Whenever a discussion on the best indoor dogs comes up, many people naturally think of very small dogs. They would be correct as most toy dogs are bred to live indoors. In fact, the only toy-size dog in the wild is the fennec fox, and it evolved to live in the Sahara desert.
In this digital age, we like to say that anything is possible. Dogs of all sizes can adapt to living indoors. Some breeds are just more suitable than others.
It makes sense to classify the best indoor dogs into four categories.
Table of Content
Best Indoor Dogs: Small Breeds
Those who have to make do with small or crowded living quarters, such as a small apartment or have an extended family under the same roof, often have no choice but to settle for a small dog.
Thanks to their small size, you can even train them to go to the toilet on pee pads with more limited walks outside, though it’s preferable to walk them on a daily basis.
Almost all small breeds can work in this situation, but there are some who can steal your heart better than others, and that’s why we’ve listed the following as the best indoor dog breeds.
A Pug’s frowny forehead, round expressive eyes and signature head tilts are simply irresistible. The Pug is a loving and attentive breed. They have an excellent temperament – some individuals may bark quite a bit but it’s all a bit of fun, they rarely get angry.
Pugs are curious and always want to find out what people are doing, which is a good thing because it keeps them busy so they don’t have to go out that much. It’s easy to accommodate their standard size of 10-13” and 14-18 pounds.
The Dachshund is full of interesting contradictions. Dachshunds are so oddly long and short that it’s hard to imagine they are athletic until we see how high and how fast they can jump and run.
Dachshunds are on the active side and they require attention, yet they readily adapt to living in a small apartment. Small dogs are notoriously harder to housetrain but not the Dachshund – this breed is intelligent and highly trainable. Both standard and miniature Dachshunds are some of the best house dogs.
#3. Shih Tzu
The Shih Tzu is the quintessential indoor breed. How can any Shih Tzus, particularly the well-groomed ones, look like they want to live outside?
Well, they don’t! They are a devoted and affectionate dog breed and can be perfectly happy watching you watch TV or cook in the kitchen. In addition, this breed doesn’t shed much. It is borderline hypoallergenic.
Just be careful with the treats and table food. Shih Tzus love to eat and since they are already quite stout for a small dog, you may not notice a problem until they’ve become obese.
#4. Japanese Spitz
The Japanese spitz resembles a bigger, all-white Pomeranian with a thicker chest. They are often perceived as sweeter since they lack the Pomeranian’s saucy personality. This is one of the cleanest dog breeds, prized by apartment dwellers.
The texture of their hair repels dirt, and even wet mud can be brushed off easily. The skin does not secrete much of the oil that makes a dog smell like a dog.
A Japanese spitz can go for months without washing – you only have to wash the coat on the chest once in a while if it smells like doggy saliva.
#5. French Bulldog
The French bulldog has steadily climbed up many countries’ list of most popular dog breeds. In the US, for example, the French bulldog has climbed dozens of spots in the last decade to become the AKC’s 6th most registered breed.
Those who want a small dog but not necessarily one of the usual suspects have increasingly picked French bulldogs, affectionately called Frenchies. Frenchies are extraordinary in many ways.
They are awfully cute in their gaits and behavior. You can trust them to be nice around children. They are alert, responsive and always ready to play when invited (not only when they feel like it which can be the case with English bulldogs). They can weigh close to 30 pounds but they are stout and small, only 11-13” tall at the withers.
Best House Dogs: Hypoallergenic
Although there are more people who are allergic to cats, there are some who are allergic to dogs also.
To make matters worse, oftentimes an allergy doesn’t show its ugly head until you are exposed to enough allergens, so even though you are not allergic to dogs now, you might become allergic after having a dog inside for a while.
To be absolutely sure, go for these best inside dogs bred for their non-shedding, hypoallergenic quality.
All 3 sizes of Poodles (miniature, toy, and standard) are the same breed and are governed by the same standards. Poodles are very popular the world over and make for good indoor dogs. New dog owners are drawn to Poodles for their reputation of minimal shedding and odor.
Once you let a Poodle into your life, you’ll realize what an awesome dog it is and hardly even think about stuff like shedding. Poodles carry a proud posture and aren’t scared easily, but for the owners, they are always enthusiastic and ready for anything. For this reason alone this breed is worthy of inclusion in the best indoor dog breeds.
Unlike the Poodle, the 3 sizes of Schnauzers (miniature, standard, and giant) are considered 3 separate breeds. All of them are virtually non-shedding, hypoallergenic dogs.
Besides their sizes, you should include their activity levels and temperaments in your decision-making. The giant schnauzer is more active than the smaller ones and requires more exercise. On the other hand, the giant schnauzer is also the most even-keeled.
Standard schnauzers tend to be fearless and some of them would not hesitate to challenge much bigger dogs. All 3 sizes of schnauzers are loyal companions and are among the best indoor dog breeds.
The unpronounceable Xoloitzcuintli is also known as the Mexican hairless dog, or Xolo in short. This breed is relatively uncommon but we feel that it has the potential to gain popularity.
