Not only have dogs been rightly described as loyal companions, but research also shows that they can help you lead a longer, healthier life. Whether it’s lowering your blood pressure or providing a much-needed break during the workday, dogs can offer an incredible amount of joy, companionship, and—needless to say—sheer cuteness.
"Whether it’s lowering your blood pressure or providing a much-needed break during the workday, dogs can offer an incredible amount of joy, companionship, and—needless to say—sheer cuteness."
But making the decision of getting a dog is not easy. After all, a man's best friend requires a ton of attention. Not to mention, each breed comes with its own set of requirements and sometimes even complications. Do you want a dog that requires a lot of exercise? Does it need to be hypoallergenic? Do you want a dog that doesn't shed? Do you want a big dog or a small one? Read on for our A-to-Z list of the 30 cutest dog breeds in the world and their characteristics. (Warning: Cuteness overload ahead.)
Average weight: 25 to 35 pounds
Personality: Playful, clever, affectionate
Watch out: Barks a lot; sheds; not ideal for households with younger children
Fun fact: During the late 19th century, American Eskimos (a.k.a. "Eskies") were regularly cast in the traveling Barnum and Bailey Circus due to their ability to wow the crowds with stunts and tricks. A member of this breed is even credited as being the first dog to walk across a tight-rope!
Beyond their starring role as stunt dogs, these highly intelligent pups (a member of the spitz family) are known for their fluffy, snow-white fur that stands in contrast to their black noses and eye rims. The highly social breed loves to be the object of affection and reciprocates with love and loyalty.
Australian Cattle Dog
Average weight: 35 to 50 pounds
Personality: Amiable, energetic, alert
Watch out: Sheds; requires lots of exercise; prone to chasing
When cattle ranches began popping up in the Australian interior during the early 19th century, Anglo-Australian farmers found themselves in need of a herding dog that could withstand the terrain's high temperatures and untamed landscape. They bred Dingoes with herding dogs brought over from Europe, and the Australian Cattle Dog (a.k.a. "Blue Heeler") was born.
Active by design, the breed is happiest when challenged, whether mentally, physically, or both. And while a bored Australian Cattle Dog can spell trouble, the breed is otherwise easy-going, loyal, and affectionate.
Average weight: 40 to 65 pounds
Personality: Intelligent, active, easy to train
Watch out: Sheds; boundless energy requires channeling
Like many breeds within the herding group, Australian Shepherds are highly intelligent, with limitless energy to match. Lots of exercise and mental stimulation are critical in order to keep this centuries-old breed (descended from Basque herding dogs) happy. A long hike followed by an obedience training session (and some snuggling) would do the trick.
As far as appearances go, the Australian Shepherd is known for its medium-length, double-layer coat; smiling expression; and perky ears that just beg for a scratch. Because of his loyalty and eagerness to please, an Aussie is easy to train and makes a great family pet.
Average weight: 40 to 65 pounds
Personality: Mellow, friendly, tolerant
Watch out: Can be hard to train; prone to health problems
This short and sturdy breed was conceived in France and Belgium as a hunting companion capable of picking up the scent of deer and rabbits. Nowadays, however, the Basset Hound is better known for its disproportionately long ears and endearingly droopy expression, both of which add to the breed's signature charm.
But don't let its soulful eyes and laid-back disposition fool you: The Basset Hound possesses a stubborn streak, and training isn't always an easy feat. Still, this breed is overall good-natured, amiable, and accommodating in households with other pets and children.
Average weight: 20 to 30 pounds
Personality: Cheerful, active, affectionate
Watch out: Prone to barking and howling; can be difficult to train; sheds
The lineage of the Beagle can be traced all the way back to 5th century BCE, when ancestors of the breed served as hunting dogs in Ancient Greece. Fast-forward a couple thousand years, and the Beagle has solidified its position as one of the most popular breeds among American pet owners—and it nabs the No. 1 spot within the hound group.
Characterized by oversized, floppy ears; a tricolor coat; and a yearning expression, the pint-sized pup is perpetually in a good mood and ready to romp. Strong scenting skills can tempt a Beagle to roam, so a fenced-in yard and a leash are a must.
