Taking care of a dog is a big responsibility. From feeding your dog to scheduling regular veterinary appointments, there are many things you need to do to keep your pup safe, healthy, and happy. There’s a reason some people say that owning a dog helps prepare you for parenthood!
But does this mean that all dogs are high maintenance?
There are many reasons why you might want an easy maintenance small dog. For example, an elderly person might not want an active dog that requires lots of walks and exercise. Someone who’s recently moved to the city to start a new career might want a dog for companionship, but will need to get a dog who’s fine being left alone during the day. And a person with allergies might want a dog with short hair or a dog that doesn’t shed.
Fortunately, there are several easy maintenance small dog breeds. These dogs are just as loyal, loving, and cute as any other dog, but they’re considered ideal for first time pet owners or people who simply need an easy experience.
Before we explore all the small dog breeds with low maintenance, what does “low maintenance” even mean in the first place?
What Is Considered a Low Maintenance Small Dog?
We realize that this term can mean different things to different people, so we want to make sure we’re all on the same page. To include a dog breed on this list, we asked ourselves the following questions:
- How much exercise does the dog breed require? At the very minimum, all dog breeds require at least 30 minutes of exercise each day. This keeps them healthy and prevents any health issues from coming up. However, some dog breeds (such as Australian cattle dogs) need over 2 hours of “intense” exercise each day as well as mental stimulation. Dogs that require no more than 30 minutes of exercise daily are included in our list below. This is perfect for seniors or young professionals with busy lifestyles.
- How friendly is the dog? You want your dog to be friendly and loyal, but that doesn’t mean that they’ll be friendly to all people. Chihuahuas, for example, are notorious for being “one person dogs.” This means that they’ll be faithful to their owners, but will be shy or outright aggressive towards everyone else. Dog breeds that are friendly to a wide range of people are included in our list. This is perfect for people who have large families, frequently have guests over, or live in an apartment where there are lots of interactions with other people.
- Is the dog easy to groom? Does it shed a lot? Dogs with long hair require frequent trips to professional groomers – or else their hair might get tangled or matted. And dogs that shed a lot can cause allergies for people who are sensitive to pet dander and fur. Plus, this will cause even more work for you, as you’ll have to vacuum more frequently to keep your place clean and free of excessive dog hair. Small dog breeds that are easy to groom are included in our list!
- Can the dog be left alone? While each dog has its own distinct and unique personality, some dog breeds are clingier than others. This means that they can’t be left alone for long periods of time. Chihuahuas, Jack Russell Terriers, and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, for example, are known to be clingy dogs. On the other hand, a dog that can be left alone without separation anxiety (and without destroying anything) is considered a low maintenance dog. We included dogs that are fine with being by themselves while you’re at work or running errands on our list!
- Is the dog stubborn or obedient? Is it easy to train? Low maintenance small dog breeds are easy to train. They are both obedient and highly intelligent. This means that they pick up on cues quickly and will obey you to make you happy! The easier a dog is to train, the faster they will be house-broken and potty trained. Fast potty training is key to a low maintenance dog! Of course, each individual dog has its own personality, so if you happen to have a dog that’s stubborn, a small dog training collar will help with training! Breeds that are smart, obedient, and easy to train are included in our round-up below.
Now that we’ve established what it means to be “low maintenance,” let’s take a look at the best small dog breeds (toy breeds) with low maintenance!
These small dogs, sometimes described as “hot dog” pups because of their long shape, are one of the most popular small dog breeds. Because they have such short, little legs, they don’t require that much exercise. Even though their ancestors were hunting dogs that went after badgers, they’ve been bred and domesticated to be much calmer today. While they are loyal and loving just like any other dog, they are also okay with being left alone for several hours a day. Just be sure to leave toys at home so your cute Dachshund has something to play with!
The Pug is an adorable, cuddly dog that makes a great family pet. They are very affectionate and love to snuggle up on laps or in bed. However, they can get quite large if not properly fed. Pugs need about 1/2 cup of food twice per day. If you want to keep this breed around forever, make sure you feed them healthy foods, as they’re prone to health issues if you give them human food. Pugs are also known for their short hair, which makes them perfect for people with allergies. Finally, Pugs have gentle temperaments, so they’re excellent with children, seniors, and gatherings at your home.
This Japanese breed was originally used as a hunting dog, and they also made excellent guard dogs to protect against thieves and intruders. Today, they maintain that loyalty, but are also highly independent. In fact, many people describe the Shiba Inu personality as "cat like." Shiba Inus are intelligent, friendly, and playful. They tend to bond well with humans and other animals. The Shiba Inu is a medium-sized dog, weighing between 20-30 pounds, though they are also commonly mixed with small toy breeds. They have a coat that comes in three different colors: black, tan, and white.
If you’re looking for a low maintenance small dog that doesn’t shed, look no further than the Bichon Frise. This adorable pup is known for being a hypoallergenic dog that doesn’t shed or require professional grooming. The Bichon Frise loves to sit on your lap, but they also need alone time, so you won’t feel like they’re overly clingy or needy. However, while the Bichon Frise is an excellent hypoallergenic dog, they sometimes have “small dog syndrome.” In other words, your pup might feel threatened by the larger world because it realizes that it’s so small. If your dog showcases small dog syndrome, then you might want to consider looking into small dog training collars to keep your pup’s behavior in check!
