Small Dog Breeds That Are Perfect For Apartment Living

small dog breeds

When it comes to living with dogs many of us have a preference between small dog breeds, medium, or even the large dog breeds that love to hog the couch and everything else. Let’s face it, there are some real benefits to choosing a small dog – the first one that comes to my mind is the lower cost of food and care! Today, everything has gotten so expensive… having a dog that is a little lighter on the budget can be very appealing. There are, however, more benefits to sharing your life with a small dog breed…

Benefits of Small Dog Breeds

Small dogs can live in small spaces. Whether you’re downsizing or living your best life in an apartment… small dogs are a great choice if you are looking for a canine companion.

Small dogs can be easier to take places. Whether it’s to run errands, visit family or friends, or just traveling a small dog is, without a doubt, easier. Today, many hotels only allow dog breeds up to about 20lbs… and the smaller breeds fit in what is considered a carry-on! It’s pretty obvious fitting a Saint Bernard in a carry-on to put under your seat on your next flight isn’t gonna to happen!

Small dogs often have lower exercise needs. Many smaller dog breeds have much lower requirements when it comes to exercise. In saying that, all dogs need exercise, but smaller dogs will need less space overall and can even get their needs met indoors if need be. This makes them a great choice for seniors or those that might not be able to get out for long walks.

Small dogs live longer than many larger breeds. If you’re like me, dogs don’t live long enough anyways… so having a small breed means you get to share more of your lives together. That’s a win-win for everyone!

What’s the smallest dog in the world?

When it comes to small dogs, we seem to have a real fascination… and love… for the tiniest of tiny! The smallest dog living, when it comes to height, is a female Chihuahua named Miracle Milly. Born in December 2011, and residing in Dorado, Puerto Rico, Miracle Milly weighs about 1 lb (half a kilogram) and stands a TINY 3.8 inches tall (9.65cm).

Now, the dogs we will discuss here won’t be that small… but they will be tiny enough for most small dog breed aficionados! So if you happen to be looking to add a tiny friend to your life here are 20 of the smallest dog breeds in the world.

Chihuahua

The Chihuahua is the world’s smallest dog breed. It’s a popular choice for families living in both apartments and small homes.  The breed’s namesake is Chihuahua, Mexico, and the name “Chihuahua” is derived from a Nahuatl word meaning “between two waters”.

You may remember back in the 90’s – or I could be saying way too much about my age – when Taco Bell helped to popularize the breed in their TV commercials. Their ads featured a talking Chihuahua named Gidget who spoke catchphrases like “Yo quiero Taco Bell” “Drop the chalupa!” and “Viva Gorditas!

Chihuahuas are breed that is both loyal and loving. They love to be around their humans so don’t be surprised if they follow you from room to room… yes, even the bathroom… and when you sit down at the day they will happily curl up on your lap.  

When it comes to training, the Chihuahua is smart and eager to please.  They respond well to force-free, positive training methods that focus on using treats and praise. If you likes dog sports, such as agility and obedience trails, even though they are small, they can be very successful competitors in these events.

Many Chihuahuas have “small dog syndrome”.  This more or less means that when the Chihuahua is around larger dogs, animals, and even people, they will stand their ground with aggressive-type behaviors such as barking and growling… which can result in serious outcomes.  The theory is that this is in an effort to compensate for their small size.  There is a study that found Chihuahuas were one of the most aggressive breeds toward humans and dogs outside of their own breed.  It is strongly recommended that Chihuahuas are well socialized with people, dogs and other animals at a very early age.

Here’s a fun fact… Chihuahuas were once adept tree-climbers.  They were actually said to be as graceful as a squirrel when doing so!  This was apparently done for both the reason of warmth and for protection from predators.

Speaking of warmth, Chihuahuas were bred for the warm temperatures of Mexico meaning that if you live in a climate that has colder temps you may want to take a crash course in doggie-fashion!  Dog sweaters, jackets and boots will likely be on your horizon of purchases. They are also more likely to seek out warm spots in your home, even if that means burrowing under the blankets on your bed, with you, at night.

The Chihuahua’s coat comes in a wide variety of colors with the most common colors being black, brown, fawn, cram and red. Their coat comes in two varieties: smooth-coated and long-coated.  Smooth-coated Chihuahuas have short hair and require very little effort in terms of brushing.  Brushing weekly should be enough to keep their coat and skin healthy.  The long-coated Chihuahua, with their longer hair requires a bit more effort grooming-wise. Their longer hair increases the risk of tangles so they are best brushed at least a couple of times a week.  Bathing your Chihuahua should be done as needed based on lifestyle. 

Temperament:  Charming / Graceful / Sassy

Height:  5 to 8 inches

Weight:  not exceeding 6 lbs

Life Expectancy:  14 to 16 years

Toy Poodle

The Poodle is the national dog of France and the Toy Poodle is the smallest version of the Poodle breed, standing less than 10 inches tall.

Toy Poodles, like all Poodles, are extremely intelligent and eager to please, making them easy to train.  They will benefit most from positive training techniques that focus on force-free, reward based methods as they can be a sensitive breed.

They are energetic and playful with moderate to high level exercise needs.  So even though they are small, and happy to live in settings such as apartments, they will need both physical and mental stimulation to be happy and healthy.

Toy Poodles are an excellent choice if you are one that loves dog sports as this is an area they excel at. They have great swimming abilities… not unlike all Poodles… though this doesn’t mean they will ALL love the water.

There are a wide variety of colors when it comes to the Toy Poodle’s coat and grooming takes a real time commitment when it comes to maintenance.  Their coat, which is dense, curly and water-resistant, easily forms mats and tangles. You should be brushing your Toy Poodle daily and they should be visiting a professional groomer about every 4 to 6 weeks… depending on their lifestyle and the haircut you choose.  Many Toy Poodle owners choose a Sporting Clip instead of traditional Poodle cut as this makes it much easier to maintain their coat.  Those that have allergies may find the Toy Poodle a suitable companion as they don’t really shed.

Toy Poodles make a wonderful family dog, however with their small size care should be taken in homes with young children.  There are a number of Toy Poodle breeders that actually will not place their dogs in homes with children younger than 10 years old, for the dog’s safety.  As with any dog… children and dogs should always be supervised when they are together and children should be taught how to interact and respect pets.

The Toy Poodle has a record in the Guinness Book of World Records for a dog with the largest repertoire of tricks.  Chanda-Leah, owned and trained by Sharon Robinson of Ontario, Canada, has a repertoire of 469 different tricks.  Some of these tricks (though I would class these as talents and not tricks) are playing the piano, painting and riding a skateboard.  Pretty impressive!

Temperament:  Intelligent / Agile / Self-confident

Height:  no more than 10 inches

Weight:  4 to 6 lbs

Life Expectancy:  10 to 18 years

Pomeranian

Affectionately referred to as “Pom Poms”, the Pomeranian originated from Pomerania, a region of Northern Europe.  The breed is a miniaturized relation of the Spitz which are well known for being sled dogs in the Arctic. 

The Pomeranian is a friendly and loyal companion.  Said to be one-owner dogs, they can be very protective of their humans.  It’s best to ensure you are socializing them from an early age to avoid any aggression with either people or other animals. 

They are energetic and feisty and it doesn’t take much for them to bark.  Poms can be an excellent watchdog, but their alertness and quick reaction time with barking may make it more challenging if you live in an apartment building or condo complex.

Pomeranians are very intelligent meaning that training generally shouldn’t be too difficult… in fact, you should be able to train them to do lots of things.  However, in saying that, having a smart dog also means they can use their brains to get into mischief.  You will benefit most, as will your dog, by using positive techniques in training and including some enrichment activities in their day.  They will also require regular exercise so if you aren’t able to exercise them in a fenced yard area they should be going for a short walk each day.

Potty training small dogs can pose some extra challenges… and Pomeranians are no exception to that rule.  However, sticking to routines and being consistent… along with rewards and praise… there shouldn’t be too many challenges in this area.

Their thick, double-coat which comes in almost two dozen colors, patterns and markings, but most commonly you will see them with orange or red coats. Interestingly, Pomeranian puppies can have their coat change color as they mature.  This may be slight… or it could be quite a dramatic change.  You may find that a cream-colored Pomeranian ends brown and white! There’s no way to know which puppies will actually change colors and which ones won’t… think of it as a nice surprise!

Despite their furry coat, the Pomeranian doesn’t require a great deal of complicated grooming for maintenance.  Regular brushing, a few times a week will help to reduce shedding. Twice a year they’ll shed their undercoat and at those times you may want to increase your brushing to daily to avoid hair being everywhere. 

An interesting fact from history… when the Titanic sank there were, in total, 12 dogs aboard.  Only three dogs survived and two of them happened to be Pomeranians. 

Temperament:  Inquisitive / Lively / Bold

Height:  6 to 7 inches

Weight:  3 to 7 lbs

Life Expectancy:  12 to 16 years

Toy Fox Terrier

The Toy Fox Terrier was first developed in the late 19th and early 20th century.  Breeders bred the Smooth Fox Terrier and crossed them with toy breeds such as Chihuahuas, Miniature Pinschers, Manchester Terriers and Italian Greyhounds. 

They’re a true terrier, eager to hunt, but also a loving companion that will curl up with you on the couch at the end of the day. With their small size they can do well in an apartment as long as you are meeting their exercise and enrichment needs.  Generally they don’t need a lot of space in order to get adequate exercise.

Toy Fox Terriers are extremely loyal and protective of their family… and they make excellent watchdogs as they have a large bark that is surprising based on their size.  They don’t generally bark for no reason… so if you hear them bark it is best to pay attention as they may be trying to actually alert you to something.

Toy Fox Terriers may not be the best match for those with small children.  They are a small breed that doesn’t do well with rough handling and are prone to broken legs.  Also, they are terriers, which means they can come with a tenacity that isn’t suitable for young children.

The Toy Fox Terrier’s intelligence will make training an easy task.  They will do best however with positive techniques that focus on force-free, reward based methods which set them up for success in training.

As with most terriers they have a high prey drive and are more likely to chase small animals.  If they’re outdoors and off-leash they should be in an area where you are able to contain them should you need to… for their safety.  Though each dog will have their own personality, this may not be the right fit if you’re a household that also has small pets such as gerbils and hamsters… the temptation may just be too much for a dog like this.

The coat of the Toy Fox Terrier is short, fine and smooth.  When it comes to colors there are several combinations: Tricolor; White and Tan; White and Black; White, Chocolate and Tan.  Grooming your Toy Fox Terrier isn’t difficult… they should be brushed a couple of times a week to keep their coat and skin healthy.  Bathing need will be based on their lifestyle.  And as with all dogs, you should start early getting them used to being brushed and handled.  This will help to make grooming a positive experience and help to lay the ground work for other husbandry tasks including veterinary appointments.

