they can be somewhat complex to train. Dogs of the breed get bored easily if they don’t understand what is going on or spot something else more diverting, and it can take a number of patient training sessions to teach dogs of the breed all of the essential core commands.

The breed as a whole is also not one that first comes to mind as a good pick for families with children, as dogs of the breed like to be the centre of attention and won’t tolerate a lot of noise or rowdy behaviour. They tend to be happy enough to stay on their own at home for a few hours once they have been taught to do so, although as is the case with the breed’s general training abilities, house training Dachshunds effectively does often take rather longer than for most other breeds.

However, Dachshunds are very person-centric dogs that stick close to their owners, and they can also be quite feisty and playful, making them entertaining to have around.

One point to note about Dachshunds if you are new to the breed is that their conformation can potentially come with the risk of certain health complications. In dogs whose backs are very long compared to the relative shortness of their legs, there is an increased risk of the dog developing a condition called intervertebral disc disease, which can be both painful and disabling.

However, there is a pre-breeding health test available for this to enable breeders to select only healthy adult dogs for use within their breeding programmes, and you can add an additional layer of reassurance when you buy a Dachshund puppy by choosing a breeder who undertakes this health test specifically, and ideally, others recommended for the breed as a whole too.

Dachshunds aren’t the right choice of small dog breed for everyone, and if you haven’t owned a dog before, they might not be a good pick for your first one. However, if you do plenty of research, talk to lots of Dachshund owners and meet as many dogs of the breed as possible before you make a final decision, you might find that a Dachshund is the right small dog to suit your home and lifestyle.

If you’re looking for an even smaller breed, the miniature Dachshund is also one you might wish to consider.

Number 4: The Jack Russell

The Jack Russell is a small, plucky and confident little terrier dog breed, and one that most of us see every day out on the streets and in the dog parks of the UK.

Facts and figures

  • The Jack Russell is the fourth most popular small dog breed in the UK, based on the number of adverts placed on Pets4Homes in 2018
  • The Jack Russell is also the 11th most popular dog breed in the UK overall.
  • During 2018, a total number of 3,761 adverts were placed here for Jack Russell dogs and puppies for sale in the UK.
  • The average advertised price for Jack Russells in the UK in 2018 was £351 each.
  • Out of the total number of Jack Russell adverts placed here in 2018, just 96 of them were for Kennel Club registered pedigree dogs of the breed.
  • Pedigree Jack Russells were advertised for sale at an average price of £460 each in 2018.
  • The remaining 3,761 Jack Russell adverts in our total were for unregistered or non-pedigree dogs of the breed.
  • Non-pedigree Jack Russells were advertised for sale at an average cost of £348 each in 2018.
  • The Jack Russell falls within the Kennel Club’s terrier dog group.

The Jack Russell’s personality and popularity

The Jack Russell is perhaps the best-known terrier dog breed in the UK, and one that has long been a staple sight all over the country and with many different types of owners.

There are a couple of factors about our Jack Russell popularity statistics from 2018 that immediately jump out and that are worthy of further examination – such as the fact that under 100 of the Jack Russell adverts placed here in 2018 were for Kennel Club registered pedigree dogs, compared to not far off 4,000 non-pedigrees.

Ergo, it is certainly fair to say that pedigree status is not considered to be an important factor to most fans of the breed, and it is in fact often quite hard for people who are looking for a pedigree to find one available.

The reasons for this are numerous and potentially complex, and perhaps stems from the fact that the Jack Russell is not a breed that most of us associate with pampered pet life or the dog show circuit, but more of a busy, outdoorsy lifestyle and historically, working applications.

As terriers, Jack Russells have a very strong prey drive and bags of tenacity, and the breed was originally used for rodent control and eliminating pests like rats and rabbits. Suitability and temperament for working applications was always how the quality of dogs of the breed was historically judged, and today’s Jack Russell breeders and puppy buyers still tend to prioritise health and temperament over a specific appearance or breed standard.