Bernese Mountain Dog
Average weight: 70 to 115 pounds
Personality: Affectionate, alert, calm
Watch out: Tends to have health problems; sheds profusely; needs to be around people
Hailing from the canton of Bern in west-central Switzerland, where the breed was a regular fixture within the region's many farms, the Bernese Mountain Dog is known for its tricolor markings, friendly expression, and sturdy frame. That hulking physique is no accident; after all, the Berner was designed to serve as extra muscle around the farm, serving as a herding dog, watchdog, and, most famously, as a draft animal capable of pulling many times its own weight.
The breed's imposing size belies its temperament, as the Berner epitomizes the term "gentle giant." Affectionate and relatively low maintenance, Bernese Mountain Dogs are wonderful around children and make a great addition to the family.
Average weight: 7 to 12 pounds
Personality: Cheerful, charming, playful
Watch out: Can be difficult to housebreak; needs to be around people; requires a lot of professional grooming
The Bichon Frise is one of the most adorable dogs in the world—and one of the most enthusiastic. Ever the entertainer, these intelligent and perky little pups are a blast to play with and have an ultra-soft, cotton-ball coat that will put your favorite chenille throw to shame.
While the breed's origin story took place on the Canary Island of Tenerife, Bichons are more closely associated with Renaissance-era royal courts, as they were the preferred pet of European nobles. During the late 19th century, the breed's inherent willingness to perform—coupled with its intelligence—led to the Bichon's frequent role as circus dog and street entertainer.
Average weight: 30 to 55 pounds
Personality: Intelligent, lively, energetic
Watch out: Needs lots of exercise; can be destructive if bored
Once you meet the gaze of a Border Collie, you'll have no doubt that there's something more behind the dog's deep brown eyes. The revelation shouldn't come as too much of as surprise considering that the Border Collie regularly nab the No. 1 spot when its intelligence is compared to that of other breeds.
Extremely quick and clever, the Border Collie was developed in the United Kingdom, where its speed, agility, and intelligence proved the breed as an excellent herder—and caused the Border Collie to be invaluable to shepherds tending to flocks in the rocky highlands of Scotland and Wales. Those herding instincts run deep, and it's not uncommon for a modern-day Border Collie to attempt to round up his flock, whether it consists of children or household pets.
Average weight: 12 to 25 pounds
Personality: Charming, playful, outgoing
Watch out: Prone to separation anxiety as well as breathing issues due to its flat face
While the Boston Terrier was developed in Boston (and has served as the official mascot of Boston University since 1922), the breed's appeal extends far beyond Beantown. In fact, the Boston Terrier is one of the most popular dog breeds among American pet owners—and it's not hard to see why.
Small yet sturdy, Boston Terriers are well-suited to pet owners who want a dog who's compact in size, but not delicate. This breed exhibits the charisma and playfulness of larger dogs and is adorable, to boot, with its tuxedo coloring and flat muzzle. Because of their friendly personality and moderate energy level, Boston Terriers make good pets for urbanites and first-time dog owners.
Average weight: 7 to 12 pounds
Personality: Bossy, affectionate, active
Watch out: Can be difficult to house train; tends to bark a lot; can bite or growl out of fear
A great big personality in a very small package, the Brussels Griffon is smart, sensitive, and bears more than a passing resemblance to an Ewok. The lineage of this diminutive breed can be traced to 19th-century Brussels, where ancestors of the modern-day Brussels Griffons were used to control the rat populations in horse stables. It wasn't long before Marie Henriette, the Queen of the Belgians, took a liking to the breed, catapulting the Brussels Griffon into popularity.
While the Brussels Griffon is a member of the toy group, this breed is said to possess the confidence of much larger dogs. Brussels Griffons are very affectionate and bond deeply with their human counterparts.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Average weight: 13 to 18 pounds
Personality: Gregarious, sporty, friendly
Watch out: Needs to be around people; tends to shed a lot; may try to chase small prey
Named for King Charles II of England, an enthusiast of the breed, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel steals hearts with its wide-set brown eyes, silky coat, and flowy, feathery ears. Another endearing quality of this breed is its demeanor, which is decidedly sweet and gentle.
While Cavaliers are descended from sporting dogs, modern-day members of the breed require only a moderate amount of exercise. In fact, its affectionate nature and eagerness to cuddle proves the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel to be the ideal lapdog. Fun fact: Queen Elizabeth I was prescribed, per a note written in Olde English, a "comforte dog" (read: a Cavalier) to help warm her lap and rid her of a cold.
Average weight: 3 to 6 pounds
Personality: Confident, alert, affectionate
Watch out: Prone to shivering; standoffish with strangers; hard to housebreak
Whether you fell in love with the breed after watching Chihuahua: The Movie or The Simple Life with Paris Hilton, the appeal of the Chihuahua is hard to resist. This pint-sized breed—named after the Mexican state of Chihuahua, where it originated—crams a big personality into an impossibly small (and adorable) package.
Sassy and fearless are two words frequently used to describe these tiny pups, who never allow their small stature to negate their big opinions. Chihuahuas tend to bond deeply with one person, but their comical behaviors and quirky antics are capable of keeping everyone in stitches.
Average weight: 6 to 25 pounds
Personality: Intelligent, spirited, even-tempered
Watch out: Needs plenty of exercise and socialization
Originating in 1960s America, the Cockapoo is often credited with being one of the first "designer" breeds. This small- to mid-size dog is a cross between a Cocker Spaniel and a Poodle; the resulting puppies are said to embody the best of both breeds: the charm and friendliness of the Cocker Spaniel and the intelligence of the Poodle. Moreover, because the Poodle is prized for its minimally shedding, low-dander coat, the Cockapoo is touted as being hypoallergenic.
What's most loved about the Cockapoo, however, is its winning personality. Lively, outgoing, and cheerful, this hybrid breed is patient around children, which makes the Cockapoo a favorite among families. Its soft, curly fur—usually in a tan or cream color—gives the dog teddy bear-like appearance that's irresistibly cuddly.
Average weight: 20 to 30 pounds
Personality: Cheerful, lively, adaptable
Watch out: Over-breeding has produced health problems and other undesirable traits in some dogs.
The smallest breed within the American Kennel Club's sporting group, the Cocker Spaniel falls under the category of "flusher"; that is, the breed was used to flush birds out of hiding to the benefit of their hunter companion. The Cocker Spaniel is so named due to its skill at flushing woodcock, a wading bird related to the sandpiper.
It wasn't its flushing abilities that caused this breed to skyrocket in popularity during the 1950s, however. Instead, its increased demand is partially credited to the release of Disney's "Lady and the Tramp" in 1955. Nowadays, the Cocker Spaniel continues to capture hearts with its sweet disposition, silky coat, and outgoing personality.
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Average weight: 27 to 30 pounds
Personality: Animated, hardy, bold
Watch out: Needs moderate amounts of exercise; can be opinionated
While a Corgi's long, low silhouette resembles that of a dachshund, this hardy breed is actually a member of the Spitz family of canine. It's thought that the breed originated in 12th-century Pembrokeshire, Wales, where the dogs were prized for their utility as watchdogs and as herders and drivers of cattle. Because of their short height, the Corgis were able to nip at the heels of cattle and evade the beasts' kicks.
Famously beloved by Queen Elizabeth II, who has shared her life with more than 30 members of the breed, Corgis rank at No. 13 out of the 193 breeds on the American Kennel Club's popularity list. Vivacious and affectionate, these compact pups are content to be lapdogs, but they require a moderate amount of exercise due to their herding instincts. Their pointy ears, fox-like faces, and elongated frames contribute to the pups' cute factor.
Average weight: 11 to 16 pounds
Personality: Clever, lively, fearless.
Watch out: Difficult to housetrain; loves to bark; prone to becoming overweight
Despite their relatively small size, Dachshunds are spirited, inquisitive, and surprisingly brave. These inherent characteristics were essential to their success as a hunter of game big and small, from badgers (dachshund translates to “badger dog" in German) to tunneling animals and even wild boar.
