Since small dogs take up less space, many apartment dwellers prefer the smaller dog breeds.
Here are 32 small dogs who received the highest — five-star — rating of “Almost always” in the Dog Breed Finder’ Adaptability Breed Characteristic (in alphabetical order):
The Affenpinscher, also known as the “Monkey Dog” (“affen” means “ape/monkey” in German, and “pinscher” means “terrier”), is small but feisty, full of spunk and energy. This mustachioed little devil is descended from the numerous small terriers that populated 17th and 18th century stables and shops throughout Europe, ridding them of rats and mice.
2. Bichon Frise
With compact bodies, baby-doll faces, and fluffy white hair, Bichons are a very appealing breed whose looks are enhanced by a perky, good-natured disposition. They are often mistaken for white Poodles.
Comical and curious, this intelligent and devoted dog loves to spend time with his people, whether it’s going for walks, running errands, or playing with the kids. A member of the Bichon family of white, fluffy dogs — he’s also known as the Bichon Bolognese — he originated in the Italian city of Bologna, from which he takes his name. He excels at manipulating people to get his way, and can be difficult to housetrain, so be patient and consistent.
4. Boston Terrier
The Boston Terrier may have been bred to be a ferocious pit-fighter, but you’d never know it today. The little American Gentleman, as he was called in the 19th century, is definitely a lover, not a fighter, although males have been known to show their terrier ancestry with a bit of posturing when they feel their territory is being invaded by another dog.
5. Brussels Griffon
Brussels Griffons, often called Griffons for short, originated in Belgium, where their hunting skills were used to keep stables free of rats and mice. They eventually became more popular as house pets, and these cheerful, curious, and affectionate dogs do make great companions — for the right person. They’re sensitive, sometimes moody and high-strung, and more than a little demanding of their owner’s attention.
6. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a beautiful small dog that undoubtedly is a contender for the title of “top tail-wagger.” In fact, among the characteristics that Cavalier breeders strive to attain is a tail in constant motion when this breed is moving.
The Chihuahua is a saucy little hot tamale and not just because of his association with a certain fast-food Mexican restaurant. He’s renowned for being the world’s smallest dog, but he may well have the world’s biggest personality stashed inside that tiny body. That larger-than-life persona makes him appealing to men and women alike.
8. Chinese Crested
The Chinese Crested is an exotic-looking small dog who does not actually hail from China. He’s found in two variants: the Hairless, with silky hair on the head (the crest), tail (plume), and feet (socks); and the genetically recessive Powderpuff, who has a full coat. Both variants can be found in a single litter.
9. Coton de Tulear
For the smart and sweet-natured Coton de Tulear (Coton for short), the perfect day consists of nothing more than being with his person, whether it’s lying at her feet while she works, following her from room to room — not even the bathroom is sacred — or going for a ride to Starbucks.
10. Dachshund (Miniature)
Don’t let the Dachshund fool you. He might be, as legendary literary critic and humorous journalist H. L. Mencken said, “half a dog high and a dog and a half long,” but this small, drop-eared dog is tough enough to take on a badger. In fact, that’s what he was bred to do and how he got his name (Dachs meaningbadger; hundmeaning dog).
The Havanese shines his affectionate personality on everyone, including strangers, children, other dogs, and even cats. But his family will get the lion’s share of his love; given the choice, he’ll stick like glue to his owner’s side. The potential downside to all this devotion is that, when left alone, the Havanese can become anxious. This is definitely a housedog, and a Havanese who’s left in the backyard — or anywhere away from his family — is not a happy dog.
12. Japanese Chin
Jumpin’ jiminy! Is that a Japanese Chin on your fireplace mantel? It is! People who live with the Chin often marvel at the breed’s ability to leap tall furniture in a single bound. The toy-size Japanese Chin has a catlike nature that includes the desire to be in high places, the ability to climb, and the tendency to wash himself. He has also been seen batting at objects much like a cat would.
13. Lhasa Apso
The Lhasa Apso thinks he’s a large dog, a very large dog. Bred for hundreds of years to be a royal watchdog, the modern Lhasa approaches life the way his forebears did: he is a loyal guardian of home and family.
With a name that translates to “lion dog,” you might expect the Lowchen to have a fierce demeanor, but with people he’s lionlike only in his looks. Playful and gentle, the Lowchen is a great companion for children and adults alike.
Throughout his long history, the Maltese has been given many names, such as the “Melitae Dog,” “Ye Ancient Dogge of Malta,” the “Roman Ladies Dog,” “The Comforter,” the “Spaniel Gentle,” the “Bichon,” the “Maltese Lion Dog,” and the “Maltese Terrier.” Today, he is known simply as the Maltese.
16. Maltese Shih Tzu
Originally bred to be completely nonshedding (which is a misnomer since that’s not physically possible), the Maltese succeeds to some degree, since he’s a low-shedding companion. However, the Maltese Shih Tzu is much more than that.
Maltipoos are a popular cross of the Maltese and Toy or Miniature Poodle. True to their parent breeds, Maltipoos are affectionate and gentle. They make super companions for empty-nesters and are excellent therapy dogs.