Additionally, Jack Russells are one of the most economical of dog breeds to buy, with even pedigree dogs of the breed changing hands for under £500 on average, which is well below the norms for most other dog breeds of a similar size. This means that the Jack Russell is well within the budget of most prospective buyers, and price is unlikely to serve as a barrier to purchasing.

In terms of the Jack Russell’s size, dogs of the breed stand between around 25-30cm tall at the withers, and weigh anything up to around 8.2kg. However, just because this is an obviously small breed, Jack Russells don’t tend to act like small dogs, and they are usually very bold, courageous and outgoing, and rarely phased by new situations.

If you’re looking for a toy dog or lapdog breed as your next pet, the Jack Russell is an objectively terrible choice – this breed is the polar opposite in terms of temperament and personality. This means that they are of course a common choice amongst people looking for a dog that is compact in size but has a big dog’s personality, but they do require an experienced owner that understands the pros and cons of Jack Russell ownership, and that can effectively train and manage a dog of this type.

Jack Russells are high energy dogs that have busy brains and inquisitive natures, and if there is trouble to be found, the Jack Russell will quickly find it! They have typical terrier dog traits and instincts, including a strong prey drive, a tendency to dig, a passion for chewing, and confident, almost cocky personalities that can be quite amusing but that can also make them quite a handful at times!

Jack Russells might be small, but they need a lot of daily exercise in order to keep them happy and under control, ideally spending several hours each day walking and running off the lead in varied, engaging play. Their intelligence means that they need lots of mental stimulation too, and puzzle toys and games that make them use their brains are a good fit for dogs of the breed, and they are also often good at canine sports too.

Whilst a bored Jack Russell will soon become unruly and destructive, they can be left alone at home for moderate periods of time when trained to accept this and given something to divert their attentions. However, Jack Russells do need attentive owners who will spend a lot of time each day with their dogs, and involve them in their lives.

When it comes to housing a Jack Russell within a family home, this is something that needs to be considered carefully for each individual dog that you are considering. When raised with children from a young age and carefully managed and trained for appropriate behaviour, Jack Russells can make for excellent family pets, and dog and child may provide hours of entertainment for each other. However, Jack Russells can be prone to dominance and also don’t tolerate a lot of messing around, and so not all of them are good with children.

The Jack Russell coat comes in three variants, being smooth, rough and broken, which provides a range of options for prospective buyers. All of the Jack Russell coat variants are low maintenance and moderate in terms of shedding, and so not too much trouble to care for.

The breed as a whole tends to be healthy, hardy, and quick to brush off cuts and grazes so that they can carry on with their game. However, prospective owners should take the time to learn about breed-specific health issues, and discuss these with the breeder that they are considering buying from before making a purchase.

If you are looking for a small dog breed with a huge personality and typical terrier traits, the Jack Russell may be the right choice. However, this is a lively, busy and intelligent dog breed that does not thrive within a sedentary lifestyle.

Number 3: The Shih tzu

The Shih tzu is a small, elegant and very noble-looking dog breed, with a natural coat that is long and flowing, although many Shih tzu owners have their dogs’ coats clipped to make them easier to manage.

Facts and figures

  • The Shih Tzu is the 3rd most popular small dog breed in the UK, based on Pets4Homes advert statistics from 2018.
  • The Shih tzu is also the 9th most popular dog breed in the UK overall.
  • Over the course of 2018, a total number of 5,737 adverts were placed on Pets4Homes for Shih tzu dogs and puppies for sale in the UK.
  • The average advertised price of Shih tzu dogs for sale in the UK in 2018 was £558 each.
  • Of the total number of Shih tzu adverts placed here in 2018, 1,003 of them were for Kennel Club registered pedigree Shih tzus.
  • Pedigree Shih tzus were advertised for sale at an average cost of £785 each in 2018.
  • The remaining 4,737 Shih tzu adverts in our total were for non-pedigree or unregistered dogs of the breed.
  • Non-pedigree Shih tzus were advertised for sale at an average cost of £510 each in 2018.
  • The Shih tzu falls within the Kennel Club’s utility dog group.

