The 10 Best Apartment Dogs Might Surprise You

Our picks for best apartment dog breeds may surprise you. A Great Dane CAN live on the 20th floor!

A Great Dane curled up asleep on a red chair.
A Great Dane curled up asleep on a red chair. Photography by berndstuhlmann/Thinkstock.

Many dog lovers will tell you that dogs and apartment living don’t go together. But you don’t need a huge yard in suburbia for your dog to be happy. Here’s a look at some of the breeds that make the best apartment dogs.

best apartment dogs
Greyhounds are, surprisingly to some, among the best apartment dogs. Photography by krushelss / Shutterstock.

Size Doesn’t Always Matter When it Comes to Choosing the Best Apartment Dogs

Just because a dog is small doesn’t mean he’ll make the cut for good apartment dogs. Some small-breed dogs are far too vocal to meet the requirements of the best apartment dogs. Others are too antsy and have too much energy to be cooped up, even if their smaller size makes the space seem bigger. For example, though he is among the smallest dog breeds, the Chihuahua doesn’t make our list of top apartment dogs because of the breed’s tendency to bark, as well as his energetic, nervous demeanor. However, many Terriers, though they are high energy, tend to make the best apartment dogs as long as they get enough exercise.

Some large breeds also make excellent dogs for apartments. For example, the Greyhound is often thought to need room to run because he was bred to do just that. But many rescued Greyhounds are retired racers and are much more inclined to lie around with that sexy, languid look than to chase bunnies on sticks. And, again, as long as exercise requirements are met, many large dogs can live comfortably in an apartment or a small house.

Yorkshire Terrier.
Yorkshire Terriers make our list of best dogs for apartments. Photography by Yazmin Mellado / Shutterstock.

10 Best Apartment Dogs (Small to Large)

1. Yorkshire Terrier:

At around 7 pounds, this extra-small wonder makes the list of best apartment dogs not only because he takes up little space but also because he is not a barker. He is also friendly with people and other pets and very adaptable to new experiences.

2. Maltese:

The slightly larger Maltese (around 9 pounds) has a silky coat with no undercoat that sheds very little, making cleaning in a small space easier. He is also a quiet dog who mostly wants to be where his owner is, earning him a solid spot on this roundup of good apartment dogs.

3. Boston Terrier:

At 12 to 18 pounds, this breed is also very attached to his owner, which means he doesn’t mind being indoors in a small space as long as his owner is attentive. He is also an easily trainable dog.

4. French Bulldog:

A smallish dog (around 20 pounds) with the traits of a larger dog. He is calm and quiet, often relaxing on the most comfortable seat in the place. His practical demeanor makes him suitable for any living space, including an apartment.

5. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel:

This is one of the friendliest breeds, making it easy to deal with other tenants and their dogs. At 13 to 18 pounds, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is also calm and very adaptable.

6. English Bulldog:

This is the larger cousin of the French Bulldog who weighs 49 to 55 pounds, a stable dog who is comfortable in small spaces. Indeed, most seem to prefer the couch to the dog park.

7. Basset Hound:

This breed might not seem likely to land on the list of best apartment dogs with his bulky stature (around 60 pounds), but like the Bulldog, he is a very calm dog who is easily kept busy with treat toys and lots of petting.

8. American Staffordshire Terrier:

The show dog version of the American Pit Bull Terrier is more dog-friendly than his cousin. He is easily trained and forms a tight bond with his owner. As long as he gets adequate exercise, he is a good apartment dog. He weighs 55 to 65 pounds.

9. Greyhound:

This racing dog (60 to 80 pounds) might seem an odd choice for a list of best apartment dogs, but retired Greyhounds are some of the biggest canine couch potatoes. They are very trainable and adaptable. They seem to appreciate a more sedentary lifestyle.

10. Great Dane:

“Huge dogs” don’t seem to be good candidates for “great apartment dogs,” but the Great Dane (at a majestic 100 to 130 pounds) is such a natural loafer that, though your couch will probably be fully occupied, he’ll take up far less space than you might think. Add to that his calm demeanor, friendliness, trainability and quiet nature, and the Great Dane makes an excellent choice among best apartment dogs.

If you live in or are moving to an apartment or small house and already have a dog, don’t worry. The following tips can help you all live happily in a small space.

