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The Best Low-Maintenance Dogs for Busy People

There's no shame in admitting it: You want a dog to love, but you don't have a ton of spare time. Experts say these low-key canines are your best bets.

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low maintenance dog breedsRyanJLane/Getty Images

The perfect match

All dogs have lifelong physical and emotional needs, but some breeds have strong genetic traits that should be taken into consideration when you’re trying to find the perfect pup to match your lifestyle. For example, a Border Collie is an energetic breed that’s wicked smart. It requires lots of mental and physical exercise every day to thrive and be happy. So, if you’ve got lots of love to go around but not loads of time, this adorable dog might not be right for you.

Our list features low-maintenance dogs that don’t need a ton of exercise or grooming, as well as ones that are more independent than other breeds. Still, though, if you want to expand your family with a canine BFF, you need to put in some work. “Nurture and not nature tends to impact a dog’s personality and ‘laid-backness,'” says Bernadine Cruz, DVM, an associate veterinarian at Laguna Hills Animal Hospital in California. “This is a long-term, healthy human/animal bond. To do it correctly, you can’t expect that you can only interact with your dog on your time.” And in general, here’s the smartest way to pick the best dog breed for you.

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newfoundland dog low maintenance cynoclub/Getty Images


Often called nanny dogs, Newfies are notably patient and watchful over children. “The best example of this breed and its demeanor is the dog Nana in the story of Peter Pan,” says Dr. Cruz. Plus, these adorable, snuggly dogs are highly intelligent and easy to train. Even better for busy people, Newfies aren’t looking for high-intensity exercise. Dr. Cruz says a daily walk of about 30 minutes or so discourages boredom and weight issues. Newfies do shed, so weekly brushing is a must to keep it in check. That said, these mini grooming sessions are a good opportunity for you to bond with your Newfie while having some quiet time together. Do you adore big dogs? Here are more of the world’s largest and lovable dog breeds.

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greyhound low maintenance breedNatalia Timchenko/Getty Images


“Greyhounds are the cats of the dog world: somewhat aloof and independent,” says Dr. Cruz. They’re accommodating and can easily transition from couch potato to jogging partner. But these low-maintenance dogs don’t need a lot of exercise; a daily walk or jog is sufficient. Inside, they are light on their feet and have a good body sense, so they’re not likely to knock things over. Their short coat also makes grooming easy. And if you’re looking for a dog that keeps its bark on the down-low, the greyhound is one of 18 dogs that don’t bark too much. The greyhound is also one of the best dogs for seniors.

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italian greyhound low maintenance breed stelo/Getty Images

Italian greyhound

Italian greyhounds are the opposite of greyhounds in demeanor. Aloof is definitely not a word you’d use to describe these dogs: They are passionate for their humans and can be downright clingy. But aside from their desire to shower you with affection, they are ideal low-maintenance dogs for apartment or condo dwellers. “The Italian greyhound can lounge all day and then race around the dog park with great abandon,” says Dr. Cruz. Their short coat is super easy to maintain; it doesn’t shed much, and no routine brushing is needed. Take a look at these other cute short-haired dogs that are great for families.

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spaniel breeddageldog/Getty Images


There’s no shortage of Spaniel varieties. Whether it’s the Cavalier King Charles, English Springer Spaniel, or Cocker, they all have those soulful eyes and gentle expressions that melt your heart. Spaniels were bred for hunting, but today they are more inclined to be lapdogs that are chosen for their sweet and easygoing disposition. They get along with children, other pets, and strangers, and they are just as happy to frolic in the yard or take a leisurely walk as they are to snuggle with you. Their longer coats require brushing and occasional trips to the groomer, and you’ll have to keep an eye on their furry and feathery long ears, as Spaniels are prone to ear infections. Here are some more of the best dog breeds for kids.

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bloodhound low maintenance breed dageldog/Getty Images


Gentle, genial, loyal, lumbering, and laid-back are words that aptly describe this low-maintenance dog. “[Bloodhounds] enjoy the company of others and lounging around,” says Dr. Cruz. They’re fairly independent in nature, and their low-key energy (unless they pick up a scent) means they’ll look to you for games of chase or fetch. Bloodhounds love to sniff and explore when they walk, so they’re excellent for families who like to wind down with relaxed walks instead of getting their heart rates up. Sure, they drool, but you’ll quickly forget about that when you get lost in those long, droopy ears and soulful eyes. In case you were wondering, here’s a guide to how long it’s OK to leave your dog home alone.

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maltese dog kimrawicz/Getty Images


Talk about low-maintenance dogs that have it all! The Maltese is blissfully happy to snuggle in your lap, but if you get a hankering for a walk or playtime, it will be equally delighted to change gears and go. Their fantastic attributes don’t end there. “They are great watchdogs, therapy dogs, and competitors in sports such as agility, obedience, rally, and tracking,” says Laura Pletz, DVM, a veterinarian with Royal Canin USA. “But even with all their energy, they only require occasional exercise.”

