11 Calm Small Dog Breeds That Steal Hearts

calm small dog breeds

I love dogs of all sizes, but there’s something to be said about the ones that are calm and small. These pups are the perfect ones to snuggle up with at the end of a long day when you just want to relax. 

There might be several reasons you want to adopt a small, calm breed. Maybe you live in an apartment and need to avoid the howling Husky singing the song of its people, no matter how beautiful it is.

Or perhaps you have no backyard for your pups to run around in, or you’re just low-energy yourself, and the dogs with more energy aren’t at the top of your wish list. 

The good news is there are plenty of small, quiet dog breeds to choose from, from the charismatic French Bulldog to the regal Japanese Chin. 

Calmest Small Dog Breeds

There’s something to be said about each of the pups on our list — after all, they’re there for a reason. Let’s take a look at some of the calmest dog breeds you can own. 

1. Pug

calm small dog breeds

Pugs are one of those dogs that can just capture your heart from the word go. From their eclectic personalities to their smushed-in faces, they have a lot of admirers. Pugs are small, which means they fit in well anywhere, whether you live in a small apartment in the city or a large home in the country. 

Pugs are often prone to health issues, however, due to their brachycephalic syndrome. That means you can’t overwork them or have them outside in hot temperatures. Though they tend to be calm, these small dogs can get a burst of energy.

Simple exercise, such as a walk or visit to the dog park when it’s not too hot will suffice. Other than that, this first of our calm dog breeds is happy to be a couch potato.

Pros

  • Pugs love to lounge on the couch with their people
  • Short hair, no intense grooming needs

Cons

  • Brachycephalic syndrome, which can lead to health issues
  • Prone to obesity

2. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

small calm dogs

If you’re looking for a real doll of a dog, you can’t miss out on the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. These doe-eyed small dogs are as sweet as they look and are so content to be around their people and lounge as lap dogs. 

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are also pretty quiet; they don’t bark a lot, which, along with their size, makes them great for apartments or houses close together. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is very affectionate with their people, but does need quite a bit of mental stimulation to avoid anxiousness or boredom. 

Make sure you also check out the other types of Spaniels and the great features they bring to the table! 


Pros

  • Extremely social
  • Loves children and other animals
  • Very adaptable for apartment living or active lifestyles

Cons

  • Need consistent grooming to prevent mats, tangles, and odor
  • Prone to obesity 
  • Predisposed to health issues, including heart problems

3. Boston Terrier

calmest small dog breeds

Known as the American Gentleman, the Boston Terrier is an affectionate breed that is always dressed to impress. These small dogs are lively and gentle, not to mention extremely intelligent. That can lead to them being somewhat stubborn at times, especially since they like to do things on their own. 

Boston Terriers require a bit of mental stimulation but do well when they’re kept busy. Because they’re small, taking them on walks and playing indoors is a great way to keep them entertained.

Pros

  • Short smooth coat, so no excessive grooming required
  • Very affectionate nature
  • Good with children and other dogs

Cons

  • Prone to specific health problems such as skin allergies, breathing issues, and eye problems
  • Can be stubborn in learning new commands

4. Japanese Chin

small calm dog breeds

One of the Japanese dog breeds, the Japanese Chin, is a regal pup with a gorgeous long coat. Japanese Chins are extremely loyal dogs that bond with their humans, which can lead to a bit of separation anxiety.

If you’re away from home all the time, this might not be a good match for you. Keeping the Japanese Chin mentally stimulated is important. They love long walks and playing with toys.

One good thing about the Japanese Chin is that it’s not prone to excessive barking, which can be an issue with small dogs. It will alert you to strangers or other stimuli, but it’s not one to bark for no reason.

Pros

  • Quiet breed doesn’t bark much
  • Affectionate
  • Does well in any type of environment

Cons

  • Can have health issues due to brachycephalic syndrome
  • Needs consistent grooming due to long fur
  • Japanese Chins may suffer from separation anxiety

5. French Bulldog 

calm small dogs

The French Bulldog is the embodiment of charm and happiness, and you can easily tell by the big ol’ smile on its face. Its small size is not indicative of its personality, and this small dog breed will really enjoy spending time with you, whether it’s indoors or out. French Bulldogs are suitable for single people as well as families, and French Bulldogs love to play with children. 

