Good news apartment dwellers, many dog breeds thrive without extra square-footage and backyards, so renters and condo owners, you too can have a pooch or three in the family. Sure, if you are a marathon runner or a 5-mile-a-day walk in the park kind of person, you have quite a selection of dogs that will be happy in your apartment, but for the rest of us, below is a list of some breeds tailor-made for small spaces.
(Note: Before adopting your rescue pup, check to see if your building has any rules regarding pets. Some buildings forbid dogs; others impose weight limits. Obviously, it’s best to know the rules before you pick up your new forever family member.)
Pups and the City? We couldn’t help the SATC reference. If you don’t know it, here’s a clip!
In short, no. It’s true that the majority of suitable apartment breeds are on the smaller side, but there are also laid-back larger dogs that are natural couch potatoes. If you’re willing to commit to a meaningful walk or two during the day, a big dog can still be part of your life. If you live near a dog park or hiking trails, all the better.
On the other hand, most of us apartment dwellers should avoid some popular breeds with tons of energy, such as Labrador Retrievers and Border Collies. Fortunately, with almost 200 recognized AKC breeds out there, good apartment dogs come in all shapes and sizes. Your lifestyle plays a part, but even the laziest of us can find a good match.
Many factors should be considered when choosing the right apartment dog, but barking is arguably the single biggest issue. Thin walls and ceilings are all that separate you from your neighbors, and frequent barkers can make everyone’s life miserable. In fact, the number one complaint landlords hear about dogs is … barking.
Energy level is also a significant factor as active dogs with inadequate exercise can become anxious and destructive. A Chihuahua will see your limited space as a palace, while a German Shepherd might see it as a cage. So, let’s look at the ten best breeds that won’t judge you for your limited floor space.
Chihuahua and “small” are basically synonymous, and this tiny breed just may be the ultimate apartment dog. Popular as easy-to-carry accessories, these canine elves have lively personalities and are anything but boring. Despite coming in at around six pounds or less (AKC standard), many believe they act much bigger and often attempt to boss other canines around. The breed is also notorious for picking a favorite human, but early training and socialization will keep them happy and, we hope, well-mannered.
This Mexican breed is believed to be well over a thousand years old, with statues and figurines dating back to around 100 AD (an offshoot of the ancient Techichi dog). They come with either long or short coats and a wide variety of colors. There’s also “apple” and “deer” head variants, with the former being rounder and squashed (and only apple heads are recognized by the AKC). Running around your apartment will satisfy their exercise needs, and a lap to sleep on will keep everyone happy.
Related: Chihuahua dog breed info & characteristics
The breed that every kid likes to mispronounce (poop in a zoo, so to speak), this toy dog comes from China and its name meaning “lion.” Cousin to another Chinese toy breed, the Pekingese, the Shih Tzu has long silky fur that’s overly fancy and a grooming headache, but great for dog shows. Like the Pekingese, many owners trim the hair for easier maintenance – it’s called the “teddy bear cut” and looks the part.
These dogs can be stubborn and a bit hard to train, but they’re loyal and affectionate with minimal space requirements. Thought to be a cross between the Pekingese and Lhasa Apso, the breed was a favorite among Chinese royalty and today are friendly, adaptable fur balls for the entire family.
Related: Shih Tzu dog breed info & characteristics
This Cuban breed (think Havana) is the country’s national dog and a blend of two extinct breeds – Blanquito de la Habana and Bichón Tenerife (with a little Poodle thrown in). It has long, silky hair like the Shih Tzu, but with its own distinct look. Very friendly and adaptable, it will follow its family around like a shadow, but the breed is also prone to separation anxiety.
They’re relatively uncommon outside of Cuba, and only 11 dogs brought to the US in 1959 form the base of almost all modern breeding. The AKC officially recognized the Havanese in 1995. Small and playful, a brisk walk or two will keep them healthy, but they’re notorious for being stubborn with housetraining. Consistency and a little patience will go a long way.
Related: Havanese dog breed info & characteristics
Perfect miniatures of the racing Greyhounds (with Whippets sitting between them), this affectionate breed was a favorite of kings and royalty, including Louis XI and Charles VIII in the 15th century. It’s classed as a sighthound in many parts of the world, but is simply a toy breed in the US and UK.
The breed has a short coat that’s very easy to maintain, rarely barks, is great with kids and loves to snuggle. They are a bit fragile, however, and need protection from cold weather. Like the Havanese, they’re also prone to separation anxiety, so if the family must be gone for long hours, this breed might not be the best choice. Otherwise, they’re perfect for small apartments.
Related: Italian Greyhound dog breed info & characteristics
Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash
Among the most popular dogs in the UK and US, the origin of this breed is a bit cloudy. Bulldogs in England were mixed with terriers (ratters) in the “slums,” becoming smaller toy Bulldogs. They eventually evolved in France into the modern breed with long, straight ears and a Bulldog-ish face. The UK Kennel Club officially recognized them in 1905, using the name “French Bulldog” in 1912.