Temperament:  Alert / Intelligent / Friendly

Height:  8.5 to 11.5 inches

Weight:  4 to 9 lbs

Life Expectancy:  13 to 15 years

Yorkshire Terrier

The Yorkshire Terrier was bred to hunt rats.  They were developed from a collection of terriers to create a breed small enough to squeeze into the smallest areas of textile mills in Scotland to keep people’s work areas rodent free. 

Nicknamed the “Yorkie” they have a long, silky coat, which can be worn with a top-knot to keep the hair out of their eyes, and are truly one of the most glamorous breeds.  They are so small that they are often carried around in fancy dog purses by their adoring owner.

Small in size, but big in personality Yorkies are definitely suitable for apartment living… but they will still need some exercise each day.  That can be in the form of a play session in the house or a walk around the block.  Yorkies don’t tolerate extreme temperatures very well.  In the winter you will want to ensure that they have a warm jacket and possibly boots… or, some choose to house train so they don’t need to go outside… if that is something that works for your lifestyle.

Affectionate toward their people, but they can be suspicious around strangers and can have a little higher tendency to bark at strange sounds and people.  This may pose a challenge if you are in an apartment, but working with a professional dog trainer you should be able to teach them when it is appropriate and not appropriate to bark.

Overall, the Yorkie makes a good family companion but they are best suited to older children who are able to respect them… and their size.  They can be snappy if they are teased…. but many dogs can be.  As always, interactions between children and dogs should always be supervised for safety reasons… on both sides.  They’ll also do best in an environment where they are not left alone for long periods of time… they do love their family and their attention. 

With their tendency to become a little possessive of their humans, they will not hesitate to pick a fight with a new pet if you bring one into the home… no matter the size.  Use an abundance of caution when introducing a Yorkie to a new pet… and if you are unsure of how to handle this, for everyone’s safety, contact a professional dog trainer in your area.

Grooming a long-haired Yorkie is definitely not a task for the faint of heart.  Their coat consistency is similar to human hair and it tangles very easily… especially if they are not brushed every day.  If you don’t want to have to worry about the long-hair, Yorkshire Terriers look absolutely adorable in a “Puppy Cut” and since this is fairly short, it is much easier to maintain. Either way, they should be heading to visit a professional groomer every 4 to 6 weeks depending on their cut and lifestyle.

Yorkies are generally open to training but to be most successful it is best to use force-free, rewards based training methods.  Like most small breeds they can be difficult to potty train.  They have small bladders and their accidents are so minor that many times people just clean it up and let it go. It is better to show them where they are to go right from the beginning and reward them for eliminating in the correct area. 

Temperament:  Affectionate / Sprightly / Tomboyish

Height:  7 to 8 inches

Weight:  7 lbs

Life Expectancy:  11 to 15 years

Papillon

Papillon, which in French means “butterfly”, were given their name due to their ears… which resemble butterfly wings.  Prior to the name Papillon they were known as the Dwarf Spaniel and the Squirrel Spaniel.  

This is a highly adaptable breed and can live in pretty much any type of setting… apartment or home of any size. They’re a great choice as a companion for seniors and those that are looking for a dog that is more than happy being a lapdog or couch potato. Spaniels are however, higher energy but with their size most of their exercise needs can be met, if need be, with indoor play and some enrichment activities. Generally speaking they should get along well with other animals in the home.

The Papillon can make an excellent family dog, but like all dogs, particular care should be taken with small children.  This breed is very small and can easily be hurt by kids that may unintentionally be too rough with the small-boned breed.  Always supervise time that young children spend with any dog!

Papillons are smart and quick to learn new tricks and cues.  Don’t let their small size steer you away from dog sports and competitions… they are a great choice for events like agility and rally obedience.

As far as grooming goes, the Papillon is relatively low-maintenance. They should be brushed a couple of times a week to keep their coat healthy and tangle free.  As a relatively low odor breed, bathing frequency should be done as needed, based more on lifestyle.

Temperament:  Alert / Friendly / Happy

Height:  8 to 11 inches

Weight:  5 to 10 lbs

Life Expectancy:  14 to 16 years

Affenpinscher

The Affenpinscher, with its origins in Germany, was originally bred to kill rats and mice in stables.  The Germans coined the name Affenpinscher as “Affe” means ape or monkey which many felt appropriate based on the fact that the Affenpinscher’s face is ape-like.  

With their size, and moderate activity level, they are suitable for apartment living.  They are however not the best choice for homes that have young children. If you have children be sure to socialize your Affenpinscher early and thoroughly with respect to kids… and most importantly… always supervise any interactions!  If you happen to be looking for a watchdog, this breed is well known for being fearless and will take seriously the job of protecting their home.

As they were bred to be ratters, the Affenpinscher are not suited to homes that have small pets such as hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, etc.  They do well with other dogs and with proper socialization get along well with cats too.  

Affenpinschers are known as loyal, curious, and yes, entertaining.  They adore their humans and those that have Affenpinschers adore the breed!  This terrier-like breed is confident and can have a stubborn streak, so when it comes to training, start early and practice consistency.  With their love of people they are eager to please, so with the use of positive reinforcement methods, utilizing rewards and praise, this sets them up the best for success in training.

The Affenpinscher comes in a variety of colors: beige, black, red, black and silver and finally, black and tan.  They have a medium-length, wiry coat that creates a shaggy, but neat, appearance.  To maintain their coat you should brush/comb your Affenpinscher a few times a week to avoid mats.  You may also wish to do some hand stripping to remove dead hairs and allow new hairs to grow.  This is easy to learn, but not all professional groomers know how to do it… so always ask when choosing a groomer. Overall however, their coat is easy to care for, and doesn’t need a lot of attention.

