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When most people think of boisterous, outdoorsy dogs, they think of the larger working and sporting breeds. Dogs like Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers are popular choices for those looking for an outgoing, extroverted dog. But there are a lot of small breeds with some pretty big personalities. Not all small breeds are satisfied being lapdogs. In fact, many are just as active and playful as their larger cousins. So if you’re looking for a small dog with a lot of heart, consider these breeds.

Miniature Schnauzer

miniature schnauzer

The Miniature Schnauzer might be much smaller than his standard and giant cousins, but he’s just as feisty. These are active and intelligent dogs of terrier type, and true to their heritage can be tenacious ratting dogs, so should be supervised around small animals. They are highly adaptable dogs that can live in just about any environment, as long as they are near their people.



The Schipperke is small but fiery, known for their intense personalities and confidence. They are extremely active dogs that need a job to do. With a sheepdog heritage, the breed insists on being the center of attention and must be involved in any activity around them. They are excellent vermin hunters and should be supervised around small animals and even other dogs. Alert and curious, they make outstanding watchdogs, regardless of their size. Don’t be fooled by the Schipperke’s looks—there’s a lot of spirit in that tiny package!


Pembroke Welsh Corgi


The Pembroke Welsh Corgi might look cute and cuddly—and they certainly are! But they are far more active than many other small dog breeds. Pembrokes are a popular breed for obedience, agility, and herding, as they are intelligent, driven, and always ready to go. The breed is “smart and alert, affectionate but not pushy, bold but kindly.” They are social and active dogs that enjoy getting out with their families.


Cardigan Welsh Corgi


The Cardigan Welsh Corgi is the older of the two Corgi breeds. They are very active, sturdy dogs that do best in homes where regular exercise and play is provided. Cardigans make outstanding performance dogs, frequently competing in obedience, agility, and herding. They might look like a small breed, but they are full of heart and want nothing more than to be active with their families.


Border Terrier

border terrier

The Border Terrier is small in size, but mighty in spirit. They are a popular choice for performance dog handlers and trainers because of their outgoing personalities. They are very social, intelligent dogs that excel in sports like obedience and agility. They are great with children and do very well with active families.


Brussels Griffon

brussels griffon

Although a toy breed, the Brussels Griffon has no small personality. Alert and curious dogs, they are quite active despite their size. Regular walks and play are a must for this breed, as they are unhappy solely as lapdogs. That said, they are very affectionate dogs that enjoy snuggling with their owners as long as they get enough mental and physical exercise. Dogs with both coats, rough and smooth, share the same fiery temperament.

Shetland Sheepdog

shetland sheepdog

Shetland Sheepdogs are a very popular choice for those looking for a smaller-sized dog with an responsive manner. They are active and intelligent and enjoy spending time outdoors with their owners. They are one of the most popular dogs for agility training and competition and excel in other performance venues, as well. They are energetic and playful dogs, true to their herding heritage, and make excellent family companions.


Looking for a small dog that wants to cuddle? Check out our video below!
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