12 Low Maintenance Small Dogs

What makes a dog low maintenance?

That generally comes down to these five factors:

  1. Quiet
  2. Calm in most situations
  3. Intelligent and easy to train
  4. Friendly with people and other pets
  5. Low to medium grooming requirements

While it would be lovely to have a dog with all these features, most have varying degrees.

Therefore, it’s best to discover which factors you value most and find a dog that fits the bill.

How I Made This List

Working in vet clinics, training centers, dog shows, and dog grooming salons over the past 15 years has given me a unique experience with each breed.

I’ve worked one-on-one with hundreds of small dogs. But I’ve also discussed with my colleagues who are also trainers, vets, and groomers.

This list is made from our collective experience and knowledge of each breed.

Your experience may vary.

Breed characteristics and behavior are best viewed as a general description because there are always exceptions.

Likewise, with some training and patience, you can train your dog to be better behaved, bark less, or be more calm.

When reading this list, it’s important to remember these generally apply to the breed but can be overcome or may be completely different based on that particular dog’s personality.

1. Chihuahua

I often feel like the Chihuahua get’s a bad reputation as being loud and obnoxious. That is, until you’ve spent some time with one.

These dogs are typically very gentle, kind, and overall – well mannered.

While they may be wary of strangers, early socialization can help curb any potential aggression.

Their small size makes them adaptable to various living spaces, and they often require minimal exercise compared to larger breeds, making them suitable for apartment living.

Grooming a Chihuahua is a straightforward task. With short coats, they only require occasional brushing to maintain a neat appearance.

Long haired Chihuahuas need a bit more work, with one or two brushes per week, and an occasional visit to your groomer for a tidy-up.

2. Dachshund

Dachshunds, or “wiener dogs,” are fun and sassy little trouble-makers.

They’re low to medium energy, so a little playtime or a short walk is all they need. But their true calling is a warm lap and a blanket.

Training can be a challenge, however. While they’re quite receptive to most training (especially if there is a treat), excessive barking and potty training can be difficult to overcome.

Grooming can vary depending on the coat type of your dachshund. Smooth coats require minimal grooming. Long coats will need to visit a groomer for a trim and brush. Finally, wire coated dachshunds need to be hand stripped – which just happens to be my specialty.

3. French Bulldog

Black French Bulldog dog wearing rope collar in front of blurry flowers

“Frenchies” are easy to spot in a crowd. They have a large square face and bat-like ears, and a silly personality to go with it.

Training this breed is manageable due to their intelligence and eagerness to please. Their short coats make grooming a straightforward task, requiring minimal effort to maintain their sleek appearance.

With a temperament that leans towards the laid-back side, French Bulldogs fit well into a family setting.

Due to their flat face, breathing can be an issue. Therefore, I highly recommend you keep walks and heat exposure to a manageble level.

4. Havanese

Havanese, the little charmers of the dog world, are a fantastic low-maintenance breed.

When it comes to training, they’re like sponges – soaking up every command quickly. They’re also known for being seriously friendly, making them the perfect accomplice for your day.

They’re low to medium energy, so a daily walk or a lively game of fetch, and they’re good to go.

Now, grooming. Their soft, silky coats do tangle, so brushing them a few times a week keeps the fabulous fluff in check. They’re a non-shedding small dog breed, and I recommend you visit your groomer once every 6 to 8 weeks to maintain their coat.

5. Italian Greyhounds

The Italian Greyhound combine elegance and friendliness into a sleek package. Despite what you’ve heard about greyhounds, these dogs are actually quite calm.

They have bursts of energy, but overall prefer to find a warm blanket or spot in the sun.

They can be quite nervous around strangers, so early training and socialization will help them feel at ease.

While they can be good with kids, their delicate build requires careful supervision to prevent unintentional rough play.

Their affectionate and gentle nature, however, makes them great companions for families seeking a graceful yet loving addition to the household.

6. Maltese

maltese dog lying in front of blue background, looking to a side

A bundle of energy wrapped in elegance defines the Maltese perfectly.

These canine aristocrats, whether princesses or princes, revel in the finer things in life, and that includes engaging in lively runs, playful frolics, and cherished moments with their loved ones.

