Are you wondering what the best small dog breeds for an apartment are? The adaptability of a dog to a small living space, like an apartment or condo, depends primarily on their energy level and exercise routine.
High energy pooches may be quite happy living in an apartment, as long as the owner fulfills their mental and physical fitness needs. However, the higher the energy level, the more time you’ll need to spend doing activities with your dog, like walking or jogging.
While dogs with lower energy levels may require less activity, they still need exercise or they can become overweight, destructive and depressed.
Since small dogs take up less space, many apartment dwellers prefer the smaller dog breeds.
Here are 32 small dogs who make great companions for those who live in apartments or condos, listed in alphabetical order.
The Affenpinscher, also known as the “Monkey Dog” (“affen” means “ape/monkey” in German, and “pinscher” means “terrier”), is small but feisty, full of spunk and energy.
This mustachioed little devil descends from the numerous small terriers that populated 17th and 18th century stables and shops throughout Europe, ridding them of rats and mice.
2. Bichon Frise
With compact bodies, baby-doll faces, and fluffy white hair, Bichons are a very appealing breed whose perky, good-natured disposition only enhances their looks.
The Bichon Frise is often mistaken for a Poodle.
Comical and curious, this intelligent, devoted dog loves to spend time with their people, whether they go for walks, run errands, or play with the kids.
A member of the Bichon family of white, fluffy dogs—they’re also known as the Bichon Bolognese—they originated in the Italian city of Bologna, from which they take their name.
They excel at charming people to get their way, and can be difficult to housetrain, so be patient and consistent.
4. Boston Terrier
The Boston Terrier may have been bred to be a ferocious pit-fighter, but you’d never know it today.
The little American Gentleman, as he was called in the 19th century, is definitely a lover, not a fighter, although males have been known to show their terrier ancestry with a bit of posturing when they feel their territory is being invaded by another dog.
5. Brussels Griffon
Brussels Griffons, often called Griffons for short, originated in Belgium, where their hunting skills were used to keep stables free of rats and mice.
They eventually became more popular as house pets, and these cheerful, curious, and affectionate dogs do make great companions—for the right person.
They’re sensitive, sometimes moody and high-strung, and more than a little demanding of their owner’s attention.
6. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a beautiful small dog who undoubtedly is a contender for the title of “top tail-wagger.”
They’re also extremely sweet and loving. Dogs of this breed make perfect lap dogs and grow extremely attached to their humans.
The Chihuahua is a saucy little pup, and not just because of their association with a certain fast-food Mexican restaurant.
They’re renowned for being one of the world’s smallest dogs, but they may well have the world’s biggest personality stashed inside that tiny body. That larger-than-life persona makes them appealing to dog fans from all walks of life.
8. Chinese Crested
The Chinese Crested is an exotic-looking small dog who doesn’t actually hail from China.
They have two variants: the Hairless, with silky hair on the head (the crest), tail (plume), and feet (socks); and the genetically recessive Powderpuff, who has a full coat. Both variants can appear in a single litter.
9. Coton de Tulear
For the smart and sweet-natured Coton de Tulear–Coton for short–the perfect day consists of nothing more than being with their human, whether it’s lying at their feet while they work, following them from room to room—not even the bathroom is sacred—or going for a joy ride in the car.
Don’t let the Dachshund fool you. They might be, as legendary literary critic and humorous journalist H. L. Mencken said, “half a dog high and a dog and a half long,” but this small, drop-eared dog is tough enough to take on a badger.
In fact, that’s what people bred them to do and how they got their name–“Dachs” meaning badger; “hund” meaning dog.
The Havanese shines their affectionate personality on everyone, including strangers, children, other dogs, and even cats. But their family will get the lion’s share of their love; given the choice, they’ll stick like glue to their owner’s side.
The potential downside to all this devotion is that, when left alone, the Havanese can become anxious. This is definitely a housedog, and a Havanese left in the backyard–or anywhere away from their family–is not a happy dog.
12. Japanese Chin
Jumpin’ jiminy! Is that a Japanese Chin on your fireplace mantel? It is! People who live with the Chin often marvel at the breed’s ability to leap tall furniture in a single bound.
The toy-size Japanese Chin has a catlike nature that includes the desire to be in high places, the ability to climb, and the tendency to wash themselves. They also sometimes bat at objects much like a cat would.
13. Lhasa Apso
The Lhasa Apso thinks they’re a large dog–a very large dog.
Bred for hundreds of years to be a royal watchdog, the modern Lhasa approaches life the way his forebears did–they are a loyal guardian of home and family.
With a name that translates to “lion dog,” you might expect the Lowchen to have a fierce demeanor. However, with people, they’re lionlike only in their looks.
Playful and gentle, the Lowchen is a great companion for children and adults alike.
Throughout their long history, the Maltese has been given many names, such as the “Melitae Dog,” “Ye Ancient Dogge of Malta,” the “Roman Ladies Dog,” “The Comforter,” the “Spaniel Gentle,” the “Bichon,” the “Maltese Lion Dog,” and the “Maltese Terrier.”
Today, they’re known simply as the Maltese.
16. Maltese Shih Tzu
Originally bred to be completely non-shedding–which is a misnomer since that’s not physically possible–the Maltese succeeds to some degree, since they’re a low-shedding companion.
However, the Maltese Shih Tzu is much more than that. They’re loving, loyal family companions.
Maltipoos are a popular cross of the Maltese and Toy or Miniature Poodle. True to their parent breeds, Maltipoos are affectionate and gentle.
