7 Best Small Dog Breeds for an Apartment

Updated on February 29, 2020
DrMark1961 profile image

Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.

If you live in an apartment and want a dog, try one of these seven great small breeds.
If you live in an apartment and want a dog, try one of these seven great small breeds. | Source

Are you looking for a great dog to share your apartment? A lot of people who live in apartments need to work outside the home most of the day, so it is important that the dog is suited to being alone and in a small space.

Here are a few of the dog breeds I think are suitable for these requirements:

  1. Basenji
  2. French Bulldog
  3. Toy Poodle
  4. Japanese Chin
  5. Maltese
  6. Miniature Schnauzer
  7. Shiba Inu

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Basenjis are one of the best small breeds in an apartment.Your Basenji will enjoy time away from the apartment, too.
Basenjis are one of the best small breeds in an apartment.
Basenjis are one of the best small breeds in an apartment. | Source
Your Basenji will enjoy time away from the apartment, too.
Your Basenji will enjoy time away from the apartment, too. | Source


These small African dogs have a lot going for them. They are great for an apartment because they are small (usually less than 14 kilos, or about 25 pounds), do not shed a lot, and do not make noise barking. Some consider them one of the most hypoallergenic breeds available.

Basenji are the barkless dogs. They will make a "yodeling" sound, but it is not constant, and your neighbors are unlikely to complain. They are difficult to train, however, and are not a good breed to choose if you have never previously owned a dog.


French Bulldog

I think these dogs are great because they top my list for small dogs that do not bark much. The neighbors in your apartment will really appreciate that. They will also usually do okay if you have to be away for most of the day working. Frenchies are famous for sleeping it off.

If you do decide that this is the right dog for your apartment, you need to account for their anatomy and make sure the apartment does not get too hot when no human is around. These dogs cannot take the heat, which is why you do not need to take them for a long walk outside if the day is too hot and humid.

These dogs are not as small as a toy breed, but they are still only about 10 kilos, or 22 pounds. Besides their unusual faces, they can also have other health problems like luxating patellas, bad backs, and eye problems. They will keep you company about 11 or 12 years.

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A white Toy Poodle.Toy Poodles are active and acrobatic.The Toy Poodle is an intelligent breed and learns tricks quickly.
A white Toy Poodle.
A white Toy Poodle.
Toy Poodles are active and acrobatic.
Toy Poodles are active and acrobatic.
The Toy Poodle is an intelligent breed and learns tricks quickly.
The Toy Poodle is an intelligent breed and learns tricks quickly.

Toy Poodle

Besides being a dog breed that does not shed much, the poodle is a good apartment dog. Keep him busy, though! He is intelligent and energetic, so he gets bored easily. Sometimes he barks too much, gets into things he should not, and suffers from other behavioral problems; adequate exercise will help with everything. Just having a Toy dog does not mean that you will not need to take your dog out to exercise. I am not talking about taking your dog once around the block just to do his “business”.

You can also train your Poodle to respond to obedience commands, and the dogs will learn tricks easily. Poodles come in a size for everyone, but the Toy is best for a small apartment, as the dog is less than 11 inches at the withers.

If you like some of the characteristics of the Poodle but still want another breed of dog, there are a lot of hybrids available:

  • Peekapoos are a Poodle and Pekingese cross
  • Bichapoos are Bichon Frise and Poodle crosses
  • Cockapoos are a popular Cocker Spaniel and Poodle cross

I have also heard of Yorkipoos, Maltipoos, and anyone looking for a larger dog can get a Labradoodle! (I would not recommend that working/hunting breed for an apartment, though.)

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A Japanese Chin.
A Japanese Chin.
A Japanese Chin.

Japanese Chin

This small dog is not one of the big barkers, so if you have thin walls or nosy neighbors he might be your best apartment dog. Some of them are as small as a Chihuahua or Maltese and their silky coats are pretty easy to take care of. Your Chin may need to have his anal glands expressed at times, he will need his teeth brushed daily, and he will probably need his face cleaned up at times, but they are mostly easy to care for and a good apartment dog.

The Japanese Chin has the typical problems of a brachycephalic dog. He breathes out of his mouth since his nose is so small, and doesn’t do well in hot conditions. His large eyes can get scratched easily, younger dogs have bouts of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) because they are so small, and when he gets older you will find that his lifespan is not as long as some of the small dogs.

If you are looking for a loving and clean little dog who steps around the apartment like a cat, dances like a circus dog, but is still aloof enough to be a watch dog, the Japanese Chin may be the breed of dog you should pick.

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A Maltese.
A Maltese.
A Maltese.


The little slacker breed is a perfect ornament for the back of a couch, and a great apartment dog if you can put up with a little barking. He only weighs about 6-9 pounds and rarely sheds so he will not cover that couch in his silky white hair. The Maltese does need his teeth brushed every day, and if you take a few minutes to comb him you can avoid any tangles or mats developing in his coat. They do need to be walked, of course, but as long as you avoid the mud puddles the Maltese will stay as clean as a stuffed toy.

Behavioral problems will most likely be the only problem you have with this stuffed toy in an apartment. As long as you train him in basic obedience and teach him a few tricks so that he will be occupied, let him meet the neighbors and other dogs so that he does not become fixated on his small world, let him know it is not okay to bark at all hours, and manage to avoid spoiling him with special treats off of your plate, he will be a great apartment dog.

The Maltese can also be more than an apartment dog. My Maltese went to work with me every day. When he was a puppy he fit in the bottom pocket of my lab coat and could go everywhere; as an adult he would wait quietly in a cage while I was in surgery. If there was snow and slush in the parking lot I could carry him, and when I got home he was always ready to frolic and a good playmate for my kids. This breed can be a great companion.

