The Best Breeds of Dogs for Families Living in Small Spaces (& Which Ones to Avoid)

“Just because a dog is small doesn’t necessarily make it the best dog for a small space,“ says Katy Nelson, a veterinarian with and host of The Pet Show with Dr. Katy. “Many small dogs are high-energy and actually require more exercise and space than a larger, slower moving, calmer canine.”

So what should you look for if your family lives in a relatively small space? Make your decision based on the dog’s personality more than size, for starters. “Also consider adopting an older pet that’s already past the crazy puppy stage,” adds Nelson. “Not only will that pup be forever grateful, you’ll have a calm, sweet companion for years to come.”

The Best Breeds of Dogs for Families Living in Small Spaces


Whether you prefer Scottish, Boston or Yorkshire terriers, these breeds are a good choice for small living spaces, says veterinarian Vijay Sasi of Vets Plus in Menomonie, Wisconsin. They train easily and need little exercise, plus they’re not big barkers.


Quiet and cute, bulldogs rarely bark, making them perfect for apartments where there might be noisy neighbors. These dogs need little exercise and rarely get any bigger than 30 pounds.


Surprise! This big dog may look like he should be living on a farm, but he’s actually perfect for city dwellers or anyone living in a small space. A couple of regular walks is all the exercise he can stand. He also trains easily, only needs occasional grooming, and rarely barks!

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

This regal breed loves niños. He needs moderate exercise, making him perfect for families with small backyards or those who regularly visit parks and playgrounds and don’t mind having him tag along. Friendly and easily trained, its one downside is that its coat requires frequent upkeep.


When I was growing up my abuelos had a Pekingese that lived to be a whopping 18 years old. She was quiet, easy to please, and slept most of the day. I never saw her run once. Perhaps that’s why she’s perfect for families with small living spaces.

The Worst Breeds of Dogs for Families Living in Small Spaces

High-energy dogs that need lots of exercise and room to roam may have different nutrient needs to help support strong muscles. Beneful Chopped Blends is protein-rich and full of the nutrients that active dogs need to thrive. If you live in a small space, however, you may want to avoid these breeds:


These dogs were born to hunt, so they’re best for families who live in the country or other wide-open spaces, where the dog can join you for hikes and take long walks. If kept cooped up, they can get anxious as their instincts tell them they should be out looking for something.


Friendly and smart, these dogs love to please about as much as they love to run. They thrive on exercise and have the stamina for it, so unless you want these dogs jumping all over your furniture and begging to go out for a run, it’s best to steer clear of any pointer breeds.


Known historically as coach dogs, meaning they ran alongside horse-drawn carriages, these cuties have a lot of energy to burn. In fact the American Kennel Club considers this breed an excellent running partner for dog owners who love to exercise.

Whether you go with a big breed or not, the key is to find a dog that is compatible with your family’s living arrangements and activity level. Just about everything else will usually fall into place with proper training.

*This post is sponsored by Beneful. The opinions and stories are my own.


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