Be prepared to spend time on a waiting list if you’re interested in the Affenpinscher as they are considered a rare breed.

Temperament:  Confident / Famously Funny / Fearless

Height:  9 to 11.5 inches

Weight:  7 to 10 lbs

Life Expectancy:  12 to 15 years

Brussels Griffon

Brussels Griffons, otherwise known as Griffons, originated in Belgium and were used to keep stables free of rodents.  Their appearance, particularly their face, has people comparing them to Ewoks or Wookies from the movie Star Wars.

Socially, the Brussels Griffon is a great family dog as they are friendly and love people… often wanting to be wherever their family is. They are loyal and eager to please. In most cases they should be good with other dogs and cats, but as a Terrier, they do have a strong prey drive, meaning if you have other small pets such as rabbits, gerbils and hamsters, you may need to take extra precautions.

Griffons adapt well to apartment living with their size, but they’re an excellent watchdog and any sound can set them off barking.  This may pose a challenge with neighbors in a close-knit living environment, but to help with this you can teach your dog the cue, “quiet”.  Even though they are well suited to apartment life they do still need a fair amount of stimulation – both physical and mental. They also do not like being left alone and can suffer from separation anxiety, so if you plan to frequently leave your dog alone for extended periods of time this may not be the right breed for you.

With their intelligence and athleticism, this is a breed that does well in dog sports and competitions such as obedience and agility.  This also means they are easy to train though will do best with force-free, rewards based methods of training.

Like other short-nosed dogs they are susceptible to a number of respiratory conditions.  This also makes them more likely to overheat or experience heat stroke on hot days… so keep them cool and exercise them early in the morning or in the evening when the temperatures are cooler on those hot days.

The Brussels Griffon comes in four colors: red, black, black and tan, and beige… and come in two types of coats: smooth and rough.  Grooming needs will depend on the type of coat that you choose.  

The smooth-coated Brussel Griffons have quite short hair.  They will need to be brushed weekly with an occasional bath as needed, based on lifestyle.  However, during shedding season, normally around Spring and Fall, it is advised to increase the frequency of brushing to help with the extra hair around your house.

Rough-coated Brussel Griffons have longer, wiry hair and a shaggier look.  They don’t shed much but they do have higher grooming needs.  You will need to brush them a few times a week.  They will also need to have some minor trimming done, in particular with their beard, and that can be done by you or a professional groomer.  A couple of times a year they should also be hand-stripped to remove the dead hair and allow new hair to grow.  This is easy to do yourself if you have a groomer show you how and ensure that you have the right tools to do so.  Again, bathing as needed based on lifestyle.

Temperament:  Alert / Curious / Loyal

Height:  7 to 10 inches

Weight:  8 to 10 lbs

Life Expectancy:  12 to 15 years

Miniature Pinscher

The Miniature Pinscher, also known as a Min Pin, was originally bred in Germany to be ratters… hunting rats in homes and stables.  Many think that the Miniature Pinscher is a smaller version of the Doberman Pinscher, but this isn’t the case.  They do look similar to the Doberman, but the Min Pin is its own breed… and a much older breed at that.

Miniature Pinschers are intelligent and playful… a companion that is well suited to young and old alike.  Though you may not think it with their size, this self-assured, alert and fearless canine makes a great little watchdog.

Miniature Pinschers can do well living in an apartment but you have to keep in mind that they do have a relatively high energy level… so you will need to meet their exercise needs if they are living in a smaller space.

Their ears are often cropped, but can be left natural.  Their tail is usually docked.  A distinct feature of the Min Pin is their gait, which is described as a “hackney gait”, resembling the trot of a Hackney horse. As they were bred to be hunters they have a high prey drive so it is not recommended that they be off-leash in an area that is not secure as they will give chase to anything that moves.

Their smooth, shiny, coat, which comes in two shades of red, chocolate and rust, or black and rust, is easy to care for.  Their short coat makes them more sensitive cold. Brush up on your canine fashion and make sure that you have a warm jacket to protect them from the cold temperatures.

Their short coat also means that grooming doesn’t get much easier than this.  Brushing their coat weekly, with a soft bristle brush, or a grooming mitt, will keep their coat and skin healthy.  Bathing is recommended as needed based on their lifestyle.

Overall the Miniature Pinscher is a loyal dog that develops a deep bond with their humans… have one and you will have a friend for life.

Temperament:  Fearless / Proud / Fun-loving

Height:  10 to 12.5 inches

Weight:  8 to 10 lbs

Life Expectancy: 12 to 16 years

Havanese

The Havanese, named for the city of Havana, is not only the national dog of Cuba, but also the only dog breed native to the country.  A trademark feature about the Havanese is that they have slightly shorter front legs than the back legs, giving them a bouncy gait, which only makes them cuter!

These little dogs have a sweet temperament and they enjoy the companionship of their humans.  In fact, they do best when they are not left alone for long periods of time… if left alone too long they can experience separation anxiety.

Havanese doesn’t require much space and their exercise needs are minimal… these facts make them a perfect choice for apartment living or a small home that doesn’t have a big backyard.  

This is an excellent breed for families, seniors, or anyone looking for a fun-loving companion.  If you happen to have young children always supervise interactions with a Havanese (and all dogs) and teach about the proper way to interact with, play with, and respect pets.  Generally they should get along well with other pets in the home.