10 Tips for Having a Happy Apartment Dog

French Bulldog lying down by Shutterstock.
No matter which breed, or mix of breeds, you choose to bring into your apartment, here are a few tips! Photography by Patryk Kosmider / Shutterstock.

1. Acclimate:

If you’ve adopted a new puppy or adult dog, or if you’re moving your current dog into a small space, try to acclimate him slowly by visiting for shorter and then longer periods.

2. Be present:

Again, if an apartment or small house is a new environment for your dog, try to stay with him as much as possible. Go out for short periods alone at first, and then lengthen them.

3. Create space:

Think storage, storage, storage when it comes to furniture. Anything that takes up space should serve as storage as well. Try to keep as much floor space open as possible.

4. Darken and lighten:

Apartments can be very dark because of the surrounding buildings. They can also get too much light if they’re high up. Drapes and special bulbs can help keep the lighting natural.

5. Establish a routine:

This is vital for dogs who have to wait to go outside. Feeding and walking times should be consistent.

6. Find a good trainer:

One trait that all good apartment dogs have — they’re not prone to be excessively vocal. If you’re having behavioral issues such as a dog who won’t stop barking, find a trainer in your area who specializes in that issue.

7. Get a bench:

A small or large bench against a windowsill gives your dog a place to jump up and observe the world — and also makes the space seem larger.

8. Hire a dog walker:

The best apartment dogs are the dogs who get adequate exercise and enrichment. For the times when you can’t get your dog out for extra exercise, a trusted dog walker is a necessity.

9. Invest in a gate:

If you have a studio or open floor plan, make sure you can put a gate up to keep your dog separated from others. Using the kitchen or bathroom often works. Also, make that space your dog’s haven with his bed and toys.

10. Juggle those balls:

It’s perfectly fine to play fetch in your apartment, as long as it’s not too early or too late. Installing rugs helps absorb the noise of dog nails. You don’t have to be at the dog park to have fun with your dog.

Get more tips for living with your dog in a city here >>

A few final thoughts on the best apartment dogs

It’s easy to find a dog who will live well in an apartment or small-house setting. Size isn’t everything — quiet, lower-energy, non-working dogs are really what make the best apartment dogs. And if you already have a dog who needs to adapt to a small space, remember: If our dogs are with us and we’re happy, they’re happy, too. Rather than fretting over sharing a small space, look at it as a bonding experience. After all, tripping over each other is just a game of tag, if you look at it that way.

Tell us: Do you live in an apartment with a dog? What do you think of our tips? What other breeds — or mixes — should be on the best apartment dogs list? Let us know in the comments!

Thumbnail: Photography by berndstuhlmann/Thinkstock.

This piece was originally published in 2015. 

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79 thoughts on “The 10 Best Apartment Dogs Might Surprise You”

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  5. Believe it or not we had a Siberia Husky for almost 16 years and he was a fantastic apartment dog, because he rarely barked. Although I probably walked him 10 to 15 miles a day and he had a 6 and 4 year old to help wear him out.

  6. I have a Maltese in my 650 square foot apartment. She’s very much a lap dog who wants to be cuddled, and burns off energy romping with her plastic toys. A simple “No” from me stops her barking, which is only when a stranger approaches or rings the bell. She loves a 20 minute walk around the complex, and, the highlight of her day, a ride in the car to 7Eleven, McDonald’s, etc. Excellent apartment dog.

  7. In every list of dogs for anything I never see our dog, a Lowchen. No calendars or signs either. It’s a kennel club registered and very old breed. Why is this? June Williams, Manchester, UK.

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  9. Chow chows are good apartment dogs. They’re low energy, don’t require excessive exercise, and tend to be quiet.

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  11. Thank you for sharing the informative tips. They’re very useful and practical for new pet owners. I have lived in the apartment with my Yorkie for years with my dog and met different landlords. Most of them dislike yappy and aggressive dogs because those pups will cause lots of complaints from other tenants, which is the reason why they set up the “No Pets” rules. In my opinion, barking is normal for a dog but owners should train it what the correct moment to bark is. What’s more, most small breed dogs are prone to adapt to the tight apartment because they don’t require a lot of space to stretch their legs. Besides dog breeds, there are many things about living with a dog in apartments that each “freshman” should know, such as shedding level and budget. Here are some tips I searched: Hope this helps

  12. Tracy Deslaurier

    It’s very difficult to get a reasonable accommodation if you have English bulldog with you. I was feeling suffocated as my landlord was not accepting my pet. I didn’t want to leave my pet behind. One of my friend told me that I can get reasonable accommodation for me and my pet if I have an ESA letter from a licensed therapist. He also told me about a website that offers ESA Letter services at a reasonable price. I visited the site , and in just 3 simple steps I got approved for an ESA Letter. I received my letter on the same day. My letter helped me to get reasonable accommodation without any extra pet deposits.

