Choosing a Dog for an Apartment: Pick a Dog Breed

Find the Best Dog for Your Lifestyle

Loving pet

It is a common misconception that if you live in an apartment, you cannot have a dog. However, there are many dogs that are well-suited to apartment life, no matter what your tastes - just as there are other dogs which you should steer clear of.

Before we explore the most compatible breeds, let's look at a few precautions you will want to take care of before going out and getting a dog. These both involve consulting with your landlord and your lease agreement.

  1. Check with your Landlord: You always want to check with your landlord before purchasing or adopting a dog. Some apartments do not allow dogs at all, no matter what the location or size. This is often because they are concerned about the possibility of destruction of property. Other apartments do allow dogs. Some will charge what is called a "pet rent," and may require a deposit for your pet as well.
  2. Breed Restrictions: After you have checked with your landlord and established that they will allow pets, make sure to check for breed restrictions. Some apartments, especially in cities, will have restrictions on what breeds you can have. These are often breeds that can be considered aggressive or protective. These often include Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, Pit Bulls, German Shepherds, and Boxers. Most establishments will have a detailed list of the dog breeds they do not allow on the premises.

After you have ensured that dogs are allowed where you live, it will be time to select a dog. Now we will explore the many breeds that will be suitable for living in an apartment. If one of these breeds sparks your interest, it is important first to really investigate the breed's personality and needs before getting a dog. This is an important thing to do no matter where you live.  Just because a dog is apartment-compatible doesn't mean it is compatible with you.

To help you pick a dog breed, here is a list of breeds commonly favored by apartment dwellers. These following breeds are suitable for apartments and are small to medium in size, starting with the smallest.

Small Breeds

  1. Chihuahua - This breed is commonly known as the smallest breed of dog. They come in the normal size and also a teacup variety which are, at the largest, 2 to 3 lbs. Chihuahuas are not only compatible for an apartment because of their size, but because of their temperament. While they do need to be walked each day to burn excess energy, they are just as happy to lounge around at home with you.
  2. Dachshund - The unmistakable so-called "wiener dogs" are very popular. They are ideal for an apartment because of their size and exercise requirements. They do get energetic, but not as much as many small dogs such as terriers. Be aware that this breed could have back problems as seniors.
  3. Pug - Pugs are growing to be one of the most popular small dog breeds around. They are small and very affectionate! They do require some exercise; however, because of their pushed-in noses, they can have some difficulty breathing. You would want to make sure your dog will not be required to scale many flights of steps in your complex because they get winded easily.
  4. Bichon Frise - These small dogs resemble poodles in a way, but have a personality all their own. They are small, weighing around 5 to 7 lbs. They require light walking each day. They are gaining popularity as a smart and affectionate breed.
  5. Poodle - Everyone is familiar with this breed of dog. The breeds of Poodle that are best suited for apartment life are either Toy or Miniature poodles. Standard Poodles are larger and are far too energetic to live in an apartment.
  6. French Bulldog - This is a small breed of dog that is not that popular or common but is well-suited for apartment life. They are small and have an attitude similar to Pugs, especially with the breathing problems they endure. Keep in mind, however, that they come equipped with the attitude and stubbornness of an English Bulldog in a small package.
  7. Lhasa Apso - This breed is small-sized and has been gaining popularity over the years. They do require grooming as their coat is longer than most. They require light walking but are just as happy to stay home and nap!
  8. Pekingese - While they are happy dogs, the Pekingese are some of the lowest energy small dogs. They do come with many health concerns and responsibilities such as breathing issues, back issues and grooming, but their sweet personality and loyalty makes it all worthwhile.

Medium Breeds

  1. Clumber Spaniel - While the term "Spaniel" may spark concern for hyperactivity and endless hunting, that isn't the case for the Clumber. They can be used as hunting dogs, but they are not the world's fastest dog. Their name says it all; they "clumber" along. They have sweet personalities and require light walks.
  2. Bassett Hound - Bassetts are very low-energy hounds. They are medium in size and are very loving pets. The only concern with this great breed is how much they bark. Just like any other hound, they tend to howl. This is not always the case, but make sure of your dog's history with barking before bringing it into an apartment complex.
  3. Petit Bassett Griffon Vendeen - This is a breedapartment dog of dog that most have never heard of and some cannot even pronounce, but the nicknamed "PBGV" is one of the most caring and affectionate dogs out there. They are similar in looks to the Bassett Hound, only with longer wiry hair. The same howling guidelines apply to these guys!
  4. Basenji - This breed is a lot smaller than the above. It is a smaller, sleeker breed that is unique in many ways. They are a little bit less popular and unusual in that they do not bark. This can be a very great trait for a dog living in an apartment. They do something called yodeling, but it is not a common occurrence.
  5. Whippet - The Whippet is for the apartment-dwelling person looking for a really elegant dog. The Whippet is basically a smaller version of the Greyhound. They are energetic, but not as energetic as a Greyhound. They will require daily walks. These are very timid and affectionate dogs.