With their short stature and elongated frame, Dachshunds have an almost comical appearance that adds to the breed's signature charm. However, the pups remain oblivious to the fanfare surrounding their silhouette, carrying their heads high and trotting proudly on stumpy legs. Their adoring disposition and quick wit prove them to be popular pets.
Average weight: 16 to 24 pounds
Personality: Smart, loving, affectionate
Watch out: Does not handle heat well; prone to drooling; can be stubborn
Just like its French heritage, the French Bulldog is a stylish Instagram-friendly breed—and this breed is always ready for its close-up. With its flat, wrinkled face and large, erect ears, the Frenchie is exceedingly photogenic, with a wonderful temperament to match. These friendly dogs are known to be warm and good-natured, while their adaptability and low exercise requirements prove them well-suited to city living.
The dog's popularity can be traced back to 19th-century England, when ancestors of the modern-day French Bulldog became something of a mascot of Nottingham's lace-making population. When the artisans began migrating to coastal France in the 1860s, they brought their dogs with them, and the breed was thereupon dubbed the "French Bulldog."
Average weight: 50 to 90 pounds
Personality: Friendly, intelligent, affectionate
Watch out: Requires regular grooming; not recommended for small apartments; requires 30 minutes of daily exercise.
Mix the world's most beloved pet, the Golden Retriever, with a low-shedding poodle, and you have the best of both worlds: a loyal family-friendly dog without the incessant shedding. (His cousins, the Labradoodle and Cockapoo, are said to be great hypoallergenic alternatives.)
Because this breed is still in its infancy, no standards have been established. However, the general consensus is that Goldendoodles sport a soft, wavy coat and a fluffy, feathery snout and ears. The breed inherits its intelligence from the Poodle, while its laid-back, gentle temperament is credited to its Golden Retriever side. Overall, the dog is highly social, accommodating, and easy to train.
Average weight: 55 to 75 pounds
Personality: Tolerant, smart, friendly
Watch out: Require a lot of exercise and attention; not suited for apartment living
With their sweet faces, silky-soft fur, and floppy gait, Golden Retriever puppies are the antidote to a frown. Adult Goldens follow suit with a smiling, melt-your-heart expression and a kind, eager-to-please demeanor. It's no wonder, then, that the Golden Retriever is among the top five most popular breeds in America, according to the American Kennel Club.
Developed in the Scottish Highlands in the mid to late 19th century, the Golden Retriever earned a reputation as an excellent gundog, specifically due to its skill in retrieving ducks and other waterfowl. The breed's friendly, devoted disposition was a welcome byproduct of its ancestry: Goldens were initially a mix between a Yellow Retriever and a Tweed Water Spaniel (now an extinct breed).
Average weight: 7 to 13 pounds
Personality: Gentle, affectionate, goofy
Watch out: Needs to be around people; requires regular brushing; tends to bark a lot.
Named for the capital city of its native Cuba, the Havanese once occupied the laps of the country's wealthier citizens. The breed, which shares common ancestors with the Bichon Frise and the Maltese, has been a part of Cuban culture since it first arrived on the island by way of European explorers in the 17th century. When Cubans began fleeing—dogs in tow—to the U.S. during the Cuban Revolution in the 1950s, the Havanese gained a new legion of American fans.
The breed's long, silky coat and plumed tail are the picture of elegance, but the Havanese is known to have a clownish personality and a happy, prancing gait. Moreover, these spry little dogs are inherently athletic and trainable, thanks in part to their intelligence and eagerness to please.
Jack Russell Terrier
Average weight: 13 to 17 pounds
Personality: Curious, spirited, devoted
Watch out: Requires firm training; needs a lot of room to play; has a strong hunting drive
The Jack Russell terrier may have won our hearts in The Artist, but there are a million more reasons to love this athletic and intelligent breed. Looking at you with an inquisitive expression and big brown eyes, the dog is undeniably adorable, with plenty of personality packed into its small frame.
The Jack Russell (and its cousins, the Parsons and Russell terriers) were conceived in 19th-century England as agile hunters of fox, woodchucks, and other burrowing animals. Because of their inherent affinity for digging and chasing, this task-oriented dog requires moderate exercise to keep it happy and out of trouble as a housepet.
