With the rise of urban areas and increase of the city-dwelling population, small breed dogs have become more popular than ever before. The most popular breed overall in America, according to American Kennel Club registration statistics, is the Labrador retriever, which has been No. 1 for several years. But the four most popular small-breed dogs -- the Yorkshire terrier, the poodle, the dachshund, and the Shih Tzu -- are rapidly taking over urban centers and the hearts of apartment-dwellers across the nation.
The Yorkshire terrier, or Yorkie, as it has been nicknamed by devotees, has drawn a crowd of followers with his silky black-and-tan or silver-and-tan coat and his plucky expression. Yorkshire terriers should not weigh more than 7 pounds, according to American Kennel Club standards. Though they are small dogs, Yorkies have confident, can-do attitudes that make them suitable for nearly every sort of living environment -- though their relative fragility may make Yorkshire terriers unsuitable for families with small children.
The poodle comes in three sizes: standard, miniature and toy, the smallest variety. The miniature and toy sizes are the most popular, since their diminutive frames make them ideal for city living. Poodles are active and intelligent, and their hypoallergenic fur makes them suitable pets for individuals with allergies. Though the toy varieties typically prefer a comfortable seat on the couch over a trip into the great outdoors, every size of poodle is athletic and highly intelligent, and can generally excel at obedience or dog sports.
The short, iconic wiener-dog look belongs to the quirky and independent-minded dachshund breed. Dachshunds come in two sizes, standard and miniature. They also come in three coat types -- smooth, wire-haired and long-haired. Dachshunds were originally developed to flush small game out of foxholes and burrows. Modern-day dachshunds have never lost their ancestors' tenacity and spunk, making them spirited and entertaining companions.
Once the prized pets of Chinese royalty, Shih Tzus now grace homes and apartments across America. The Shih Tzu coat is straight, long and silky, and comes in a rainbow of colors. The coat is mostly nonshedding and hypoallergenic, more like hair than fur. Shih Tzus enjoy human company and generally have easygoing, friendly attitudes. Their slightly upturned noses make it harder for them to breathe in extremely hot weather or after strenuous exercise, so they need to be kept cool for the most part.