Small to Medium Dog Breeds Dog Breeds that Straddle the Sizes

Small to Medium Dog Breeds

You may be looking for a dog that's not so small you may step on them, but not so big they can leap the fence in a single bound. Take a look at these great small to medium dog breeds.

Not all dogs conform to being small or mediumโ€”many are somewhere in between! Far from a toy or giant, these dogs are around the 15-30 pound weight range; some would say the โ€œperfectโ€ size.

Small to medium dogs are very popular family dogs and city dogs because they have less energy than the toy group, are big enough for kids to play with, but don't take up much space or need huge areas for exercise. Many of these dogs have been bred to be great companion dogsโ€”friendly, affectionate, and patientโ€”so they are great for newer pet parents who are looking for a friend to greet them at home. Small to medium sized dogs tend to do well with kids, being very playful, but gentle, animals.

While not large athletic or working dogs, these breeds still need their exercise and plenty of attention. These dogs tend to be very social so they shouldn't be left home alone all day. They love to make their pet parents happy, so make sure you have time to train them, play with them, and reward them for being so good!

Below are several very different breeds who all fall between the small and medium size categories. They have very different needs and temperaments, so try to find the breed that suits you best. Learning about their background and instincts can indicate how they will act in your home.

Cocker-SpanielCocker Spaniel

These wavy haired dogs have always been popular because of their sweet temperament and great cuddling size. They make good family dogs and get along well with children, but can be difficult to housebreak. Make sure you keep their waxy coat brushed and watch their floppy ears for infections.




Beagles are happy little hounds who love a good chase! Used for so long as hunting dogs, Beagles have a strong search instinct which makes them tend to wander off following a scent, and a loud baying bark (which sounds more like a howl) often heard when they find what they were searching for. These dogs can usually be socialized to live with other pets and are gentle and affectionate with children.



This ancient African hunting dog has a very distinct look with their high ears, curled tail, and athletic physique. Baseji have the ability to make a larger variety of noises and yodels than other dogs but are generally quiet dogs with a lot of energy and speed. These dogs are easily trained and bond well with their owners but can be nervous around strangers. Since they love to chew, be sure to give Basenji chew toys so they don't get bored and gnaw on your shoes or furniture!



German Pinschers are excellent watchdogs who would do anything for their family. This leads them to bark whenever they want to tell you something important (โ€œSomeone's at the door!โ€) and can also lead to problems with biting in protection situations. These dogs are better for a pet parent with experience training a dog, because it's important for German Pinchers to know who's the boss. They must be carefully trained to back down from confrontations with other dogs and to not bark too often.




These dogs (pictured above) may look short and compact, with their stubby legs, but they are powerful herding and watchdogs. A very friendly breed, these dogs are highly intelligent and require training with strong leadership so that they know who is the โ€œpack leader.โ€ The Corgi's beautiful coat is easy to care for, only requiring routine brushing. 



This dog was bred for fox hunting, and the combination of speed, agility, and courage make Border Terriers great hunters. They love to dig and need a lot of exercise to work off their energy, but are relatively easy to train. The Border Terrier's water-proof coat requires special grooming and hand stripping twice a year to avoid mats and keep the fur clean.




Loyal and brave, miniature Bull Terriers are not the fighters they were once bred to beโ€”now they only like to play. These dogs can be a little difficult to train, requiring firm leadership, even from children. They may be too energetic for small children, especially because they like to join in when they see wrestling and roughhousing. They can be low maintenance, requiring minimal grooming, but should not be left alone for eight hours every day.

Nutrition for Medium and Small Dog Breeds

Dogs come in all shapes and sizes, and smaller breeds have distinct nutritional needs for their smaller bodies, appetites, mouths, and stomachs. Read on to learn about nutrition for dogs that are on the lower size spectrum โ€“ from extra-small to medium-sized dogs. 

Whatโ€™s My Dogโ€™s Size? 

