8 Small, Smart, & Highly Trainable Low-Shedding Dogs

When it comes to the most intelligent, trainable dog, that title is usually reserved for the Border collie, German Shepherd, or Golden Retriever (among a handful of others).

But what if you want a dog that’s both highly trainable and low-shedding? Better yet, one that’s small enough to make a great lap dog?

Well, believe it or not, those dogs do exist!

And here they are:

  1. Toy Poodle
  2. Yorkshire Terrier
  3. Miniature Schnauzer
  4. Havanese
  5. Brussels Griffon
  6. Boston Terrier
  7. Maltese
  8. Papillon

As the list above shows, there are plenty of brainy, tiny, low-shedding canines out there. Keep reading for more information on each of these unique breeds!

1. Toy Poodle

Red Toy Poodle puppy laying in brown grass.
  • Shedding Level: 1/5 (very low shedding)
  • Grooming Effort: 5/5 (very high maintenance)

The Toy Poodle is the smallest of the Poodle sizes, measuring 9.4 to 11 inches on average. 

While maybe not as teeny-tiny and handheld as some of the other breeds I’ll discuss, Toy Poodles are still small!

This breed, like his bigger Poodle brethren, has a tightly-wound curly coat. Each of those curls collects dead hair as it falls and prevents it from coating your furniture and floors in white fluff.

The Poodle is also a single-coated canine, so there needn’t be any worries on your part about the dog blowing its coat.

Of the various Poodle sizes, the Toy Poodle would shed the least since it’s the smallest. It just doesn’t have the surface area of a Standard Poodle.

Toy Poodles are extremely intelligent and very easy to train. They learn fast, think on their feet, and love positive reinforcement.

The only downside is keeping a Poodle of any size groomed.

Those tight curls are a challenge to brush, and when the Toy Poodle’s coat poofs out, you’ll have to give the dog a trim (or bring it to a groomer). Poodle coats can be trimmed in so many ways that you’ll have your work cut out for you just choosing the right one for your dog!

2. Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkshire Terrier standing outside on a lead with a side view.
Yorkshire Terrier
  • Shedding Level: 2/5 (low shedding)
  • Grooming Effort: 4/5 (high maintenance)

The Yorkshire Terrier (aka Yorkie) is the smallest of the small (at least of the breeds that I talked about today), as they’re only seven inches tall at most.

This lovely English dog grows an enviably long, flowing mane. Since their hair is but a single layer, the Yorkie is very low-shedding.

The dog’s size also contributes to its barely-there shedding propensity.

The trouble comes when grooming the Yorkie, especially if yours doesn’t have a puppy cut. That long hair needs a lot of tending to.

You’ll have to brush your Yorkie with a wide-tooth metal comb about every single day. Doing so maintains the gloss of the dog’s coat as well as prevents what would be very painful knots and mats in the Yorkie’s long fur.

As for intelligence, Yorkies are very intuitive, as they’re in touch with the emotions of their favorite people and are excellent at communicating.

3. Miniature Schnauzer

Miniature Schnauzer laying on green grass.
  • Shedding Level: 2/5 (low shedding)
  • Grooming Effort: 4/5 (high maintenance)

They don’t call the Miniature Schnauzer a mini for no reason! This mustached dog is between 12 and 14 inches tall. He’s bigger than a Toy Poodle, but not by a large margin.

The Miniature Schnauzer is a double-coated pup, which means the dog’s undercoat is more likely to shed twice per year in the lead-up to the winter and summer months.

The outer coat has a wiry texture that minimizes shedding for the rest of the year.

What is grooming a Miniature Schnauzer like? In a word, challenging. The double coat requires brushing close to every day (if not daily).

You’ll also have to trim the dog about every month or two. The other option is to hand strip, which entails pulling out dead hairs by hand. Of course, you can always count on a groomer to keep your Miniature Schnauzer looking his best.

How smart is this dog?

The Miniature Schnauzer is considered one of the smartest canines around. It usually takes this breed between five to 15 repetitions to learn a new command. The rate of obeying a command is 85 percent, so the Miniature Schnauzer is highly trainable and listens well.

4. Havanese

White Havanese dog standing on a tree trunk.
  • Shedding Level: 1/5 (very low shedding)
  • Grooming Effort: 4/5 (very high maintenance)

More than just cute, the Havanese dog is also highly intelligent. 

This breed loves making its favorite people happy, so training your Havanese should be a smooth enough experience.

Speaking of smooth, the Havanese’s long coat is super low-shedding.

Few breeds shed as little as this one.

And one of the reasons the Havanese dog doesn’t shed much comes down to how small it is. Its long hair also takes longer to come out compared to a dog with shorter fur.

Just how small is small when it comes to the Havanese? This dog proudly stands at 8 ½ inches to 11 ½ inches tall, so the Havanese is quite the tiny four-legged friend.

The Havanese is a double-coated breed, so it’s living proof that not all double-coated breeds are heavy shedders. But this does mean that keeping its coat tidy will take work.

It’s best to brush your dog just about every day or at least every second day to prevent tangles and mats, both of which longer-coated dogs are prone to.

Of course, if that long, luxurious fur is getting to be too much to maintain, you can always give the Havanese a youthful puppy cut (or have a groomer do it). They look totally adorable this way!