If your personal taste is for a larger dog, don't fear. Apartment dogs come in all shapes and sizes. It's the energy level that you will probably be most concerned with when choosing a dog to fit your lifestyle. There are large breeds which are ideal for apartments as well!

Large Breeds

  1. Alaskan Malamute - These are really large dogs that are reminiscent of the great Alaskan sled dogs. They are beautiful dogs that are energetic, and may require a walk each day, but they are still happy to stay in a small apartment with you. They also require regular grooming. They are very affectionate dogs.
  2. Newfoundland - These dogs can only be thought of as big teddy bears! They are large black or black and white (called Landseer) dogs that are roughly the size of a St. Bernard. They are water dogs that hail from Newfoundland. They are highly affectionate and great with children and all people. They do require regular walking. They also require regular grooming due to their long thick coat of fur.
  3. Mastiff - There are two different breeds of Mastiffs. There are Bull Mastiffs and Mastiffs. If a very large dog is more your style, you will want to get a Mastiff. They are incredibly large with adorable sagging skin on their faces. They are not very active, and are very well-suited for apartment life. If you are ready to deal with a large amount of drooling and a very large lap dog, the Mastiff is right for you. The Bull Mastiff is just a bit smaller and has a Boxer/Bulldog kind of face. Bull Mastiffs have the same temperament and are just as well-suited to apartment life.
  4. Great Dane - The Great Dane is known as one of the largest breeds of dog. While it may seem ridiculous to keep a 130-pound dog in your apartment, they are actually ideal. Although they are large dogs, they are relatively low energy and only require light grooming. They are very affectionate and playful. They are good with children and people in general.
  5. St. Bernard - The St. Bernard is a very well-known breed of large dog. They are similar to the Malamute and Newfoundland in that they need quite a bit of grooming, but they are large and affectionate. They are well-suited for apartment life as long as you are willing to walk them at least a few times a week.
  6. Old English Sheepdog - This breed is one that may not be as common as the others. They are highly recognizable and will certainly gain you a few stares along the way! They require a lot of grooming and care, but they are highly affectionate and are good low-energy companions.

Now that we have explored a lot of breeds that are great for apartment life, let's look at a few you will want to stay away from.

  1. Sporting Breeds - You will want to stay away from sporting breeds of dogs. These breeds are often very high energy! These include Setters (English, Gordon, Irish), Retrievers (Golden, Labrador, Chesapeake Bay), and Pointers (Vizslas, German Shorthaired, English). These are just to name a few. While a lot of these are very popular breeds, they are more well-suited to live out in the country or in a large house.
  2. Hounds - Hounds are less than ideal for apartment living because of their energy level and their noise level. Some of these breeds include Coon Hounds (Black and Tans, Blueticks, Plott and Walker). They also include Greyhounds. Greyhounds are excluded because of their energy level alone. Another hound you should avoid is the Beagle. Beagles can be very loud and very active.
  3. Herding Breeds - Most herding breeds are very high energy, and will be very bored in an apartment. Some of these breeds include Collies, Border Collies, Bearded Collies and Shetland Sheepdogs. Any of these breeds could develop destructive behavior if forced to live in an apartment.
  4. Siberian Huskies - This breed is commonly known as a working dog or a sledding dog. They are most happy when they are working and can become bored and destructive if kept in a small apartment.
  5. Dalmatians - This breed, although popular and beautiful, is a very, very high energy dog. They are not often thought of that way, so many find themselves homeless. While they are very cute, they can become destructive in apartment life.
  6. Terriers - While some Terrier breeds may do okay in apartments, they are for the most part very energetic and will require a lot of energy. They do best in a home with a yard or dog exercise pen that they are free to run in. They are also quite noisy, and their often high-pitched barking can be disruptive to close neighbors.
  7. Guardian Breeds - As mentioned at the beginning, some complexes may not allow you to have certain breeds on the premises. Not only are they often not allowed, but they are not suited for apartment life. They are large and require a lot of exercise and time and discipline. These breeds include Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers and American Pit Bull Terriers.

Hopefully you now have a good understanding of what breeds are best for an apartment. Remember to always research a breed before adopting or purchasing!

Additional Tips: Whatever type of dog, living near an off leash dog parks can help socialize and exercise your dog.

Good luck on finding the best dog and a new life companion!


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Very thorough article. A lot more about different dog breeds than I've been able to find in one place!

By Pj Kincaid