Old English Sheepdog
Average weight: 60 to 100 pounds
Personality: Laid-back, loyal, smart
Watch out: Coat requires regular grooming; can become nuisance barker
With a thick, shaggy coat and a sturdy, square build a la Snuffleupagus, the Old English Sheepdog gets high marks for huggability. This teddy-bear of a dog originated in 18th-century England, where it's believed the breed served as drovers of cattle. To signify that the dog was a "working" dog―and therefore exempt from taxes—its tail was docked (or "bobbed"); hence the Old English Sheepdog's nickname, "bobtail."
Because the Old English Sheepdog also served as a watchdog, it tends to be on the defensive, with a loud, piercing bark. Its protective qualities translate well to his treatment of his human companions, especially children, although he may try to herd them from time to time. Overall, he makes for a loyal, gentle, and playful housepet.
Average weight: 5 to 10 pounds
Personality: Energetic, delightful, friendly
Watch out: Susceptible to separation anxiety as well as injury due to its small size
Unlike other small breeds who tend toward nervousness, the Papillon is no shrinking violet. The pretty little pup, who maxes out at 10 pounds, has a big-dog attitude that contradicts its dainty frame. As lively as they are friendly, members of the breed are a delight to watch, with their prancing gait and perky fringed ears. Take a second look, and you'll notice that the dog's ears resemble a butterfly's open wings—"papillon" translates to "butterfly" in French.
The popularity of the Papillon can be traced back to 16th-century Europe, when the breed's dwarf spaniel ancestors were popular companions of the upper crust. Famous admirers of the breed span royalty (Louis XIV, Marie Antoinette) to master artists (Toulouse-Lautrec, Rembrant) who memorialized the Papillon in their paintings.
Average weight: 3 to 7 pounds
Personality: Smart, vivacious, inquisitive
Watch out: Tends to bark a lot; difficult to housetrain; can easily overheat
Obviously, no list of the cutest dog breeds would be complete without the Pomeranian. This adorable breed is fluffy, friendly, and includes world-renowned dogs like Boo and Jiff. As snugggle-worthy as a plush toy, this powder-puff of a pup is known for its fox-like face, profuse coat, and plumed tail. Make no mistake, however: Pomeranians have an abundance of personality and can be as bossy as they are affectionate.
The breed's name is derived from Pomerania, the historical name for a north-central region of Europe that's now part of Germany and Poland. However, the sprightly breed was developed in several areas throughout Europe, so its history is a little murky. One thing's for sure, though: Queen Victoria can be credited for the breed's popularity; the monarch was an avid admirer of the Spitz-type dogs—as well as a leading breeder.
Average weight: 14 to 18 pounds
Personality: Affectionate, comical, playful
Watch out: Can be difficult to housebreak; doesn't tolerate high heat; sheds a lot
With their scrunched noses and adorable snorts, Pugs attract a lot of attention (and they're totally fine with that). Their playful nature and sense of humor will never fail to bring a smile to your face—and they've been entertaining their human companions for thousands of years. In fact, the earliest records of the Pug date back to 400 B.C.E , when the flat-faced pups were the chosen companions of Chinese emperors and Tibetan Buddhist monks.
When the Pug arrived in Europe by way of Dutch traders in the 1500s, it didn't take long for the breed to take off in popularity. Nowadays, the breed is popular across the globe, which speaks to the Pug's universal appeal and its adaptability. Content to assimilate to the lifestyle of its human companions, the breed has a go-with-the-flow attitude and is eager to please.
Average weight: 120 to 180 pounds
Personality: Patient, stoic, gentle
Watch out: Drools; has a relatively short lifespan
Coupled with a wrinkled brow and an intent gaze. a gentle disposition contributes to the Saint Bernard's reputation as a "nanny dog" of children. Its caring, protective nature has long been an recognized trait of the breed. In its early days as farm dogs in the French Alps, the Saint Bernard served as guardians of livestock and general watchdogs. Then, during the 18th century, Saint Bernards were used by monks to aid in alpine rescues along the treacherous and snowy St. Bernard Pass.
