Five most popular small dog breeds in Australia

Small white dog in car. mixed breeds like this have become extremely popular small dog breeds in Australia

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

While Australia is a nation of dog lovers, in recent years, it’s the smaller breeds that have surged in popularity, capturing hearts and homes across the country.

Choosing a breed of any size can be overwhelming so, to help, we detail the five most popular small dog breeds in Australia to help you decide which breed is the best fit for you and your family.

The popularity of small dogs

Compact, adaptable, and often much more low-maintenance than their larger counterparts.

Small dog breeds are increasingly becoming the go-to choice for urban dwellers, busy professionals, and families alike.

But while their size might make them seem universally suitable, the reality is far from it.

Like all pets, small dog breeds come with distinct temperaments, care needs, and activity levels.

That’s why it’s crucial to match the right small dog breed with your lifestyle; whether you’re an active individual looking for a jogging companion or a retiree seeking a low-energy lap dog.

Chihuahuas are one of the most popular small dog breeds in Australia but don't quite make the Animal Friendly Life top 5 list
Small breeds such as chihuahua’s have become increasingly popular in recent years…but, did Chihuahua’s make the top 5!? (image: Unsplash)

Finding the best small dog breed for you

The Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC) ranks the most popular small breeds by the number of registrations and online searches.

These breeds have all gained popularity due to their adaptability, low maintenance, and suitability for Australian climates and lifestyles.

We’ve provided an overview of the top five breeds, including their characteristics and suitability for various lifestyles.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Origins Originating from the United Kingdom, this breed was a favorite among British royalty.
Size Generally weighing between 5.9 to 8.2 kilograms, they are a perfect lap-sized companion.
Temperament Known for their friendly and sociable nature, they get along well with both humans and other animals.
Behaviour Typically calm and well-mannered, making them suitable for families, singles, and seniors alike.
Suited Climate Adaptable to both hot and cold climates, but prefer moderate temperatures.
Favourite activities Loves short walks, playtime, and cuddling on the couch.

Miniature Schnauzer

Origins: Originated in Germany as a smaller version of the standard Schnauzer, primarily for ratting and guarding.
Size: Generally weighs between 5.4 to 8.2 kilograms, making them a versatile size for various living situations.
Temperament: Alert and spirited, they are known for their keen intelligence and lively personality.
Behaviour: Friendly and obedient, but they do enjoy a bit of independence.
Suited climate: Adaptable to a range of climates, thanks to their wiry coat.
Favourite activities: Enjoys puzzle toys, agility courses, and brisk walks.
Exercise needs: Moderate; around 30 to 60 minutes of exercise per day.
Lifestyle suitability: Great for families, singles, and seniors; adaptable to both apartment and house living.


Origins: Originally from Germany, bred for hunting small game like rabbits and badgers.
Size: Weighs between 4.9 to 12 kilograms, depending on the variety (Miniature or Standard).
Temperament: Courageous and curious, known for their adventurous spirit.
Behaviour: Good with families but can be a bit stubborn, requiring consistent training.
Suited climate: Adaptable to various climates, but prefers moderate temperatures.
Favourite activities: Enjoys digging, tracking scents, and interactive games.
Exercise needs: Moderate; around 30 to 60 minutes of exercise per day.
Lifestyle suitability: Suitable for families and singles, but best for those who can offer mental stimulation.


Origins: One of the oldest small breeds, originating from the island of Malta.
Size: Weighs between 1.4 to 4 kilograms, ideal for small living spaces.
Temperament: Affectionate and gentle, forms strong bonds with their owners.
Behaviour: Generally well-behaved but can suffer from separation anxiety if left alone for long periods.
Suited climate: Prefers moderate to warm climates due to their single-layer coat.
Favourite activities: Enjoys indoor play, short walks, and being a lap dog.
Exercise needs: Low; around 20 to 30 minutes of light exercise per day.
Lifestyle suitability: Ideal for apartment living, seniors, and singles; not suited for highly active lifestyles.

French Bulldog

Origins: Unsurprisingly, these little versions of Bulldogs originate from France and are one of the most popular small dog breeds in Australia these days.
Size: Weighs between 7.3 to 12 kilograms, making them suitable for smaller homes.
Temperament: Known for their easygoing and affectionate nature.
Behaviour: Generally well-behaved and get along well with other pets and children, making them quite family-friendly.
Suited climate: French Bulldogs prefer moderate climates; they are sensitive to extreme heat due to their flat faces, which can make breathing difficult in hot conditions.
Favourite activities: These little cuties enjoy short walks, playtime, and lounging indoors. While not as high-energy as some breeds, they do still enjoy interactive play.
Exercise needs: Low to moderate; around 20 to 30 minutes of light exercise per day.
Lifestyle suitability: Ideal for apartment living, families, and singles. They are not suited for highly active individuals due to their lower exercise needs and sensitivity to heat.

Dog breed information and adoption services

We’ve listed five of the most popular small dog breeds in Australia right now, but there’s plenty of others!

Here’s some handy resources for you to learn more, or find out where you can buy or adopt: