Why Did Humans Breed Small Dogs? Explained

Small dogs have captured our hearts for centuries with their charming personalities, endearing appearances, and pint-sized packages. 

From the tiny Chihuahua to the petite Pomeranian, these diminutive canines have found a special place in our homes and hearts. But have you ever wondered why humans have intentionally bred small dog breeds over the years? 

In this article, we will delve into the captivating history and evolution of small dog breeds, exploring the reasons behind their creation and the fascinating stories that lie behind their diminutive stature. 

From royal companions to vermin hunters, the journey of small dogs through time is nothing short of extraordinary.

The Royal Connection

Small dogs have long been associated with royalty and aristocracy. In the courts of ancient civilizations, from the Egyptians to the Greeks, small dogs were cherished as symbols of wealth and status. 

Their small size made them suitable for indoor living and easy to carry in the arms of their noble owners. 

Monarchs such as Queen Victoria of England popularized small breeds like the Pomeranian and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, further cementing their place as cherished companions for the elite.

Small Dogs as Working Companions

While small dogs were the darlings of the upper class, they also played crucial roles as working dogs for various purposes. Terrier breeds, known for their small stature and fierce determination, were bred to hunt vermin on farms and in urban areas. 

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These small but mighty dogs helped protect food stores and kept homes free from pesky rodents. Dachshunds, with their elongated bodies and short legs, were originally bred in Germany to hunt badgers and other burrowing animals.

Small Dogs as Lap Warmers

One of the practical reasons humans bred small dogs was to provide warmth and companionship. In colder climates, small dogs were cherished for their ability to snuggle up with their owners and provide an extra source of heat during chilly nights. 

Breeds like the Shih Tzu and the Pekingese, originating in China, were specifically bred to be cozy lap warmers for emperors and nobility.

The Popularity Explosion 

The 20th century witnessed a surge in the popularity of small dog breeds. This was partly due to changes in urban living, as more people moved to cities and needed pets that could adapt to smaller living spaces. 

Breeds like the French Bulldog and the Yorkshire Terrier became urban icons, beloved for their adaptability and charisma.

The Science Behind Size 

Understanding why humans breed small dogs involves delving into the science of genetics and selective breeding. Small size can be advantageous in certain situations, and breeders have used their expertise to perpetuate these characteristics. 

Through a combination of controlled breeding and selection, breeders have been able to manipulate the size of dogs over generations.


The history of small dog breeds is a testament to the deep connection between humans and their canine companions. From royal lapdogs to diligent vermin hunters, these tiny dogs have served various roles throughout history. 

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While the reasons behind breeding small dogs are multifaceted, their enduring popularity continues to thrive in modern times. 

As we look at the adorable small dogs in our homes today, we can appreciate the rich history and thoughtful selection that has shaped these beloved breeds. 

Small dogs may be small in stature, but they have left an indelible mark on the hearts of humans worldwide, reminding us that sometimes the most remarkable things come in the tiniest packages.