The Best Dogs For Small Spaces

Reviewed By Tom •  Updated: 11/05/20 •  11 min read
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When it comes to apartment living, space is at a premium–especially if you’d like to have a dog. How do you decide which dog breed is best suited for the size of your apartment? Do you have room for a large dog that has low energy? What about a highly-energized small or medium-sized dog? There’s a lot to consider when choosing the right dog to live with you in an apartment.

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We’ve put together this guide to help answer a few of these questions and what to consider before you choose your furry companion.

Before You Adopt a Puppy

Puppies are adorable—no one can deny that! However, before adopting a puppy, you’ll need to have a good understanding of his breed and the size he’ll be as an adult. Puppies are small and cuddly, and cute. But keep in mind that little puppies can grow into very large or giant adult dogs! Think of Great Danes, St. Bernards, and more. Picture this—a large dog romping through your small apartment. Do you have breakables, furniture you can easily repair or replace? Now picture a big dog’s tail wagging innocently but brushing precious possessions from shelves and table tops.

A tail can clear off the top of a coffee table in just a matter of seconds! Not only that, but a large dog in a small space may not feel comfortable

Have you heard the saying about a bull in a china shop? A large dog in a small apartment can be like the proverbial bull in the china shop. Living with a large, high-energy dog in a small space will drive you both nuts! When searching for a canine companion, look for a puppy from a small or medium-sized dog breed. Check your area for breeders and shelters that can help you correctly choose a puppy from a smaller breed. A smaller dog can still wreak havoc in your apartment—don’t get us wrong. However, a smaller dog will have more room to roam, due to his smaller size. He may still be a bull in a china shop, but not necessarily because of his size!

Does Your Lease Allow Dogs?

Next, you’ll need to take a long look at your lease to see if your apartment allows dogs. Pet rules vary for each apartment complex, so you’ll need to make sure your lease allows pets. Some leases strictly forbid any type of pet on the premises. Such strict rules often come about from a landlord’s experience with previous renters. Unfortunately, there are pet owners who are not responsible and allow their pets to damage and destroy rental property.

Also check if your lease requires a pet deposit, which covers damage done to the property by pets, cleanup fees and repairs, etc. Pet deposits are sometimes refundable—but not always. You’ll also need to check the lease for size and breed restrictions.

Don’t bring a new puppy or dog into a situation where pets are not allowed. You’ll both suffer. If you truly want to become a pet parent, then find an apartment that allows pets. Be sure to check the lease for pet fees and size/breed restrictions. Once you’ve found the right place, then you’ll be free to adopt your new canine companion and enjoy a new life together!

What Qualities Make a Great Apartment Dog?

When choosing the right dog breed to fit your apartment, you’ll also want to consider additional qualities besides the of the dog.

1). Low energy: dogs that are low energy are generally a better fit when it comes to apartment living. Low energy dogs don’t need a lot of space to roam and usually don’t mind staying in the house on a regular basis. On the other hand, a dog with high energy levels will require more and longer walks than a dog with lower energy. Hyper dogs just don’t do well in an apartment setting, especially if you have to leave them for several hours a day. Look for dogs that are happy staying home and don’t need to roam.

2). Properly socialized: apartment living means being around other dogs, other pets and their humans. You’ll need to make sure your dog is socialized with other humans and animals. It’s horrible when a fur baby attacks another person’s animal companion. It’s also horrible when a dog attacks another human. Make sure your pet is properly socialized (friendly) and that he’ll be safe around other pets, adults, and kids.

3). Quiet: dogs that are quiet are great for apartment dwellers. Dogs that constantly bark at every noise can cause tension with your neighbors. Look for breeds that are on the quiet side, to avoid causing problems with your neighbors.

Dogs for Small Apartments

Now, let’s take a look at small dog breeds fit for apartments! We’ve done the research to help you zero in on the right dog for your apartment.


These dogs are classified as “toy,” and they weigh in at about seven pounds. These little charmers are both gentle and playful. Their long silky hair gives the Maltese a regal appearance, while their adorable faces are sure to make you smile.

While the Maltese can be agile and athletic, they’re more low-energy and are happy to roam around the apartment. They’ll enjoy a daily walk out and will be happy to play with you indoors, too! These small dogs a great fur baby for apartment dwellers.

Shih Tzus

Another regal breed, the Shih Tzu are dogs recognized for their low-energy. With this pup, you won’t have to take more than one walk outside, or perhaps even a couple of shorter walks outside.

They’re known for their affectionate and loving ways, and love to sit in your lap!

Shih Tzus weight between 9-16 pounds and stand about 9-10.5 inches. They have a long lifespan of between 10 and 18 years. They’re usually loving and friendly with their family and strangers and are also usually great with kids. The only downside is that Shih Tzus can be a little “barky,” but they respond well to positive reinforcement training. With proper training, these dogs can make wonderful apartment companions.


If your living space is cramped, then a smaller dog may be just what you need! Consider adopting a Chihuahua! These dogs typically weight between 2-6 pounds and are usually small enough to carry in your purse. Not quite pocket pet size, but still small enough to feel comfortable living in a smaller space.