18. Manchester Terrier
The Manchester Terrier is a high-spirited, very intelligent, and cunning dog who is eager to learn. He displays the true terrier nature — independent, faithful, lively, sporty, and alert. Discerning and devoted as well, a Manchester Terrier makes a loyal friend and a terrific watchdog.
19. Miniature Pinscher
“Min Pins rule” — that’s the attitude you’ll discover when you get acquainted with the Miniature Pinscher, a small, elegant dog with an arched neck and well-muscled body. Weighing in at a dainty 8 to 11 pounds, this toy breed is a tough little dog with a lot of attitude.
The Papillon, whose name comes from the French word for butterfly, is a portrait come to life, the modern representation of the small spaniels often seen in paintings from centuries past. The dwarf spaniel, as he was once known, has changed somewhat in appearance over the years, but he’s still the same wonderful companionwho graced the laps of ladies and kings so many years ago.
For a “designer dog,” the Peekapoo dog breed has a fairly long history; with the help of responsible breeders, it’s possible that the history will get longer still. A cross between a Pekingese and a Poodle, he was among the first of the recent slew of Poodle crosses to be developed, back in the 1950s and ’60s. He hasn’t gained as much recognition as some of the other designer dogs, such as the Labradoodle and the Cockapoo, but he’s won enough of a following that he’s thrived for the last five decades.
It’s no wonder the Pekingese has a self-important attitude, given his history as an imperial favorite. He was held in great esteem at the imperial court of China, and he still knows it today. A Pekingese will greet you with dignity and pride. He is well aware that his ancestors were the companions of royalty and he continues to demand the respect such a position entails today. With his soft round brown eyes, mane of long straight hair and tail carried jauntily over his back, he swaggers through life in full awareness of who he is and the importance he has to the people who live with him.
Cute, feisty and furry, Poms are intelligent and loyal to their families. Don’t let their cuteness fool you, however. These independent, bold dogs have minds of their own. They are alert and curious about the world around them. Unfortunately, in their minds, they are much larger than they really are, which can sometimes lead them to harass and even attack much larger dogs.
24. Poodle (Toy & Miniature)
Although today’s Poodles seem to epitomize a life of leisure and luxury, make no mistake: These are real dogs bred to do real jobs. Although it hardly seems possible when you look at a primped-up Poodle in the show ring, the breed was originally a water retriever, a job that requires jumping in the water to fetch waterfowl for hunters.
The Pug’s comical face, with deep wrinkles around big, dark eyes and a flat round face, can’t help but make you smile. It is believed that the Pug’s name comes from the Latin word for “fist” because his face resembles a human fist.
26. Rat Terrier (Toy & Miniature)
He makes an excellent watchdog and is the ultimate farm dog; his strong jaws and quick movements were invaluable to farmers in eradicating rats and other small vermin from farms. He is often mistaken for a smooth-coated Fox Terrier or a Jack Russell, but owners and breeders alike know of all the wonderful traits that make the Rat Terrier unique.
27. Shiba Inu
The Shiba Inu is known for a bold, fiery personality. The Japanese have three words to describe the breed’s mental traits: kaani-i (spirited boldness), ryosei (good nature), and soboku (alertness). Combined, these traits make up the interesting, intelligent, and strong-willed temperament of this breed.
28. Shih Tzu
James Mumsford, an American teacher and composer, perhaps described the Shih Tzu best: “Nobody knows how the ancient eunuchs managed to mix together: a dash of lion, several teaspoons of rabbit, a couple of ounces of domestic cat, one part court jester, a dash of ballerina, a pinch of old man, a bit of beggar, a tablespoon of monkey, one part baby seal, a dash of teddy bear, and, for the rest, dogs of Tibetan and Chinese origin.”
29. Silky Terrier
The Silky, as he’s often called, is an elegant little dog with a beautiful, silky — hopefully that wasn’t a surprise — coat of tan and blue. Beneath that delicate-looking exterior, however, is a big, bold spirit. People unfamiliar with the breed are often surprised to see the small Silky warn off intruders, romp with large dogs, or keep up with their owners on a hike.
30. Toy Fox Terrier
The Toy Fox Terrier (TFT) was developed in the United States, making him one of only a few breeds that are truly “All American.” He was created from small Smooth Fox Terriers bred with several toy breeds — including Chihuahuas and Manchester Terriers — to set breed size. He’s a true terrier, with fire, heart and spirit to go out in the field hunting squirrel, and a true toy dog, a diminutive, loving companion who will curl up on the sofa and watch TV with his people.
The Yorkipoo loves people and fun, not necessarily in that order. He will delight his family and is always willing to perform tricks or show off for any visitor. His confidence keeps him from being overly snappy or aggressive; he’s happy in his own skin. The Yorkipoo can be an excellent companion to anyone looking for a small, confident dog with ample energy and even greater love.
32. Yorkshire Terrier
The Yorkshire Terrier, nicknamed the Yorkie, seems quite full of himself, and why not? With his long silky coat and perky topknot, the Yorkshire Terrier is one of the most glamorous representatives of the dog world, sure to attract attention wherever he goes. Because he’s so small he often travels in style — in special dog purses toted around by his adoring owner.
Please remember you can adopt just about any breed of dog from the National Mill Dog Rescue!
Do you have a small dog not listed here who is a good apartment dog? Tell us about him in the Comments section!