DogPets & Animals

10 Best Small Dog Breeds for Limited Space (With Images)

Who can resist the charm of a puppy? Their cute, innocent faces, boundless energy, and playful nature melt our hearts. While puppies are undoubtedly adorable, some dog breeds maintain that puppy-like appearance throughout their lives. When considering apartment pets, the size of your furry companion isn’t the sole factor to ponder. While it’s true that large dogs may face challenges in small living spaces, there are other crucial aspects to keep in mind.

In your quest to find the ideal canine companion for apartment living, it’s essential to factor in their energy level, noise tendencies, and social disposition. Living in close proximity to neighbors entails frequent interactions and the need for your pet to be amicable towards meeting new people and other dogs.

In this article, we’ll introduce you to the most adorable small dog breeds that always look like puppies.

Characteristics of Small Dog Breeds

Generally, dogs weighing approximately 20 pounds or less are categorized as small breeds. However, it’s important to note that within this category, there exists a wide spectrum, with some small breeds being compact and close to the ground, while others are relatively tall and lean. Small size doesn’t necessarily equate to a natural inclination for being a lap dog, as many small breeds possess abundant energy levels that can rival their larger canine counterparts. Therefore, when seeking a breed suitable for compact living spaces, it’s advisable to choose one known for its calm and adaptable nature.

Quick Tip: It’s worth mentioning that small dogs often compensate for their size with vibrant personalities. This means that they greatly benefit from consistent training and positive reinforcement to ensure well-rounded behavior. Even small, low-energy dogs require daily exercise and mental stimulation to keep them engaged and content. Providing them with suitable activities and outlets for their energy is key to their overall well-being, regardless of their size.

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Top Small Dog Breeds

Small dogs are often convenient to transport, and they typically incur lower expenses when it comes to both food and medication compared to their larger counterparts. Moreover, many small dog breeds are well-suited for homes with limited space.

Below, we’ve compiled a list of 10 of the finest small dog breeds that make excellent pets.

1. Pug


Pugs, these charming little dogs, are known for their cheerful and good-natured personalities. With a history that includes being cherished pets of royalty and beloved companions to Tibetan monks, they bring a rich lineage of affection and even temperament to their owners. Their adaptable nature allows them to thrive in various living arrangements, making them suitable for small homes and apartments. However, it’s important to note that Pugs are susceptible to certain health issues, particularly breathing problems and eye-related issues, underscoring the importance of regular veterinary checkups.

Breed Overview
Height:Typically ranging from 10 to 13 inches.
Weight:Typically falling within the range of 14 to 18 pounds.
Physical Characteristics:Pugs are characterized by their square-shaped bodies, short legs, and distinctive flattened faces. They come in various colors, with black and fawn being among the most common.

Pugs’ endearing personalities and adaptability make them wonderful companions for families and individuals alike, but it’s crucial to remain vigilant about their health due to their predisposition to certain medical conditions. Regular checkups and attentive care can help ensure they lead happy and healthy lives.

2. Poodle


Poodles, a remarkable breed, exhibit three distinct sizes: toy, miniature, and standard. While the standard Poodles are relatively larger in size, the miniatures and toys fall into the category of small dogs. These smaller Poodles are not only celebrated for their longevity but also renowned for their exceptional intelligence and iconic curly coats. They possess a loving and affectionate nature, but it’s important to note that they thrive on mental and physical stimulation to keep them engaged and happy. The advantage is that even in limited living spaces, smaller Poodles can sufficiently expend their energy.

Breed Overview
Height:Miniature Poodles typically stand between 10 to 15 inches, while toy Poodles are even smaller, reaching up to 10 inches in height.
Weight:Miniature Poodles generally weigh between 10 to 15 pounds, whereas toy Poodles are notably lighter, ranging from 4 to 6 pounds.
Physical Characteristics:Poodles are recognized for their distinctive, curly, and dense coat. They come in various colors, including white, apricot, black, brown, and more.

