Cutest Dog Breeds to Keep as Pets

25 Cutest Dog Breeds to Keep as Pets

Yorkshire terrier running on lawn

Peet Simard / Getty Images

Not only do our canine friends love us unconditionally, but their affectionate and playful nature can always be counted on to make us smile. Dogs are downright adorable. And, although this list is subjective since beauty is in the eye of the beholder, you might agree that these are some of the cutest pups around.

Tip

If you’re planning on getting a dog, match up a dog’s energy level, care needs, and space requirements with your own—then consider looks, coat color, and names.

Breed Characteristics

There’s a look for everyone to love, from big shaggy dogs to dogs with wrinkled faces to tiny pups with perky expressions. The breeds run the gamut from mini to huge, fluffy to short hair, colors, and personalities. Dogs that keep their puppy looks into adulthood tend to be among the cutest canines.

Here are 25 of the cutest dog breeds with looks that can make you smile.

Pembroke Welsh Corgi

Pembroke Welsh Corgi
 The Spruce / Kevin Norris 

According to Welsh legend, corgis are associated with cute, little fairies that loved Pembroke Welsh corgis. Stories of corgis pulling fairy coaches, herding fairy cattle, and carrying fairy warriors abound in Wales. Corgis are playful, intelligent, and affectionate dogs. They need lots of exercise and attention.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Herding (AKC)

HEIGHT: 10 to 12 inches

WEIGHT: Up to 30 pounds

COAT AND COLOR: Low-set and long; colors include black and tan, fawn, red, and sable with white markings

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 12 to 16 years

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Beagle

beagle puppy outside
 Hans Surfer / Getty Images

Beagles are one of those breeds that maintain their puppy looks. Beagles are excellent hunting dogs, but did you know their ears can improve the performance of their noses? Beagles’ long flappy ears push smells toward their noses, so they can better process scent information. These dogs need an active household and are often great for families with children.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Hound (AKC)

HEIGHT: Up to 15 inches

WEIGHT: Up to 30 pounds

COAT AND COLOR: Short coat; colors include black and tan, brown and white, and more

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 10 to 15 years

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Pomeranian

Pomeranian lying on a sofa
 Andrew Fladeboe / Getty Images

Pomeranian faces look like they’re constantly smiling. Pomeranians today have gained somewhat of a stuffy reputation for being lapdogs, but they were initially herding dogs that pulled massive sleds over rough terrain. Poms used to weigh about 30 pounds and were packed with muscle. Modern Poms are affectionate but need consistent training to keep their stubborn nature in check.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Toy (AKC)

HEIGHT: 6 to 7 inches

WEIGHT: 3 to 7 pounds

COAT AND COLOR: Fluffy double coat; colors include black, chocolate, orange, red, and more

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 12 to 16 years

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French Bulldog

French bulldog
 The Spruce / Kevin Norris  

French bulldogs were bred to be little warming blankets for artisans working in chilly shops. The Frenchies would sit in their laps, keeping them cozy. These dogs still love laps today. These big-eared, scrunchy-faced pups are very affectionate and loyal dogs that often get along well with children and other animals.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Non-sporting (AKC)

HEIGHT: 11 to 13 inches

WEIGHT: Under 28 pounds

COAT AND COLOR: Short, smooth coat; colors include fawn, brindle, and more

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 10 to 12 years

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Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkshire terrier on grass
 Natasha Japp Photography / Getty Images

Puppy-faced Yorkshire terriers have a lap dog reputation these days. But in their heyday, these petite pups worked hard to keep workspaces pest-free. Their small stature enabled them to squeeze into tight spaces to chase after rodents, and their big-dog attitudes made them fearless when it came to the hunt.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Toy (AKC)

HEIGHT: 7 to 8 inches

WEIGHT: 7 pounds

COAT AND COLOR: Silky coat; colors include black and tan, blue and tan, and more

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 13 to 16 years

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Old English Sheepdog

Old English sheepdog smiling
 Tara Gregg / Getty Images

Despite their name, Old English sheepdogs are only a few hundred years old. They were developed to drive livestock, among other farm work. Nowadays, they’re primarily adorable pets who are alert, intelligent, and very playful. To keep them looking their best, they typically need daily brushing and regular bathing.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Herding (AKC)

HEIGHT: 21 inches and up

WEIGHT: 60 to 100 pounds

COAT AND COLOR: Shaggy, double coat; colors include blue and white, gray and white, and more

