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7 of the most loyal small dog breeds for you and your family, ranked

These are the most affectionate and devoted small dog breeds

A woman and a beagle lie on a hotel room bed
Soloviova Liudmyla / Shutterstock

While there’s no question that dogs and loyalty go hand in hand, small dogs are more often known for their sass. It’s not hard to picture an ankle-biter barking up a storm at any bigger dog who walks by, but when it comes to their people, these pint-sized pups couldn’t be more loyal. Whether this loyalty looks more like affection, protection, or just being nearby depends on the breed and the individual dog, so it’s worth considering what you’re truly looking for before you adopt a certain breed of dog. With any of the breeds on this list, though, you can’t go wrong.

These are the seven most loyal small dog breeds — ranked in order of loyalty. Of course, this came down to our research and beliefs, so you may have a different opinion. We’d love to know what you think–which do you think are the most loyal small dog breeds?

A shih tzu dog with her fur in two pig tails lies in the grass
chaoss / Adobe Stock

Shih tzus are lap dogs through and through — they are the definition of loyalty

Shih tzus were bred to be companion dogs in Tibetan monasteries, in case you couldn’t tell from their clingy personality. When you bring one of these affectionate pups into your home, explains Dr. Marty Goldstein, you’re signing up for one of the closest bonds you’ll ever make. They’ll be happy as your “Velcro dogs” no matter what you’re up to, and with their curious yet calm personalities, you’ll be happy to include them. Loyalty is just one reason to love this adorable, ancient breed.

Cute Chihuahua standing in grass.
KA / Adobe Stock

It might surprise you, but a Chihuahua can be one of the most devoted family dogs

You’re not alone if you’re surprised to see this sassy breed on this list. Even though many Chihuahuas have that stereotypical spice to their personality, they are also fiercely devoted to their families. Veterinarian Christie Long writes, “Chihuahuas are very loyal to their people! In fact, since Chihuahuas seem to consider themselves humans and not dogs, they seem to be exceptionally loyal to the humans they live with.” It makes sense!

Many Chihuahuas use their fiery personalities and loud voices to protect their family, too, so this is a great example of how loyalty can look different depending on the dog.

A young woman pets a Beagle who holds a ball in its mouth
New Africa / Adobe Stock

Beagles are easygoing, upbeat, and always ready to tag along on your next adventure

These funny and personable pups will make an excellent companion whether you’re on a walk, out for a hunt, or just relaxing at home. The American Kennel Club credits this breed’s loyalty to their history as pack-hunting dogs — they instinctively love being with their people.

Though beagles aren’t the most affectionate pups on this list, they will be more than happy to spend time with you no matter what you’re doing. They love to run and play (that’s a hunting dog for you!), but these family dogs will also go gaga for some scratches and snuggles (via AKC).

A black and tan dachshund wearing a pink bow sits in her bed
Masarik / Adobe Stock

Who doesn’t love the devoted, doting dachshund as a lap dog?

The smart and stubborn wiener dog might make training a bit challenging, but you’ll have zero difficulties in the loyalty department. In fact, the ASPCA says that this breed is so loyal that they often get jealous. They may even get particularly attached to one person, making them perfect pups for single adults, college students, or families with older children. And with a long little body like theirs, how could you not fall in love? These charming dogs are known for friendly personalities and entertaining quirks, so you’ll always be laughing with a dachshund best friend around.

Two black affenpinscher dogs sit in the forest behind two red and white mushrooms.
katamount / Adobe Stock

The affenpinscher’s sweet face and even sweeter personality make them a winning breed for many

This sweet and happy pooch, whose name is German for “monkey-like terrier,” is one of the oldest small dog breeds, claims Wisdom Panel. They’re pros at living double lives thanks to their history as both working and companion dogs, so you know they’ll be ready to go whether you’re heading to the couch or out for a walk. Do keep up with their training, though, as loyalty can turn into guarding for affenpinschers with nothing better to do (via Wisdom Panel).

When a high-energy breed has its needs met, though, you’ll have one sweet dog on your hands. The affenpinschers’ small size makes them easy to accommodate, and their unique bearded faces will have you smiling from ear to ear.

A Cardigan and a Pembroke Welsh Corgi stand next to one another
Welshea / Shutterstock

Cardigan Welsh corgis are just as loyal as they are adorable, making them some of the best pups

The American Kennel Club describes Cardigan Welsh corgis as “affectionate, loyal, and smart,” so you know you’re getting a great companion with this breed. No matter who or what age you are, these pups will be your buddies. Cardigans can be friendly, whether you’re a friend or a stranger, though they can easily become cuddly and silly around their favorite people. According to the AKC, this high-energy breed can also show their affection through barking, so be warned!

Yorkshire terrier dog paw training outdoors
Pezibear / Pixabay

Yorkshire terriers carry a lot of love and loyalty in their pint-sized bodies

Yorkshire terriers — or Yorkies — are one of the world’s smallest dog breeds, weighing in at less than 7 pounds. Despite their teacup size, though, they can have a massive amount of personality — or even attitude — packed in. These brave dogs will have no problem barking at the door and acting as your own personal watchdog, though many will be just as happy as a cuddly companion, too.

These people-oriented pups will often be friendly with strangers and other dogs, but nothing will compare to the bond they’ll share with the person who feeds, grooms, walks, and praises them daily. With a little bit of time and love, having a Yorkie will be like having a little sidekick always nearby!

What other breeds would you add to this list? There are so many more sweet, affectionate, and devoted dogs out there, but these are 6 of the most loyal small dog breeds, according to canine professionals. Of course, an individual’s personality plays a huge role in their tendencies, too, but coming from an inherently loyal breed is never a bad thing.

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Gabrielle LaFrank
Gabrielle LaFrank has written for sites such as Psych2Go, Elite Daily, and, currently, PawTracks. When she's not writing, you…
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