Even small dog breeds can run rings around the big ones with regard to temperament, ability to learn and guard dog capabilities. The experts at Maxi Zoo know that how far off the ground the dog is says nothing about his character and abilities. Future owners should be aware that small dogs are real dogs that have their own individual needs.

How do you find the right dog? Some make choices based on celebrities – “One like Paris Hilton”. Others follow fashion – “It has to be a pug”. Or there could be a personal reason for choice – “I live in an apartment so I want a little dog”. Or – “The dog shouldn’t be too big so I can control him in difficult situations”. Whatever your reason, think well in advance about what sort of characteristics your new family member should have. Just because they are small dogs doesn’t automatically mean that they need less space or care. Here are nine small dog breeds and important facts you should know about them.

1. With an average weight of just 2 kg, the Chihuahua is ultra lightweight and for this reason alone, is an animal that owners can take everywhere. Chihuahuas can live up to 12 to 16 years with the right diet and care. They are even suitable for owners with little space or who live in the city, provided that they go outside several times a day.

2. Cavalier King Charles are very affectionate and playful. What a lot of people don’t know is that King Charles descend from hunters. Because of this they do love exercise. They may not be the right dog for you if you live in an apartment. Cavaliers need room to run, preferably in a back garden. They also need to be walked regularly and maybe even take them for a run in the woods every so often. Make sure to keep them on a leash, they tend to run off if they see a squirrel or a car! A healthy Cavalier King Charles Spaniel can live as long as 14 years. Common health problems include a heart condition called mitral valve disease, hip dysplasia and ear infections.

3. Yorkshire Terrier Dogs are smart dogs that have a lot of energy and have a cute curious nature. Yorkshire Terriers can live as long as 15 years, but only if you take proper care of them. Because of their small size, they can be troubled by a number of health problems including hip and due to their small stature, Yorkies are prone to joint issues, poor digestion, tooth decay and bone fractures. Yorkshire Terriers can get hurt quite easily. Take care when holding them or moving them about. It is also quite important to feed them solid foods regularly.

4. Dachshunds need a lot of exercise! The dachshund was originally bred as a hunting dog as he is brave, self-confident and also quite stubborn. On the whole he is a family and child friendly dog who can live up to 15 years of age.

5. The Maltese is a loving lap dog. This quiet, affectionate dog is great for older people who have a lot of time for him. He can also be playful and like to romp around. Caring for his long, soft white fur is quite laborious.

6. The pug, as you can tell, is a small mastiff. This slightly slow but funny dog is very good with children and likes to take his time while out for a walk. This little fellow finds it easy to fit in but needs to be well trained. He will only live to around 10 years of age.

7. The Jack Russell Terrier is a brave, arduous and intelligent animal. This smooth or coarse haired terrier is extremely good tempered, agile and enjoys running around. He is suitable as a companion for runners, sports people or active children. As all terriers he can be quite stubborn and this should be remembered while training.

8. The West Highland Terrier comes from Scotland and originally was intended for hunting small animals. His popularity is most certainly to do with his happy-cheeky, loyal nature and his ability to fit in. He gets on well with his contemporaries and with children. He needs long walks so as to be able to let off steam. His long white fur has to be brushed out daily.

9. The Miniature Schnauzer, like the dachshund, lives for a long time. He is friendly, lively, brave, good with children and watchful. As well as this is enjoys running around and needs lots of space, time and activity. His coarse, wiry fur requires regular care.