12 Healthiest Small Dog Breeds with Few Health Problems

A tan Havanese Dog in a field of daisy flowers.
A fluffy on in a red harness.

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No two dogs are alike, with each one featuring its own personality, size, and health.

However, certain breeds are more prone to specific genetic health problems, while others are generally healthier with fewer veterinary bills and longer lifespans.

If you are looking for the healthiest small dog breed to add to your family, it is wise to do your research and understand the potential health risks associated with each choice.

In this article, we will go over 12 adorable small dog breeds who have the potential of becoming your loyal companion for many years to come.

What are the 12 Healthiest Small Dog Breeds?

Of course, it is impossible to forecast a dog’s future wellbeing based on their breed alone. In fact, even dogs with known health conditions can often live a healthy, long life with proper care.

However, if you are looking for a puppy that is generally expected to be healthy and in good physical shape, consider one of these 12 healthiest small dog breeds:

1. Bolognese

A cream-colored Bolognese dog standing with one paw up.
A cream-colored Bolognese dog standing with one paw up.

Life expectancy: 12-14 years

Bolognese Dogs were exchanged between Roman royalty long ago as luxurious gifts.

With its playful nature, friendly disposition, and unparalleled devotion to its owner, this healthy small dog breed is adorable and fun to have running around your house.

Bolognese Dogs can become shy and very attached to their people, so they are best suited for those who can be home with them often.

In terms of health, Bolognese can suffer from the usual dog issues, such as hip dysplasia, kneecaps, and Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease.

Bolognese Dog Common Health Issues:

    • Hip dysplasia
    • Luxating patella

However, with good care, you can expect your little friend to keep you company for at least 12 years.

2. Affenpinscher

Two fluffy black Affenpinscher dogs sitting together next to decorative mushrooms.
Two fluffy black Affenpinscher dogs sitting together next to decorative mushrooms.

Life expectancy: 12-14 years

The cute Affenpinscher will surely melt your heart with their smart, sensitive, and brave personality.

Affenpinscher is commonly called the “Monkey Terrier” due to its unique features. This healthy breed is also well known for its ability to make people laugh with fun and creative stunts.

If you are looking for a healthy small dog breed combined with a big personality, consider the Affenpinscher. You won’t get bored with these fluffballs!

Despite their small size and friendly nature, the Affenpinscher presents a tough and sturdy breed ready to protect their owners and belongings from any potential threat.

Affenpinscher Common Health Issues:

    • Eye disease
    • Luxating patella
    • Hip dysplasia

Always ask your breeder about the health of both of the puppy’s parents, as Affenpinschers may be subject to eye disease, luxating patella, hip dysplasia, and Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease.

3. Norfolk Terrier

A light brown Norfolk Terrier dog outside in the woods.
A light brown Norfolk Terrier dog outside in the woods.

Life expectancy: 15 years

Norfolk Terrier rightfully deserves its spot in the list of the healthiest small dog breeds, with fewer health issues than most other dogs.

This breed makes for an excellent companion that is always ready to play and have fun. Despite the small size, Norfolk Terriers are incredibly fearless and stubborn, so you will stay busy trying to tame their willful nature.

Norfolk Terrier Common Health Issues:

    • Heart abnormality
    • Hip dysplasia

While this breed doesn’t have many genetic health conditions, your main concerns will be heart abnormality and hip dysplasia.

In addition, Norfolk Terriers are sensitive to vaccines, so make sure to monitor how they feel after vaccination. It is not uncommon for some dogs to get nauseous after vaccines.

4. Pembroke Welsh Corgi

A happy Corgi dog smiling while walking on old railroad tracks.
A happy Corgi dog smiling while walking on old railroad tracks.

Life expectancy: 15 years

Believe it or not, Pembroke Welsh Corgi is one of the healthiest small dog breeds out there. Corgis are also one of the most popular small dog breeds.

This energetic and lively dog is smart and easy to train, and can quickly become a loving friend to all of your family members.

One thing to watch out for with Pembroke Welsh Corgis, however, is their shedding. So, if you or your family have allergies, this breed might not be for you.

Pembroke Welsh Corgi Common Health Issues:

    • Intervertebral disc disease
    • Hip dysplasia

In addition, Corgis tend to gain weight easily, so you will need to ensure that they receive sufficient daily exercise and consume a healthy, balanced diet. An overweight Corgi has increased chances to suffer from painful back problems. Contact your vet if you need help with your dog’s weight.

