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The 4 Easiest Small Dog Breeds to Housetrain

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

Shiba Inu are one of the easiest small dogs to housetrain.

Shiba Inu are one of the easiest small dogs to housetrain.

The Easiest Dogs to Potty Train

In my opinion, getting a dog breed just because it is easy to housetrain is wrong. Housetraining should be one of the easiest things you can do. If done properly, it can be over within five days.

Even if you do not spend enough time with your dog, it only takes a few weeks, or up to a month, so you should select your dog based on her personality, whether or not she sheds, barks a lot, is calm and good in an apartment, or even if she smells too much. Even selecting a dog based on whether she matches your carpet is better than housetraining. Any dog can be housetrained if you work at it.

But, if you have suffered through housetraining before, you might feel differently. Dogs are naturally clean and do not like to urinate or defecate in their home, but some puppies have this instinct destroyed when they are raised in their own filth. Pet shop dogs originating in a puppy mill, internet puppies shipped through brokers, and dogs forced to lie in their own filth through improper crate training are all prone to this problem.

There are also a few breeds that are notoriously difficult to housetrain, so here are a few of the easiest small dogs to housetrain.

4 Easiest Small Dogs to Housetrain

  1. Shiba Inu
  2. Maltese
  3. Miniature Schnauzer
  4. Shih Tzu

1. Shiba Inu

This small Japanese dog (they only weigh about 8–10 kilos, around 15–22 pounds) is well known as being one of the easiest to housetrain. Although they are not easy to obedience train, they are one of the cleanest dog breeds, and they can be taught to use pads or even a litterbox. For best results, they should be taught to go outside. It will only take a few days.

Shibas are vocal (they will whine loudly when unhappy or excited), but they are one of the dogs that does not bark very much. They do shed, and if kept in a small house or apartment, should be brushed daily. And since some of them show aggression, they do need to be well socialized.

Best of all—this breed is really cute! They look like a little fox and are usually healthy; most can live over 12 years of age. The oldest Shiba lived to 26 when he died in 2011. His family probably did not even remember his early housetraining.

Maltese are clean dogs and do not stink.

Maltese are clean dogs and do not stink.

2. Maltese

Some small dogs have problems holding their bladder, probably just because they do not have much room down there. This tiny dog (usually only 2–4 kilos, or about 4–10 pounds) might be expected to fit in that category, but he does not.

Besides being easy to housetrain, this dog does not shed much. It has an attractive and long, white “hypoallergenic” silky coat. He does need to be combed every day, and since it takes so long to care for his coat, some owners prefer to keep their dog in a “puppy cut” so that he can be groomed easily.

The Maltese is clean and is great in apartments because he is one of the small breeds that does not stink. He gets along great with cats, but he does like to bark, and some breeders warn that they are not good with small kids.

If you are thinking about getting your first dog, this is one of the best breeds to consider. If you are a senior citizen, and you have time to groom and brush his teeth, as well as have a nice couch for your Maltese to perch and watch the world, this is the perfect small dog.

3. Miniature Schnauzer

If you are looking for a slightly larger dog but still want a pet that does not shed much, consider a Miniature Schnauzer. They are usually 4–8 kilos (about 10–20 pounds) and have a wiry coat that should be clipped regularly. If the coat is not taken care of, it will matt up and becomes painful for the dog.

Miniature Schnauzers are one of the easiest small dog breeds to housetrain. Some puppies will even be housetrained by the time they leave the breeder´s home, but of course, if you change the training method (using pads instead of grass, for example) it will set the dog back a little.

They are also easy to obedience train and are one of the breeds seen frequently around agility competitions. Most do well with kids, and although they are good watchdogs, they are not likely to bite.

Some Miniature Schnauzers have some health issues, and they are not always as problem-free as a Maltese or Shiba Inu. They do have good life spans, however, and most live up to about 12 years.

If you get a Shih Tzu puppy he should have his teeth brushed daily.

If you get a Shih Tzu puppy he should have his teeth brushed daily.

4. Shih Tzu

This easy-to-housetrain toy dog is well known because he has an attractive long coat that does not shed much. Like many Maltese, the coat is often cut short in a “puppy cut” by those owners who cannot keep up with the daily grooming.

Shih Tzu are only about 6–7 kilos (about 10–15 pounds), and besides that long coat, they also have a well-known underbite, so even a good diet is not going to be enough to prevent dental disease. If you decide to get one of these dogs, the teeth must be brushed daily.

Because of that funny face, they are also prone to some breathing problems, and they do not do well in hot and humid environments. Some have back problems because of their long bodies, and others will have less common health issues. But if you are looking for a friendly and affectionate small dog, the Shih Tzu is a good choice.