If you are not into small dogs like the little Maltese, but are limited in which dogs you can get because of the apartment's weight requirements, consider this list of medium-sized dogs that will do well in an apartment.

A Miniature Schauzer can be a great dog in an apartment.
A Miniature Schauzer can be a great dog in an apartment. | Source

Miniature Schnauzer

The Miniature Schnauzer does not usually make these lists because they are known to bark a lot. Not all dogs do, however, and if you find a breeder whose dogs do not bark a lot, you will find a great apartment dog.

Minature Schauzers do not shed much, have docile personalities so they do okay with strangers, are usually good with kids, and will also act as good little watch dogs.


Shiba Inu

Another dog that does not bark much, and is great in an apartment, is the Shiba Inu. They do make noise, and some dogs from this breed make a loud whining sound, so they are not for everyone.

A lot of Shiba families will comment that their dog is as clean and fastidious as a cat. They are considered one of the cleanest dogs around. If you are in an area where taking your dog out often is a problem, they are known to be easy to housetrain and can be trained to use pads. These dogs are only about 10 kilos (22 pounds). Not too small, definitely within most apartment´s size requirements.

If you are interested in adopting one of these cute dogs, be sure to take a minute to watch this video and others about the "shiba scream." The Shiba Inu does not bark much, but some people do not want this kind of noise in their apartment.

There Are Many Great Apartment Dogs

Many dogs will do well in apartments as long as the family is willing to take them out to exercise. As long the dog is not a working breed and has not been selected to get out and exercise all day, he will probably do well.

If you are looking for a specific breed of dog, check with Petfinder.com or look for a breed rescue that works in your area. Do not purchase a dog from a pet shop to avoid supporting puppy mills, and never buy a puppy through the internet.

Even if you are in a studio apartment, you can still find a great dog breed! Go out there and find that perfect dog.

Questions & Answers

  • I'm looking for a dog that's good with cats, but is also somewhat low energy and doesn't require too much attention due to working hours. Any breeds that fit the bill?

    If you mean to be out of the house all day and leave them alone, then a dog is not the best pet. If you just go to work for eight hours and then come home to interact with a dog that is good with your cats, a Maltese is a good choice. The only problem with the Maltese in an apartment complex setting is that some of them do bark a lot. It depends on your situation, though, such as how the dog is trained, and other animals that the dog has to interact with.

  • I'm looking for a large, imposing looking dog to keep me company on midnight runs; but I also have cats, so I need something friendly with small animals. Any suggestions?

    The best large dog that looks tough but is good with most cats is the Boxer. They often have a low prey drive, so they are not as likely to chase cats. But introducing a young dog to an adult cat is a great idea. If your apartment does not have weight restrictions, a Staffordshire Terrier or small Pitbull is also a good choice, but there is a lot of variation so be sure to discuss this with the breeder before making a final decision.

  • I'm looking for a protective breed like a German Shepherd but smaller like a beagle. What type of mix would you recommend?

    I recommend a medium-sized dog like a Standard Schnauzer or Bull Terrier. Look at this list: https://hubpages.com/dogs/medium-sized-dog-breed-a...

© 2012 Dr Mark


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    • profile image


      15 months ago

      I just wanted to comment about the lovely Cavalier King Charles Cavalier. We are “hobby breeders”. Which means we only have a litter every year or so & our dogs are our family. We also go to the extreme of following health protocols to breed healthy pups. We have had only 1 pup reported with MVD by the age of 4. That’s a great record. We are following the latest guidelines set by the UK as the UK tends to be more advanced in their care & breeding guideline than the USA. Additionally, we have an older one that has developed the paralysis & we are working with a Vet & exploring cell regeneration. We are constantly looking for the latest veterinary advances to improve the health of this most magnificent breed. It is a breed worth saving. At one time we thought about giving up, but then several years ago, several vets in the UK called out 6 dogs as so I’ll that the breeding of them should be a crime & punishable by law. We were outraged. From that moment on we were determined to raise the healthiest puppies possible. We’ve had our share of heartbreak over the years, but we’ve had far more joy & sense of accomplishment knowing that we are doing our part to preserve & hopefully improve this breed. We are hopeful that genetic based research will find a way to cure these diseases.

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      20 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Jozef, the article on cheap puppies will give you a guideline, but no one can contact you, nor do they have any idea where you are at. The best thing to do is follow the suggestions in that article.

    • profile image


      20 months ago

      Where can i find a free

      Toy poodle

      Mini schuaser

      Female plzzz

      Still a puppy

    • profile image

      vivian hanson 

      4 years ago

      I could not love a dog more than my Basset, Jakkey, now deceased. He was perfect EXCEPT for barking non-stop when I left the house...for hours..He had severe anxiety separation...This can be a strong trait with Bassets, ,,Please check this out before purchasing...

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      7 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      That is interesting about Pikkle, as I have seen people list Min Schnauzers as a breed that does not bark much. In my experience most are like Peanut!

    • Fiona Jean Mckay profile image


      7 years ago from South Africa

      Glad you put schnauzers in the top 5 - I have 2 miniature schnauzers and I love them to death - they are great companions and very clever. Funny thing is that Pikkle hardly ever barks but Peanut barks a lot. (Funny cos they are brother and sister but from different litters)

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      7 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Thanks for your comment greeneryday. I am glad it helps.

      Highland Terrier, it is great to see your nik again. Thanks for the visit and comment.

    • greeneryday profile image


      7 years ago from Some tropical country

      Thank you for the very useful information about which type of dog breeds for an apartment written on this hub! Voted up & useful and also bookmarked!

    • Highland Terrier profile image

      Highland Terrier 

      7 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Another very good hub. Interesting and educational.


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