The Havanese is quite intelligent making them easy to train, in particular, their comedic personality makes them a perfect trick dog… a perfect activity to involve older children in training.  Havanese will do best with force-free, positive training methods that focus on rewards and praise as they are an eager to please breed.

Daily brushing is needed to maintain the Havanese’s coat and you have a wide range of choices when it comes to how you want their appearance to be.  You can keep them in a short “Puppy Cut” or allow their coat to grow longer – which will require more maintenance.  Either way they will need to visit a professional groomer about every 4 to 6 weeks depending on the length of their coat and lifestyle. Or, if you wanted something completely different, you can actually allow the coat to cord… but I would speak to a groomer about this to ensure you know what is involved.

Temperament:  Outgoing / Funny / Intelligent

Height:  8.5 to 11.5 inches

Weight:  7 to 13 lbs

Life Expectancy:  14 to 16 years

Pekingese

The Pekingese was bred to resemble the “foo dog”, a mythical guardian lion in China and serve as a companion dog for the Chinese imperial family.  These miniature dogs actually used to hide in the large, flowing sleeves of their owners and, as a guard dog, unexpectedly pop out of the sleeve growling and barking.  These protective traits still exist in the breed today… though most of us won’t likely be carrying them around in our sleeves!

They are very intelligent but can also be a bit stubborn… and with their small stature they don’t need a lot of space, making them a great dog for apartment living.  Pekingese can be a suitable companion for singles, families or seniors, as well as older children.  Families with young children will need to supervise, as they should with all dogs, interactions with the Pekingese to teach them how to play with, interact with, and respect pets.  

Pekingese bond strongly with their humans and make the perfect lapdog… but with this comes the risk of separation anxiety if they are left alone for long periods of time. They may not be the right breed if you are regularly away from your home for extended periods of time.

Generally they get along well with cats and other dogs though it is always important to begin socialization at a young age… this helps to ensure they are a well-adjusted companion.

As the Pekingese were bred for the long, cold winters of Beijing, they do well in colder temperatures… but that leaves them at a higher risk of overheating in warmer temperatures. It’s best to limit exercise to early mornings or evenings when it is cooler.

The coat of the Pekingese comes in over a dozen different colors and since they have a thick, double-coat they are a little more high maintenance when it comes to grooming. They should be brushed multiple times a week… if not, you are more likely to have a dog that has a coat filled with mats which can be a real health problem for your dog.  Start early working with your Pekingese to become comfortable with being handled and brushed and you will have a dog that enjoys sitting on your lap and being brushed.

Temperament:  Loyal / Affectionate / Regal

Height:  6 to 9 inches

Weight:  up to 14 lbs

Life Expectancy:  12 to 14 years

Italian Greyhound

The Italian Greyhound, much like their larger cousins, Greyhounds, are built for absolute speed.  It is important to note however that they are incredibly fast for short periods of time, but otherwise rather lazy… they make a great lapdog or a couch “decoration”.  If you happen to be looking for a dog that is on the go all the time… and built for endurance… this may not be the right breed for you.

As an alert, playful and affectionate companion, they make a wonderful companion for families including those with small children.  Even though they can be considered athletic they are also small enough that they can get exercise needs met easily indoors making them a great fit for seniors or those that are not overly active.  Due to their small size they are also well-suited for apartment living and for families with smaller houses or yards.

Interestingly, the Italian Greyhound is often mistaken for the Whippet… however, Whippets, classed in the hound group, are considerably larger, with their weight between 25 to 40lbs… and the Italian Greyhound, classed in the toy group, has a top weight range of 14lbs. 

The Italian Greyhound is a sight hound and as such they have incredibly high prey drives.  A home that has other small pets… which would include cats… may be challenging as their movement will trigger the chase instinct and they will be off to the races!  Another consideration with respect to their prey drive is that walks off-leash are not recommended.  The Italian Greyhound will see “prey” long before you can… if you ever do… and again, they will be off like a shot… and you won’t catch them until the chase is done.  A fenced yard is recommended for the same reason.  Getting out and chasing “prey” in a neighborhood could put them at risk of injury or worse if running into traffic to continue their chase.

Though they are easy to train and always eager to learn new tricks, you may find them more challenging in dog sports such as agility or flyball because of their high prey drive as they are much more likely to become distracted.  That doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t participate in these sports if that is something that you would like to do… it just means that you should be aware there may be some extra challenges.

The breed has a very short-coat and with their lean bodies, and little body fat, they will require some extra care in the colder weather… and if you admire the latest in dog fashion… this will probably be right up your alley.

Speaking of their coat, they can be found in a multitude of colors: gray, yellow, red, fawn, black, or blue.  Maintenance-wise… they are very easy to maintain.  Their coat is short enough that they won’t really get that dirty and, if they do, you can just brush it out.  Bathing will be based on lifestyle, but not likely needed that often unless they get into something you don’t want in the house. 

Training… the Italian Greyhound is an intelligent dog but can also be quite sensitive… making positive reinforcement, with rewards, a perfect choice when it comes to training.  They are also a breed that doesn’t do well when left for long periods of time.  If you are needing to do this you may find them experiencing separation anxiety which can lead to a number of behavioral issues such as barking, chewing and accidents around the house. 

Overall, the Italian Greyhound makes an incredibly delightful family pet… and a great choice for first time dog owners.