As a housepet, these gentle giants—a member of the Mastiff family—are sweet and affectionate. Despite its massive size, a Saint Bernard doesn't need an excessive amount of exercise, but adequate training is necessary to temper behaviors such as chewing and jumping, which can be especially destructive due to the breed's inherent power.
Average weight: 15 to 25 pounds
Personality: Sweet, smart, agile
Watch out: Sheds; can be timid and high-strung; requires mental and physical stimulation
The Shetland Sheepdog was designed to withstand the rugged, windy climate of the Shetland Islands. Within this isolated archipelago in the northern Atlantic, food was scarce, leading breeders to create an all-purpose farm dog that was diminutive in size—and therefore requiring fewer resources.
Like the breed's larger cousin, the Collie, Shelties sport a long double coat, with perky upright ears and a thick mane that frames their bright eyes and smiling expression. Like many dogs within the herding breeds, the Shetland Sheepdog is intelligent and excels at obedience and agility training; however, the Sheltie calls for gentle correction as the breed is notably sensitive.
Average weight: 17 to 23 pounds
Personality: Good-natured, aloof, independent
Watch out: Needs room to run; sheds heavily twice a year.
Hailing from Japan, where it remains the most popular dog breed, the Shiba Inu has a lineage that dates back to 300 B.C.E., when it was bred to hunt and flush small game. However, the breed's presence on U.S. soil didn't occur until 1954, when it's said that the first Shiba Inu was brought over by a military family. Its popularity in America has grown steadily ever since, and the breed's adorable face—with its fox-like features and dignified expression—surely has something to do with it.
Many say the Shiba Inu exhibits cat-like qualities, such as an aloofness and a complex, enigmatic personality. And while the Shiba Inu is good-natured, the breed isn't particularly affectionate. Unlike more social breeds, the Shiba Inu is independent, reserved, and relatively quiet—except when it emits its so-called "shiba scream," its high-pitched response to something displeasing.
Average weight: 9 to 16 pounds
Personality: Dignified, affectionate, playful
Watch out: Reputably difficult to train
While the Shih Tzu is popularly known for its role as the preferred lapdog of Chinese emperors, the breed actually originated in Tibet. It was here, more than 1,000 years ago, that the Shih Tzu's ancestors were designed by monks to resemble a lion due to the beast's role in Buddhist mythology. As the little lapdogs were gifted to Chinese emperors, the breed became a regular fixure of the Imperial Palace and was further refined to become the Shih Tzu we know today.
Translating to "little lion" in Mandarin, the Shih Tzu is certainly aptly named, with its flowing facial hair that resembles a mane. However, the dog's demeanor is anything but ferocious. On the contrary, the breed was developed with companionship in mind, and the Shih Tzu is the ideal lapdog and playmate.
Average weight: 7 pounds
Personality: Smart, adventurous, cuddly
Watch out: Difficult to housetrain; prone to be cold; can bark a lot
If impossibly tiny dogs are your cup of tea, the Yorkshire Terrier is just the ticket. These adorable dogs are often small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, maxing out at a mere seven pounds. In their early days as the in-house pest control of Scottish textile mills and coal mines, the dogs' small size came in handy as they flushed their prey from tight-squeeze areas.
The Yorkie's working-class roots contrast its refined, delicate appearance. A straight, silky, reputably hypoallergenic coat is the toy terrier's crowning glory and if allowed to grow, will cascade all the way to the floor. The self-assured, occasionally bossy pups prefer the companionship of adults over children, but are otherwise low-maintenance and playful, content to snuggle on a lap or in a purse.
Special Consideration: Mixed Breeds
Of course, it’s worth remembering that some of the cutest dogs in the world are mixed breeds. From oh-so-sweet Pomskies (Pomeranian and Husky mixes) to pups with an unknown lineage, each dog is special.
To discover your own adorable dog in need of a home, check out fantastic non-profit resource Adopt a Pet to find pups available for adoption near you.
This story was originally published on April 16, 2018, and has since been updated.