Short Legged Dogs – 8 Popular Breeds

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Man’s best friend has changed over the centuries through controlled selective breeding and is almost unrecognizable from their ancient ancestors. Dogs now come in an almost unlimited variety of different shapes and sizes. Whether you have short legged dogs, or dogs with hypoallergenic fur, long snouts, or floppy ears, they all descend from wolves.

According to AKC, there are about three hundred and forty breeds of dogs in the world, but in this article, we’ll be talking about dogs with short legs.

If you are considering adopting a pup from one of the short legged dog breeds, you may find the following information useful:

1.    Dachshund

Life expectancy 12 – 16 years

short legged dogs - Dachshund close up of face

Dachshunds are true family dogs that are clever and playful! They are sociable, child friendly, and are not too needy.

These tireless dogs are energetic and keen to try anything. They are vigilant and have a loud bark that historically made them natural watchdogs.

German in origin, these short legged dog breeds make great independent hunting dogs. They’re brave, adventurous, and have a keen sense of smell. Dachshunds are keen diggers, this is because they were originally bred to dig into badger burrows. The word “Dachshund” is actually a German word for “badger dog”.


Dachshunds were bred to go down tunnels for hunting, they are long dogs with short legs that weigh somewhere around seven to fifteen kilograms.

They come with one of three varieties of coat, longhaired, wirehaired, and smooth. A Dachshund’s fur can also vary greatly in color and markings.

The good news is they are moderate shedders, and don’t leave masses of hair on your furniture.

2.    Pembroke Welsh Corgi

Life expectancy 12 – 15 years

short legged dogs - pembroke corgi sitting in long grass surrounded by daisies

These sturdy short legged dogs originally come from Pembrokeshire in Wales and bred for cattle herding. The Pembroke Welsh Corgi, along with its Cardigan cousin are two of the oldest dog breeds in Britain and have been driving cattle for about 1000 years.

“Corgi” comes from the Celtic word, “Kergi” which means Dog.

Pembroke Welsh Corgis are bold, energetic, and outgoing. They can be around twelve inches in height when fully grown, have pointed ears and no tails. Their fur comes in either sable, fawn, red or black, and tan. They sometimes have white markings and they shed a lot of hair, so need grooming often.

short legged dogs - Pembroke corgi showing docked tail

Pembroke Welsh Corgi’s are very protective and historically watched over the cattle at night.

Queen Elizabeth II is an avid fan of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi breed, and often pictured with her devoted short legged dogs.

3.    Cardigan Welsh Corgi

Life expectancy 12 – 15 years

Cardigan Corgi in a forest standing on brown leaves

This dynamo of a little dog resembles its Pembroke cousin in many ways. However, the Cardigan Welsh Corgi has round ears and a long bushy tail.

They are a very intelligent breed that are easy to train, but do require plenty of mental stimulation.

Be aware that if you are thinking of getting a Cardigan Welsh Corgi, they do tend to gain weight easily if they don’t get enough exercise. Like most working dogs, they like the outdoors and being active and busy.

The Welsh Cardigan Corgi, originally bred as a short legged dog for cattle herding. Standing at only 33 centimeters in height made it easier for them to nip at the heels of cattle and keep them under control.

short legged dogs - Cardigan Corgi walking in a field, white fence in the background

For small dogs with short legs, they have a mighty big bark and made fantastic watchdogs to protect cattle at night.

The Cardigan Welsh Corgi have the same ancestry as the German Dachshund.

The male dogs weigh around fourteen to seventeen kilograms while the females can weigh between eleven and fifteen kilograms.

4.    Tibetan Spaniel

Life expectancy 12 – 15 years

Close up of a Tibetan Spaniel's face

Tibetan Spaniels are vigilant, intelligent, and very active.

These observant little dogs played a key role in protecting the Tibetan Monasteries as far back in history as 1100 BC. Tibetan Spaniels have sharp eyesight and are able to clearly see long distances. They watched from the walls of the monastery and barked an alarm to the occupants if anyone approached.

Tibetan Spaniels are attentive, playful, and great with kids. They often form a close bond with their owners, it’s no wonder the Buddhist Monks kept them as companions.

These short legged dogs are mostly covered in medium-length fur, with the exception of their necks. The monks affectionately called them “little lions” because their necks have a long, thick bushy mane. They believed the dogs resembled the Chinese Guardian Lions, resulting in Tibetan Spaniels becoming highly prized.

short legged dogs - Tibetan Spaniel standing on grass

Tibetan Spaniels have a thick feathered tail that curls over their back.

Fully grown, they stand 25 centimeters at the shoulder and can weigh about four to seven kilograms.

These dogs are highly social, and crave the company of their owners. They don’t like to be left alone for long periods of time.

5.    Sussex Spaniel

Life expectancy 13 – 15 years

Close up of a brown Sussex spaniel on the grass

Although Sussex Spaniels are notoriously hard to train, they are calm, relaxed, and enjoy being around people. They love playing with kids and are very protective. They make great family pets and are often used as therapy dogs because of their patient and friendly nature.

Originally bred in Goodwood in West Sussex, the breed quickly became popular as a gun dog. This is because of a unique ability that’s not shared by other spaniel breeds. The Sussex Spaniel instinctively barks an alert on finding its prey.