These spunky little dogs are smart and don’t require a lot of exercise. They’ll be happy with a couple of walks during the day, and then enjoy time spent inside. Chihuahuas do require a lot of attention and thrive on affection. They’re smart and easy to train. One probably some have noticed with this breed is that Chihuahuas can be a little yappy. However, they do respond well to positive reinforcement training and do make great dogs for apartment living.

Yorkshire Terrier

Also known as “Yorkies,” this is another small dog with a huge personality! These feisty little dogs are full of energy and curiosity. They’re known to be smart, too. Even so, a Yorky will gladly spend hours in your lap or lounging in bed on a rainy day. Yorkshire Terriers weigh between 6-7 pounds, making it a small dog, perfect for living in small places.

Yorkies are pretty good watchdogs and will usually only bark to protect their home. These dogs are friendly and outgoing, making them a hit with neighbors. A Yorkie will need lots of attention and affection, and don’t forget they’ll need regular grooming to keep their silky hair untangled and clean.

Small Apartment Dogs That Don’t Bark

Next, let’s take a look at small breed dogs that don’t bark too much. They’re prized pups when it comes to apartment living. Before we look at these breeds, it’s important to note that all dogs will bark—even those that don’t bark as much. There’s no such thing as a “barkless” dog, unless you have your dog’s larynx removed, which is considered cruel—so don’t go there! It’s best to use positive reinforcement training to teach a dog not to constantly bark or bark at every noise. OK—now we’re ready to look at some low-barking breeds!


This is a primitive dog that originated in Africa. They’re known for being full of energy, and they can be pretty mischievous when left to their own devices. Basenjis don’t really bark, rather they “scream,” or yodel to communicate. These pups need a lot of physical and mental exercise. Basenjis are also known for their stubborn streak and doing things their way. Even so, they are highly adaptable to apartment living.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

This is a breed that’s known for their docility and sweetness. They weigh in around 13-18 pounds, which makes them one of the biggest small dogs. However, these loyal canines are quiet, gentle, and love spending time with you just laying around. These spaniels are playful and require more walks to help release some of their energy.

French Bulldog

These beguiling, sweet dogs are smart and a popular choice for apartment living. They’re a quiet breed that doesn’t bark too much. They’re much loved as companion pets and their relaxed attitude to living. These little dogs love to play, but also don’t mind couch potato time as you binge on favorite movies. French bulldogs want to be the center of your world, so you’ll want to make sure your dog is properly trained and socialized. They tend to only bark when protecting their home, so they make a great dog for small apartments.

Best Medium Sized Dog Breeds for Apartment Living

Maybe you’re not into small dogs. Don’t worry—we’ve got you covered! Let’s take a look at some medium-sized dogs that are great for those living in apartments.

Bichon Frise

This is another adorable breed that’s full of curiosity and playfulness. The Bichon Frises are known for their white, fluffy fur and lovable faces—they strongly resemble a toy stuffed animal! These medium-sized dogs weigh between 7-12 pounds and are about 9-12 inches high (at the shoulder). This breed tends to be healthy and toward a long life of 12-15 years. The breed is always white, with black eyes and noses.

These dogs love to play and make a great family dog. They’re also great for people with dog allergies, as they don’t shed hair and dander as much as other dogs. Bichons do sometimes suffer from separation anxiety and need lots of love and attention from their pet parents and families. While this medium-sized dog breed is great for apartment living, they are full of energy and will need more exercise than some other breeds.


Many people are surprised to learn that Greyhounds are classified as medium-sized dogs and that they make wonderful apartment dwellers! However, their calm and relaxed demeanor makes them excellent for apartment living. They don’t need too much exercise, little grooming and don’t bark too much. They’re smart, too!

These dogs are quite often used for racing; in fact, you may find a local greyhound rescue that takes in dogs that have passed their prime for racing. Greyhounds are not aggressive and rarely bark; however, they do have a strong prey instinct and may take off after small dogs, cats, squirrels, etc. Even so, they have very sweet natures and are happy to lounge around with you in a small space!

English Bulldog

While this breed can look mean, they’re actually big softies at heart. They were once prized for bearbaiting, but over the centuries these dogs have become loving, sweet companions. These medium-sized dogs are quite muscular, with broad heads and droopy cheeks.

This breed is known for being affectionate  and loving; however, they can be quite brave and stubborn. They’re friendly dogs who enjoy playing, but also don’t mind spending quality time on the couch with their families. They’re prone to certain health problems and don’t do well in the heat and humidity. Still, they make wonderful dogs for anyone living in an apartment.

Best Dog Breed for Small Spaces

So, what’s the best dog breed for your apartment? That’s a tough decision. We’ve covered several breeds that could make a wonderful companion in your apartment. Choose a breed that will be small to medium-sized as an adult, one that’s not prone to excessive barking and who might love being a couch potato with you!

We hope this guide has given you some ideas about the type of dog that’s best for apartment living. We wish you all the best in finding your new fur baby and hope you’ll both be very happy together!

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Tom has always loved to write since he was little - he wanted to be either a writer or a veterinary doctor, but he ended up being a professional writer while most of his works are based on animals. He was born in San Francisco but later moved to Texas to continue his job as a writer. He graduated from the University of San Francisco where he studied biotechnology. He is happily married and a soon to be father!

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