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10 Short-Legged Dogs: A Short List of Best Pups to Adopt

All pups are cute in their own way, but watching a short-legged doggo trot around makes our hearts feel a little extra fuzzy. If you're thinking about small dog adoption, consider one of these height-challenged sweeties - we're giving you the low down on the short-legged breeds that make the best pets. 

Dogs come in almost every shape and size imaginable, which makes choosing a breed to adopt complex. 

Why do we think animals that have out-of-whack proportions are extra cute? That's the only way to explain why the strangely lovable mug of a pug draws us in or the hilariously adorable disproportions of a dachshund. 

Sure, a short-legged dog is cute, but there are plenty of reasons why short-legged breeds make a fantastic dog to bring into your home: 

  • They're intelligent.
  • Almost always easy to train.
  • More manageable compared to larger dog breeds.
  • A perfect pet for first-time owners or those that are a little less active. 

We're explaining below how short-legged dogs get their looks and revealing the best types of short-legged dogs to own so that you can choose the best fur companion for you. 

Why Do Some Dog Breeds Have Short Legs

While there are several breeds of dogs with short legs, they all have one thing in common: the same gene. 

A genetic mutation occurs in some breeds because a retrogene, or a processed copy of a gene, is commonly present in their DNA, resulting in hypochondroplasia, a type of dwarfism.

The retrogene causes a pup to overproduce a protein that disrupts their legs' growth during fetal development.

History of Short-Legged Breeds

The genetic mutation for dwarfism first began when dogs separated from wolves several thousand years ago. 

Around 300 years ago, new dog breeding advances allowed breeders to better isolate and specialize the traits they wanted into the breeds we know today.

Historically, we have bred our short-legged companions because they're ideal for many purposes - sometimes, being short has its advantages, after all.

Farmers bred the Welsh Corgi as a top-notch cattle herder that uses height to its advantage. The dog's tiny size allows them to effortlessly nip at cows' ankles to move them along while standing short enough to avoid the kicks of irritated cows. 

Basset hounds, known for their long ears, incredibly sensitive noses, and excellent hunting skills, were bred with shorter legs so that hunters riding on horseback could keep up with them when they picked up a trail.

How to Care For a Short-Legged Dog

The genetic mutation for dwarfism is harmless but can make these pups with short legs more susceptible to certain health conditions and limitations. 

Here are a few simple ways to aid your buddy to use his short legs to get around the world with relative ease. 

  • Ramps and Aids. Pups with short legs struggle to navigate the human world, where everything is much taller than them. Place essential items in easy to access spots and get a bed ramp for dogs to help your tiny doggo on and off of furniture, the car, and bed without the need to jump. 

Even if your young, spry pup can make the jump, minimize the jumping now as a preventative measure. Several years of daily, repeated, high-impact jumps will wear down a dog's joints. 

  • Joint Supplements. Dwarf dogs tend to have joint issues and degeneration as they age. Start your dog on a joint supplement, like glucosamine, from a young age to prevent joint deterioration, and use these supplements to relieve the symptoms of any current joint problems. 
  • Keep Their Weight Down. Dogs with short legs naturally have extra pressure on their legs, as they support a much larger body all day. Keep your doggo at a healthy weight, as every extra pound on their body is an extra pound of pressure on their joints.
  • Lift Them Properly. Little dogs often need help to get places and are conveniently-sized for carrying. Ensure you pick up a dog by its torso, not its legs, and support its weight evenly in the front and back, so you're not adding undue stress on the joints. 

10 Short-Legged Dog Breeds

Here are the ten best breeds with short legs that are easy to train, well-tempered, and relatively manageable pets in no particular order. 

#1: Pembroke Welsh Corgi

The Pembroke Welsh Corgi is a sweet and fiercely loyal pup that keeps on high alert to guard over your home and family all day long. They're incredibly friendly with their family and strangers alike.

These doggos live up to 15 years and require a lot of exercise to burn off their excess energy. Known to shed, you will likely be vacuuming a little more often with a Pembroke Corgi around.

#2: Dachshund

The Dachshund, or wiener dog, is a relatively small dwarf dog, weighing 7 to 15 lbs on average. This dog likes to be social but doesn't mind some alone time if you're busy. 

They're trained hunters that may try to make a rabbit or squirrel their prey on their daily walks. A Dachshund's looks vary greatly - they can be long or short-haired, smooth or wiry, and a range of colors.

#3: Basset Hound

Basset hounds have a big, sensitive snout and the most giant set of floppy ears you'll ever see. They tend to be quite heavy for a short-legged breed and are prone to becoming overweight - exercise is vital to keep these pups healthy.

Like its nose, the Basset Hound also has sensitive feelings and needs lots of affectionate support. They can be stubbornly difficult to train and enjoy living in large spaces. 

#4: Scottish Terrier

These diggers originated in the Scottish Highlands, known for their fluffy beards and mustaches. 

The Scottish Terrier is territorial, stubborn, and has an incredible sense of self-confidence. They're fiercely independent and will likely push back against anyone telling them what to do. The Scottie is a great dog to have around children, whom they adore. 

#5: Cardigan Welsh Corgi

The Cardigan Corgi is related to its Pembroke cousin but a little bigger. 

They need minimal exercise and grooming, making them an easy, low-maintenance dog that's a pleasure in any house. 

They must be well-trained to maintain a sunny disposition - they can become aggressive toward other dogs if left untrained. 

#6: Tibetan Spaniel

These tiny, short-legged fluffy dogs weigh anywhere from 9 to 15 lbs and can live for a solid 15 years. 

Tibetan Spaniels are happy, high-spirited, smart, and independent while still being loyal friends and watchdogs to their family. 

If you like a quiet home, the Tibetan Spaniel may be the one for you - their polite nature keeps them from barking or howling. 

#7: Cairn Terrier

These terriers are another pup from the Scottish Highlands, most famous as Dorothy's little dog Toto in The Wizard of Oz. 

The Cairn Terrier has a double-layered coat that keeps it warm in chilly temperatures and have a naturally happy temperament. 

Like other terriers, they enjoy chasing small prey down and get distracted by squirrels easily, but don't fret; these pups are intelligent and independent, so they don't tend to get themselves into situations that are over their heads.

#8: English Bulldog

The English Bulldog is the biggest short-legged dog on our list - they tend to have incredibly stocky bodies, with lots of squishy rolls. 

These dogs can look intimidating, but their looks are very deceiving. English Bulldogs are absolute sweethearts that are calm, docile, and very friendly with anyone they meet. 

They live 8-10 years on average and are prone to snoring, drooling, and breathing issues due to their flattened snout. 

#9: French Bulldog

The French Bulldog, or Frenchie, is closely related to the English Bulldog with a few distinct differences. 

First, they're relatively smaller than the English breed and live significantly longer, averaging 10-14 years. 

Frenchies have more energy, too, but they will tire out more quickly than other breeds and settle down easily. 

#10: Pekingese

If you're looking for short-legged dogs with long hair, look no further than the Pekingese. This toy dog originates in China as a companion for royal aristocrats, which they selectively bred to have a regal lion mane around its neck. 

They're highly affectionate and intelligent and require less exercise than some other breeds. 

They're very loyal to their owners and charm everyone they meet.

Final Notes: The All-Around Best Dog Breeds With Short Legs

Dog breeds with short legs make some of the best companions, especially for older people and first-time owners that will have an easier time managing their energy levels and body size. 

No matter the breed you choose, make their joint health a top priority from an early age to minimize degenerative joint issues and keep them moving well as they age.

We wish you luck finding your new furry best friend!

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