5. Brussels Griffon

Brussels Griffon going for a walk in the park with a lead on.
  • Shedding Level: 2/5 (low shedding)
  • Grooming Effort: 3/5 (average maintenance coat)

Most of the time, all the attention is paid to the Brussel Griffon’s looks more than anything since this pup resembles the Star Wars Ewok.

Yet that’s only one variety of the Brussels Griffon! That one is known as the Griffon Bruxellois and has longer, wiry fur that doesn’t shed much.

The Griffon Beige has a similar coat texture to the Griffon Bruxellois, while the Petit Brabancons have a smoother, shorter coat. This variety sheds more than a wiry-coated Brussels Griffon, but not excessively.

Keeping the Brussel Griffon’s coat shiny and fresh requires brushing close to every day (especially for the smoother Petit Brabancon) and certainly no more seldom than once a week.

Trim the fluffier, scruffier Brussels Griffon varieties around their face every three months.

The Brussels Griffon, no matter the variety, is only about 10 inches tall at most, so he’s very much a small dog.

This breed is also regarded for its high degree of braininess. The Brussels Griffon forms deep connections with those it lives with, so that training should be simple.

Just keep in mind that this breed is sensitive and doesn’t like harsh criticism. They also don’t like being ignored or left alone too long, as this can lead to misbehavior.

6. Boston Terrier

Purebred Boston Terrier outdoors in the nature on a sunny day.
  • Shedding Level: 2/5 (low shedding)
  • Grooming Effort: 1/5 (very low maintenance)

Whip-smart, the Boston Terrier is an adaptive canine that can adjust to new people and environments. The dog is also a strong communicator, using both verbal and nonverbal cues.

On top of all that, this small American dog trains easily!

Boston Terriers measure 16 to 17 inches tall, so they fit in well on this list.

So what’s the Boston Terrier’s shedding situation?

The Boston Terrier is a low-shedding dog with an incredibly close-cropped coat, and since it’s a tiny dog, the amount of fur it drops is very minimal.

You may notice an uptick in shedding during spring and autumn as its coat adapts to the changing seasons, but it’s nothing uncontrollable.

As for grooming a Boston Terrier, this is decidedly simple due to the aforementioned coat texture and length this dog possesses. You don’t have to worry about tangles or knots, and the smooth coat brushes easily with a bristle brush.

You can brush the Boston Terrier a few times a week for most of the year or more frequently if you notice more fur around the home than you’d like. That will go a long way towards keeping your Boston Terrier’s coat in top shape and keeping your home as fur-free as possible.

7. Maltese

Beautiful young Maltese dog standing in garden surrounded by flowers.
  • Shedding Level: 1/5 (very low shedding)
  • Grooming Effort: 4/5 (high maintenance)

The Maltese is an adorable, small toy breed from Malta that stands up to nine inches tall, weighs under seven pounds, and is one of the lowest shedding dogs of all.

They are also generally regarded as a hypoallergenic breed, which means they’re generally more suitable for people with pet allergies than the average dog.

However, worth noting is that no dog is truly hypoallergenic because all dogs produce dander, which is one of the main things that trigger allergies.

Nevertheless, this dog is about as good as it gets in the shedding department. The only tradeoff is that because Maltese dogs have long, white, silky coats, they can take some work to groom. So it’s recommended to brush them regularly to keep their coat mat- and tangle-free.

How smart and trainable are they?

Maltese are very intelligent dogs, but they have been around for thousands of years, and as the American Kennel Club (AKC) points out, they know how to get what they want from their masters. So if you want this dog to play ball, so to speak, you’ll need to be consistent with their training!

Trainability aside, the Maltese is known as an alert, playful, and gentle companion.

8. Papillon

White and brown Papillon dog lying on the couch.
  • Shedding Level: 2/5 (low shedding)
  • Grooming Effort: 2/5 (low maintenance)

The French dog named after its butterfly ears, the Papillon, is beloved for more than its beautiful looks but its intelligence as well.

This dog is highly, highly trainable. You can and should do more than teach your dog the basic commands but try agility and obedience as well.

The Papillion is sure to impress you with its smarts!

The 11-inch Papillon has long fur and a single coat. That said, the breed does tend to ramp up its rate of shedding a little bit in the spring and sometimes in the fall as well.

The molting is nothing crazy, and with regular grooming, the Papillon won’t leave heaps of hair all over your home.

With a slicker brush, comb through the long, beautiful fur of the Papillon at least once weekly. You can increase the brushing frequency to twice weekly if you’d like.

Conclusion

Many low-shedding dogs have brains bigger than their small sizes would lead you to believe. These breeds are covetable in a variety of aspects, which would make any of them the perfect companion to add to your loving home.

Not only are they highly intelligent, trainable dogs, but each breed on this list is considered low shedding. And some are even considered hypoallergenic, which can generally make them more suitable for allergy sufferers than heavy shedding dogs.

As a caveat, I must note that a dog’s shedding rate can be higher than usual if the canine isn’t on a balanced diet or if they have underlying medical conditions such as allergies or fleas. So if your dog is not quite as low-shedding as you think it should be, it might be worth seeing a vet.

Anyway, that’s it from me.

Thanks for reading, and if you’d like to share your tips on the smartest, most trainable, and lowest shedding canines, chime in below.

8 Small, Smart, & Highly Trainable Low-Shedding Dogs

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