Temperament:  Alert / Playful / Sensitive

Height:  13 to 15 inches

Weight:  7 to 14 lbs

Life Expectancy:  14 to 15 years

Dachshund

Dachshunds, affectionately called Doxies, are famous for their adorable size and shape.  Bred to hunt badgers, the term “Dachshund” actually means “badger dog” in German… Dachs (“badger”) and Hund (“hound, dog”).  In order to track scents, their short legs keep them low to the ground and their narrow body shape allows them to crawl into burrows.  Their hunting ability also makes them a breed that loves to dig!

There are two size options when it comes to Dachshunds… standard (weighing 16 to 32lbs) and miniature (weighing up to 11lbs).  Both are small enough to live easily in an apartment, and large enough for a house whether in the city or the country.  

They also come in three different coat types, which will determine the level of grooming needs.

Smooth-coat:

Like other smooth-coated breeds, the main requirement here is weekly brushing to keep their coat and skin healthy.  Bathing as needed based on yours… and your Doxie’s… lifestyle.  

Longhaired:

Requiring a little more care, you should be brushing your Dachshund’s long coat daily to prevent mats and tangles… primarily behind their ears and under their belly. They will need bathing and trimming that you can do yourself or you can use a professional groomer. 

Wirehaired:

Frequent brushing, several times a week, will be required along with “hand stripping”, which is a technique that is used to remove the hair at the root.  This is usually done a couple of times a year.  It removes the excess hair and allows for new hair to grow.  You can do this yourself – perhaps have a groomer teach you how and show you which tools are best to use.  Bathing as needed… based on lifestyle.

Lively, playful and clever, Doxies also have a reputation for being stubborn potentially making them more challenging to train but with patience, consistency… and treats (or what motivates them) you will set them up for success.  When training you should also keep in mind their high prey drive and their increased tendency to bark and howl. Like many smaller breeds, Dachshunds can be more challenging with potty training but patience and consistency should help to ensure that your Doxie is successful on this journey.

Though you might think that with their short legs they aren’t capable of exercise… but it’s quite the contrary.  They are bred to be active dogs – remember they were hunters – and still need exercise and mental stimulation to be healthy… and happy.  When taking them outside however, with their bellies closer to the ground, a warm jacket in cold temperatures… and a waterproof one for wet weather… can help to make the Dachshund more comfortable going outside with in-climate weather.

Overall they are best suited for adults or families with older children. Dachshunds can get nippy with toddlers as they aren’t built for rough housing.  They can also be protective of their family members… sometimes one particular member of the family.  Socialization is important to reduce the risk of behavioral issues such as resource guarding – which can be directed toward people.

One final serious note that potential Dachshund owners should be aware of: Doxies are genetically prone to a hereditary condition called Intervertebral Disc Disease… or IVDD.  According to You Did What With Your Weiner?“, approximately 25% of Dachshunds will have some sort of back injury in their lifetime where IVDD can be pinpointed as the cause”.

Temperament:  Spunky / Curious / Friendly

Height:  8 to 9 inches (standard) / 5 to 6 inches (miniature)

Weight:  16 to 32 lbs (standard) / under 11 lbs (miniature)

Life Expectancy:  12 to 16 years

Maltese

It’s thought that the breed Maltese, once referred to as “Ye Ancient Dogge Of Malta”, originated in Malta, a small island nation south of Sicily, Italy.  The breed was loved by royalty, which included Mary Queen of Scots and Queen Elizabeth I.

Famous for their long, silky white coat which hangs down to the ground, Maltese are playful, energetic and loving companions that are the perfect size for curling up in your lap.  Typically gentle, they make great family dogs.  Good with older children but they can be snappy with younger children… be sure to socialize your Maltese early with lots of exposure to young children.

The Maltese’s appearance and temperament have made them a popular choice for hybrid breeds such as the Maltipoo (Maltese/Poodle), Morkie (Maltese/Yorkshire Terrier), Mauxie (Maltese/Dachshund) and the Malshi (Maltese/Shih Tzu). 

Highly adaptable, they will be happy in a house or a small apartment… either will be fine with them. The do love their humans prefer to have family around… leaving them for long periods can increase the likelihood of separation anxiety and the behaviors that go along with that… such as barking.  With their small size they are easy to take with you… just ensure that where you take them is a safe situation for them and you aren’t leaving them in the car in hot temps.

Maltese are considered hypoallergenic so the breed may be a good option for those that experience allergies. Grooming-wise… their long coat requires a fair bit of care.  If a shorter cut is preferred, many keep their Maltese in a “Puppy Cut” which is much more manageable… and it’s cute!  Regular brushing will keep their coat from getting matted and their long fur can be tied in a top knot to keep it out of their eyes.  Regular bathing and conditioning is also recommended to keep their silky coat at it’s best.

Temperament:  Playful / Charming / Gentle

Height:  7 to 9 inches

Weight:  under 7 lbs

Life Expectancy:  12 to 15 years

Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu is an ancient breed with origins from Tibet. This early breed was likely sent from Tibet to Chinese royalty as gifts… and then the Chinese bred them with Pekingese or Pugs, giving us the Shih Tzu that is well-loved today.

If you are looking for a friendly, intelligent and affectionate family dog… one that is known to be especially affectionate with older children… the Shih Tzu may be the dog you are looking for.  If your children are younger, always supervise and teach the importance of proper handling and respect when it comes to pets… this is a small dog that can be hurt easily with play that is too rough.  

