15 Best Dogs for Small Apartments or Small Spaces

When you live in a cozy city apartment, finding a furry companion that fits not just your lifestyle but also your living space can be a bit of a puzzle. Not all dog breeds are suited to small living spaces—some need more room to roam and play.

However, a number of breeds thrive in more confined environments and can bring joy and companionship without needing a backyard the size of a park. Here’s a curated list of the best dog breeds for apartment dwellers, highlighting their adaptability, temperament, and specific needs so you can find your ideal pet.

1. French Bulldog

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The French Bulldog is a top contender for apartment life. These little bundles of joy are known for their low energy levels and minimal barking, making them perfect for close-quarters living. Frenchies are remarkably adaptable, requiring only moderate exercise, which means a good walk and some playtime indoors are often enough to keep them happy.

French Bulldogs are sociable and affectionate; they form strong bonds with their owners and are known for their pleasant demeanor. They’re also quiet, a big plus if you have neighbors close by.

Despite their somewhat gloomy expression, Frenchies are playful and alert, always ready for a cuddle or a quiet evening by your side. Their small size means they don’t need a lot of space to get their exercise, making them an excellent choice for the apartment lifestyle.

2. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

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The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is the epitome of a lap dog and thrives in a home environment where they can be close to their owners. These dogs are exceptionally good-natured and adaptable, fitting perfectly into the apartment setting where space is at a premium.

They are known for their gentle disposition and friendly attitude, making them great companions for all ages.

Cavaliers require regular grooming and enjoy a good brushing session as part of their bonding routine with their owners. While they do need daily exercise, a short walk and some indoor play are sufficient to meet their needs.

They’re also renowned for their ability to adjust their activity level to that of their home, which makes them particularly suited for living spaces where outdoor access is limited.

3. Pug

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Pugs are another breed that’s ideal for apartment living. Their charming, sociable nature makes them a great choice for families with children or for singles seeking a loyal companion. Pugs are sturdy little dogs with a lot of personality packed into a compact frame, which makes them well-suited to smaller living spaces.

One of the great things about Pugs is their moderate exercise needs. A daily walk and some playtime will keep them healthy and content. They do tend to snore and can be somewhat stubborn, but their endearing personalities and love of human companionship far outweigh these minor quirks.

Pugs are also known for being less yappy than other small breeds, which is a bonus for maintaining good relations in an apartment setting.

4. Dachshund

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Dachshunds are curious and lively and make great apartment pets due to their small size and moderate exercise needs. Originally bred for hunting, these dogs are brave and intelligent, but they’re also happy lounging around the home for most of the day.

Their long bodies and short legs mean they manage well in small spaces, but they do require some exercise to keep them from becoming overweight.

Despite their stubborn streak, Dachshunds are very loyal and become very attached to their owners. They’re protective and can be a little aloof with strangers, making them good watchdogs as well.

It’s important to keep them mentally and physically stimulated, but this doesn’t require a lot of space—some interactive toys and puzzles do the trick nicely.

5. Bichon Frise

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The Bichon Frise is a great pet for small apartments due to its small size, cheerful disposition, and relatively low exercise needs. These fluffy balls of energy are known for their playful nature and love of mischief. Bichons get along well with people and other pets and are known for their lack of shedding, which is a plus for any apartment dweller.

The Bichon Frise is another breed that thrives on human companionship, loving nothing more than to be involved in everything their owner does. They need regular grooming to keep their coat in good shape, but this can be a great way to bond with your pet.

With their joyful demeanor and adaptability, Bichons are fantastic companions for those with limited living space.

6. Boston Terrier

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Boston Terriers are fantastic apartment pets due to their compact size and friendly personality. Often referred to as the “American Gentleman” because of their tuxedo-like markings, these dogs are both charming and adaptable.

They are low-maintenance when it comes to exercise; a few short walks and some playtime inside are generally enough to keep them happy and healthy.

Boston Terriers are also known for their intelligence and eager-to-please attitude, which makes them excellent candidates for training. They get along well with children and other pets, making them a great choice for a family living in a small space.

Their cheerful disposition and ability to adapt to their living environment without needing extensive outdoor space make them ideal for apartment life.

7. Chihuahua

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Chihuahuas are among the smallest of all dog breeds, and their tiny size makes them perfect for small living spaces. These little dogs pack a lot of personality and can be quite bold and confident.

Despite their small stature, they have a lively attitude and enjoy being active, though their exercise needs can easily be met with indoor activities and short walks.

Chihuahuas are fiercely loyal to their owners and can be protective, making them good watchdogs despite their small size. They are also relatively low maintenance when it comes to grooming. However, they do best in households without small children, as they can be delicate and sometimes snappy if not handled gently.

8. Yorkshire Terrier

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Yorkshire Terriers, or Yorkies, is another small breed well-suited to apartment living. These dogs are known for their beautiful, silky hair and spirited character. Yorkies are very affectionate with their owners and can make excellent companion animals. They are also quite vocal, which can be great for alerting owners to visitors or unusual noises.

While Yorkies do require regular grooming to maintain their long coats, they don’t need a lot of room to roam, making them perfect for apartments.

Their exercise needs are modest; daily walks and some playtime will suffice. They’re also known for their bravery, often unaware of their small size, which makes them both endearing and entertaining.

