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”

  1. I am not surprised the Yorkshire Terrier sits at #1. I have a Yorkie living with me and it's true that they don't bark a lot, they're super friendly and very adaptable to new experiences. Good read.

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  4. 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

  5. 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 ?

  6. 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.

  7. Greyhounds are the best, they’re great apartment dogs! I have one as an ESA. They are huge couch potatoes and love to do nothing but laze around. However, they need regular exercise everyday. Make sure your sprinter can get out for a daily walk, and run for about an hour every day — and I mean every single day. The rest of the time, they would pretty much be lounging about in your apartment, perennially sleeping. You could mistake them for an unmoving, stuffed doll. They’re even good with kids, btw.

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  10. We live in a ground floor flat with 3 chihuahuas they are not all the same size because our 2 boys (Father & Son) are part shihzu. Our girl Lola (Mummy & Partner) is a small size apple head chihuahua. Oscar and Lola were used to our old home in our pub and so much more space. We have done as said in the article made most furniture double up as storage. Only doors that stay closed are the 2 bedroom and bathroom and our front door in bad weather as they do have a garden safe and inclosed and ours only. Lola and Oscar have adapted very well and seem so much happier here than our bigger home. Mylo was born here so has grown up with it. The down side is noise from upstairs. And this has made Oscar slightly worried at certain noises which not just him but it would anyone myself included cause what it does so in our living room we have the complete furniture against the walls and window wall so they have all the middle space in one corner he has a tent to go in for safe feeling and many of blankets to go under or wrap in. In the night we leave the TV on in our bedroom for them for ease they hate quiet. If we have to both go out as I’m severely housebound so I rarely get out even into our garden but if we have to we have our routine and leave lights, TV on their Disney movies and in the kitchen a radio so there is always sound and we have cameras that are linked to our phone and we can speak to them if it’s any long length 3 hours max unless I’m taken to hospital this again very rare other than hospital but then we get someone to come if my partner can’t get home but we have our cameras to talk we have 4 in the flat very cheap from amazon. Now people think small dog and chihuahuas also very yappy lap dogs well no none of our 3 are yappy lap dogs yes but also lots of energy and need lots of stimulating play and fun because they hate being bored and other than cuddle time which is evening or more on winter for our Girl they don’t stay still for long lol and in any apartment or flat living it’s not easy but you get there in all different ways so I believe they should be added to the list xx

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