These smaller Poodles, with their remarkable intelligence and manageable size, make excellent companions for individuals and families alike. Their adaptability to smaller living spaces, coupled with their playful and affectionate nature, positions them as ideal pets for various lifestyles.

3. Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkshire Terriers, affectionately known as Yorkies, often display a penchant for perching themselves on their owners’ laps and are quite content with being carried around. However, despite their small stature, they possess robust personalities that more than compensate for their size. Yorkies are anything but feeble; they excel as alert watchdogs, readily announcing any movements or disturbances in their surroundings. Yet, at their core, they are devoted and affectionate companions, requiring minimal space to meet their exercise needs.

Breed Overview
Height:Typically ranging from 7 to 8 inches.
Weight:Typically around 7 pounds.
Physical Characteristics:Yorkies are characterized by their compact bodies and luxuriously silky coats. They come in various color combinations, including black and tan, blue and tan, and more.

Yorkshire Terriers, with their small size and big personalities, strike an excellent balance between alertness and affection. They are well-suited for both watchdog duties and providing companionship, making them an excellent choice for various living situations, including smaller spaces. Their compact size and adaptable nature allow them to thrive as cherished pets in homes of all sizes.

4. Chihuahua


Chihuahuas, among the tiniest of dog breeds globally, are frequently spotted being carried in carriers due to their diminutive size. However, what they lack in stature, they more than compensate for with their enormous personalities. These pint-sized pups are not only endearing and fiercely loyal but also boast an active and spirited disposition, often displaying a distinct “tough dog” attitude. While many form strong bonds with their favorite humans, they can be somewhat cautious around unfamiliar individuals. The advantage of their small size is that they don’t require much space to burn off their abundant energy.

Breed Overview
Height:Typically ranging from 5 to 8 inches.
Weight:Generally weighing up to 6 pounds.
Physical Characteristics:Chihuahuas are recognizable by their alert expressions and come with either smooth or long coats. They can be found in various colors, including black, tan, and more.

Chihuahuas, with their tiny stature and larger-than-life personalities, make delightful companions. Their active nature and spirited demeanor mean they can thrive in smaller living spaces, making them an excellent choice for individuals or families looking for a compact yet spirited addition to their households.

5. Boston Terrier

The Boston Terrier, characterized by its cheerful, loyal, and even-tempered nature, is a breed with a fascinating history. It originated from a deliberate crossbreeding between an English Bulldog and a White English Terrier and was aptly named after the city where it was first developed. Boston Terriers are known for their playful disposition, coupled with an enduring love for curling up in their owners’ laps. Their adaptability is a standout feature, making them well-suited for apartment living and various lifestyles.

Boston Terriers, with their amiable temperament and manageable size, make exceptional companions for families and individuals alike. Their playful nature and affectionate demeanor make them equally at home during playtime and relaxation. Their adaptability to apartment living further cements their status as an ideal choice for various living arrangements.

Breed Overview
Height:Typically standing between 15 to 17 inches.
Weight:Generally ranging from 12 to 25 pounds.
Physical Characteristics:Boston Terriers are distinguished by their short, expressive faces and sleek, smooth coats. They come in various color combinations, including black and white, seal and white, and more.

Boston Terriers, with their amiable temperament and manageable size, make exceptional companions for families and individuals alike. Their playful nature and affectionate demeanor make them equally at home during playtime and relaxation. Their adaptability to apartment living further cements their status as an ideal choice for various living arrangements.

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6. Pomeranian


Pomeranians possess a charming appearance, often likened to a delightful fusion of a stuffed animal and a miniature lion, courtesy of their long, fluffy coat. Beyond their striking looks, they are known for their alertness and occasionally bossy demeanor, underscored by an unwavering loyalty to their cherished humans. These pint-sized pups exhibit a strong-willed spirit that benefits from consistent training and well-defined boundaries. Given their small stature, Pomeranians do not require extensive exercise, with a few daily walks and playtime sessions sufficing to meet their activity needs.

