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21 Dog Breeds for a First-Time Owner in an Apartment (With Pictures)

Written by: Oliver Jones

Last Updated on April 19, 2024 by Dogster Team

Fast Bichon Frise happily running with his ball in the apartment

21 Dog Breeds for a First-Time Owner in an Apartment (With Pictures)

Dogs make great companions. They can keep you company, provide entertainment, and even encourage you to get out and get exercise. First-time owners are generally recommended to stay away from a few of the more challenging breeds, especially those with greater independence and that require extensive training. Fortunately, many dogs are considered suitable for first-time owners, including those who live in apartments. Although some large breeds can do well in an apartment—as long as they are given exercise and time outdoors—small breeds tend to be better suited to living in the more confined space.

Here are 21 dog breeds that are ideal for a first-time owner in an apartment, so you can find the ideal first dog.

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The 21 Dog Breeds for a First-Time Owner in an Apartment

1. Affenpinscher

an affenpinscher dog at the park
Image Credit: Didkovska Ilona, Shutterstock

The Affenpinscher is a small, active breed that is intelligent and keen to please, which means that they’re considered easy to train even for a novice owner. Their size makes them a suitable choice for apartment living, but the Affenpinscher will need regular exercise. The breed is also known to shed and drool less than most other breeds, which means they’re easier to clean up after and may be a good choice for owners with allergies.

2. Basset Hound

Female Basset Hound
Image Credit: Ewa Studio, Shutterstock

The Basset Hound has a very distinctive look with their droopy ears and sad eyes. Although thick-set and quite heavy, they’re a short breed, and they do not need a lot of space and are not prone to running around or displaying outbursts of energy. However, the Basset Hound does need plenty of attention, or they can suffer separation anxiety, and the breed will howl if left alone too long.

3. Bichon Frise

bichon frise in autumn
Image Credit: Eudyptula, Shutterstock

The Bichon Frise is a small breed. They’re lively, energetic, and packed with character, enjoying playtime and quiet time with their humans. They will also get along with other pets and are considered an easy dog to train, making them suitable for first-time owners. The Bichon Frise is energetic, so you will need to provide plenty of walks and exercise, but their size and amenable temperament make them a good choice for apartment dwellers.

4. Border Terrier

border terrier
Image Credit: Colin Seddon, Shutterstock

Border Terriers can be a little more challenging than some of the other breeds on this list, but if you get one as a puppy and ensure good training and socialization from an early age, your Border should be quiet and well-behaved enough to live in an apartment. The breed is intelligent, requires plenty of exercise, and does have a strong prey instinct.

5. Boston Terrier

boston terrier on leash
Image Credit: eClick, Shutterstock

The Boston Terrier is a terrier breed, which means that early socialization and consistent training should be considered vital to the upbringing of this pup. They have a distinguished look and are small enough to live in any apartment, and despite being a terrier, they tend to be very gentle and affectionate with their owners. The brachycephalic face of the breed does mean that they can be prone to breathing problems, though.

6. Bulldog

White and brown french bulldog
Image Credit: @mottaprod_oficial, Unsplash

The Bulldog can suffer from breathing problems as a result of their short snout and confined facial features. The breed is very good with people, including children, and they will usually be happy lying down or slowly following you around the apartment. Regular exercise and a good diet are important to make sure this breed doesn’t put on too much weight, though.

7. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier king charles spaniel
Image Credit: HANSUAN FABREGAS, Pixabay

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a distinguished and characterful little dog. They are a spaniel, which means that you can expect a dog with plenty of energy, but they tend to be more sensitive than some other spaniel breeds. They are also the perfect size for apartment living. This sociable dog will enjoy their time outdoors, and you may need to prevent them from jumping into water if you don’t want to have to clean the whole apartment when you return home.

8. Chihuahua

chihuahua sitting on wool rug
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

The Chihuahua is a lovable little dog breed that forms a close attachment to their owner. They are lively and will require regular exercise, especially to prevent unwanted behaviors like chewing and yapping. Generally, though, the Chihuahua knows how to behave, and as long as they are getting enough exercise and mental stimulation, they will fit well into your apartment life.

9. Cocker Spaniel

Cocker Spaniel Puppies
Image Credit: Alkhaine, Pixabay

The Cocker Spaniel is another spaniel breed, and like the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, they will enjoy getting wet and dirty if given the opportunity. They require regular outdoor exercise but are a happy, sociable dog that aren’t usually prone to excessive barking, so they shouldn’t annoy close neighbors. As well as daily exercise, the most difficult aspect of owning a Cocker Spaniel will be getting to grips with the regular grooming that is required.