Xolos are as hypoallergenic as they are virtually hairless, whatever hair they have can be found on the top of their heads. Xolos don’t trust strangers in general so they are good watchdogs.
However, they are not the scary, snarling type. They tend to just remain calm and keep a watchful eye. Xolos are obedient and can be loyal to a fault. This runs in the blood as this breed is believed to be thousands of years old.
Best Inside Dogs: Low Maintenance
Unlike human beings, when it comes to dogs, high maintenance doesn’t necessarily mean expensive and low maintenance doesn’t mean cheap. Low-maintenance dogs don’t need constant strenuous exercise to be happy.
They are perfectly content lazing about in the house, which qualifies them to be some of the best dogs for indoors.
#1. English Bulldog
“English” is more like an honorary title, as most kennel clubs recognize this breed as just the bulldog. They waddle, they take things slow, and they’re happy sitting on the couch for long hours (but preferably with you next to them). Bulldogs are not buggers.
There are energetic dogs in the sporting breeds that will bug the owners to take them out, but try taking a bulldog out for a walk, and it’ll amuse you to see how the dog stops a lot more often than walks.
Bulldogs are good with children and they’re low-key around other dogs – they’re not bothered by even the most vicious dogs (read Jack London’s classic The Call of The Wild and you’ll know why). If we had to declare the top breed in this list of Best Indoor Dogs, we would give it to the bulldog.
#2. Basset Hound
One look at a Basset Hound’s sleepy eyes and gigantic hanging ears and you’d know they love staying inside the house. The flaps under the stout, long and low body confirm it.
Basset Hounds are loyal although they can be a bit stubborn. If they don’t really have to go to the bathroom, they might refuse to go outside, but that’s also why they’re great house dogs. Basset hounds are known for their sense of smell.
Perhaps because their nose is so awesome, they can be picky eaters. When they’re outside, they will never demand that you walk fast since they like to take their time smelling everything.
#3. Chow Chow
The Chow Chow is a proud breed. They have a right to be with their proud lion mane and one-of-a-kind blue and black tongue. Chows get hot easily with activity so they prefer little to no activity.
A housetrained Chow does not take its time going to the bathroom when outside and rarely will refuse to go home. While active dogs get excited when it’s time to go outside, Chows are more excited to get back indoors. Chows usually thrive when they are the only dog in the house because they’re not particularly fond of other dogs.
Mastiffs are aptly named (sounds like massive). They are huge but too laidback to make anyone feel threatened. The Mastiff is observant but never gives people the death stare like a guard dog breed.
They make great large indoor dogs as long as you have space for them to move around. Since they are so heavy, they get good exercise just walking up and down the stairs and going from room to room.
The rest of the time they are content lying around the house. They are easy to walk since they lack prey drive and they don’t goofily go up and greet every stranger like super-friendly breeds.
Best Home Dogs: Family Dogs
Many of the most popular dog breeds are so well-received because they are great family dogs. And because they are such cool dogs, many people choose to keep them inside the house.
Some of these dogs are quite good-looking, and looks can help but mostly appreciate their even more attractive and gentle personalities making them some of the best dogs for kids.
Family dogs are often are some of the best dog breeds for indoors though some of them may ask for something in return, just something simple like taking them out for an extended walk.
SEE ALSO: The Best Large Breed Puppy Food
#1. Labrador Retriever
The Labrador Retriever is the most popular dog in the world. These dogs are exceptionally loyal and friendly with people. Labs are active dogs so they will require long walks. Some of the lanky ones can appear awkward but never when they are in motion.
Ask any proud owners of a Labrador Retriever and they will tell you it’s worth it. Labs are gentle around children. One of the smartest large dog breeds, Labradors are very easy to housetrain. This alone can make them one of the best indoor family dogs.
SEE ALSO: Do Labs Shed? How Much and When?
#2. Golden Retriever
The Golden Retriever is a photogenic crowd pleaser. A Golden Retriever has many similarities to a Labrador Retriever but with long blonde or golden brown hair. Perhaps not so coincidentally, our description of the Labrador Retriever applies to the Golden Retriever as well.
This breed is always among the most popular but below the Labrador Retriever since Goldens shed more. Goldens are buggers – they will bug you to play or go outside, but half the time you wouldn’t mind because their approach is downright silly.
Beagles are friendly and loyal and seem to act happy all the time. They’re happy to see you, happy to be around children, happy being lazy in the house, and even happier going outside. The good thing is most Beagles are better than the retrievers at taking no for an answer.
This is because they are so agreeable. They’re never mad at you for anything. This breed is among the best house dog breeds. They’re impossible to fault.
This concludes our list of the 15 best house dogs. We are sure that you would agree if you own one of the dog breeds above. If we have neglected to include your dog, it is only due to space constraints, and we are aware that many other breeds are just as deserving of the best inside dog.
If you’re still waiting to have your first dog, what are you waiting for? Any of the dogs our list is a good place to start!
Forrest is a lover of dogs, the wild outdoors, deep mysterious conversations… and coffee. He is the owner of several websites, including Canine Weekly. He resides in Austin, Texas.