The Shih tzu’s personality and popularity

The Shih tzu is an ancient dog breed with a noble heritage, and a recorded history going back for many centuries. Dogs of the breed were originally used as temple sentinels and watchdogs in Tibet, where they lived side by side with Tibetan monks – and which means that they’re classed as utility dogs rather than toy dogs for Kennel Club registration purposes.

Shih tzus are very elegant and delicate-looking dogs which makes them very appealing as lapdogs, although the breed’s coat care requirements to serve to discourage some prospective buyers.

The breed has long been well established in the UK and so, is one that most dog lovers know, and so are more likely to bring to mind when seeking a small dog breed of a certain type.

Shih tzus are also fairly economical to buy, falling within the slightly low side of the median price range compared to most dog breeds of a similar size. Whilst there is over £250 difference between the average price of a pedigree Shih tzu versus a non-pedigree, the difference is not significant enough to sway many puppy buyers who wish to own a pedigree to consider an unregistered dog of the breed in order to make a saving.

Non-pedigree Shih tzu adverts outnumbered those for pedigrees here by over four to one in 2018, which indicates that the majority of puppy buyers don’t place a lot of importance on pedigree status, but for those who do wish to buy a pedigree specifically and particularly, a show quality one, there might be some time to wait for an appropriate dog to become available.

The Shih tzu is a moderately sized small dog breed, standing up to around 28cm tall at the withers and weighing up to around 7.25kg at the top end.

The breed’s combination of distinctive and head-turning looks and wonderful personalities makes them a popular choice of pet for many, but the breed has quite a mixture of traits that all prospective owners should consider carefully for suitability.

The Shih tzu can be quite highly strung and fizzy and they like to stick close to their owners and be involved in everything that they do, and they’re not very tolerant of being left alone at home, often becoming destructive and barking and making a lot of fuss.

However, they do tend to be quite good with children and a suitable choice for most family homes, and they are also a breed that is widely considered to be a sensible pick for even first-time dog owners who research the breed properly first.

The Shih tzu temperament is highly social and friendly, and they tend to be keen to say hello to new people that they meet, and enjoy playing with other dogs in the park assuming that they have been properly socialised. The breed also tends to have a kind, gentle nature, and they’re unlikely to be pushy or aggressive when appropriately handled and managed.

Another plus side of the Shih tzu for many people seeking a small dog breed or a lap dog type is that providing enough exercise for dogs of the breed isn’t overly challenging. This is quite a sedentary breed that tends to walk briskly when they do go out, but they don’t need a huge amount of exercise. Just a couple of interesting, varied half hour long walks each day is usually enough to keep a Shih tzu happy.

Whilst this isn’t one of the smartest dog breeds of them all, Shih tzus are widely considered to be quite easy to train to follow a selection of fairly simple training commands, including all of the essential commands that all dogs should know. The breed is also fairly healthy and long lived as a general rule, partially as a result of their long history and well established breed population, but prospective Shih tzu buyers should always investigate the breed’s specific health challenges and available health tests before contacting breeders or making a purchase.

The Shih tzu’s coat does of course deserve a mention in terms of the breed’s popularity, and this is in fact the only longhaired dog breed to make it onto our small dog popularity list.

The Shih tzu coat grows very long, sometimes down to the floor, and is straight or slightly wavy, silky, and quite dense. This means that dogs of the breed need daily brushing and combing, which doesn’t suit all types of owners – but they can alternatively be clipped or trimmed to make their coats easier to manage on a day to day basis.

Interestingly, despite the length and complexity of the Shih tzu coat, this is not a particularly heavy shedding dog breed, and they don’t tend to be hard to clear up after in the home.

If you are seeking a fairly quiet, very elegant and highly affectionate small dog breed for your next purchase and don’t want one that is highly challenging on the exercise front, the Shih tzu might be a good breed to consider.

Number 2: The pug

The pug is a quirky, comical and often well-rounded small dog

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