Their loyalty extends to a protective instinct, making them watchful and cautious around strangers, children, or other dogs.

Renowned for their intelligence, Maltese are a breeze to train, and their minimal shedding adds to the appeal.

Maintaining their elegant white coats demands daily care. I recommend you do a quick brushing session daily to relieve any tangles, and visit your groomer once every 6 to 8 weeks.

7. Miniature Schnauzer

Portrait of a cute little puppy dog sitting on owner’s lap outdoors

Often overflowing with energy and an oversized heart, the schnauzer has a zest for life in every moment.

They’re incredibly friendly and intelligent. If you can find an outlet for all that energy, you will find they’re quite trainable.

Aligning their intelligence and enthusisasm with a goal – like training, scent work, or agility, will keep them very entertaining and focused.

Schnauzer grooming is unique in that they have various coat types and hair styles.

Some require a combination of hand stripping and clipping/scissoring. Speak with an experienced groomer on how your particular dog should be trimmed.

8. Papillon

The Papillon, aptly named for its distinctive butterfly-like ears, is a small yet mighty breed known for its intelligence and agility.

Training these dogs is a joy, as they are quick learners and eager to please.

Their silky, flowing coat requires moderate grooming, with regular brushing to maintain its lustrous appearance.

Despite their diminutive size, Papillons boast a surprisingly high energy level. They are active and enjoy engaging in play, making them well-suited for families seeking a lively companion.

Their friendly nature extends to children, and with proper socialization, they can become wonderful family pets.

9. Pomeranian

The Pomeranian, a petite bundle of energy and fluff, is a spirited and intelligent breed.

Training these lively companions can be challenging due to their independent streak, but early and consistent training can yield positive results.

Despite their small stature, Pomeranians possess a high energy level and enthusiasm for play.

While they may not be the best fit for households with very young children due to their delicate size, they can form strong bonds with older children and adults.

Grooming is a significant aspect of Pomeranian care, as their double coat requires regular brushing to prevent matting and maintain its plush appearance.

This is a double coated breed – so I often have to remind owners that clipping or scissoring will eventually damage their coat.

10. Pug

The Pug, with its distinctive wrinkled face and curled tail, is a charming and affectionate breed.

Training Pugs is generally straightforward, as they are known for their eager-to-please nature.

Their short coat requires minimal grooming, making them a low-maintenance choice for those who prefer simplicity.

Pugs have a moderate energy level and enjoy a good play session, but they are equally content to lounge with their family members.

Although, these dogs are brachycephalic – meaning they have difficulty breathing, so you can’t push them too long on walks.

Pugs thrive on human interaction and fit seamlessly into family life, providing love, loyalty, and a touch of comedic charm.

11. Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu, a small and regal breed, is renowned for its friendly demeanor and luxurious coat.

Training these dogs can be a bit challenging due to their independent nature, but with patience and consistency, they can learn basic commands.

Shih Tzus typically have a moderate energy level, enjoying short bursts of play and affectionate moments with their family.

Grooming is a significant aspect of Shih Tzu care, as their long, flowing coat requires regular brushing and occasional professional grooming to maintain its beauty.

There are a wide variety of Shih Tzu styles and trims I recommend you check out. That way you know how to maintain the coat you desire.

12. Toy Poodle

The Toy Poodle, a petite and intelligent breed, is characterized by its elegant appearance and friendly disposition.

Training these dogs is usually a joy, as they are highly trainable and eager to please.

Their curly, hypoallergenic coat requires regular grooming to prevent matting and maintain their stylish look.

In my experience, groomers love styling Poodles, as they are the perfect model for the latest styles.

Toy Poodles have a moderate to high energy level, enjoying both playtime and relaxation with their family. Their friendly and social nature makes them well-suited for families, and they often get along well with children.

Their intelligence and versatility make them not only delightful family pets but also great companions for individuals or households of various sizes.

Katlin Primrose

Katlin Primrose

​​Katlin is certified master groomer with over 10 years of experience, a registered veterinarian tech assistant (working in emergency, exotics, and general practice), and has won multiple awards in the show ring with her dogs at AKC and CKC.

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