Potty Training Is Not Always Easy

If you have dealt with housetraining one of the difficult breeds (like the Dachshund, the Pug, Italian Greyhound, or many of the hounds), this might be an important list for you. No matter which breed you decide to bring home, do not expect miracles overnight. Puppies have to learn—it is just that some learn quicker than others.

When you decide to find a new puppy, do not buy from a pet shop or one of the internet sites that lists multiple breeds for sale. You will be purchasing from a puppy mill. These puppies may have been raised in cages with their own feces and may never learn that it is wrong to potty in the house.

More About Choosing a Dog

  • 5 Really Cute, Small, White Dog Breeds
    Videos, pictures, and descriptions of the best cute, small white dogs; they are clean, won't leave hairs in your dinner, and match the carpet! Perfect.
  • 6 Small Dog Breeds That Don't Bark (A Lot!)
    If you are searching for a little breed of dog that does not bark much, check out the five best! Videos, photos, and a description of each dog will help you make the right choice.
  • 7 Dog Breeds That Won't Stink Up Your House
    Are you looking for a dog and planning on letting him sleep on your bed? Here, you'll find pictures, videos, and descriptions of great breeds—such as the Maltese and Whippet—that do not stink.


Ariel's ganna on July 18, 2020:

I needs dog to give my comfort

And will not stink

Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on June 27, 2020:

Doreen--here is a list of the best dogs for seniors

My favorite on this list is the Maltese.

Doreen Daniel on June 25, 2020:

Do you buy any chance regarding the small dogs for a senior lady

Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on April 10, 2020:

Susan, yes, I am.

Susan on April 07, 2020:

Are you still actively commenting and providing help with choosing a new puppy? I'm thinking about getting a

Barbara on May 17, 2016:

I had a Shiba Inu for years! They are very very smart dogs and so clean they remind me of a cat! It took me three days to house break my Shiba. Definately the easiest dog to train I ever had.

Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on March 19, 2014:

A couple of days ago I wrote another hub on "Housetraining in 5 days" and there is a really cute video of a 7 wk old Boston using wee-wee pads. The owner said he is 95% housetrained at that age, which is good. I agree that they are an easy breed to train, in many ways. (They are also one of the best small watchdogs since they do not bark a lot--when they bark it means something needs to be looked into).

Pamela N Red from Oklahoma on March 19, 2014:

I am on my second Boston terrier and both were very easy to train. They love to please and practically train themselves. Like you say you just have to be persistent and keep up with the training.

Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on March 16, 2014:

Thanks for jumping in, BAT. A lot of breeders claim that Chihuahuas are difficult to housetrain, but, as you point out, if you spend a little time with them they are just fine. All it takes is a little effort.

theBAT on March 16, 2014:

What can you say about a Chihuahua? I think by spending time potty training a dog pays a lot. Most dog breeds when trained while young can be potty trained. Nice hub. Thanks for sharing.

Bob Bamberg on March 15, 2014:

Boy, you're right with the last paragraph! Remember trying to get them out of diapers and onto the potty chair? They'd rather spend all day in loaded diapers. I'll bet there are still a lot of Dads who say, "Works for me."

My garde is en'd and ready. I only have it set at "stun" though.

Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on March 15, 2014:

Thanks Bob. I have been working on a holistic dog food hub for about a month, and I am sure you are going to hate it and find a lot to disagree with. I am looking forward to arguing with you, otherwise I would have sent it to the delete file by now.

En garde!

My dogs like to roll around in horse s***, but would never do so in one of their own smelly piles. Humans are no better. Have you ever seen the ingredient list on an expensive bottle of human perfume?

Maybe I should have said "Dogs are naturally clean and do not like to urinate or defecate in their home, unlike human children who seem to take a sick delight in doing so." You have kids, tell me I am wrong!

Bob Bamberg on March 15, 2014:

Helpful hub, as usual, Doc. You've gotta throw a stinker in there sometime so we'll have something to criticize :)

Actually, regarding your comment that "Dogs are naturally clean and do not like to urinate or defecate in their home." I'd like to point out that they're perfectly comfortable rolling in or eating some other animal's feces. Just sayin.'

Voted up, useful and interesting.

Mona Sabalones Gonzalez from Philippines on March 15, 2014:

Oh, thanks! so I'll have to think about shih tzus if I get another dog.

Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on March 15, 2014:

Thanks for catching that, grand old lady. I guess I was thinking about the Lhasa, but they are much more hard-headed and not as easy to train as a Shih Tzu. I went ahead and changed it!

Mona Sabalones Gonzalez from Philippines on March 15, 2014:

Very nice article, Dr. Mark. However, I noticed the list said Llhasa apso, but you wrote about the shih tzu instead. Are they similar breeds?