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7 Best Small Dogs for Apartment Living

By Lea Jaratz

It’s common for apartments or condos to have size restrictions for pets. Luckily, there are plenty of small dogs that are well-suited as apartment dwellers and fit well under the 20- or 50-pound weight limit. Most smaller dogs can get their necessary exercise right in your living room, without needing a big yard. While not every small dog will be happy living in a high rise, most of these breeds would be good small apartment dogs, even in a studio-sized space.

Toy Poodle

Poodle

Weight: 5-17 pounds

Poodles are often known for their sometimes ridiculous hair-dos, but are actually one of the more intelligent breeds, making them top apartment dogs since they’re easy to train and suitable to indoor enrichment. Whether you’re considering a Toy Poodle (under 10 pounds) or Miniature Poodle (under 17 pounds) they do require regular grooming and a lot of play and training. The fact that they’re one of the easiest dogs to litterbox train means you can skip trips down the elevator and train them to go in a box in your bathroom or on a patch of grass on your balcony instead. They’re great with people, loyal, and even good with kids. They’re not a yappy dog and would love to work on tricks and training right in your living room.

Shih Tzu

Weight: 8-16 pounds

No one told Shih Tzus they’re not royal lap dogs anymore, so it’s not uncommon to find one perched on their sofa, surveying their kingdom. Fortunately, their once prestigious status as prized pets of Chinese royalty hasn’t gone to their heads, and they remain one of the sweetest dogs you’ll find. They don’t have the territorial nature that can cause many toy breeds to bark when strangers are near, and they tend to be more outgoing and social. Shih Tzus can be stubborn and may need a little extra time with training. They are loyal to their people and typically do well with other pets.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Weight: 13-18 pounds

Another royal breed-turned-lap-dog is the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Known amongst their fans as “comforter spaniels” they’re usually found close to their people. While these little dogs are typically friendly and social with kids, they’re best suited to families where someone is home during the day as they can become frustrated when left alone. They’ll need some persistence when it comes to housebreaking but are often food-motivated and eager to please their beloved humans. As much as they love snuggling, they also like a good game of fetch or chase whether it happens in the park, at the beach, or in your hallway, making them a good small dog breed for apartments.

Basenji

Weight: 20-26 pounds

If you’re looking for a little dog that is a little more independent, look no further than the Basenji. This intelligent breed is a bit more sturdy and a little less clingy than some other small dogs. Basenjis may also need a bit more exercise than a lap dog. They often become more attached to one person, making them ideal for the single person home. Generally considered to be one of the quieter breeds, sometimes known as “the barkless dog,” Basenjis sometimes let out their trademark “baroo” sound when they’re excited. If you’re looking for a small dog to accompany you on adventures or trips to the park, the Basenji is ready and willing.

French Bulldog

French Bulldog

Weight: 16-28 pounds

French Bulldogs fit a lot of personality into their sturdy little bodies, but their laid-back attitudes make them a great breed for apartments. They don’t need a ton of exercise – usually just by following you from room to room they get what they need. They make good playmates for kids but also do well with a more chill lifestyle. They’re not big on barking, and their adorable snorts and snores aren’t loud enough to disturb the neighbors. They’re short coated and generally clean but may need a little more patience in the training department. These cuddly little meatballs are versatile and are sure to make fast friends with your neighbors.

Japanese Chin

Weight: 7-11 pounds

If you need entertainment in your life, look no further than the Japanese Chin. They’re barely 10 pounds but are extremely agile, comical, and even a bit mischievous. The Chin is full of life and energy, but tends to be on the quiet side, They make great companions for a variety of lifestyles. They’re smart and eager to please, so housebreaking and obedience training should be fun for both dog and human alike.

Shiba Inu

Weight: 15-24 pounds

The Shiba Inu feels like a big dog in a small dog’s body, and is the perfect blending of cheeky and loyal in one fluffy package. They’re hardy enough to go on a long walk or hike, but don’t demand it like some others. They’re generally quiet and intelligent, making them adaptable dogs for apartment life. They can be sneaky and prone to escaping, and sometimes reluctant to trust strangers, so make sure you keep them secure. They’re known for cleanliness and grooming themselves but do need regular brushing and will shed. They also housebreak easily. Their quiet, dedicated nature makes them a great roommate.

When choosing a small dog for apartment life, consider a few factors beyond just the weight limit:

  • If you work or travel, will this dog be content when left alone?
  • Can I provide enough exercise, enrichment, and training from the confines of my apartment?
  • Does this breed bark or whine to the point that it may cause disturbances?
  • Will this small dog be able to “hold it” between bathroom breaks, or would it benefit from a dog walker?

Picking the right small dog for your apartment certainly comes down to the dog itself, but this list should get you on your way to picking your little roommate. If you’re still considering which dog is best to share your apartment with, check out our full list of 38 Best Dogs for Apartment Living

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