A close-up of a small pomeranian dog licking its nose with a blurred green background.

5 Small Dog Breeds for Apartment Living


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Small dog breeds can be the best canine companions for living in an apartment, townhouse or tiny house. They say greatness comes in small packages and tiny dogs are living proof.

Little dogs pack way above their weight in character and they’re generally good listeners (we just made that one up, but it’s true!). They also tend double up as adorable hot water bottles because they love lounging on your lap. Pint-size dog breeds often (but not always) also have lower exercise needs, which is good for self-confessed relaxers.

And if sleeping with your dog in your bed is part of your lifestyle, they won’t hog the whole bed either! Now let’s look at which tiny dogs fit your life and your apartment perfectly.

5 small dogs that are happy in apartments

There are many small dog breeds that are perfect pals for apartment living. In this article we’ve outlined five compact canines that like indoor living provided they get some fresh air too.

After you read this, also read our guide to best pets for apartments and lowest maintenance pets for apartments.

#1. Chihuahua 

A Chihuahua - considered to be the smallest of all dog breeds

Chihuahuas are considered to be the smallest recognised dog breed (sometimes with a big amount of bark)! Although they’ve been known to be loud and vocal at times, they’re easy to train to temper the volume.

Well trained and socialised Chihuahuas are great small dogs for apartments and similar, especially for singles and those without children. They prefer to have you all to themselves rather than share you with human kids. Separation anxiety in pets is a concern for Chihuahuas that don’t get enough quality time with their person/people.

These tiny dogs are perfect for pet parents that enjoy getting out and about every day. Your Chihuahua will need a healthy dose of regular exercise and playtime.

Here are more fast facts on this tiny dog with a big personality:

Life span12 – 20 years
Weight1.8 – 4.1 kg
Height15 – 30 cm
CoatShort or long-haired
Health Prone to neurological disease and luxating patella (trick knee)

#2. Pomeranian

Pomeranian is a small dog breed

Like the Chihuahua, the Pomeranian can also be a big barker if not well trained and exercised. That said Pomeranians are well adapted to apartment living. They’re smart and can easily be trained and don’t need lots of exercise but for a few short daily walks or a small run around in a fenced-off area.

Read these puppy training tips or look for a trusted puppy school in NZ for your Pom.

Pomeranians love friendship and will happily entertain you as their main activity. They’re uber cute. So cute in fact that they’re considered one of the cutest dog breeds in the world. They get along with older kids – younger kids and Poms don’t always mix well.

These small dogs can actually make great watchdogs. They might not be able to single-pawedly fend off intruders but with a bit of training they can certainly figure out when to sound the alarm.

Here are more fast facts on this small dog breed:

OriginPoland/Germany (known as Pomerania)
Life span12 – 16 years
Weight1.4 – 3.2 kg
Height18 – 30 cm
CoatThick double coat
Health Prone to early tooth loss, hair loss and luxating patella (trick knee)

Psst … Is reading about these pup personalities making you wonder which dog (or cat) YOU may be at heart? Find out what pet you are and share it with your friends – click below:

#3. Miniature Dachshund 

This miniature Dachshund is a small dog breed that loves indoor apartment dwelling and is enjoying napping in mum's bed

The miniature Dachshund is an excellent choice for apartment living. It’s cute and compact size and adaptable nature are all part of this little pup’s charm. Not to mention a bottomless well of affectionate canine companionship that will warm your heart to its core.

This petite pup has low exercise requirements with a half hour of dog walks being the minimum daily dose. Not only does this little sausage dog feel comfy in limited-sized living spaces but it thrives on being an indoor dog.

The breed’s moderate grooming needs and minimal shedding contribute to a cleaner indoor environment which is always good for smaller indoor spaces. With a naturally alert disposition, mini Dachshund can make a good watchdog (not guard dog mind you) barking to let you know when someone arrives.

These little buddies make prefer to be with you as many hours of the day as possible and don’t like being left alone (think anxiety, barking and howling as a result). Read about leaving your dog home alone (and how long is OK).

Here are more miniature Dachshund facts:

Life span12 – 16 years
WeightUp to 5.5 kg
Height32 – 37 cm
CoatSmooth, long or wiry
Health Heart failure and IVDD in Dachshunds are common health concerns

#4. Maltese

Maltese dog breeds are great apartment dogs

Maltese dogs are a small dog breed that make great indoor dogs and are easygoing for first time owners. They’re super affectionate with loved ones but not so eager on strangers. For example, this Maltese pooch clearly sees this sock as a stranger.

Maltese are good for singles, couples and families with older kids. They don’t always get along great with little kids, perhaps because they’d rather be the small love object! While they’re up there amongst the best small dogs for apartments they need a good 30-minutes daily to keep the zoomies at bay.

These pint-sized pups produce virtually no dander and don’t shed as they have hair that simply grows and grows, unlike fur that sheds. If you’ve always wanted a friend whose hair you can brush like a princess – this small dog breed is the perfect pooch for you.

Given their snow-white coat, Maltese dog tear stains are highly visible. Read about how to safely remove dog tear stains and what they might indicate for a dog’s health.

Read the full Maltese dog profile and check out these breed facts:

OriginSomewhere in the central Mediterranean region
Life span12 – 15 years
Weight3 – 4 kg
Height20 cm – 25 cm
CoatWhite hair (not fur!)
Health Prone to heart problems and breathing issues like asthma

#5. Shih Tzu

Kiwi couple hugs their Shih Tzu puppy

The Shih Tzu loves kids and other dogs and barely takes up any space at all! These tiny dogs are hypoallergenic (like the Maltese) because they grow lush long hair rather than fur. And it seriously grows fast, making grooming an essential part of routine pet care.

In Mandarin “Shih Tzu” means “lion dog” but you won’t find any roaring here because this small dog breed is all about love and cuddles. This tiny dog breed has its ‘lion roots’ as a sacred animal in Buddhism, representing traits like wisdom, strength, bravery (and play)!

Shih Tzu might not be lions but they do need daily outings. Ideally two or three short outings that combine as a total of 60 minutes per day will help keep them happy and healthy.

Here are more facts about this small dog breed:

Life span10 – 18 years
Weight4 – 7.5 kg
Height20 cm – 28 cm
CoatDouble coat of hair
Health Prone to heart, eye, hair, skin, ear and breathing issues

Tiny dogs with big hearts

Before getting a new dog for your apartment it’s a great idea to research specific breed characteristics. Some small dog breeds suit apartments but still need lots of exercise, others may be couch potatoes.

Additionally, some tiny dogs are famed for having a bark that’s bigger than their bite – something to plan for when it comes to training. Unless you’re up for loud canine greetings when you meet your neighbours in a hallway or foyer.

While it’s quite possible to match a small dog breed’s characteristics to suit your lifestyle, it’s also a good idea to meet a dog before adopting or buying it.

That way you can also ensure you’re buying from an ethical dog breeder (an absolute must, unless you’re a adopting a dog).

Breed traits can be common among purebred dogs but each dog is also still very much its own personality.

Keeping small dog breeds happy and healthy

If you’re thinking of making one of these small dog breeds your furbaby, avoid puppy scams by identifying ethical dog breeders. Also know that many purebred dogs can end up in shelters – so dog adoption can be an option too.

Getting a puppy comes with many perks. For example, you get your first month (maybe more) of pet insurance FREE when you buy online with PD Pet Insurance. Puppies and dogs are prone to many hereditary illnesses, allergies and accidents and a pet plan helps you cover the cost of treatment.

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