The Best Small Dogs for Apartments: Adaptable, Friendly, & Low-Maintenance Dogs for Apartment Living

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Toy Poodle

Living in an apartment doesn't mean you have to give up your dream of having a furry companion. In fact, many small dog breeds are perfectly suited for apartment life, offering all the love and affection you could want in a compact, easy-to-care-for package. By taking the time to find the right match, you can ensure a happy, harmonious home for both you and your new best friend.  

Poodles: Intelligent and Easy to Train  

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 Tzus: Sweet and Social Small Dogs for Apartments  

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: Comforter Spaniels  

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: Independent and Adventure-Ready  

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 Bulldogs: Laid-back and Lovable Small Apartment Dogs  

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: Comical and Agile  

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: Cheeky and Loyal  

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. 

Bichon Frisè: Hypoallergenic and Energetic Small Dog Breed for Apartments  

The Bichon Frisè is another excellent small dog breed for apartments. They are hypoallergenic, making them a great choice for those with allergies. Bichon Frisès are high-energy dogs that require regular indoor play and daily walks. They are friendly with other animals and people, making them a great family dog. 

Havanese: The Velcro Dog  

The Havanese enjoy sticking close to their owner's side, earning them the nickname "Velcro dog." The breed is super affectionate toward other dogs, children, cats, and strangers. The Havanese is a true house dog and adapts well to apartment living. They do best if someone is home during the day to keep them company. 

Havanese Laying on Couch

Considerations for Choosing the Best Small Dogs for Apartments  

While small dogs are generally well-suited for apartment life, there are several factors to consider when choosing the right breed for your home. From energy levels and barking tendencies to grooming needs and trainability, each small dog breed has its own unique set of characteristics that may or may not be a good fit for your lifestyle.  

Energy Level  

When choosing a small dog for your apartment, consider their energy level. Some small dogs, like the Bichon Frisè, have high energy levels and require regular exercise and play. If you have a busy lifestyle or limited time for walks, consider a lower-energy breed like the French Bulldog or Shih Tzu. Make sure to provide your dog with plenty of indoor play and mental stimulation to keep them happy and healthy. 


If you have close neighbors or thin walls, choose a quieter breed like the Basenji or French Bulldog. Keep in mind that even quiet breeds may bark if they are anxious or understimulated, so make sure to provide plenty of exercise and mental stimulation to keep barking to a minimum

Grooming Needs  

Some small dogs, like the Poodle and Bichon Frisè, require regular grooming to maintain their coat. If you have limited time or budget for grooming, consider a low-maintenance breed like the French Bulldog or Shiba Inu. Keep in mind that all dogs require regular brushing, bathing, and nail trimming to stay healthy and comfortable. 


Some small dogs, like the Shih Tzu and French Bulldog, can be stubborn and may require extra patience when training. If you're a first-time dog owner or have limited experience with training, choose a more trainable breed like the Poodle or Havanese. Regardless of breed, all dogs require consistent training and positive reinforcement to learn good manners and obedience. 


If you live in a busy apartment complex with lots of neighbors and other dogs, choose a breed that is friendly and outgoing, like the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel or Bichon Frisè. These social butterflies will thrive on the regular interactions with fellow dog walkers and curious neighbors. 

Make sure to socialize your dog from a young age to help them feel comfortable around new people and animals. Early exposure to new people, animals, and environments helps your dog feel comfortable and confident in a variety of situations. This can significantly reduce anxiety, barking at unfamiliar sights and sounds, and even potential aggression. Think of socialization as building your pup's social confidence – a skill that benefits both of you in your busy apartment life. 

Potty Training  

Living in an apartment may mean there aren't easily accessible outdoor potty spots for your pup. Consider training your small dog to use potty pads or a designated indoor area to make bathroom breaks more convenient for both you and your furry friend. Consistency, positive reinforcement, and patience are key when potty training your small dog in an apartment. Make sure to take your dog out regularly and praise them when they go potty in the appropriate spot. 

Protecting Your Furry Roommate with Pet Insurance  

Once you've welcomed your perfectly matched pup into your cozy apartment, the real fun begins! Picture playful evenings spent cuddling on the couch, or energetic mornings exploring the dog park together. Your new furry friend will quickly become an irreplaceable part of your life. But just like any other family member, your dog deserves the best possible care to stay happy and healthy for years to come. 

Life with a dog can be full of unexpected adventures, and sometimes, those adventures involve a trip to the vet. Unexpected illnesses or injuries can be stressful and expensive. Imagine facing a hefty vet bill on top of the emotional toll of your pup's health scare. 

Here's where dog insurance comes in. It acts as a safety net for your pup's health, providing peace of mind. With a monthly plan, you'll be reimbursed for a portion of your veterinary expenses if your dog faces unexpected illness or injury. This financial protection lets you focus on your dog's well-being and getting them the care they need, without worrying about the cost. 

Think of pet insurance as an investment in your furry friend's future – a way to ensure they receive the best possible medical care, regardless of what unexpected situations life throws your way. Now you can truly focus on creating lasting memories with your new best friend. 

Tailoring Your Search for the Ideal Apartment Pup 

Choosing the right small dog for your apartment isn't just about finding a furry roommate – it's about welcoming a loyal companion, a source of endless entertainment, and a furry confidant for all your adventures. By considering the factors we've explored – energy level, barking tendencies, grooming needs, training, socialization, and potty training – you can create a perfect match for your lifestyle. 

Don't worry if you haven't found your ideal furry friend just yet! Our comprehensive list of 38 Best Dogs for Apartment Living offers a wider range of options. Remember, bringing a dog into your life is a commitment filled with love, laughter, and wet-nosed kisses. With dedication, training, and proper care, you and your new small dog can build a lasting bond and create unforgettable memories together.