Shih Tzus don’t need a lot of space so can do very well in an apartment or a home that doesn’t have a big backyard.  They don’t hunt, herd or guard… their preferred activity is to be sitting in your lap looking adorable.  In saying that, like all dogs, they will need some exercise, but the space required to meet their needs can be smaller.

The flat shape of the Shih Tzu’s face makes them more susceptible to overheating and heat stroke.  Extra care should be taken in heat or humidity and if you live in a region with severe heat it is best to have some form of air conditioning to help keep your dog cool.

When it comes to training… they may be cute and small… but they still need to be trained.  Force-free, positive training techniques that focus on rewards and praise will work best as this is a breed that loves to please their humans.

Shih Tzus are well known for their long, flowing coat which comes in a wide variety of colors requires daily brushing at home to prevent mats.  In addition to brushing they will require regular trips to a professional groomer for a hair cut and bath, about every 4 to 6 weeks depending on the length you keep their coat.  If you wish to keep their coat shorter – and easier to maintain – the Shih Tzu looks absolutely adorable in a “Puppy Cut”.

Temperament:  Playful / Affectionate / Outgoing

Height:  9 to 10.5 inches

Weight:  9 to 16 lbs

Life Expectancy:  10 to 18 years

PUG

Pugs were originally bred to be lapdogs for Chinese royalty… and they were highly valued in society.  Today, they are ideal for those living in apartments… and for individuals of all ages, including seniors, as they don’t require too much indoor space for activity.  They are happy in the city, or the country, and like to do whatever their human is doing whether that is a walk around the neighborhood or curling up on the couch.

Be aware… Pugs wheeze, snort, and snore.  So if they sleep with you, you may need to pick up some ear plugs to ensure you are able to sleep too! They also don’t bark much because, as a brachycephalic breed (which is more or less a dog with a shortened snout) breathing can be a bit difficult for them.

Pugs love to be loved… and in saying that… they love to love! Their favorite place to be is by your side. This also means that they will do best in homes where they will not be left alone for long periods of time… that is too much time for them not to be showered with your affection.

Pugs come in three colors: silver or apricot-fawn with a black face mask, or all black.  You might look at a Pug and think they shouldn’t shed very much… but you would be wrong!  Pugs shed profusely!  You will need a good quality vacuum with one of these little guys in your home. 

Grooming a Pug isn’t complicated but in order to cut down on the hair around your house, daily brushing, or at least multiple times a week, will help. Bathing them every month or so will also help but be sure to keep an eye on those face wrinkles… keeping them clean and dry to avoid irritation and infections from occurring.

You will want to avoid aversive training measures with these guys as their feelings can easily be hurt.  Using positive techniques in training, with lots of treats and praise, will give you the best success with Pugs.  They are a breed that loves their food… be sure to keep an eye on their waistline to avoid becoming overweight and being subjected to health risks that go along with that.

Pugs can face A LOT of health issues… some related to the fact they are a brachycephalic breed, but others related to their body shape.  Like other brachycephalic breeds be sure to use caution in warm weather as they are more prone to breathing issues and overheating.  Their breathing challenges, along with their tiny legs, also make them poor swimmers so caution should be taken around pools or other bodies of water.

Here’s a fun fact… a group of pugs is called a grumble.

Temperament:  Charming / Loving / Mischievous

Height:  10 to 13 inches

Weight:  14 to 18 lbs

Life Expectancy:  13 to 15 years

French Bulldog

The French Bulldog, commonly referred to as the “Frenchie”, is an affectionate and sweet-tempered breed that was bred as a companion dog. With their small, but muscular, stature they do make a good fit for someone looking for dog for apartment living.  They adapt to all types of family units… singles, families and seniors.  They are happy to play with the kids (but be sure to always supervise children and dogs together) or curl up and snuggle on the couch.  Overall they don’t require a tonne of outdoor exercise in comparison to some other breeds. Also helpful for apartment life… they don’t bark much… they are however, very alert, which makes them a pretty good watchdog. 

Frenchies are one of the world’s most popular small breed dogs… who can resist their trademark “bat ears”, adorable faces and playful personalities?

Generally they get along well with other animals but, like all dogs, it’s important to socialize them from a young age.  Doing so will also help with any tendency they may have to be overly protective or possessive of their humans.

The Frenchie’s coat is smooth and shiny… coming in colors such as cream, fawn, and white, but they can also have brindle patterns and black masks.  They are easy to groom… weekly brushing will keep their coats looking healthy and bathing every month or so depending on lifestyle.  It is important however to keep their wrinkles clean and dry… checking regularly for any skin irritations as they can easily become infected.

With positive reinforcement, training the Frenchie should be fun and easy… they do have a tendency to love their food!  Potty training has been noted to be potentially a little more challenging but this only reinforces the importance of consistency and routines. With lots of praise… and treats… they should be house trained sooner than later!

A couple of safety notes for the French Bulldog:  Frenchies are not swimmers.  This is due to their front-heavy build and it’s recommend never leaving them unattended near water in case they fall in.  As well, as a brachycephalic breed, they are more prone to heat exhaustion and breathing issues.  It is best to exercise them, during warm weather, in the early morning or evenings when it is cooler… and be sure to limit their time in the heat.

Temperament:  Playful / Smart / Adaptable

Height:  11 to 13 inches

Weight:  under 28 lbs

Life Expectancy:  10 to 12 years

Boston Terrier

The Boston Terrier is not only Boston University’s mascot… beating out a Moose in student voting… but also the official state dog of Massachusetts.  Nicknamed “The American Gentleman”, the dapper Boston Terrier’s coat, which looks like a “tuxedo”, can be white and either black, brindle or seal.