During world war two, the Sussex Spaniel breed very nearly became extinct, as breeding was discouraged. Luckily, English breeder Joy Freer brought the breed back from the brink. Today’s Sussex Spaniels are all descendants of the dogs that she originally saved.

short legged dogs - Sussex spaniel, full body image

The Sussex Spaniel has a golden-liver colored fluffy coat, long ears, and has a compact muscular body. These short legged dogs weigh somewhere between sixteen and twenty kilograms and grow to a height of 38 centimeters.

6.    Scottish Terrier

Life expectancy 13 – 15 years

Scottish Terrier showing face

There are five breeds of terrier that originate from Scotland, but the most popular has to be the Scottish Terrier. Also known as the Aberdeen Terrier, and affectionately called “Scotties”, these independent, tough little dogs were bred for farmyard pest control. Farmers would also take them hunting for other pests such as foxes, rabbits, and badgers.

Scotties are ideally suited to life in the rugged highlands. Standing at 25 centimeters in height, they have a tough muscular body, covered in a dense wiry weatherproof coat.

Scotties are extremely loyal to their family, they are intelligent and playful but can also have a stubborn streak.

It’s always a good idea to try and socialize Scottish Terriers with other dogs while they are very young, as they can be aggressive. A headstrong Scottie will think nothing of tackling dogs twice their size.

short legged dogs - Scottish Terrier looking in a lake

The Earl of Dunbarton nicknamed his pack of scotties “diehards” because of their persistence, loyalty, and determination.

Many famous presidents and queens have owned Scotties, and they are the third most popular breed in the US.

Scotties can be a little difficult to train and need their own space due to their peculiar temperament.

7.    Dandie Dinmont Terrier

Life expectancy 11 – 13 years

front view of a Dandie Dinmont Terrier

Another of the five Scottish Terriers is the Dandie Dinmont Terrier, a dog that’s origins have become hazy over the centuries. It’s believed that the Dandie might be a type of Border Terrier, or that it’s a cross between a Sky Terrier and a Scottish Terrier.

What we do know is that the Dandie Dinmont Terrier has a fluffy head, a strong kneck and long hanging ears, and has a curved tail. This breed of dog with short legs and long bodies is comparable to Sky Terriers.

The coat typically comes in a range of shades, but only in two colors, mustard, and pepper. Pepper can appear a dark bluey black to a silvery light grey, and mustard can be a reddy-brown colour to a light fawn.

Dandies are short long dogs that were used along the border of Scotland for hunting otters and badgers, they are intelligent and independent.

The Dandie Dinmont is a dog with short legs that typically stands up to 28 centimeters in height, and weights between eighteen to twenty-four pounds.

Due to their medium-length fur which can be a bit wiry, they need to be groomed regularly.

Short legged dogs - Dandie Dinmont Terrier standing on grass, side view showing length of body, legs and tail

Like many dogs with short legs, Dandies have a big personality, they’re friendly but tough, and they mix best with older children. They have a strong prey drive, so keep them away from small pets such as guinea pigs and rabbits.

Dandies are also amazingly fast diggers, so if you have a nice garden, they may not be the dog for you.

8.    Pekingese

Life expectancy 12 – 15 years

Pekingese dog - closeup of the face

The Pekingese is probably the first-ever companion dog bred solely to be a lap dog. These short legged dogs were originally from China, and could only be owned by members of the Imperial Palace.

It was only in 1860 during the second Opium War, that the breed spread into the wider world. They were discovered by the Allies during an occupation of the Old Summer Palace in Beijing.

A group of the Pekingese dogs were transported to the UK, one was even presented to Queen Victoria as a gift. This resulted in a sudden rise in popularity amongst the rich and famous for these funny little lap dogs.

Pekingese come in two sizes:

• The classic breed of “Pekingese”, are quite stocky for this size, and weigh around six kilograms. They stand around 23 centimeters in height.

• The smaller “Sleeve Pekingese”, are around 15 centimeters in height and can weigh up to 2.7 kilograms.

Sleeve Pekingese got their name from being carried in the sleeve cuffs of the imperial robes.

The Pekingese fur comes in many shades of color, but they all have one thing in common, they shed…a lot! Be prepared to do a lot of brushing, as they need to be brushed daily, as well as a trip to the groomer every four to eight weeks.

Short legged dogs - light coloured Pekingese standing side on

It’s advised that you don’t exercise them any longer than thirty minutes, this is for two reasons:

• Pekingese have what’s known as a “rolling gait” as they walk. It’s believed that this characteristic was bred into them to make walking harder, and prevent the dogs from wandering away from the palace.

• These short legged dog breeds also have a very short snout. The classic Pekingese flat face makes it difficult to breathe when exercising. If you hear them start wheezing, stop exercise straight away and get them checked out by a vet.


Due to their compact size, dogs with short legs are a very popular choice for a family pet.

However, don’t mistake these dogs as just cuddly pushovers because they’re called sometimes referred to as toy dogs. Many short legged dogs have hundreds of years breeding behind them as working dogs, for hard and sometimes dangerous jobs.

They have centuries of instinct that have been bred into them by our ancestors. So, if you are considering getting a small dog with short legs, do take careful note of the breed’s history.

Many have a strong prey drive, some are aggressive, while others are playful, protective and family orientated.

Before you fall for their big eyes and fluffy face, it’s always a good idea to do your research first. Only then can you decide with some degree of confidence that they’re a good fit for your household.

Don’t forget to look around the site or bookmark us for later, we’ve got a wide range of material on all sorts of dog-related subjects that we’re constantly updating.

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All information in the article is for educational purposes only and is not meant to replace your veterinarian’s advice.


All information in this article is for educational purposes only and is not meant to replace your veterinarian's advice.
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