Breed Overview
Height:Typically standing between 6 to 7 inches.
Weight:Generally ranging from 3 to 7 pounds.
Physical Characteristics:Pomeranians are characterized by their compact bodies and voluminous, fluffy coats. They come in a variety of colors, including black, orange, and more.

Pomeranians, with their distinctive appearance and spirited personalities, make endearing companions for those willing to provide them with the attention and training they require. Their manageable exercise needs and petite size make them suitable for various living situations, from apartments to homes with limited space, as long as they receive the love and guidance they crave.

7. Dachshund


The Dachshund, affectionately referred to by a plethora of charming nicknames such as “doxie,” “wiener dog,” “sausage dog,” and “hot dog,” among others, owes its monikers to its distinctive appearance. Dachshunds are available in both standard and miniature sizes, with the latter particularly appealing to those who appreciate small breeds. Their disposition is characterized by sweetness and affection toward their families, although they tend to exercise caution around unfamiliar individuals.

Breed Overview
Height:Typically ranging from 5 to 9 inches
Weight:Can weigh up to 32 pounds.
Physical Characteristics:Dachshunds are instantly recognizable thanks to their elongated bodies, short legs, and a charming array of coat colors, including chocolate, black, red, and more.

Dachshunds, with their unique appearance and endearing nicknames, make wonderful companions for families and individuals alike. Their adaptable size and affectionate nature are well-suited for various living arrangements, from apartments to homes with limited space. While they may be initially reserved around strangers, their loyalty and affection towards their loved ones are bound to win hearts.

8. Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu can be considered the quintessential lap dog, a role it’s well-suited for given its history as a breed created primarily for companionship. These delightful dogs are adorned with long, silky fur, although many owners opt to trim their coats for practical maintenance. In terms of temperament, Shih Tzus are known for their resilience and carry themselves with an alert and confident disposition.

Breed Overview
Height:Typically standing between 9 to 11 inches.
Weight:Generally weighing between 9 to 16 pounds.
Physical Characteristics:Shih Tzus boasts a luxurious double coat, which comes in a variety of colors, including black, blue, silver, white, and more.

Shih Tzus, with their endearing appearance and charming personality, excels in their role as loving companions. Their manageable size and adaptable nature make them well-suited for various living situations, and they readily fulfill their historical purpose as affectionate and devoted pets. Whether sporting their silky long coats or a trimmed look, these dogs are sure to capture the hearts of their owners.

9. Miniature Schnauzer

Miniature Schnauzer

The Miniature Schnauzer, characterized by its spirited disposition, is a small yet feisty dog with a friendly yet resilient personality. Easily distinguishable by its distinctive bearded haircut, this terrier breed possesses a deep sense of loyalty and protectiveness toward its family members. It is also renowned for its vocal tendencies, emphasizing the need for a solid foundation in training. However, with regular daily walks and engaging playtime, the Miniature Schnauzer proves to be a well-suited choice for those residing in smaller homes.

Breed Overview
Height:Typically standing between 12 to 14 inches.
Weight:Generally weighing in the range of 11 to 20 pounds.
Physical Characteristics:Miniature Schnauzers are recognizable by their bushy beards and eyebrows. They come in various colors, including black, silver, and more.

The Miniature Schnauzer, with its lively demeanor and iconic appearance, serves as an excellent addition to families and individuals seeking a small but spirited companion. Their manageable size and adaptability make them suitable for apartment living, provided they receive the physical activity and mental stimulation they require.

10. Maltese


The Maltese breed is renowned for its gentle yet courageous temperament. These dogs are typically characterized by their playful and friendly nature, forging strong bonds with their families. Their lineage traces back to ancient times when they served as cherished companions to royalty and nobility, a legacy that continues to this day. Modern-day Maltese dogs still relish being pampered and do not require much space to roam freely.