They make super companions for empty-nesters and are excellent therapy dogs.
18. Manchester Terrier
The Manchester Terrier is a high-spirited, very intelligent, and cunning dog who is eager to learn. They display the true terrier nature—independent, faithful, lively, sporty, and alert.
Discerning and devoted as well, a Manchester Terrier makes a loyal friend and a terrific watchdog.
19. Miniature Pinscher
“Min Pins rule”—that’s the attitude you’ll discover when you get acquainted with the Miniature Pinscher, a small, elegant dog with an arched neck and well-muscled body.
Weighing in at a dainty eight to eleven pounds, this toy breed is a tough little dog with a lot of attitude.
The Papillon, whose name comes from the French word for butterfly, is a portrait come to life, the modern representation of the small spaniels often seen in paintings from centuries past.
The dwarf spaniel, as they were once known, has changed somewhat in appearance over the years, but they’re still the same wonderful companion who graced the laps of ladies and kings so many years ago.
For a “designer dog,” the Peekapoo dog breed has a fairly long history. A cross between a Pekingese and a Poodle, they were among the first of the recent slew of Poodle crosses developed back in the 1950s and ’60s.
They haven’t gained as much recognition as some of the other designer dogs, such as the Labradoodle and the Cockapoo, but they’ve won enough of a following that they’ve thrived for the last five decades.
It’s no wonder the Pekingese has a self-important attitude, given their history as an imperial favorite. The imperial court of China held them in great esteem, and they still know it today.
A Pekingese will greet you with dignity and pride. They remember that their ancestors were the companions of royalty, and they continue to demand the respect such a position entails today.
With their soft round brown eyes, mane of long straight hair, and tail carried jauntily over their back, they swagger through life in full awareness of who they are and the importance they have to the people who live with them.
Cute, feisty and furry, Pomeranians are intelligent and loyal to their families. Don’t let their cuteness fool you, however. These independent, bold dogs have minds of their own. They are alert and curious about the world around them.
Unfortunately, in their minds, they are much larger than they really are, which can sometimes lead them to harass much larger dogs.
24. Poodle (Toy & Miniature)
Although today’s Poodles seem to epitomize a life of leisure and luxury, make no mistake: These are real dogs bred to do real jobs.
Although it hardly seems possible when you look at a primped-up Poodle in the show ring, the breed was originally a water retriever, a job that requires jumping in the water to fetch waterfowl for hunters.
The Pug’s comical looks, with deep wrinkles around big, dark eyes and a flat round face, can’t help but make you smile.
It is believed that the Pug’s name comes from the Latin word for “fist” because their face resembles a human fist.
26. Rat Terrier
The Rat Terrier makes an excellent watchdog and is the ultimate farm dog; their strong jaws and quick movements were invaluable to farmers in eradicating rats and other small vermin from farms.
People often mistake them for a smooth-coated Fox Terrier or a Jack Russell, but owners know of all the wonderful traits that make the Rat Terrier unique.
27. Shiba Inu
The Shiba Inu is known for a bold, fiery personality. The Japanese have three words to describe the breed’s mental traits: kaani-i (spirited boldness), ryosei (good nature), and soboku (alertness).
Combined, these traits make up the interesting, intelligent, and strong-willed temperament of this breed.
28. Shih Tzu
James Mumsford, an American teacher and composer, perhaps described the Shih Tzu best:
“Nobody knows how the ancient eunuchs managed to mix together: a dash of lion, several teaspoons of rabbit, a couple of ounces of domestic cat, one part court jester, a dash of ballerina, a pinch of old man, a bit of beggar, a tablespoon of monkey, one part baby seal, a dash of teddy bear, and, for the rest, dogs of Tibetan and Chinese origin.”
29. Silky Terrier
The Silky, as they’re often called, is an elegant little dog with a beautiful, silky—hopefully that wasn’t a surprise—coat of tan and blue.
Beneath that delicate-looking exterior, however, is a big, bold spirit. People unfamiliar with the breed are often surprised to see the small Silky Terrier warn off intruders, romp with large dogs, or keep up with their owners on a hike.
30. Toy Fox Terrier
The Toy Fox Terrier (TFT) was developed in the United States, making him one of only a few breeds that are truly “All American.” They were bred from small Smooth Fox Terriers, along with several toy breeds—including Chihuahuas and Manchester Terriers—to set breed size.
They’re a true terrier–with fire, heart, and spirit to go out in the field hunting squirrels–and a true toy dog–a diminutive, loving companion who will curl up on the sofa and watch TV with their humans.
The Yorkipoo loves people and fun–not necessarily in that order. They will delight their family and are always willing to perform tricks or show off for any visitor. Their confidence keeps them from being overly snappy or aggressive; they’re happy in their own skin.
The Yorkipoo can be an excellent companion to anyone looking for a small, confident dog with ample energy and even greater love.
32. Yorkshire Terrier
The Yorkshire Terrier, nicknamed the Yorkie, seems quite confident, and why not? With their silky coat and perky topknot, the Yorkshire Terrier is one of the most glamorous representatives of the dog world, sure to attract attention wherever they go.
Because they’re so small, they often travel in style—in special dog purses toted around by their adoring owners.
Please remember you can adopt just about any breed of dog from a shelter or rescue. You can also search DogTime’s adoption page to find adoptable dogs of any breed near you!
Which of these small apartment dog breeds is your favorite? Do you have a small dog not listed here who is a good apartment dog? Then tell us about them in the comments below!