Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.
A lot of new puppy owners complain about their mess. Puppies like to play in dirt, climb on furniture, chew and slobber on toys, and some even have “accidents” in the house that stain the carpet.
But some dog breeds are more likely to make a mess around your house than others. If you choose to bring home a Newfoundland, for example, your dog is going to slobber and shed a lot, and when it is time to clean up after them after their walk each day, you will be faced with a massive problem.
Some other breeds are among the cleanest. They do not slobber, do not shed much, prefer the couch to digging in the back yard, do not make much of a mess when they do go out, and are easy to housetrain. Here are the seven best choices for a dog that will allow you to keep your house clean.
7 Cleanest Dog Breeds
- Shiba inu
- Bichon Frisé
- Japanese Chin
You will notice that this list does not contain any large dog breeds like those found on some of the other articles on this subject. If you want a clean dog, but you read and trust a site telling you how clean Dalmatians and Chows are, you'll likely wind up having to deal with huge piles of stool that need to be hauled to the trash every day. You may end up hauling your new dog to the animal shelter at some point. I do not want to see that happen, so here are the best dogs to consider.
Shiba Inu: Easy Housebreaking
Potential stains on the carpet are one reason some families will choose not to own a dog. This is one of the easiest dog breeds to housetrain and is unlikely to make a mistake later on. Shiba Inus are really cute and can be almost excessive in their cleanliness. They are small, usually less than about 22 pounds, affectionate, and do not bark much. They are not easy to train but one thing they do pick up fairly quickly is how to use a litter box.
These dogs would probably be considered one of the best dogs on this list but they do have some problems. The first is shedding, so if you want to avoid hair on the furniture they need to be brushed daily. They also have a high prey drive with some animals but do tend to get along with household companions like cats. Some of them also have health problems like allergies and luxating patella, although in general the breed is healthy and lifespan is often 12 to 15 years.
Whippet: No Doggy Odors
If never having a dog hair on the bed or couch is top on your list for cleanliness, this is not the best dog breed for you. Whippets have thin skin and are pretty skinny dogs so they will look for the softest place in the house to lie down and rest their weary bones. Their hairs are short but they will fall out. They do sleep a lot, which is one reason they make such great apartment dogs. They do not have a doggy odor and their fine coat has very few hairs.
Whippets need plenty of exercise and are tough dogs as long as their prey is running away from them. They are not nearly as brave when it comes to meeting strangers, and if someone knocks on the door too loudly a Whippet will often run and hide.
Chihuahua: Tiny to Manage
Since this is one of the tiniest dog breeds, the Chihuahua does everything in miniature and can be a very clean and easy-to-care-for pet. They do shed but have a thin coat and are small so they can be groomed easily. They do need their teeth brushed daily but are so little that they are easy to handle.
If your main concern in cleanliness is your carpet then the Chihuahua might not be your best choice. Since they are so tiny their bladders are small and some have trouble holding their urine.
Although these dogs are clean they can be prone to obesity, especially when they are older. Like some other small dog breeds, they also bark too much. Other people are concerned because of the Chihuahua's reputation with children. They are fragile dogs and not considered good except for with their main family member or other Chihuahuas; when abused by kids they do tend to become angry.
Chihuahuas usually live a long time but suffer from numerous health problems. The breed´s cleanliness should not be your primary reason for getting one of these dogs.
Basenji: Easy Grooming
The cleanest dog breeds often have a lot of other good qualities. One thing I like about Basenjis is that they do not bark, even if they do have a “yodel” that some neighbors never get used to.
These dogs do not shed as much as some breeds with short hair. They do not normally have much of a doggy odor, and since the dog often licks himself like a cat and self-grooms he does not tend to get dirty.
Like all dogs, they do need exercise, but even after a walk grooming is pretty simple. Some people will point out that these dogs need a LOT of exercise, more than most other breeds. If left alone they get bored and destructive and can be aggressive to other pets. These dogs are clean but not recommended for first-time dog owners.
Bichon: No Shedding
Many people who have owned Bichons comment on what a neat dog they are compared to their previous pets. A big benefit is that they do not shed much, and since they are white dogs dirt shows up easily; they tend to be bathed more often and their dander and loose fur ends up in the bath water. Since most of these dogs are so social, they are also groomed a lot and the remaining loose hair will come out in the brush.
They are sturdy little dogs and will probably follow you outside and participate in outside activities. Back inside, they will need to be groomed again. You will also need to take your dog to a professional groomer about every 6 weeks to have the coat clipped.
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Bichon frisé do tend to bark a lot. Since they weigh up to about 20 pounds they are not tiny, but despite having a normal bladder many families complain of housebreaking problems. Like all of the small breeds, they are also prone to several health problems. Bichons are prone to allergies and ear problems but are also known to suffer from luxating patellas, diabetes, and heart disease. If you are looking for a clean dog that is considered hypoallergenic, the Bichon frisé is a good choice.
Maltese: Long Hair That Does Not Shed
My personal favorite for the cleanest? Definitely the tiny Maltese. (They only weigh from 4 to 9 pounds.) Even though some of these dogs have long hair it does not shed. Daily brushing to prevent tangling is a must. Maltese coats are so clean that they are one of those breeds that have been labeled as “hypoallergenic.”
They are great in small apartments since they do not smell bad. (Since they are tiny and their teeth are huge compared to the size of the mouth, you do need to brush the teeth daily. Dental disease smells terrible.)
