10 Best Small Dog Breeds for City Living

Jasmine Okechukwu

Looking for the best small dog breed for city living? If you’re anything like me, your furry friend isn’t just a pet; they’re a part of the family. But let’s face it, living with a dog in the city presents its own set of challenges.

Space is limited, dog parks might be few and far between, and not all breeds are suited to the hustle and bustle of city life.

That’s why it’s essential to choose a breed that meshes well with your urban lifestyle. So, if you’re contemplating bringing a canine companion into your city home, you’re in the right place.

This article aims to make your decision a little easier by rounding up the top small dog breeds that are best suited for city living. We’ll explore factors like size, exercise needs, and socialization, and we’ll introduce you to some adorable breeds that might just be your perfect match.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Small Dog for City Living

So, you’ve made the big decision to bring a dog into your urban life. Awesome! But before you rush off to the nearest breeder or animal shelter, let’s discuss some critical factors to keep in mind when selecting a small dog that will thrive in a city environment.

1. Size

First things first—size does matter, especially when you’re living in a smaller space. A small dog doesn’t necessarily mean a teacup-sized pup; breeds that weigh up to 20-25 pounds often adjust well to apartment living.

Their compact size makes it easier for them to move around, and they’re generally easier to carry, whether it’s up and down stairs or on public transit.

2. Exercise Needs

While all dogs need exercise, the amount varies from breed to breed. Some dogs are quite content with a quick walk and some indoor play, while others need more vigorous exercise. Know what you can realistically provide in terms of physical activity before making your choice.

3. Noise Levels

Ah, the infamous yapping small dog stereotype. While it’s not true for every small breed, some are more vocal than others. In close quarters like an apartment building, a constantly barking dog can quickly make you unpopular with your neighbors. Look for breeds known for being relatively quiet, or be prepared to invest time in training.

4. Socialization

Some small dogs get along well with other animals and people; others, not so much. If you live in a bustling city where your dog will encounter many different sights, sounds, and beings, consider a breed known for its social skills.

5. Coat Type

Frequent grooming can be both time-consuming and costly. If you’re not up for the challenge, look for breeds with low-maintenance coats. This is especially important if you suffer from allergies; some breeds are more hypoallergenic than others.

6. Allergies

Speaking of allergies, make sure to consider not just your own, but also any potential sensitivities your new furry friend might have. Cities can be hubs for all kinds of allergens, from pollen to pollution.

Benefits of Owning a Small Dog in the City

Having a dog can immensely enrich your life, offering companionship, love, and even a few laughs (because let’s be honest, dogs are hilarious). And while having a smaller dog may feel like a compromise, it’s actually a win-win situation, especially if you’re living in the city. Here are some key benefits to consider:

1. Easier to Maneuver in Small Spaces

If you’ve ever tried to fit a Great Dane into a studio apartment, you’ll appreciate this point. Small dogs are more adaptable to smaller living spaces. They fit comfortably in compact apartments, can easily be taken on elevators, and are more manageable when it comes to indoor play and cuddles on the couch.

2. Lower Costs for Food and Health Care

Let’s talk budget. Smaller dogs eat less food, which means your grocery bill won’t skyrocket when you bring one home. Additionally, smaller breeds usually require lower doses of medication and smaller equipment like beds, toys, and leashes, which can make a difference in your wallet over time.

3. Greater Ease in Finding Pet-Friendly Apartments

Finding a pet-friendly apartment is hard enough. Many landlords have restrictions on dog breeds and sizes, making it more challenging if you own a larger dog. Small dogs are more widely accepted in rental units and even some hotels if you like to travel, giving you greater freedom and flexibility in your living arrangements.

Top 10 Small Dog Breeds Perfect for City Living

Finding the right dog for city life can be a daunting task, but you’re in luck! Here’s an in-depth look at ten small breeds that are not only compact but also well-suited for urban living.

1. French Bulldog

Big Rope French Bulldogs
Image: AZFrench Bulldogs

Frenchies are known for being low-key and amiable, making them great companions. They’re often good with children and other pets. Not a fan of long walks? No problem.

French Bulldogs are content with a leisurely stroll around the block and some indoor playtime. Their smooth coats require minimal grooming. However, their flat faces make them prone to overheating, so keep them cool in hot weather.

2. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

English Toy Spaniel
Source: Antoine91// Wikimedia Commons

This breed is exceptionally social and friendly, often getting along well with kids, strangers, and other animals. While they do enjoy outdoor walks, they can also adapt to limited exercise, making them excellent for apartment living. Their long, silky coats need regular brushing to prevent mats and tangles.

3. Boston Terrier

Boston Terriers are intelligent, sociable dogs. They have a good-natured disposition that makes them ideal for families. These dogs are moderately active and will thrive with a combination of indoor games and short walks. Boston Terriers are prone to obesity, so keep an eye on their diet and make sure they get enough exercise.

4. Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu
Source: Marcelo RosaMelo//Wikimedia Commons

Known for their friendly and outgoing nature, Shih Tzus makes excellent companions for families and single owners alike. A few short walks and some playtime indoors are generally sufficient to keep a Shih Tzu happy. Their long, flowing coats require regular grooming to keep them clean and free of mats.

5. Pomeranian

White Pomeranian
Source: Boredathome101//Wikimedia Commons

Don’t let their small size fool you; Pomeranians are energetic and intelligent, often loving to play games and solve puzzles. While active, their small size means a lot of play can happen indoors or in small outdoor spaces. Their thick double coat needs frequent brushing to prevent matting.

6. Miniature Schnauzer

These dogs are alert and friendly, often acting as mini watchdogs. They tend to be intelligent and eager to please. They’re fairly active and enjoy walks and games that challenge them mentally. Regular grooming is essential to keep their distinctive beard and eyebrows looking sharp.

7. Dachshund

Source: Katemil94//Wikimedia Commons

Curious and brave, Dachshunds have a hunting heritage but are generally friendly and playful. These dogs love a good walk but be cautious not to over-exert them due to their long spines. Keeping their weight in check is crucial to avoid back problems, a common issue for this breed.

8. Toy Poodle

Toy Poodle
Source: TheSamDe//Wikimedia Commons

Highly intelligent and trainable, Toy Poodles make excellent pets for those willing to engage them mentally. They enjoy both physical and mental stimulation, making interactive toys a good option. Their curly coats are hypoallergenic but require regular grooming to prevent mats.

9. Chihuahua

Source: Caterinarufo//Wikimedia Commons

These tiny dogs are fiercely loyal to their owners and can be a bit reserved around strangers. Most of their exercise needs can be met with indoor play, though they also enjoy short walks. They’re sensitive to cold weather, so you may need to invest in some doggy sweaters for winter outings.

10. Yorkshire Terrier (Yorkie)

Yorkies are full of energy and affection. They love being the center of attention and are generally good with other animals. A moderate amount of exercise like short walks and indoor play keeps them happy. Their long, silky coats require regular grooming, and they can be prone to obesity, so monitor their diet closely.

Tips for Urban Dog Ownership

Owning a dog in the city can be a rewarding experience, but it also comes with its unique challenges. Here are some tips to help you navigate city life with your new four-legged friend:

1. Dog Parks and Socialization

Dog parks aren’t just a place for your pooch to let off some steam; they’re also fantastic for socialization. This is especially important in cities where your dog will encounter a multitude of people, animals, and environments. Always supervise your dog at the park and use it as an opportunity to practice commands and good behavior.

2. Importance of Regular Vet Visits

Urban environments can expose your dog to various pollutants and potential health risks that you might not encounter in more rural settings. Regular vet visits are essential for vaccinations, check-ups, and preventative measures like flea and tick treatments.

3. Training for Noise and Other Distractions

Cities are loud. From honking horns to bustling crowds, your dog will need to get used to a range of noises. Consistent training can help your pup become desensitized to these distractions. Basic commands like “stay,” “sit,” and “come” can be lifesavers in busy, distracting settings.

4. Portable Water and Snack Options

You never know when you’ll be out for longer than expected. Always carry portable water and some doggy snacks to keep your pet hydrated and energized during your urban adventures.

5. Waste Management

Always, and I mean always, pick up after your dog. Not only is it the courteous thing to do, but in most cities, it’s also the law. Invest in a good poop-bag dispenser that can attach to your leash for added convenience.

6. Opt for Reflective Gear

Given that city living often involves walks during dusk or dawn—especially in the winter months—opt for reflective leashes, collars, and even vests to keep both you and your pet visible and safe.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is the best dog food for small-breed dogs?

The best dog food for small-breed dogs often depends on several factors including age, health condition, and individual nutritional needs. However, some highly recommended brands specifically tailored for small breeds are Hill’s Science Diet, Royal Canin, and Blue Buffalo.

Do small dogs need specific food?

Yes, small dogs can benefit from specific food tailored to their size. Small breeds usually have faster metabolisms and may require more calories per pound compared to larger breeds. Moreover, the size and shape of the kibble in small-breed dog food are designed to be easier for smaller jaws and teeth to handle.

What dog food do vets recommend?

Vets often recommend premium brands that are well-researched and meet AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) guidelines for nutrition. Brands like Hill’s Science Diet, Royal Canin, and Purina Pro Plan are often vet-recommended. However, it’s essential to consult your vet for the most appropriate food for your dog’s age, breed, and health condition.

Do small breeds need small-breed dog food?

While small breeds can technically eat any dog food that meets nutritional guidelines, small-breed-specific foods are generally more tailored to their unique needs. These foods offer concentrated nutrition in small kibble sizes, making it easier for them to chew and digest.


Choosing the right dog breed is crucial, especially when you’re living in a city. But don’t worry—you’ve got options! From the laid-back French Bulldog to the energetic Yorkshire Terrier, there’s a small dog breed out there that’s a perfect fit for your urban lifestyle.

Take into account your living conditions, and your ability to exercise and groom your pet, and you’re well on your way to finding your new best friend. Happy dog hunting!

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