The French Bulldog does well in nearly every environment, and because they’re small, they’re very well suited to living in an apartment in the city. Just take your French Bulldog on walks to get in its exercise, bearing in mind that hot days can be taxing on this small breed because of its short snout.

Did you know there are different types of French Bulldogs?

Pros

  • Happy-go-lucky pup
  • Playful
  • Affectionate

Cons

  • Brachycephalic syndrome can lead to health issues
  • Need regular mental stimulation

6. Chinese Crested

small dogs that are calm

If you suffer from allergies, you might’ve heard that it’s best to look into hypoallergenic dogs. The Chinese Crested definitely fits this bill as they come in two varieties: powderpuff and hairless. The hairless typically only has a poof on its head but very little to no dander to trigger itchy eyes or a runny nose. 

One of the things you’ll notice about this small dog breed is that it thrives on companionship. Leaving it alone can trigger anxiety, so it’s best to make sure you have the time for it.

However, these quiet dogs are great travel companions and will love you to pieces when you’re around, as they have a very loving temperament. 

Pros

  • Hairless variety is great for people with allergies
  • Friendly 
  • Love to play with toys

Cons

  • Can have health issues such as eye and heart problems
  • Prone to congenital deafness

7. Havanese

calm dog breeds small

This toy breed pup is one of the best ones to have if you’re looking for a quiet breed. Havanese are very calm and docile dogs, though they do have a playful streak. They love other pets and children and are happy to play for a while before settling down for a good cuddle. They make great couch potatoes, too.

The Havanese is a happy and affectionate pup. They are intelligent and pick up on training easily. If you’re looking for a small breed with a spunky personality and one that’s full of charm, the Havanese easily fits the bill.

They do tend to have quite a few health issues that can crop up, though, so make sure you do your research on the breed and definitely buy purebred dogs from a reputable breeder.

Pros

  • Very easy to train
  • Very adaptable to different lifestyles

Cons

  • Silky coat with high grooming needs
  • Hereditary health issues might include cataracts, hip dysplasia, and luxating patellas

8. Shih Tzu

chill small dogs

If you’ve ever wanted to own a “little lion,” you can when you own a Shih Tzu, as that’s what its name translates to. The Shih Tzu is meant to be a companion dog, and it’s one of the quiet breeds that does it really well. 

The Shih Tzu isn’t all that energetic, though it does have a burst of zoomies like most pups do sometimes. Walks and playing in the house are usually enough for Shih Tzus, though, and as a dog breed with brachycephalic syndrome, this is a good thing.

Shih Tzus do need quite a bit of grooming as their fur grows really fast, so they can be a bit high-maintenance. 

Pros

  • Very quiet, not overly energetic
  • Companion dog

Cons

  • Needs lots of grooming
  • Brachycephalic syndrome leads to health issues

9. Miniature Poodle

calmest small dogs

The Miniature Poodle is another great dog for people with allergies as they are said to be hypoallergenic. They’re also a pretty calm breed, too, though they do like to run around in short spurts. It’s also a non-shedding breed, which many people find attractive.

The Miniature Poodle is a real people pleaser and loves to be with you wherever you go. Taking him out is a great way to introduce socialization, especially if you plan to have this quiet breed around other pets and people regularly.

If you have an affinity for small dogs and want to go even smaller than the Miniature Poodle, there’s always the Toy Poodle, too! If you want to go bigger, consider the Standard Poodle.

Pros

  • Doesn’t shed
  • Amazing temperament
  • People pleaser 

Cons

  • Needs regular grooming to keep the curly coat in check
  • Can suffer some health issues such as eye problems, bloat, luxating patella, and hypothyroidism

10. Lhasa Apso

best temperament small dogs

The Lhasa Apso is a bit of a conundrum. They’re small dogs, yet they were used in Tibet as guard dogs for monasteries. Talk about quite the history! The Lhasa Apso is a playful and independent dog that loves its people but can be wary of strangers, which is typical considering its background and requires socialization. 

The Lhasa Apso isn’t terribly energetic, though it can benefit from daily exercise. They’re more than happy to follow you around and be your shadow, and they’re well-known for developing a bond with their humans. 