Your dogโ€™s breed will determine his or her size. Of course not all dogs are purebred (and we love mutts of all types), so another way to determine size is by weight. If you know your dogโ€™s weight, you can determine their size, assuming your dog is a healthy weight. If your pet is underweight or overweight, you should consult a veterinarian. 

What Size is Your Dog?



Breed examples

Extra Small Dogs

<10 lbs


Small Dogs

10-25 lbs

Pug, Bichon Frise

Medium Dogs

20-50 lbs

Border Collie, Cocker Spaniel

More Activity Means More Calories--But Not Too Many

A highly active small dog requires more calories than a dog that get moderate exerciseโ€”like just leisurely walks, for example. But the breed can also determine a dogโ€™s activity level. Many small dog breeds are considered very active. Terriers, like the Jack Russell, are known for speeding around, and can require up to 30% more calories than another similarly sized dog.

But small dogs are also particularly susceptible to obesity. And itโ€™s especially dangerous for some small breeds to be overweight due to congenital problems in these breeds, like patellar luxation, or loose kneecap, of the hind limbs that can sometimes be painful. 

For a healthy balance, look for these amounts of protien and fat in your extra-small, small, or medium breed dog's food:


Dry Food

Wet Food







Dental Health Through Diet

Smaller dogs can also be more susceptible to dental problems. Oral problems like plaque buildup can lead to bigger health issues if left untreated. Dry, crunchy food may help reduce plaque and tartar buildup, and should be a component of your small dogโ€™s meals. But remember that your dog needs to crunch it to have these potential effects and if your pup is a โ€œgulperโ€ or โ€œinhaler,โ€ these benefits may be moot. A regular dental cleaning regimen is always a good idea.

Don't Skimp on Water

Some studies have also shown that in general, smaller breeds are more susceptible to bladder stones than larger breeds. If your dog has had bladder stones in the past, including some wet food in his or her regular diet may help ensure increased water intake, which may reduce the risk for bladder stones. Regardless, always keep plenty of fresh water available for your dog. Miniature Schnauzers, in particular, are at risk of stones, and studies have shown that using wet food as their primary means of nutrition helps dilute the urine, thereby decreasing the risk of stone formation.  

How to Feed Your Small Dog

You will want to divide your small dogโ€™s daily food ration into smaller portions, served two or even three times a day. Dogs with smaller stomachs will find the smaller portions easier to digest.

Allergies and Poisonous Foods

Some research suggests that certain breeds are more susceptible to health problems related to food allergies. Many of these at-risk breeds are extra-small to mid-weight dogs like Dachshunds, some BulldogsCocker Spaniels and Boston Terriers. As a dog owner, you should look out for the signs of a food allergy: itching, swollen eyelids, flatulence, and digestive problems. The most common allergens are beef, dairy, and wheat. A vet can help you determine which food ingredient is the culprit.

And although all dog owners should be familiar with common foods that are poisonous to dogs, small breed owners need to take extra care. For instance, a portion of chocolate that might not be fatal to a larger dog can easily overwhelm a small dogโ€™s system. Keep chocolate out of reach of all dogs, but be especially watchful of your smaller dog around any foods that are poisonous to them.

Many pet food companies now offer a specific formula for your smaller dog. With proper nutrition, your small dog can have a reduced risk for many health problems and diseases, and have a happy, longer life with you.

More on Dog Breeds

Dogs That Don't Shed
AKC Recognized Breeds
The Best Dogs for Children

Was this article helpful?
Medium Breed Small Breed Basenji Beagle Border Terrier Cocker Spaniel German Pinscher Miniature Bull Terrier Pembroke Welsh Corgi

You May Also Like

Image for Lifespan of a Dog: A Dog Years Chart by Breed
Lifespan of a Dog: A Dog Years Chart by Breed

How Long Should You Expect Your Dog to Live?

Read More
Image for 7 Distinguished Japaneses Dog Breeds
7 Distinguished Japaneses Dog Breeds

Beautiful Dogs from the Land of the Rising Sun

Read More