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 10 to 12 years

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American Staffordshire Terrier

American Staffordshire terrier puppy standing on grass
 Laures / Getty Images

You can’t get much cuter than a pit bull puppy. “Pitbull” isn’t a breed but rather a category for several breeds, including American Staffordshire terriers. These dogs tend to be affectionate, friendly, and playful. But they do need vigorous daily walks and play sessions to channel their high energy.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Terrier (AKC)

HEIGHT: 17 to 19 inches

WEIGHT: 40 to 70 pounds

COAT AND COLOR: Muscular body; short coat; colors include black, blue, fawn, and more

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 12 to 14 years

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Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retriever
 The Spruce / Kevin Norris 

From their sweet personalities to their happy smiles, there’s a lot to love about Labrador retrievers. According to American Kennel Club, Labs have been the No. 1 dog in the U.S. for more than two decades. These dogs are good-natured, sociable, and highly trainable. But they do prefer an active household.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Sporting (AKC)

HEIGHT: 22 to 25 inches

WEIGHT: 55 to 80 pounds

COAT AND COLOR: Short, dense coat; colors include black, chocolate, and yellow

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 10 to 12 years

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Boston Terrier

Boston terrier
 The Spruce / Kevin Norris

Boston terriers look similar to Frenchies sporting the same giant ears. They are a fun-loving, affectionate breed that is full of enthusiasm for life. They’ve been nicknamed the “American Gentleman” due to their tuxedo-like markings, which help make them even more lovable. These dogs can make great family pets and tend to respond well to training. They prefer a household in which they can have company for most of the day.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Non-sporting (AKC)

HEIGHT: 15 to 17 inches

WEIGHT: 12 to 25 pounds

COAT AND COLOR: Short face; smooth coat; colors include black and white, brindle and white, seal and white, and more

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 12 to 14 years

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Maltese

Maltese walking outside and smiling
 kimrawicz / Getty Images

The Maltese is one of the world’s oldest dog breeds. It has been depicted in artwork and literature from many ancient civilizations, including the Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians. Today’s Maltese is an adorable, affectionate, and friendly companion that loves to hang out in its favorite person’s lap. This breed gets by with daily walks and playtime to satisfy its exercise needs.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Toy (AKC)

HEIGHT: 7 to 9 inches

WEIGHT: Up to 7 pounds

COAT AND COLOR: Big, dark, alert eyes; long, silky, single-layer, white coat

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 12 to 15 years

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Samoyed

Funny Samoyed puppy in the summer garden
 petrenkod / Getty Images

The Samoyed’s perpetual smiley face instantly makes anyone with a sweet spot for dogs say, “Aww.” This super-fluffy dog may be a dog allergy sufferer’s nightmare, but for others, this happy canine is the greatest buddy ever.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Working (AKC)

HEIGHT: 19 to 23.5 inches

WEIGHT: 35 to 60 pounds

COAT AND COLOR: Thick undercoat beneath a soft, fluffy, and straight outer coat, primarily bright white, though some are more cream or biscuit (extremely light brown)

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 12 to 14 years

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Bernese Mountain Dog

A Bernese Mountain Dog Sits Outside In the Grass and Mulch
 Jill Lehmann Photography / Getty Images

Big and fluffy and weighing between 80 and 110 pounds (females are on the lighter end), Bernies (or Berners) are steady-tempered and easygoing. Their sweet puppy eyes make this very big dog feel like an instant friend. This thick-coated dog is not a fan of hot weather but can pull a snow sled with kids any day of a winter week.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Working (AKC)

HEIGHT: 23 to 27.5 inches

WEIGHT: 70 to 115 pounds

COAT AND COLOR: Thick, moderately long, and slightly wavy or straight, with a bright, natural sheen; tricolored (jet black ground color with white and tan markings)

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 6 to 8 years

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American Eskimo

American Eskimo Dog
 blendshapes / Getty Images

Eskies love attention. They formerly entertained crowds with their spectacular tricks as circus dogs in the 19th century and early 20th century. Their sweet, puppy-like faces with panting that looked like doggy smiles melts hearts instantly.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Non-sporting (AKC)

HEIGHT: 9 to 12 inches (toy variety); 12 to 15 inches (miniature variety); 15 to 19 inches (standard variety)

WEIGHT: 6 to 10 pounds (toy); 10 to 20 pounds (miniature); 25 to 35 pounds (standard)