9. Shih Tzu

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Shih Tzus are another breed that thrives in small living environments. Originally bred as companion dogs for royalty in China, they are friendly, calm, and adaptable. (ref) They enjoy spending time with their owners and are generally well-behaved and easy to train. Their exercise needs are minimal, and they are content with gentle walks and plenty of cuddles.

Shih Tzus require regular grooming to keep their coat in good condition, but many owners choose to keep it clipped short to reduce maintenance. They are great with all members of the family and are known for their loving nature.

Their calm demeanor makes them perfect for the quiet confines of an apartment setting.

10. Maltese

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The Maltese is an excellent choice for apartment dwellers. These dogs are small, energetic, and very affectionate. They are known for their gorgeous, flowing white coats, which do require regular grooming.

Despite their aristocratic appearance, Malteses are hardy and adaptable, with a friendly personality that makes them great companions.

Malteses thrive on interaction with their owners and are very engaged in family activities. They have moderate exercise needs that can be met with indoor play and short walks. Their cheerful and sociable nature makes them a joy to have around, especially in a small, cozy apartment.

11. Italian Greyhound

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Italian Greyhounds are the miniature version of the standard Greyhound and are ideal for apartment living because of their small size and generally quiet nature. They are incredibly affectionate and bond closely with their owners.

Although they can be shy with strangers, they warm up quickly when they feel secure. Italian Greyhounds do require some exercise to keep healthy, but their needs can be met with short, brisk walks and some playtime indoors.

These dogs have a short, easy-to-maintain coat that makes grooming a breeze. Despite their delicate appearance, they are quite hardy and love to snuggle up with their owners, making them perfect for a small, cozy environment.

12. Miniature Pinscher

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The Miniature Pinscher, often mistaken as a “mini Doberman,” is a breed that is well-suited to apartment life due to its small size and dynamic personality. These dogs are fearless and energetic, but because of their size, they can get sufficient exercise with indoor activities and short walks. They are known for their loyalty and can be quite protective of their families.

Miniature Pinschers do require consistent training and socialization, as they can be stubborn and have a strong will. However, with the right guidance, they make excellent companions who are always ready for an adventure, even if it’s just around the living room.

13. Scottish Terrier

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Scottish Terriers, also known as Scotties, are another great option for apartment dwellers. These dogs are small and sturdy with a confident and independent nature. They don’t require a lot of exercise, making them well-suited to the apartment lifestyle. However, they do enjoy walks and playtime, which are important for their physical and mental health.

Scotties are known for their distinctive appearance and their loyal nature. They can be aloof with strangers but are incredibly devoted to their families. Their coat requires regular grooming to maintain its characteristic shape, but this can also be a rewarding way to bond with your pet.

14. Toy Poodle

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Toy Poodles are excellent apartment pets due to their small size, high intelligence, and low-shedding coats. They are active and enjoy being engaged in activities with their owners, but their exercise needs are modest and can be met with indoor games and short outdoor strolls. Poodles are known for their trainability and often excel in obedience and agility.

Their curly coats do require regular grooming to prevent mats and keep them looking their best. Toy Poodles are sociable and generally get along well with other animals and visitors, making them wonderful companions in a small space.

15. Papillon

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Papillons are known for their distinctive butterfly-like ears and are small enough to thrive in an apartment setting. They are highly intelligent and easily trained, making them ideal for first-time dog owners.

Despite their delicate appearance, Papillons have a robust energy level and enjoy staying active, though their size means this can largely be accomplished indoors.

They are friendly and outgoing and do well with families and singles alike. Their long, flowing coat requires regular brushing, but other grooming needs are minimal. Papillons are also known for their alertness, often serving as a good watchdog.

Pet-Friendly Apartment Hunting Tips

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Finding the right apartment that welcomes both you and your furry friend can be challenging. Here are some tips to help you navigate the search for a pet-friendly living space:

  • Research Pet Policies: Before you get attached to a place, make sure pets are allowed. Check for any breed or size restrictions and understand the pet policy in detail, including additional fees or deposits.
  • Visit in Person: Photos can be deceiving. Visit potential apartments to assess both the living space and the surrounding area to ensure they are suitable for your pet.
  • Look for Pet Amenities: Some apartment complexes offer pet-specific amenities, such as dog parks, pet washing stations, or even on-site pet daycare. These can be a big plus!
  • Ground Floor Units: If possible, consider a ground floor unit to make bathroom breaks easier. This can be especially useful for older dogs or breeds with specific health needs.
  • Ask About Green Spaces: Check the proximity to parks and walking paths. Having nearby green spaces can make a huge difference in your and your dog’s daily routine.
  • Review the Flooring: Look for apartments with pet-friendly flooring, such as tile or laminate, which are easier to clean and maintain than carpet.
  • Inquire About Neighbors: Learn about your potential neighbors and their pets. This can help you gauge how quiet or active the pet community is, which might affect your pet’s comfort and behavior.
  • Negotiate the Lease Terms: Try negotiating the pet policy or fees. Some landlords may be flexible, especially if you can demonstrate that you are a responsible pet owner.
  • Prepare Your Pet’s Resume: Yes, a pet resume! Include information about your pet’s breed, age, temperament, medical history, and grooming habits. If possible, include references from previous landlords or neighbors.
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Davin is a jack-of-all-trades but has professional training and experience in various home and garden subjects. He leans on other experts when needed and edits and fact-checks all articles.