10. Dachshund

dachshund using dog ramp at home
Image Credit: Masarik, Shutterstock

The Dachshund, or Doxie, has become one of the most popular companion or pet dog breeds. Thanks to their long body and short legs, they have a unique appearance and are friendly with humans, especially children. Dachshunds also tend to have some adorable habits, such as burrowing under cushions, but you do need to ensure that you help protect your Doxie’s back because it can easily get injured.

11. Golden Retriever

a smiling golden retriever
Image Credit: Lumi Studio, Shutterstock

The Golden Retriever is a large breed, and some owners may be reluctant to have one in an apartment, but as long as you have enough space, there is no reason to overlook what is one of the world’s most popular pet breeds. The Retriever is energetic and requires regular exercise, but they’re also very loyal and incredibly loving. They are also intelligent and eager to please, so they should be easy to train, even for a complete novice.

12. Greyhound

greyhound standing on grass
Image Credit: nonmisvegliate, Pixabay

The Greyhound is a large breed, and even though these dogs are seen tearing around tracks at unbelievable speeds, when they’re living in a home of any size, their preferred position is prostrate on the sofa. Greyhounds are built for speed, not stamina, and you should try to find ways in which to let your Greyhound stretch their incredibly long legs, but you should also be aware that the breed retains their very high prey drive.

13. Havanese

havanese dog
Image Credit: Dorottya Mathe, Shutterstock

The Havanese have silky hair and adorable eyes. They’re a small breed considered highly intelligent, and despite their somewhat smaller stature, they do especially well in agility and other canine sports. However, the Havanese can suffer separation anxiety, so if you spend all day out at work, you may want to look for a different dog.

14. Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retriever
Image Credit: Angel Luciano, Unsplash

The Labrador is the cousin to the Golden Retriever. They have shorter hair and can be considered somewhat goofier than their longer-haired cousin. Like the Golden Retriever, they can live comfortably in an apartment as long as there is enough room and you provide adequate daily exercise.

15. Maltese

maltese dog in meadow
Image Credit: TaniaVdB, Pixabay

The Maltese is a pretty little dog both physically and in terms of their cheerful character. They are bright-eyed and tend to be gleeful when they see their human. The coat is a challenge to care for, and you may benefit from visiting a professional groomer rather than trying to keep it under control yourself, but the Maltese loves attention. Unfortunately, this love of attention can lead to separation problems.

16. Pekingese

Image Credit: No-longer-here, Pixabay

The Pekingese is a lovable and affable little pup that will get along with just about anybody. They even love the company and games of small children, but you need to ensure that any small children do not accidentally hurt this little companion. Also, the breed can be prone to breathing problems and excessive barking, so ensure early training and good socialization.

17. Pomeranian

brown pomeranian standing on a rock
Image Credit: Kongrat, Shutterstock

The Pomeranian is quite a feisty little breed. They’re lively and energetic and love to play. This means getting out and providing them with regular exercise will be important, especially if you want to curb the barking that some Pomeranians are prone to. Otherwise, this intelligent dog is easy to train and really does enjoy company.

18. Pug

Cute pug_220 Selfmade studio_Shutterstock
Image Credit: 220 Selfmade studio, Shutterstock

The Pug is a popular companion pet. They are considered the joker of the canine world and are always willing to lift their owner’s spirit with a game or by doing something funny. Breathing problems can be a concern with some Pugs. Otherwise, if you are looking for a dog that will keep you entertained, the Pug is a very good choice.

19. Shih Tzu

shih tzu puppy sitting on sofa
Image By; Pattarit S, Shutterstock

The Shih Tzu is something of a deceptive breed. They are small, cuddly, and adorable, but if you encourage them to take part in agility or other canine sports, they will tend to excel. They will get along with people of all ages, but this is a breed that demands some care because of their size. Small children might accidentally hurt the Shih Tzu.

20. Whippet

whippet in field
Image Credit: Dora Zett, Shutterstock

The Whippet is sometimes seen as a small Greyhound, and they share many attributes. They have a long, slender body and neck, long legs, and an incredible turn of pace. The Whippet is known especially for being a quiet dog. They rarely bark, which makes them especially ideal for life in an apartment where barking can infuriate neighbors.

21. Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkshire Terrier standing on a wooden table
Image Credit: Mr. SUTTIPON YAKHAM, Shutterstock

The Yorkshire Terrier is a popular small dog breed that is playful and clever and really loves their owners and family. They do require a lot of grooming, and they will follow you around, looking for constant attention. Some Yorkies are also prone to barking; regular exercise and mental stimulation can help limit this, however.

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Getting the best dog for first-time owners in apartments means finding a breed that is suitable for apartment life and one that is not too difficult for first-time owners to get to grips with. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to choose a small breed, though they do tend to fit into apartment life better. The most popular dog breeds, including Pugs and Dachshunds, are especially ideal, though even some big breeds, like Greyhounds, can make a good choice.

See also:

Featured Image Credit: belefront, Shutterstock

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