5. Havanese

A fluffy Havanese dog smiling with its tongue out.
A fluffy Havanese dog smiling with its tongue out.

Life expectancy: 13-15 years

In addition to being incredibly fluffy and cute, Havanese are also considered to be one of the healthiest small dog breeds.

Havanese can make for a remarkable family pet that loves attention and is curious to explore the world.

Despite its miniature size, this breed likes lots of play time and exercise, so you will never get bored with your Havanese.

Havanese Common Health Issues:

    • Hip and elbow dysplasia
    • Deafness

The Havanese breed is also prone to the most common small dog health problems, such as hip and elbow dysplasia, as well as deafness and cataracts.

6. Lakeland Terrier

A black and tan Lakeland Terrier Dog standing in grass.
A black and tan Lakeland Terrier Dog standing in grass.

Life expectancy: 16 years

Originally, Lakeland Terrier breed was raised to hunt foxes. As such, it tends to be smart, stubborn, and a bit aggressive – but still gets along well with seniors, children, and other pets.

Lakeland Terriers don’t have any major health problems to note.

However, you should still watch out for things like Legg-Calve-Perthes or Won Willebrand’s disease, and get your dog a thorough eye exam.

Good diet and exercise should keep your Lakeland Terrier healthy for a long time.

7. Boston Terrier

A small and healthy Boston Terrier dog.
A small and healthy Boston Terrier dog.

Life expectancy: 13-15 years

If you are looking for an adorable and healthy puppy, consider adopting a Boston Terrier.

This breed is incredibly easy to care for, both in terms of grooming and training.

A Boston Terrier can make a loving whole-family companion, loyal to you and your kids.

Boston Terrier Common Health Issues:

    • Cataracts
    • Deafness
    • Heart murmurs

While this small dog breed is prone to certain health issues, many other health problems can be avoided with proper care.

In other words, make sure to pay attention to their daily diet.

8. Schnoodle

A grey Schnoodle Dog, a hybrid between Schnauzer and Poodle dog.
A grey Schnoodle Dog, a hybrid between Schnauzer and Poodle dog.

Life expectancy: 12-15 years

Schnoodle is a hybrid breed, combining Schnauzers and Poodles.

Most owners choose Schnoodles for their high intelligence and unparalleled playfulness.

In addition to its high activity levels, this dog behaves well around kids and makes a perfect pet for the entire family.

Schnoodle Common Health Problems:

    • Luxating patella

Similarly to most other small dog breeds, Schnoodles are prone to certain health issues in the hips and knees, so pay attention to the health of its parents.

9. Welsh Terrier

A brown Welsh Terrier running through grass.
A brown Welsh Terrier running through grass.

Life expectancy: 15 years

Welsh Terriers present one of the healthiest small breed dogs who just love life.

With their active nature, this dog breed requires lots of exercise and a well-balanced diet to maintain their high metabolism.

Notably, Welsh Terriers don’t shed a lot, making their grooming maintenance easier.

They make truly wonderful family companions, ideal for both seniors and children.

Welsh Terriers Common Health Issues:

    • Lens luxation
    • Glaucoma

Be sure to get your Welsh Terrier a thorough eye exam from a vet.

10. Coton De Tulear

A small, white and fluffy Coton de Tulear dog smiling in grass.
A small, white and fluffy Coton de Tulear dog smiling in grass.

Life expectancy: 15 years

One of the fluffiest and, easily, the most adorable small dog breeds, Coton De Tulear will surely melt your heart with its cute appearance and gentle disposition.

These dogs love spending time with family, showing lots of affection to children and other pets.

In addition, Coton De Tulear is an extremely healthy breed, with some exceptions being hip dysplasia, retinal atrophy, and knees slipping out of place.

Coton De Tulear Common Health Issues:

    • Luxating patella
    • Hip dysplasia

Knee issues can sometimes be kept under control with proper physical therapy.

11. Chihuahua

A fluffy healthy long haired Chihuahua dog.
A fluffy healthy long haired Chihuahua dog.

Life expectancy: 12-20 years

Chihuahua is the most popular breed among healthy small dog breeds, known for its long life expectancy, given proper care and regular maintenance.

While the dog is tiny in size, it shows some big personality, being incredibly protective of its people.

However, if socialized early enough, Chihuahuas can be great for families with children.