Pros

  • Sweet, playful nature
  • Intelligent dog
  • Quiet breed

Cons

  • May develop strong bonds and become territorial over their favorite human
  • Silky coat needs regular grooming 

11. Italian Greyhound

small dog breeds that are calm

This little guy, one of the toy breeds on our list, is a doppelganger for the larger Greyhound, though it’s a separate breed. These pups are sweet and loving and are known to be needy if they’re denied attention. Of course, as a dog lover, that’s unheard of, especially since they will cuddle right up to you when you sit down. 

The Italian Greyhound has a huge personality that overtakes its body — seriously, pet one and sweet talk it, and you’ll soon see the wiggles come to life. These pups crave companionship and thrive on attention.

Pros

  • Sweet, affectionate temperament
  • Great with children

Cons

  • When denied attention, they can develop behavioral issues
  • Stubborn
  • Can be difficult to house train

Considerations for Choosing a Calm Small Dog Breed

There are certain considerations you’ll want to keep in mind when you’re choosing a quiet, calm dog breed. Three of the most important are their exercise, mental stimulation, and lifestyle needs. 

If you own toy breeds, be wary of small children, and make sure you teach them how to handle pups appropriately to avoid bites and injury.

The more attention you pay to your dog, the better chances you have of forming a strong bond because he will feel your love shining through in all that you do for him.

Exercise Needs

small dog breeds that are calm and easy to train

It’s easy to get caught up in thinking that calm equals no energy. That’s simply not true. Some of the dogs on this list are actually high energy and need to have an outlet for it.

That means giving them attention and the tools they need — sometimes, it’s just toys! — to stave off boredom, which is when destruction sets in. Others don’t need much exercise but enjoy playing just the same.

Daily walks, even if you live a sedentary lifestyle, are good exercise. Taking your pup to the dog park to play or run around and excise its energy is a great idea. Small dogs also don’t need much room to play, so you could set up something in your home that keeps them happy. 

Mental Stimulation

Some of the pups on our calm dog breeds list are very intelligent, and if you leave a smart dog alone to its own devices … you might not like the outcome. Some can be escape artists; some can outsmart their owners. It’s very important to know what you’re getting yourself into before you adopt one of these dogs. 

Lifestyle Needs

Every dog has its own unique lifestyle needs. Many on this list are known to be adaptable. That means they can fit in whether you’re sedentary or active, whether you prefer apartment living or have a big house, and whether you’re an adult-only household or have small children. 

It’s important to do your research before you adopt a dog so you know exactly what you need to provide in order for your pet to live its best life. After all, if it’s living its best life, so are you because you’re not tearing out your hair wondering where you went wrong.

FAQs

Which Small Dog Breed Is the Most Calm?

All of those on our list are calm dog breeds, which makes choosing the most calm a hard task. Honestly, since each dog differs in its personality, despite its breed, they all have the potential to be the most calm. However, if I had to pick one, I’d say Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are among the most docile. 

Which Small Breed Requires the Lowest Maintenance?

For a dog that is low maintenance, you want one that doesn’t have too many health issues or one that doesn’t need a significant amount of grooming. You’ll also need to consider a pup’s energy needs. 

For this particular list, if you’re looking for a low-maintenance pup, I would advise the Italian Greyhound or the Chinese Crested. That doesn’t mean these two are the lowest maintenance dogs in the canine kingdom, but they are among the top.

What is the Easiest Dog to Control?

The easiest dog to control isn’t a specific breed, actually. It’s the one you take the time to socialize and train properly. A dog that is well cared for and understands its place in the hierarchy is the one that will be easiest for you to control, whether it’s a giant Cane Corso or a tiny toy Poodle.

Conclusion

If you’re in the market for a small quiet breed, you’ll find plenty on this list of our calmest dog breeds. Each of these pups brings a lot of qualities to the table, though some may have more health risks than others.

They will all make excellent companions, and most can adapt to any type of environment, which is a major plus. Just make sure you know what you’re getting into if it’s your first time entertaining the idea of adopting one of these breeds.

Christina Drury
Meet Christina Drury, a dedicated animal enthusiast, and proud pet parent. She has a deep-rooted affection for all creatures, and Christina has called the Buckeye State home for the past four years. As a seasoned writer, she possesses a versatile writing style that spans various niches, yet her heart truly belongs to animals. With her innate connection and expertise, Christina is committed to crafting engaging and insightful content for animal-related issues.

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