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  17. Elizabeth Crane

    You forgot my favorite breed! American Shelter Dog. It’s one of the most common breeds in NYC where I live. My 10-year old, 85-lb mix of rottweiler, pit, and mystery dog is perfect for an apartment. He does not bark at noises in the hall or elevator, loves people and meeting dogs in the neighborhood, sniffing garbage bags on the street and shopping. He never, ever, forgets anyone he’s ever met and knows more people than I do. Hecan nap at any time, anywhere. He’s been with me since he was a pup.

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  19. I have a Brussels Griffon, who rarely barks inside, and can get enough ecerise on our walks outside. Her fav place is on the back of the couch looking out my 10th storey window ?

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  23. My sister’s husband was in the dog house.
    So he went and bought her a 1,300 Yorkshire. This was 2012.
    She calls him Snickers, and he’s the same bundle of energy.
    He never grew any-well it seems like it to me…
    Anyway, all that was to say. That’s why I got my French Bulldog.
    I live in NY and she’s perfect, and a true New Yorker
    Thank you for all the wondrful contant…

  24. I have a 13 month old Bull Arib cross Wolfhound cross Greyhound that barks all the time nearly I would tell her to be quiet but that gets no where.

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  35. I agree. Chihuahuas make great apartment dogs. All dogs bark and one can train them not to in an apartment setting. I’d like to j is the criteria and demographic of this study

  36. I was surprised not to see Chihuahuas on this list. Some of them are yappy, as are many other breeds, but I have never had any trouble teaching mine to be quiet. I take mine everywhere with me with no problems.

  37. Standard Poodles should’ve on the list too

    No shedding
    Quiet. Rarely bark.
    Bark is very deep, sounds scary to intruders
    Can be super athletic dogs capable of anything
    Or happy to simply lie around or snuggle
    Their intelligence is amazing Understand everything – might pretend not to
    They are very attuned to their owner
    Senses when something is wrong, even healthwise
    Easy to train to dial 911, get help etc
    Loyal but does like to flirt with others
    All curl up so tightly they can fit on laps
    They like everybody, and loved by all
    Often are search and rescue dogs
    Great with kids and preventing falls downstairs
    Great in homes, schools, businesses, restaurants
    Perfect dog for any situation

    1. I completely agree with everything you said. I especially Liked your observation that they understand everything but might pretend not to. Their intelligence is much greater than any other breed I know. They may be considered to be 2nd highest in intelligence to the border collie, but the poodle’s temperament makes them the perfect choice for all living situations.

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    1. I agree! Shih Tzus don’t shed and don’t bark and love to be anywhere their ‘people’ are! Our third Tzu and a wonderful member of our family.

    2. My Shih Tzu, Also loves her many places she on the couch and other areas. She is my perfect companion and apartment dweller.

    3. Samantha Marcantonio

      I have had two Shih-Tzu’s and both were excellent apartment dogs. Also one of the smartest dogs I’ve ever owned. The no shedding is a huge plus especially if they travel with you.

  39. Great tips! Especially #5. I think establishing and maintaining a routine is extremely important for a dog’s wellbeing.

    If they know when to be taken a walk and when to get food, then it’s much easier for them to relax the rest of the time.

    1. Deborah Hutchinson

      How about mixed breeds. I dont think it’s the breed, it’s how much quality time their person is willing to invest. I lived in a 1200 square foot town home with 4 Border Collies. They were always next to me. It wouldn’t have mattered if I lived in a 3000 square foot home which I do now. We are always in the same 20 square feet together. Or mostly outside exploring, hiking , walking, going for car rides, what ever comes up. You need to put the time in as with any living being in your care.

      1. I agree completely. I have a standard poodle that is a house dog. She loves the house with her toys and TV. She also loves to go outside and run and play a couple of times a day. I am able to accommodate her as I am retired, but she is a great housedog.

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