COAT AND COLOR: The thick and glossy coat; almost always pure white, also slightly cream-colored; eyes, lips, and nose should be black

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 13 to 15 years

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Australian Shepherd

Portrait Of Australian Shepherd Puppy On Grass
 Luc Bentz / EyeEm / Getty Images

Aussies have pretty faces, often blue-eyed (sometimes one blue and one brown, aka heterochromia). They’re smart, playful, and a giant ball of energy. They love learning tricks and pleasing their human companions.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Herding (AKC)

HEIGHT: 18 to 23 inches

WEIGHT: 40 to 65 pounds

COAT AND COLOR: Medium to long coat in blue merle, red merle, black, or red; all colors may have white markings and/or tan (copper) points

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 13 to 15 years

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Cocker Spaniel

Cocker Spaniel standing in profile on grass
 CBCK-Christine / Getty Images

The Disney classic “Lady and the Tramp” launched cocker spaniels into the spotlight in the 1950s. Their cute puppy face stays with them throughout their life with long pendulous ears and expressive eyes. These dogs are full of energy, loving walks, hanging out with their human family, and playing with the kids.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Sporting (AKC)

HEIGHT: 14 to 15 inches

WEIGHT: 20 to 30 pounds

COAT AND COLOR: Silky and flat or slightly wavy. Short and fine on the head, medium length on the body, and well-feathered on the ears, chest, belly, and legs; black, ASCOB (any solid color other than black) or particular (black and white, brown and white, red and white, and tri-color)

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 12 to 14 years

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Dalmatian

Portrait Of Dalmatian Dog Running On Grass
 Matty Anderson / EyeEm / Getty Images

A Dalmatian is an energetic, playful polka-dotted canine pal that wants to be at your side. It will run with you, fetch, play a game of hiding and seek, and nap at your feet, always with a happy look on its face and smile to go along with it.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Non-sporting (AKC)

HEIGHT: 19 to 24 inches

WEIGHT: 45 to 65 pounds

COAT AND COLOR: Short coat with white with black or liver spots

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 11 to 13 years

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Dachshund

Puppy Dachshund looks at the camera
 katerinasergeevna / Getty Images

Dachshunds are the hot dogs of the bunch. Their squat legs and long bodies make them so unique-looking that they’re adorable. In addition to their stand-out appearance, Doxies are the best alarm system you could ever have in your home. Their barks will alert you to anyone within 50 feet of your home. This smart, energetic needs outdoor exercise and mental stimulation to keep it happy.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Hound (AKC)

HEIGHT: 5 to 6 inches (miniature); 8 to 9 inches (standard)

WEIGHT: Up to 11 pounds (miniature); 16 to 32 pounds (standard)

COAT AND COLOR: Coat varieties include smooth (shorthaired), longhaired, and wire-haired. Colors include black, tan, fawn, beige, blue, chocolate, and red with various markings such as dapple, piebald, brindle, and sable

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 12 to 16 years

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Pug

Little pug in summer park
 o_sa / Getty Images

Pugs likely date back to 400 B.C. in China, where they were called fu dogs or lo-Chiang-sze. For thousands of years, this scrunchy-faced pup has endured as a favorite cutie. The word “pug” meant “little cutie” in English in the 1500s. By the 1600s, it took on the meaning of “monkey,” “sprite,” or “imp.” It wasn’t until the mid-1700s that the word “pug” meant “a dwarf type of dog.” Pugs are affectionate and love to clown around.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Toy (AKC)

HEIGHT: 10 to 13 inches

WEIGHT: 14 to 18 pounds

COAT AND COLOR: Smooth, short double coat in fawn or black

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 13 to 15 years

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Golden Retriever

Golden Retriever Dog
 Tatyana Consaul / Getty Images

Golden retrievers have a personality that matches their face—gentle, loving, and sweet. It’s no wonder they are one of the top breeds in the U.S. year after year. As puppies, they melt your heart; as adults, the trend continues.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Sporting (AKC)

HEIGHT: 21.5 to 24 inches

WEIGHT: 55 to 75 pounds

COAT AND COLOR: Medium-length double coat; light to dark gold

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 10 to 12 years

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Cairn Terrier

Cairn Terrier Puppy
 Bigandt_Photography / Getty Images

If you remember how cute Toto from the “Wizard of Oz” was, well, that’s a Cairn terrier. These inquisitive little dogs have a cheery disposition and make you fall in love with them with a cock-of-the-head look, a quick lick to the face, and a tongue-hanging smile.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Terrier (AKC)