The short-haired breed is usually under thirty pounds with a variety of color options. Their wide mouth and odd sitting position (hind legs spread out) have earned them the nickname “frog dog.” They’re ranked as the 109th smartest breed (sorry, no Harvard scholarships), but they require little exercise, rarely bark and love attention. An apartment champion.
Related: French Bulldog dog breed info & characteristics
If you shrink a French Bulldog and throw on a tuxedo, you have a Boston Terrier. This is the oldest American breed to be recognized by the AKC in 1893, descending from a bull/terrier dog named Judge and a white Bulldog-ish dog named Gyp. And the rest is history.
Bostons are super-friendly, require just a couple of walks per day and little grooming. They also rarely bark and are in the non-sporting group, so while playful, they lack that endless terrier energy. These happy-go-lucky bulldogs in suits are fun and easy to live with.
Related: Boston Terrier dog breed info & characteristics
You’ll never mistake a Dachshund for any other breed. These classic “wiener dogs” originated in Germany to hunt and flush out burrowing animals like badgers (the miniature version was used for rabbits and mice). The name quite literally translates to “badger dog.” The breed comes with three coats – smooth, wired and long – and a wide variety of colors. Dachshunds are classified as hounds in the US and UK.
Barking varies from dog to dog, but they’re usually not problematic. They are, however, very stubborn and can be challenging to train. Like the Chihuahua, the breed is often wary of strangers, so early socialization is essential. They’re very friendly with their family and good with most kids, and these walking hotdogs typically thrive in apartments.
Related: Dachshund dog breed info & characteristics
If you grew up in the 1980s with Saturday morning cartoons, you’d recognize this breed as the most laid back of dogs, Droopy. And the Basset Hound is indeed easygoing. Originally bred to hunt hare, these dogs are easily recognizable with long ears, short legs and a sagging face – a resting chill face. They’re also deceptively weighty, with the heaviest bones relative to size. Males can tip the scales at almost 80 pounds despite their low-rider stance.
The modern breed came from France and Great Britain in the 1800s, but similar-type hounds go back to the 6th century. Bassets are very friendly, fantastic with kids and love to play, but are also stubborn and do shed a lot. If you’re up for a bit of maintenance and training, these short-coated and charming dogs make excellent apartment companions.
Related: Basset Hound dog breed info & characteristics
These large, slender athletes are instantly recognizable as competitive racers, attracting gamblers almost as much as horses. As companions, they need surprisingly little exercise and are naturally calm and even lazy at times. Modern Greyhounds have been bred to sprint over 40 miles-per-hour, but they tire relatively quickly. The breed rarely barks and will sleep up to 18 hours per day, making them better for apartments than many small breeds.
Greyhounds are hearty and resilient, and rarely have health issues commonly associated with purebreds. Most are adopted after retiring from the track and require a bit of adjusting to new home environments, but they soon become affectionate, low-demand best friends.
Related: Greyhound dog breed info & characteristics
“What? Marmaduke makes for a good apartment dog? Impossible!” If that’s what you’re thinking, you’re not alone. But it’s true! Despite their famously large size, Great Danes, the Apollo of Dogs, the Gentle Giants, are typically low-energy creatures happy to live in smaller spaces, particularly once they’re full-grown adults. (As pups and teens, you should expect to put in some time walking them each day, however, or they might get a bit edgy at home.)
“To be, or not to be?” Unlike Hamlet, Great Danes are not Danish. The breed originated in Germany, probably around 1600, to protect country estates and hunt wild boar, bears and deer. German breeders hoped to have the word “German” in the name, but due to global tensions at the time, the breed became known as the Great Dane (from grand danois, a name given the breed by a French guy).
Great Danes have short coats and come in a variety of colors. The one commonality is SIZE; Danes are big. Males weigh around 120 pounds and females weigh in above 100. Actually, there’s a second trait common to almost all Danes – they have earned their nickname, the Gentle Giants, because they are indeed gentle and loving companions.
Related: Great Dane dog breed info & characteristics
If you have something else in mind, such as a breed that’s hypoallergenic, great with kids or other animals, check out our Dog Breed Search page. If you know exactly what you’re looking for, head to our Adopt a Dog page and find that perfect companion. There are almost 200 recognized breeds (and countless shelter dogs), so finding a good match is just a click or two away.
Note: Rescue Pop is committed to providing accurate information to pet parents. That being said, while the breed characteristics and traits mentioned here may be commonly associated with the breed, each animal is unique and may exhibit very different tendencies. Dogs and cats are individuals whose personalities vary. Please talk to the foster parent or adoption organization for details on a specific pet before bringing your new family member home.
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The Ulti-Mutt Guide for Rescue Pets and their Pawsome Pet Parents.