Do you absolutely adore “puppy eyes”? If so, then the Havanese might be the perfect low maintenance small dog for you! The Havanese are known for their big hearts and for adoring people. For them, there’s no such thing as too much love. Yes, they’ll be loyal and loving towards you, but they’ll also be friendly and love being petted by strangers. Havanese dogs are also known for being adaptable. Whereas most dogs like routine, Havanese dogs will adjust nicely to any changes in your lifestyle.
Shih Tzus have two distinct personalities in one. First, they are very energetic, but they also have an extremely laid back side, perfectly content to sleep (on or off your lap) all afternoon. With that being said, don’t worry about this breed being too active, as its personality is one of balance. There are moments where this dog will happily run as fast as it can around your home, but it can also be a couch potato. Despite its size, Shih Tzus also make excellent watch dogs, and they’ll bark when strangers come to the door. But again, the “balance” ensures that your Shih Tzu won’t be aggressive. Rather, after barking at the door, your Shih Tzu will greet everyone who comes in with cuddles and enthusiastic kisses.
If you’re looking for a low maintenance small to medium sized dog, the Miniature Schnauzer might be at the top of your list! These pups range in size from 12 to 20 pounds and are friendly, intelligent, alert, fearless, and obedient. They are extremely independent, which makes them perfect for those with busy lifestyles.
However, because the Miniature Schnauzer is independent, some owners worry that their “dog is suddenly ignoring me.” If this happens, it’s important to be persistent. While Miniature Schnauzers are considered low maintenance dogs, their downside is that they are also considered “stubborn.” Being firm and patient is key to handling this otherwise low-key dog!
Australian Terriers are excellent family pets, as they’re gentle with kids. Even though they can have perky personalities, they don’t require a lot of space. In fact, Australian Terriers are considered one of the best low maintenance small dogs for apartments, condos, and similarly limited spaces. Like many Aussie dogs, the Australian Terrier is a quick study, meaning that they are intelligent canines that can quickly learn new tricks and commands. They have a distinctive, beautiful coat of hair. These dogs are also known for their curiosity, grit, and sharp observation skills.
The Maltese is famously known for being a white lap dog. In fact, they are often considered the best low maintenance dogs for seniors. They prefer short, easy walks and only weigh up to 7 pounds. It’s not uncommon to see Maltese owners carrying around their pup in a purse or bag. Unlike other dogs on this list, the Maltese doesn’t like being home alone for long periods of time. This particular breed can be prone to separation anxiety, which is why they’re best suited for seniors, who are likely to spend more time at home during retirement. Of course, if you work remotely or if members of your household will be home, then a Maltese might be right for you! But if you are gone for most of the day, then you might want to consider another dog breed. A Maltese that gets lots of affection and attention is a happy, healthy Maltese!
For those with extremely sensitive allergies to pet dander and fur, then you might want to consider an Affenpinscher. This low maintenance non shedding small dog is one of the top choices for people searching for hypoallergenic dogs. The Affenpinscher is also known as a “Monkey Terrier.” If you look closely at its face, you might even agree that it sort of looks like a monkey! Don’t let the name fool you: the Affenpinscher doesn’t like monkey business. Due to their history as working dogs, the Affenpinscher is quick to learn and extremely obedient. Their personalities are often described as curious, playful, and adventurous. They come in black, tan, gray, silver, red, and belge.
Final Notes: Why Won’t My “Low Maintenance” Dog Listen to Me?
While the breeds in this list are considered the best low maintenance small dogs, it’s important to remember that these are just generalizations. It’s impossible to truly predict what each individual dog will be like.
Just like humans, dogs have their own histories that make them unique and distinct from each other, even from others in their own breed. Think about it: a dog raised in a shelter will naturally have a different personality from a rescue dog, who will also have a different personality from a dog raised in a loving family. Yes, genetics and breed characteristics are important, but each dog needs to be treated as a unique pup.
With that being said, if you discover that your “low maintenance” dog is suddenly being “high maintenance,” ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I being clear with my communication?
- Am I using the same words for specific commands?
- Are we practicing obedience training every day?
- Has something changed with our routine or lifestyle?
- Could my dog be trying to tell me something?
- Are there any medical reasons why my dog might be behaving differently?
By asking yourself these questions, you will be able to figure out why your dog might suddenly be ignoring you or behaving differently.
If you’re still having trouble with obedience and stopping unwanted behavior, then you’ll want to consider a training collar for toy breeds. Our collars are specifically made for dogs between 5 to 15 pounds, so you can rest assured that the intensity levels are perfectly safe for your pup! In fact, our vibration and shock modes have levels ranging from 1 (low) to 9 (high), so that you can find the perfect intensity setting for your dog.
By training your dog properly and stopping unwanted behavior, you can better enjoy your time with a low maintenance dog!