They are also easy to groom, with little shedding as compared to some other breeds.

Chihuahua Common Health Issues:

    • Luxating patella
    • Hypoglycemia

To avoid nutritional problems, it is important to ensure that your little friend maintains a balanced diet and a regular regimen of exercise.

12. Shetland Sheepdog

A brown and tan Shetland Sheepdog with white markings.
A brown and tan Shetland Sheepdog with white markings.

Life expectancy: 13-15 years

Shetland Sheepdogs are often considered to be among the smartest of dog breeds.

However, their natural intelligence comes at a price: if the dog is not mentally stimulated, it might become troublesome or destructive for small condos or apartments.

Aside from that, a Shetland Sheepdog will be generally quiet unless it senses strangers. The Shetland Sheepdog is protective of its home.

Given enough room to play and exercise, it will make a lovely companion for the entire family.

Keep in mind that this breed tends to shed a lot, so you will need time and patience for daily grooming sessions.

Shetland Sheepdog Common Health Issues:

    • Luxating patella
    • Eye anomaly (blindness)

How to Keep Your Small Dog Healthy?

While there is no single healthiest small dog breed, a well-balanced diet and regular exercise can add a few years to the life of any puppy and dog.

The ideal food for your furry companion will vary depending on the breed, age, and general health of your dog, so consult a vet to find out more about your dog’s nutritional requirements.

Most dog breeds of any size need a diverse diet with proteins, veggies, fruits, and grains.

Keep in mind that small dogs have a higher metabolism, which means that they need more calories per pound of their weight, as compared to bigger dogs.

As a rule of thumb, avoid large portions, but focus on the right components in the right amounts, and consider more frequent meals.

Insufficient calories can quickly lead to low blood sugar. Consider adding supplements to your dog’s daily diet, such as the following:

Recommended Supplements

Nutri-Cal: Puppies

Instructions:

  • Add to usual diet.
  • 1/4 teaspoon per 10 lbs (4.5kg) of body weight daily.

Nutri-Cal: Dogs

Instructions:

  • Add to usual diet.
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon per 10 lbs (4.5kg) of body weight daily.

Pet Wellbeing: Blood Sugar Gold

Instructions:

  • Add to usual diet.
  • 1 drop for every 2 lb (1kg) of body weight (up to 50 lb).

Recommended Supplements

Nutri-Cal: Puppies

Instructions:

  • Add to usual diet.
  • 1/4 teaspoon per 10 lbs (4.5kg) of body weight daily.

Nutri-Cal: Dogs

Instructions:

  • Add to usual diet.
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon per 10 lbs (4.5kg) of body weight daily.

Pet Wellbeing: Blood Sugar Gold

Instructions:

  • Add to usual diet.
  • 1 drop for every 2 lb (1kg) of body weight (up to 50 lb).

Why Choose a Generally Healthy Small Dog Breed?

If every dog is able to contract certain diseases, does it really matter which breed a dog is?

Though there are issues that can affect any dog, certain breeds carry problems in their genetics and pass them down to their puppies.

For example, some dog breeds that have been bred for hundreds of years for “cute” or otherwise desirable traits can be prone to more health problems. For example, a weak spine or a very short snout can cause pain and/or expensive vet bills.

The healthiest small dog breeds are those who possess few of these genetic traits, and are more likely to live a pain-free and healthy life.

Proper Breeding Matters

Finally, make sure to adopt your puppy from a reliable breeder who can provide the parents’ health records. Avoid buying a puppy from pet stores, careless breeders, and puppy mills.

Only get a puppy from a trusted source, such as a reputable breeder who will talk to you about the health of the puppy’s parents.

Sometimes you may want to see certificates of the parents’ health from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, the Canine Eye Registry Foundation, or other such organizations.

If you feel uncomfortable with a breeder, it may be best to find another one.

Wrapping Up

Without a doubt, researching to discover the healthiest small dog breeds can help you to find a loyal family companion that will stay by your side for many years to come.

Remember that each and every breed comes with certain health conditions that it is predisposed to.

Luckily, with a balanced diet, daily exercise regimen, and regular visits to the vet, you will be able to prevent potential problems and keep your puppy happy and healthy.

Young or old, you can take these steps now to make sure your furry friend as healthy as it can be for a long time.

A Pembroke Welsh Corgi in bed staring lovingly at their human.
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