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When you think of small dogs, it’s easy to imagine lazy lapdogs with short legs that like nothing better than a snooze in front of the fire with their owners.

While these dogs are great for some owners, active households might be seeking a more active breed. Unfortunately, when you look at any list of top active dog breeds, it usually shows larger dogs, such as German Shepherds and Labradors. 

For households that want a smaller canine companion but one that’s also active, there are many options out there. Keep reading to find out more about some great active small dog breeds that are perfect for compact homes with active family members. 

Patterdale Terriers

A working dog breed with a high prey drive and lots of energy, Patterdale Terriers are compact but active. Patterdales love water and running around, so they’re a great all-round dog for active homes. If you’re interested in learning more about Patterdale Terriers, check out this article from the Terrier Guide. Patterdale Terriers were bred for ratting, so they’re not ideal with small pets and cats, but get on well with other dogs and kids, making them an ideal addition to any family. 

Miniature Schnauzers

The smallest version of the Schnauzer, a German farm dog, Miniature Schnauzers are robust and spirited dogs that were originally bred for ratting and guarding. They are highly energetic and require regular exercise and mental stimulation to prevent destructive behaviours. They have wirey coats that require regular grooming, but they can be great companions on adventures for the right owners. 

Toy Poodles

Like Miniture Schnauzers, Toy Poodles are also a smaller version of a larger breed, in this case the Poodle. Poodles come in three sizes, the largest being Standard, then the medium being Miniature. Both Mini and Toy Poodles are small, but Toys are the most compact. Despite their small size, they retain the feisty spirit of their larger compatriots, who have been used as Gundogs throughout Europe for centuries. Again, Toy Poodles also need a lot of grooming, but their loyalty and great personalities make them an ideal choice for active homes. 


These beautiful fluffy dogs might look like typical lapdogs, but Pomeranians are actually incredibly smart and active. In fact, they’re often a good choice for small service dogs for owners who want assistance but don’t like the idea of a large dog. If you’re a fan of dog sports and want to try agility or canicross with your pet, then a Pomeranian could be the perfect choice for you. These high-energy dogs need lots of excersize and can be great sporting dogs, who also love snuggling up for a nap afterwards. 

Welsh Corgis

Despite their short stature and legs, Welsh Corgis are herding dogs with high energy levels and an eagerness to work. They require daily exercise and enjoy activities like hiking, fetching, and participating in dog sports. There are two types of Corgi: Cardigan and Pembroke. While the two breeds are similar, there are many differences between Cardigan and Pembroke Corgis, so potential owners should look into these before they make their choice. 

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