Breed Overview
Height:Typically ranging from 7 to 9 inches.
Weight:Generally weighing up to 7 pounds.
Physical Characteristics:Maltese dogs are known for their dark, alert eyes and their silky, pristine white coats.

The Maltese, with their endearing disposition and royal heritage, make exceptional companions for families and individuals alike. Their petite size and adaptable nature render them well-suited for various living situations, including smaller homes and apartments. Their love for affection and minimal exercise need to further solidify their status as beloved and pampered members of the family.

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Tips to Care for Small Dog Breeds

Before embarking on the journey of small dog ownership, it’s essential to understand the unique care requirements that small dog breeds and mixed breeds with small sizes demand. While individual personalities can vary greatly, small dogs have distinct needs compared to their larger counterparts. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to care for small dog breeds:


Small dogs generally have longer lifespans than larger breeds, often extending by several years. Thus, it’s crucial to consider the long-term commitment involved in adopting a small dog. While larger dogs might have an average lifespan of around 12 years, many small breeds can live to 17 years or even more!


Diet is another critical aspect of caring for small dog breeds. Small dogs require fewer calories compared to their larger counterparts. Examining the label on your chosen dog food can help determine the appropriate portion size for your furry companion. If you’re uncertain about your dog’s dietary needs, consult your veterinarian. They may recommend specialized food tailored for small breeds, typically featuring smaller kibble pieces for easier chewing.


The exercise requirements for small dog breeds can vary widely. Some small dogs are bursting with energy, while others prefer a more sedentary lifestyle. In general, small and miniature dog breeds tend to be less active than larger dogs. It’s essential to ensure that you’re not pushing your little companion too hard during physical activities, considering their petite legs.

When walking your small dog, it’s a good idea to use a harness instead of a collar, as small dogs are prone to tangling their leashes around their legs. Additionally, some small breeds are susceptible to kneecap issues. If you notice your dog limping, you can gently pop the kneecap back into place by running your fingers from the ankle to the knee. However, if the limping persists or your dog appears to be in pain, don’t hesitate to contact your veterinarian.


Proper socialization is crucial for small dogs from the moment you bring them home. Establishing positive social skills early is easier than trying to correct behavioral issues later on. Positive reinforcement training is highly recommended, but if it doesn’t yield the desired results, seeking guidance from a professional dog trainer is a wise choice. 

Consistently exposing your dog to other dogs and strangers is essential for fostering good manners and social behavior. Encourage polite interactions, and remember that practice makes perfect. If your dog approaches other dogs with a friendly sniff rather than aggressive barking, they are on the right path, as this is the doggy equivalent of a polite handshake.

Taking these considerations into account will help ensure a happy and healthy life for your small furry companion.

Bottom Line

In a world where space can often be a premium, finding the perfect toy dog breed can make all the difference in your pet ownership experience. These compact canines bring enormous joy and companionship, perfectly tailored to limited living spaces. From the spirited Miniature Schnauzer to the elegant Maltese, there’s a small dog breed to suit every lifestyle. Remember that each dog is an individual, so take the time to understand their unique needs, provide proper training and socialization, and enjoy the love and loyalty of your small furry friend.


Are small dog breeds suitable for families with children?

Yes, many small dog breeds are excellent family pets. However, it’s essential to choose a breed known for its compatibility with children and ensure proper socialization and supervision.

Do small dogs require less exercise than larger breeds?

Small dogs generally need less physical exercise than larger breeds, but their energy levels can vary. Daily walks and playtime are essential for keeping them healthy and happy.

Are small dog breeds more prone to health issues?

Some small breeds may be predisposed to specific health concerns. Regular vet check-ups, a balanced diet, and proper care can help mitigate potential issues.

What’s the average lifespan of small dog breeds?

Small dogs often have longer lifespans than larger breeds, with many living well into their teens. Lifespan can vary depending on the breed and individual health.

Do small dogs require special grooming due to their size?

While grooming needs vary by breed, many small dogs have long or fine coats that may require regular grooming to prevent matting and maintain their appearance.

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