12 Best Low Energy Small Dogs

Brown dachshund lying on a green couch.

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Athletic dogs are fun, but they aren’t for everyone. Owning one can be hard work—they require plenty of exercise and entertainment to be healthy and happy. Smaller, relatively low-maintenance pups are more appealing pet choices for those who may be older or have less time on their hands to devote to training sessions and walks. Small dogs are also great for apartment-dwellers, as they don’t need as much space as a larger animal. 

Explore this list of our favorite small, low-energy dog breeds. Who knows, maybe it will help you find your next furry soulmate.

  • 01 of 12


    A pug sitting on a couch with red and yellow pillows.

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    While pugs do require some exercise, it isn’t much. A daily walk and game of tug-of-war will suffice. Because their muzzles are short, it makes it more difficult to breathe and to cool down from panting. That means you should avoid strenuous exercise without breaks. 

    Other than that moderate amount of exercise, you won’t need to worry much about your pug. Pugs love their downtime and have a long history as companion dogs. They are great with kids and are usually good with other pets in the home.

  • 02 of 12

    French Bulldog

    A white Frenchie sitting on a white couch.

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    French bulldogs, or Frenchies, are strong and sturdy pups with a unique look, but they don’t lack in the personality department. Frenchies are lively and lovable dogs who love to play with their people. However, Frenchies also love their beauty sleep. Routine exercise is recommended by veterinarians, but similar to the pug, Frenchies don’t do well with strenuous activity. Like the pug, the French bulldog is known for its short snout, which can lead to breathing problems and overheating. They prefer to take it easy.

  • 03 of 12


    A brown chihuahua laying on a couch in front of owner on laptop.

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    Tiny but confident, the Chihuahua loves people and attention. Its distinct look attracts many dog lovers, but it’s the Chihuahua’s personality that makes them fall in love. Chihuahuas may not be friendly to everyone, but they are ultra affectionate to their owners and the ones they love. They are happy to snuggle on the couch all day long.

  • 04 of 12

    Italian Greyhound

    A grey and white Italian Greyhound licking its chops.

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    Greyhounds are practically synonymous with racing and agility, but in reality, they are the world’s most adorable couch potatoes. The Italian Greyhound is the Greyhound’s smaller counterpart. They appreciate regular walks or play sessions, but they truly love to snooze and cuddle whenever possible.

    Continue to 5 of 12 below.
  • 05 of 12


    A girl in a beanie and raincoat carrying a fluffy white dog.

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    The Bolognese is an old breed, developed centuries ago in Italy where they were valued because of their beauty and charm. Royals and Noblemen loved Bologneses, or Bolos, and they became a favorite lap dog. Bolos have fluffy, white coats that don’t shed, making them great for those with mild allergies. They’re suitable for apartment living, but they are prone to separation anxiety, so they shouldn’t be left alone often. Their exercise needs are low, and their temperament is calm and easygoing—all great attributes for retirees or seniors looking for a furry best friend.

  • 06 of 12


    A brown pekingese dog looking to the side.

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    The earliest-known record of the Pekingese can be traced back to ancient China, where humans knew them to be charming, loyal, and fun pets. They were bred to provide amusement for their owners, and thus only have modest daily exercise requirements. This breed is very suitable for apartment living.

  • 07 of 12

    Lhasa Apso

    A Lhasa Apso lounges on the couch.

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    You can recognize a Lhasa apso at first glance thanks to their long, luxurious, and dense double hair coat, often gray or white. It’s a small breed that’s known to be happy, playful, and, sometimes, mischievous. The Lhasa apso does not need a large amount of exercise, and their small size makes them ideal for apartment-dwelling owners. But be warned: they are hardwired as guard dogs, and tend to bark at passersby.

  • 08 of 12

    Shih Tzu

    A Shih Tzu standing on wood deck.

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    As long as you give them time for a bit of active play, Shih Tzus will be happy pups. They can do well in almost any home, including apartments, and make wonderful companion pets. The Shih Tzu is an ancient breed, known in China as a royal house pet and lap dog. It’s one of the most pampered breeds in the dog world. Bonus: Shih Tzus are also considered to be one of the few hypoallergenic dog breeds.

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  • 09 of 12


    A brown dachshund leaning out the window.

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    Looking at a Dachshund, you can see why the breed doesn’t require a ton of exercise. Dachshunds, affectionately known as wiener dogs, are short and stout pups with floppy ears and adorable features across the board. They do love some regular exercise, but they don’t move very quickly because of their short legs and long bodies.

  • 10 of 12


    Maltese dog sitting on a couch.

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    Weighing less than seven pounds, the Maltese is a toy dog breed that exudes elegance. Its long, straight, white coat is unique and eye-catching and requires daily brushing. While this breed is full of energy, it does not require significant exercise. Daily walks or play sessions will keep them happy.

  • 11 of 12


    A Papillon dog sitting on the ground in the wind.

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    The word “papillon” is French for “butterfly.” It’s a suitable name for this dog breed, whose ears are very large and wing-shaped. Papillons, also known as Paps, are dainty pups that do well in almost any environment, from tiny apartments to sweeping mansions. They’re intelligent dogs, too, which means they are easily trained. Paps do exceedingly well with general obedience and even agility training.

  • 12 of 12

    Basset Hound

    A Basset hound laying in the grass.

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    Some may consider the Basset Hound a small breed, while others argue that they are technically medium. But one thing is for sure—Basset Hounds are a short breed. They also have low energy levels and low exercise needs. They are prone to becoming overweight, so watch their calorie intake if you do decide to adopt or buy a Basset Hound.