Pint-sized? Yes. Sulking wallflowers? No. Small dogs may not take up much space, and their bark may not leave you shivering in your shoes. But what these diminutive creatures lack in size, they make up for in spunk, smarts and personality.
Small dogs have been capturing the human heart for ages. Who were the world's greatest small canines? Click ahead to find out.
1: Smoky the WWII Mascot
Big things come in small packages, right? Such is the case with Smoky, the four-pound Yorkshire terrier that flew combat missions in World War II. Smoky was found in a foxhole by an American soldier and was sold to Corporal Bill Wynn for about $6. Wynn kept Smoky on the battlefield and in the fighter planes for the next two years, teaching him tricks and allowing him to comfort wounded soldiers along the way. This earned Smoky the distinction of being the first therapy dog on record. Smoky's career as a joy-giver didn't stop with the war, either -- he performed with Wynn onstage at hospitals and military functions for another 10 years after VE day.
2: Laika the Astro-Dog
At the dawn of the U.S. and Soviet space race, not much was known about how living things would survive in space. Instead of launching a human being, the Russian space program decided to send a small dog named Laika into space aboard Sputnik II. The Russians put enough food in the spacecraft to feed Laika for a week. But it was soon uncovered that Sputnik II was never expected to return to Earth. The good news is that after the Laika experiment, the ethics of the space program were put under a microscope.
Since 1974, the mixed-breed mutt Benji has captured the hearts of TV and film lovers of all ages. The original "Benji" film was written and directed by Joe Camp and centered on the titular tiny canine saving two kidnapped children who were kind enough to feed the homeless street dog. Since then, there have been several incarnations on both the large and small screen. Initially, Hollywood studios didn't want any part of the project, so Camp financed and distributed the film himself with great success. The first Benji's real name was Higgins, and he was adopted from the Burbank Animal Shelter. In fact, the American Humane Society reported that more than one million dogs were adopted from shelters around the country during Benji's heyday. Although the original Benji was a boy, there have been three others throughout the years, two of which were female.
Before Benji, there was Toto. For those of you living under a rock, the landmark film "The Wizard of Oz" had a lead character named Dorothy, who had a female Cairn terrier named Toto. The movie has had a huge impact on popular culture since its release in 1939 -- phrases like "there's no place like home" and "we're off to see the Wizard" have become part of the American lexicon. And 70-plus years later, kids still name their new puppies Toto. The 5-year-old terrier, whose real name was Terry, was chosen from a stack of hundreds of photographs. If you think you've seen Toto in other movies, you have a keen eye -- she was used in more than a dozen films.
5: King Charles Spaniels
Not all famous small dogs have graced the silver screen. Such is the case with King Charles spaniels. With a name like that, you'd think this breed was of royal descent. Turns out they kind of are. These loving and friendly pooches were quite popular among ladies of the royal court during Tudor times. But the stately name comes from the undying devotion bestowed upon the toy spaniel by none other than King Charles II. Charles had a collection of toy spaniels and was rarely seen without one trotting alongside him. He loved them so much that he wrote a royal decree allowing the spaniel in any public place in England, even inside the House of Parliament. This decree still stands today -- it's good to be king.