When the space in your home is limited, the energy level and temperament of the dog you choose matters more than its size. All dogs need activities and walks, but some dogs do not require frequent or vigorous exercise. Whether your dog comes from a breeder or a shelter, and regardless of its age, it is important to research breeds and spend time with different types of dogs. Learn as much as possible about the individual dog’s personality, history and health before bringing your new family member home.
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Maltese are affectionate, social dogs who become attached to all members of the family. Maltese dogs play happily with gentle children and get along with other pets in the home. The Maltese breed is a good choice if you live in a small house, because they are not high-energy dogs and do not require a lot of space. These little dogs do need exercise and will benefit from a daily walk and a chance to run around the yard if you have one. Maltese dogs are intelligent and enjoy mentally stimulating challenges, such as learning new tricks and playing games with the family.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
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The cavalier King Charles spaniel is an easygoing yet energetic small dog who has a sweet temperament. These affectionate dogs enjoy spending time with their families and are compatible with adults, seniors, calm children and other household animals. As long as they can be with the people they love, cavalier King Charles spaniels are comfortable living in small houses or even studio apartments. While they love lounging around with their people, they also need daily exercise and are happy to go for walks anywhere you go, including short errands in the city, short hikes or a day at the beach. If you have a yard, your cavalier will benefit from the opportunity to run freely outdoors or play with family members. Cavalier King Charles spaniels are typically quiet, but some may bark when they see animals or people passing by their windows. They learn quickly and are well behaved, but they do not like to be alone, so if you can't bring her to work, another house pet might alleviate some of her anxiety.
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Toy or miniature poodles can be happy in a small house as long as you provide them with daily exercise, which does not have to be vigorous. Unlike many small dog breeds, they are easy to house train, which is one reason they are good house dogs. Poodles are highly intelligent and need mental stimulation to keep them from becoming bored or anxious. They are quick to learn tricks and games and enjoy indoor activities, especially if their antics amuse family members. Poodles do not bark a lot but may alert you if someone comes to your door, not because they are acting as watchdogs, but because they love attention, whether it comes from their family members and from people who come to visit. Poodles do not shed, which makes it easy to keep your small house clean; however, their curly coats need regular brushing, clipping and grooming.
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Living in a small house does not mean you have to have a small dog. Greyhounds are surprisingly low-energy companions who enjoy being close to you but are undemanding and calm. As long as they are walked every day and have an occasional chance to run in a safe, enclosed space, greyhounds can be wonderful house dogs. Adoptable greyhounds tend to be dogs who are retired from racing or breeding, and once they become accustomed to life indoors and to having kind people to care for them, their main purpose in life seems to be to find a soft spot, such as your couch, to curl up on and rest. They are affectionate and gentle dogs who are easy to groom and who bark infrequently.
- Before You Get Your Puppy; Ian Dunbar
Maura Wolf's published online articles focus on women, children, parenting, non-traditional families, companion animals and mental health. A licensed psychotherapist since 2000, Wolf counsels individuals struggling with depression, anxiety, body image, parenting, aging and LGBTQ issues. Wolf has two Master of Arts degrees: in English, from San Francisco State University and in clinical psychology, from New College.