They can be an eager playmate for children… a docile companion for seniors… and a great dog for everyone in between. This breed was bred to be a companion and their personalities do increase the likelihood of separation anxiety becoming an issue if they are left alone for too long.  They do best when their humans are around for most of the day… or they have other dogs around to keep them company.

Boston Terrier’s are a highly intelligent breed that is easy to train.  They’re quick to learn tricks and cues but also do have a streak of stubbornness… not unlike most terriers. They can also excel in dog sports and competitions like agility and flyball. 

The compact size of the Boston Terrier means they can live in an apartment… but it shouldn’t be too small and they should still be getting out for walks around the neighborhood.  If you are out in the cold temperatures, know that Boston Terriers don’t tolerant those temperatures very well so brush up on your dog fashion and be sure they have a warm coat or sweater to keep them cozy.

Boston Terriers are a brachycephalic breed which can make them more susceptible to overheating in hot or humid weather.  Being brachycephalic also makes them prone to respiratory issues which you should be aware of when you are playing or exercising with them.

Their coat is sleek, smooth, and short, making them fairly low maintenance when it comes to grooming.  They tend not to shed as much as some other breeds.  However, they should still be brushed, at least weekly, to get rid of loose hairs and keep their coat and skin healthy.  Bathing can be done as needed, based on the lifestyle that you and your dog live.

Want to really dress up your Boston Terrier?  Why not a bowtie to his collar to complete his tuxedo appearance!

Temperament:  Friendly / Bright / Amusing

Height:  15 to 17 inches

Weight:  12 to 25 lbs

Life Expectancy:  11 to 13 years

Bichon Frise

The Bichon Frise is a breed that loves to please, is friendly and very easy-going. In their traditional haircut they are known for their poofy, velvety coat with their rounded head hair which shows off their large dark eyes, nose and lips… this is also a breed that is no stranger to dog shows. Their coat, which makes them look like a cotton ball, needs a lot of care grooming-wise.  They mat very easily and this can lead to painful skin irritations.  Frequent at-home brushing with appointments at the professional groomers every 4 to 6 weeks for a bath and haircut. Bichons are also classed as a low-shedding dog, and though there is no guarantee with this, they are a possible choice as a dog for those that suffer from allergies.

The Bichon can thrive in apartments and houses alike but will need playtime in order to get their energy out.  They are a perfect companion for families, seniors and everyone in between.  With their love of being with their humans it makes them a breed that does not like to be left alone.  When considering adding a Bichon Frise to your life be aware these dogs can suffer from separation anxiety so look long and hard at your lifestyle to see if they will be a good fit.

The Bichon is quick to learn so training should be fun for both you and your dog.  As they are sensitive it is most effective to use positive training techniques using lots of rewards and praise.  This will set them up for success in learning lots of new tricks and cues.

Overall, they are a playful and gentle dog.  They get along well with other pets in the home and are generally considered good with children.  However, children should always be supervised around dogs to ensure accidents don’t happen.

Temperament:  Curious / Playful / Peppy

Height:  9.5 to 11.5 inches

Weight:  12 to 18 lbs

Life Expectancy:  14 to 15 years

CAVALIER KING CHARLES SPANIEL

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is descended from the Toy Spaniel and was given their name by King Charles II who was very fond of the breed. As one of the largest of the toy breeds they combine both gentleness and athleticism within their personality. Enjoying activities such as hiking and dog sports is only one side of them… they also adapt well to a lifestyle that is more quiet and relaxed.  Either is fine as long as they get to be around their people!  

With their attachment to, and love of their humans, they do best in a home where someone is around during the day so that they are not alone. It is not uncommon for Cavaliers to follow in your footsteps… literally… they will be by your side… even in the bathroom!

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is an incredibly friendly breed that loves their family members… including kids… and gets along well with other dogs and cats.  In their eyes, complete strangers are simply friends that they haven’t met yet!  With their personalities they would not be a good choice for a watch dog.

Cavaliers have a medium-length wavy coat that comes in one of four distinct varieties:

  • Blenheim – chestnut markings on a white background.  Some have a chestnut spot in the middle of their forehead… this is called the “Blenheim spot”.
  • Tricolor – black and white with tan markings over the eyes and on the cheeks, and as well on the inside of their ears, legs and the underside of the tail.
  • Ruby – chestnut all over their body though some may have the occasion white markings
  • Black and Tan –  black body with tan highlights, primarily on the eyebrows, cheeks, legs and beneath the tail.

A Cavalier King Charles will shed and they do require regular bathing and brushing.  Brushing is best every day, but if not, at least a few times a week in order to keep their coat and skin healthy.  They should also visit the groomer about every 6 weeks where they will get a bath and a trim.

When it comes to training, Cavaliers are very intelligent and eager to please their people.  With their sweet and gentle personality, positive reinforcement training methods will help to ensure that training is successful.  Aversive measures – even yelling – will be counterproductive and likely cause them to hide. Like many toy breeds, house training can be a little challenging.  Using a schedule and maintaining consistency will go a long way to helping ensure they are successfully potty trained.

Temperament:  Affectionate / Graceful / Gentle

Height:  12 to 13 inches

Weight:  13 to 18 lbs

Life Expectancy:  12 to 15 years

Do you have a favorite small breed dog? Is there one that you have always wanted?

Until next time…

CREDIT: AKC (STATS)

SMALL DOG BREEDS

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