I've also "been" a big dog lover and had them in my whole childhood and adult life until Zsa Zsa came into our lives a little over 3 months ago. All small breeds I've met, seen and "heard" prior to her, were none stop "yappers" and I would have never contemplated to bring one into my home. I'm not putting all small dogs in the same boat but 99% of those I've met have a "napoleon" complex
I had also communicated with various breeders within a 200km radius of my home and everyone was very helpful with my questions concerning if the breed would be a good fit in my household with my 2 other dogs and rescue cats. I was also very concerned with genetic problems (i.e. Fanconi) since I learnt the hard was with my poorly breed ridgeback (4 dermoids removed at 6 months). I made sure that I was able to verify prior to me making the final decision if she was going to be part of our family, that the Fanconi test results of both parents were done and any others tests since she was listed as a purebred with papers. Also the funny thing about my rescue girl, is that prior to me getting her from her owner, I had scheduled an appointment to visit her breeder the following week without knowing the association between both.
All this to say, that I'm a novice with the breed and that if you like a dog with personality, that pushes your buttons, drives you nuts, a challenge to train and acts like a clown to diffuse a situation (that means divert your attention from getting a correction-usually water sprayed on her or time out in crate ) then this is the breed for you. I've never had to put so much effort to keep calm and to see the humor in situations as with Zsa Zsa. It's a breed that pushes all your buttons and I thank everyday that I have a crate to give her time outs for her own good, a breather to the rest of my guys and myself. She gets tones of exercise and playtime with the big boys and still she is like the energy bunny, she keeps on going & going… So please do your research, talk to breeders and ask questions on this forum and you will learn a lot on them. This will help you make an informative decision if this is a breed for you.
Good luck and be forewarned you will be addicted to the breed. I'm hooked and will more than likely have another one within the next 10 years