HEIGHT: 9 to 10 inches

WEIGHT: 12 to 15 pounds

COAT AND COLOR: Double coated with a wiry outer; wide variety of colors (no white markings though); most common shades are black, cream and grey, often with a brindle mix

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 12 to 15 years

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Papillon

Papillon
 RichLegg / Getty Images

A papillon is a lot of dogs in a dainty frame. Its fluffy, distinctive butterfly ears look like they can lift the dog in flight. The dog’s beautiful, feathery coat completes its refined toy pooch appearance.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Toy (AKC)

HEIGHT: 8 to 11 inches

WEIGHT: 6 to 10 pounds

COAT AND COLOR: White with markings and a mask of color—usually red, sable, black or lemon; straight, long, single-layer coat with frills

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 14 to 16 years

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Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Portrait Of Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Sticking Out Tongue
 Tara Gregg / EyeEm / Getty Images

The dog with looks to melt is the Cavalier King Charles spaniel. It’s all in the eyes. With their mouths closed, it looks like this dog is wearing a frown, but no matter. The eyes have it. Their expression-filled eyes make you know that your dog understands how you feel. These playful pups enjoy a romp as much as a cuddle in your lap.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Toy (AKC)

HEIGHT: 12 to 13 inches

WEIGHT: 13 to 18 pounds

COAT AND COLOR: Long, sleek and silky coat with feathering around ears, feet, chest, and tail. There are four color varieties: tricolor, Blenheim, ruby, and black and tan

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 12 to 14 years

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Siberian Husky

Close-Up Of Siberian Husky Relaxing On Snowy Field
 Indre Jasineviciute / EyeEm / Getty Images

The distinctive wolf-like look of huskies makes some swoon for all things wild and furry. This giant ball of fur relishes the cooler temps and bounding through the snow. It’s another dog with an expressive face for days and interesting vocalizations that some swear is “talking.”

Breed Overview

GROUP: Working (AKC)

HEIGHT: 20 to 23.5 inches

WEIGHT: 35 to 60 pounds

COAT AND COLOR: Huskies have a dense, double coat seen in a variety of colors, including but not limited to combinations of black, gray, white and tan; markings include black points, piebald, or pinto

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 12 to 15 years

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Shetland Sheepdog

Portrait Of Shetland Sheepdog On Field
 Adrian Pinna / EyeEm / Getty Images

Shetlands look a lot like collies only smaller. Collies have endeared people for decades since the famous collie “Lassie.” Shelties look like even smaller, cuter rough collies. They have a lion’s mane surrounding their heads and fluffy, puffball bodies for ultimate cuddles.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Herding (AKC)

HEIGHT: 13 to 16 inches

WEIGHT: 15 to 25 pounds

COAT AND COLOR: Straight and harsh with a dense undercoat; black, sable, and blue merle, with white markings

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 12 to 14 years

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Havanese

Beautiful young havanese dog sitting on a gravel forest road
 Dorottya_Mathe / Getty Images

Bred in Cuba to be companion dogs, these happy little dogs love their people. As loyal companions, they do not like to leave the side of their adopted family members. These adorable pups can get separation anxiety if you leave them alone for too long.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Toy (AKC)

HEIGHT: 8.5 to 11.5 inches

WEIGHT: 7 to 13 pounds

COAT AND COLOR: The breed may have one or two colors including, but not limited to, black, silver, white, cream, tan, fawn, gold, sable, and red. Its coat can vary drastically from silky straight to very wavy with ringlets.

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 14 to 16 years

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Breeds to Avoid

There are so many cuties that, really, it’s hard to go wrong with any of them. However, you can foul up big time if you get a dog that does not match your energy level. Fancy yourself a runner and want a running companion? Steer clear of bulldogs, pugs, and most toy breeds. Bulldogs and pugs have short muzzles and flat faces that are not built for running for long; they are prone to overheating. Toy breeds have shorter legs, and some have less stamina. Although beagles are small, these hunting hound dogs can run for days.

If you’re more of a couch potato, then some breeds are definitely not right for you. Most herding or hunting dogs, like Australian shepherds, corgis, Labradors, golden retrievers, cocker spaniels, and terriers, will want an outlet for their excessive energy. These breeds can work for you if you plan on sending your dog to daycare every day but avoid them otherwise.

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