If you do not have time for brushing this dog daily, it is best to consider another breed. You can ask the groomer to give your Maltese a “puppy cut” but the dog still needs to be brushed under the ears and on the belly so that the hair does not form painful mats. Tiny dogs have very small bladders and some people have had problems with housebreaking their Maltese. Some of these dogs do bark too much, and some breeders will warn away families with toddlers and infants.
My dog was always fine around my kids when they were very young but part of the problem is that the toddlers can hurt the dog. Since they are small they tend to be fragile and can be hurt during very rough play. If you are a senior citizen or someone who wants a clean first dog the Maltese is a great choice.
Japanese Chin: Catlike Grooming
If you want a dog but have decided that the way to keep your house cleanest is to get a cat, there is one last canine alternative. This little Japanese (or Chinese, depending on who you believe) dog is small and has some cat-like behaviors that make him amazingly clean compared to your average dog.
Japanese Chin tend to groom themselves, sometimes licking their legs and paws so excessively that they can develop hairballs. Since they do not need much exercise, they are not going to be going out and dragging sticks and leaves into your house. And, since they are tiny little dogs (weighing only 8 or 9 pounds) they are great in a little apartment and if paper or litter box trained will not make a big mess.
These little dogs are prone to some health problems, mostly because of being bred for a flat face, and besides not being able to handle the heat are also prone to eye injuries and luxating patellas. Since they shed they need their coat's brushed every day, and with their poor dentition also need their teeth brushed daily. They become very attached to their family and are prone to separation anxiety, and if left alone for too long have been known to become destructive. If you do want a small dog that is as clean as a cat, however, the Japanese Chin is your best choice.
Some Tips to Keep Your Dog Clean Around the House
- Bathe your dog as often as needed. How often you can do so will depend on your dog´s skin type, but a bathed dog is not going to shed as much skin around your house.
- Keep a towel by the back door so that you can wipe your dog's feet each time he comes in. No matter how much you bathe your dog, he is going to bring dirt into the house. Some dogs do not mind the sound of one of those hand-held mini-vacuums, so you can also use this if you want to pull up the dirt particles before taking your dog inside.
- Keep your dog brushed. Even some of the clean dogs like the Shiba Inu will shed, so if you and your dog have a daily brushing habit your house is going to stay a lot cleaner. Even dogs that do not shed will benefit from daily brushing. (Maltese hair is very fine and will break off from time-to-time so if you brush your dog regularly this will happen during grooming.)
- Brush your dog's teeth daily. This is important in all breeds since doggy breath secondary to rotting teeth can affect a huge area. If your dog is small the problem is that much more severe.
- Use professional grooming. Especially when your dog has long hair, this can be very important. Just ask for a “sanitary cut”.
- Feed a high-quality meat-based diet. Some dogs have excessive gas with a cheap diet, others have loose stool that is anything but easy to clean up. A meat-based diet will help you avoid the gas problem and will also keep anal gland problems from developing.
- Buy toys that can be thrown in the washer, and use it as needed. Smaller toys can be thrown in the washer stuffing and all, but when buying bedding make sure that it has zippers so that you can remove the cover and wash it separately. Beds will absorb a lot of doggy odor if not washed regularly.
- If stains on the carpet are a problem, exercise your dog more. Some small dogs do not have a problem holding their urine all day, others are more likely to have accidents. The best thing you can do for your dog, both mentally and physically, is to take him on a walk in the mornings, afternoon, and evening,
- Some dog breeds will be okay if their “problem area” is cleaned regularly. Bulldogs need their folds wiped out every day to prevent a smelly bacterial infection, Cockers and Springers need their ears flushed regularly, and Schnauzers need a few minutes of beard grooming each day after eating to prevent food from being carried around the house.
Where to Find the Cleanest Dog Breed
When you have decided that you want a clean dog in your house and know which breed you are looking for, the first stop in your search should be your local animal shelter. People give up dogs for all kinds of reasons and you may just find that perfect little Maltese or Chihuahua at your first stop. Do not accept a dog of a type that you are not looking for—most of these end up getting returned to the shelter and dogs that are returned are much less likely to be adopted a second time.
If you are not able to find a clean dog at your local shelter, check the website Petfinder.com. They have listings from animal shelters in neighboring cities and states and may have what you need.
If you still are not successful, be sure to look for rescue groups that operate in your region. Just pull up your search engine and type in “Maltese rescue Indianapolis” (for example) and read the contact information for the rescues in your region. They may have puppies or adult dogs.
You should also consider finding a puppy or dog through an ethical breeder. Finding a reputable breeder may take a little time, as you will need to visit local dog shows to meet breeders and others who have bought puppies in this manner; you can also check the AKC website to find breeders of merit. The dogs available through an ethical breeder are more likely to be high quality and if you do not find what you want a breeder may also help you in your search. The breeder will also want to know that the home she is selling to is the right one so may ask you a lot of questions too.
Some of these small breeds (Maltese, Japanese Chin, etc.) are common at puppy mills and are sold through pet shops or via brokers that will offer to meet you in a local parking lot. DO NOT get a puppy in this way. Your new dog will probably have behavioral and housebreaking problems and never be what you expected.
Shaloo Walia from India on December 25, 2019:
All the dogs are so cute...Wish I could have one of each breed!
bhattuc on December 14, 2019:
Nice article. Useful. Thanks for posting.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on December 10, 2019:
Thanks for reading, Liz. My wife chose our Maltese because he was so clean and did not leave a trail of hair behind him. Now that I have a Pitbull I can agree with that comment about moulting times!
Liz Westwood from UK on December 09, 2019:
This is a very useful list for anyone thinking of getting a dog. I was especially surprised at the Maltese not shedding any hair. Our family labrador leaves a trail behind him, especially at peak moulting times of the year.