These dogs don’t shed much, either, but daily brushing is essential to keep their silky hair from matting. This is task easily done when your Maltese is sitting on your lap. Shorter cuts are easier to maintain than the long, flowing locks often seen on show dogs. Here are some more dog breeds that don’t shed (that much).

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dachshund dog breed South_agency/Getty Images


“Dachshunds are known for their ever-alert expression and friendly, vivacious personality,” says Dr. Pletz. “Smart and vigilant, the Dachshund is bred to be an independent hunter.” These low-maintenance dogs are fans of indoor games, perfect for the family that isn’t all that outdoorsy. Still, Doxies do love to sniff and explore, so adding a little extra time outside around potty breaks is ideal to meet exercise requirements. “Keeping them at a healthy weight is very important to [their] overall health,” Dr. Pletz explains. Here are the warning signs that your pet might be overweight.

Doxies come in smooth, wire-haired, and long-haired varieties. All are relatively easy to manage. The long-haired ones just might need a little more TLC to keep their coats tangle-free.

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corgi breedИрина Мещерякова/Getty Images

Pembroke Welsh Corgi

One of the most congenial low-maintenance house dogs, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi is smart and affectionate, but not needy. Even with their short legs and fluffy loaf (an affectionate term for a Corgi butt), they are quick and agile. They are ideal for zippy indoor games, which Corgis consider a job. As a member of the herding group, Corgis are particularly happy when they have work to do, but a slow walk outside is A-OK, too. This breed’s thick double coat sheds a fair amount, but daily brushing will remove loose hair and keep its loaf adorable. One tiny drawback, Dr. Pletz says, is that since they are vigilant watchdogs, they have a “big dog” bark.” Here’s how to get your dog to bark less—without yelling.

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poodle dog breedpatrickheagney/Getty Images


Not only are poodles low-maintenance dogs, but they also come in three sizes: the Standard (up to 70 pounds), Miniature (10 to 15 pounds), and Toy (4 to 6 pounds). “Regardless of size, the poodle is people-oriented and enjoys learning new things. They are very smart, eager, and remarkably versatile,” says Dr. Pletz. Versatility equals low-maintenance because while poodles are active dogs, they love to do whatever you love to do. Plus, poodles have a low-allergen coat that doesn’t shed much. Shorter cuts are easier to maintain, but visits to the groomer for semi-regular clip-and-trims are essential to keep new growth from matting. Because they’re super smart, pet parents don’t have to spend a lot of time training them. Find out where they rank among the smartest dog breeds.

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pomeranian dog breed PopoudinaSvetlana/Getty Images


“Pomeranians are lively, inquisitive, and have been known as the ideal companion,” says Dr. Pletz. “They are one of the most popular toy breeds with their vivacious personality and big-dog demeanor.” These low-maintenance dogs are easy to train, and make great family pets—and surprisingly alert watchdogs. While Poms love a day out on the town while carried in a tote, a short walk or playtime indoors is needed for them to get their exercise. Poms do require some grooming to keep that fluffy, foxy look, though. “Frequent brushing is necessary to maintain their beautiful coat, and a regular trip to the groomer is recommended,” says Dr. Pletz. If you go gaga over tiny pups, you’ll love these other adorable small dog breeds, too.

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Chihuahua dog low maintenance breedRodrusoleg/Getty Images


“Chihuahuas are the smallest of the recognized breeds, but they have a huge personality. They are known for their amusing, big-dog characteristics,” says Dr. Pletz. As low-maintenance dogs go, the Chihuahua ranks pretty high. It is adaptable, independent, and confident with a side of sauciness. If you would rather hunker down and snuggle, they’re cool with that, because they don’t need a lot of exercise: “A short stroll beside you is all the exercise they need.” And you won’t be a regular at the groomer, as Chihuahuas have an easy-to-care-for coat. Even long-haired varieties only need a brushing now and then. Check out 13 of the world’s tiniest dog breeds that don’t need as much room to run around.

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mixed breed dog low maintenance Capuski/Getty Images

Mixed breed

We would be remiss if we didn’t mention mixed breeds as possible choices for perfect low-maintenance dogs. A rescue organization or shelter with volunteer foster parents is a valuable resource to gain insight into a specific dog’s behavior and activity level. Foster parents provide a nurturing environment where dogs can live comfortably, away from the stress of a shelter, and they can share their daily experiences with the dog to help you determine if the dog is right for your lifestyle. Just be aware that adopting a dog like this can come with its own set of challenges and that it may take a little while for your new pup to adjust. No matter whether you choose a low-maintenance dog or spend every second you can with your pooch, make sure you’re avoiding these common mistakes dog owners make.

Lisa Marie Conklin
Lisa Marie Conklin is a Baltimore-based writer who writes regularly about pets and home improvement for Reader's Digest. Her work has also been published in The Healthy, HealthiNation, The Family Handyman, Taste of Home, and, among other outlets. She's also a certified personal trainer and walking coach for a local senior center. Follow her on Instagram @lisamariewrites4food and Twitter @cornish_conklin.

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