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Top Small Dogs for Apartment Living

Want a puppy, but live in a big city? The top small dogs for apartment living will make sure that you stay landlord-approved with your new furry friend.

By Rowan MarleyPublished 7 years ago 6 min read

Dogs are man's best friend, but unfortunately, they can be a landlord's worst nightmare. While well-trained dogs that are kept clean may not be an issue for most apartment owners, it only really takes one aggressive or otherwise poorly-trained dog to cause serious property damage or a lawsuit towards a landlord.

As a result, most landlords do not allow large dogs in apartments. However, even among small dogs, there are some pups that are way more built for apartment living than others. According to veterinary and breeder sources, these are the top small dogs for apartment living.


Affenpinschers, also known as "monkey dogs" due to their faces, are regularly considered to be one of the top small dogs for apartment living. The breed has a long history of being "city-friendly," spanning back to the 1700s.

They are adorable, easy to train, are almost always under weight limits for dogs, and typically are low-maintenance.

Oh, and they also are bred to chase mice. If you have a pest problem, it's safe to say that having these fluffy little dogs might be a more organic way to keep pests away.

Bichon Frise

These little white powder puffs have gained a lot of popularity for apartment dwellers and renters. They are cute, spunky, and active little dogs that don't need much space to be lively.

If you want to have a puppy that is great with kids, loves to play, and also can be sensitive, being a Bichon Frise owner might be a good way to do it. Bichons are very adaptable, which makes them one of the top small dogs for apartment living as well as one of the best breeds for people who regularly move.

Surprisingly, they don't need too much exercise. So if you have a Bichon, don't be shocked if you can skip a day at the dog park without too much of an issue.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are regularly cited as some of the top small dogs for apartment living — and it's easy to see why. They are incredibly adaptable, easy to train, and are very sociable puppies.

These Spaniels tend to be made for companionship, which means that they may require a bit more attention than the average dog. The good news is that they make very attentive pets and also don't bark unless it's necessary.

Cavies are excellent dogs for apartment and city living, and have even gotten a little star-studded recognition for it for it. In fact, a Cavalier was Charlotte's pet of choice in the smash hit show, Sex in the City.

Boston Terriers

If you're looking for a dog that has a little bit of attitude and can make for a good guard dog, then Boston Terriers are definitely the best breed you can pick.

Their watchful eyes, friendly nature, and very vocal tendency means that you'll never have to worry about someone entering your apartment without you knowing — but that they also will not bite them.

Boston Terriers are great with cats and also are perfectly sized for studio apartments. If you love friendly puppies, you'll understand why these tuxedoed terriers are the top small dogs for apartment living.


Most commonly known as one of the world's smallest dog breeds, Chihuahuas have regularly found themselves recognized as the top small dogs for apartment living by Doglife and other breed organizations.

These dogs have a lot of personality and often will get fairly loud if they get excited. Though they may have a sassy attitude and love to play, the truth is that these petite dogs are happiest in apartments and very small houses.

Since they are so petite, Chihuahuas are excellent when it comes to living situations that may be cramped — and tend to be pretty good in terms of being carryable. In fact, they even can be tucked in a purse for subway trips!

Mini Pinschers

If a Doberman is a bit too big for you, but you love their characteristics, you'll love the super-charming Mini Pin. These alert, active dogs are perfect watchdogs for apartments both large and small — and they tend to be perfect for kids who love the idea of having a dog they can have fun with.

If you want to have a canine friend to help you get your exercise in, Mini Pinchers are a perfect choice. As such, they're one of the top small dogs for apartment living, as well as families with a penchant for sports.

Chinese Crested

One of the rarer breeds that has been called one of the top small dogs for apartment living would have to be the Chinese Crested. These semi-hairless dogs don't shed, don't bark, and are generally mellow, happy critters.

They are incredibly easy to train and are highly intelligent, making them a great dog for people who really are new to dog ownership. Chinese Cresteds also are low maintenance, too.

What really makes them a great dog to have is the fact that they are hypoallergenic — which means roommates will not have to worry about having allergy attacks from your furry buddy.

If you have a Chinese Crested, you'll find apartment living, roommates, and city living way easier to tackle.

Lhasa Apso

Though they were originally bred to be giant guard dogs, the truth is that these petite dogs are really, really tiny. Even so, they are incredible guard dogs will will alert renters to intruders fairly quickly.

Landlords claim that the Lhasa Apso is one of the top small dogs for apartment living, especially if you're looking for a dog that does well in small spaces but also can act as a guard dog.

Despite having a very loud bark, these pups are pretty good with children and are exceptionally loyal to families. Though they may be reserved with outsiders, they're total goofballs around family.

Coton de Tulear

If you need a companionship animal that loves to ride in cars, is perfectly comfortable in a small studio apartment, and also has all the love in the world to give, the ever-fluffy Coton de Tulear will be a great pick for you to consider.

Many kennel officials agree that the Coton is one of the most mellow-mannered dogs out there, and if you live in a noise-sensitive area, this is a perfect pick.

Cotons are also one of the few dog breeds out there that's known for being fluffy but also happen to be hypoallergenic, kid-friendly, and charming.

Needless to say, many HOAs call the little fluffball known as the Coton one of the top small dogs for apartment living and suburban living alike.

Mini Dachshunds

Though Dachshunds were bred to be hunters that burrowed into holes in the ground, you'll never have to worry about them doing that these days. Rather, Dachshunds are one of the top small dogs for apartment living because they tend to be so furniture friendly.

They love to walk, are sweethearts by nature, and also don't bark too often. Overall, they are undemanding dogs that work well in city environments and also look adorable at dog parks.


Many of the top small dogs for apartment living can do well in large houses, small houses, and even backyards — but not the Havanese. These dogs are explicitly indoors-only puppies that actually will panic if they are put in a large backyard.

Inside a small apartment, a Havanese will be a happy and attentive companion. They require a lot of attention, but are definitely some of the friendliest, cuddliest dogs you'll meet. Their ability to stay by your side actually makes them a great service dog for anxiety sufferers too.

Overall, if you really want a dog that sticks to you like glue, you will want to adopt a Havanese.

Japanese Chin

Most apartment landlords are okay with cat owners, but iffy with dog owner. This will probably not be the case with the petite, agile, and shockingly independent Japanese Chin.

In many ways, Japanese Chins act more like cats than they act like dogs. They leap tall furniture, and love to perch up in high altitudes like cats. They swat at things, just like cats do. Oh, and they are very independent — just like cats.

They may shed a little, but they are easy to take care of and make for very stylish pets.

Maltese (And Most Maltese Hybrids)

If you love Maltese, you're definitely not alone. This puffball is known for being one of the top small dogs for apartment living — as well as one of the best dogs for people who want a companion with personality.

Though Malteses are total lapdogs, they still adore having walks and work well with other dogs. As long as they get a fair amount of attention, they are very well-behaved and will make a point to try to make life easy for their owners.

Most people who adopt a dog with Maltese lineage will tell you that their very apartment-friendly personality tends to carry on in hybridization as well. Overall, you can't get a better pup for city living families.


About the Creator

Rowan Marley

Rowan Marley is a 20-year-old sports enthusiast who hails from Brooklyn. When he's not hitting up a local Zumba class, he's drinking organic smoothies. That's just how he rolls.

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