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Being a pet parent comes with tons of responsibilities, including training, feeding, and ensuring the health of your pet. Unfortunately, apartment dwellers have additional responsibilities when it comes to their pets. Not only must you walk your dog regularly because you don't have your own backyard, but you also have to ensure the safety and happiness of your neighbors and landlords.
If you live in an apartment that allows dogs, ensure you carefully read the lease agreement to learn about all the rules regarding having pets. For example, your lease will require you to pick up after your dog during walks, keep them on a leash and under your control at all times, and avoid becoming a nuisance to neighbors. If you and your dog break any rules outlined in your lease, there will be consequences, adding stress to pet parents with dogs.
It's also your responsibility to find a dog that will be happy living in an apartment. With no outdoor space to call their own, high-energy pets may not always be happy living in confined spaces unless they can get ample walks. If you choose to have a high-energy dog, you must make time to train and exercise them for their overall physical and emotional health. While many dogs can be happy and healthy living in an apartment, apartments are not ideal living situations for all dogs. This article will discuss the best dog breeds for apartments and how you can ensure the health and happiness of your new pet while living in an apartment.
Affenpinschers are a small breed that make great apartment dogs because of their size. However, they are relatively high-energy dogs bred for rodent hunting, so they'll need daily exercise to prevent destructive behavior. Affenpinschers can grow up to 12 inches tall and weigh around 7-10 pounds with a life expectancy of 12-15 years.1
They are an affectionate breed that does well with young children and other dogs when trained properly. However, because they have such high energy, they will need training as soon as possible to ensure they won't get rough with small children while playing. While they shed, they don't shed as much as other types of dogs. Because they have medium-length coats, they will need to be groomed frequently.
Of course, all dogs bark, so you can expect some barks from an Affenpinscher, but they don't have a loud bark, so your neighbors may not hear them at all.
2. Bedlington Terrier
The Bedlington terrier is a medium-sized white dog with high energy. While Bedlington terriers don't shed, they do require regular grooming because they have a curly coat that grows quickly. It's typically best to groom these terriers every two months at the most to keep their fur from becoming matted. They should also be brushed or combed on a weekly basis to keep their fur under control.
Bedlington terriers are similar to most other types of terriers in that they have tons of energy, so they need regular exercise to stay healthy and happy. Luckily, even though they have tons of energy, they do not often engage in destructive behavior once trained. However, these dogs were bred for hunting small rodents, so they must be on a leash for walks to ensure they won't run off to chase something.
3. Bichon Frise
The bichon frise is another one of the best apartment dog breeds due to their size and temperament. At just 12-18 pounds,2 this breed is considered one of the most affectionate, making them a great choice for small homes with children. They're also great with other dogs and pets and don't require too much space to be happy. Bichons have similar coats to Bedlington terriers, so they should be brushed regularly. They should also be groomed regularly to prevent their fur from becoming matted and painful. Unfortunately, house training bichons is difficult because they are small with small bladders, so they may need to have more frequent potty breaks than larger dogs.
Bichons are also not as active as terriers, so they're typically great apartment dogs because they don't need so much physical activity. Of course, they should still have daily walks like any other dog. Bichons are fairly easy to train and don't shed as much as other dogs, making them a great breed for small spaces.
4. Border Terrier
Border terriers are active and love to dig, hunt, and play. These energetic yet friendly and loving dogs make great apartment dogs because they don't engage in prolonged bark sessions and shed moderately. In addition, border terriers are small dogs typically weighing less than 15 pounds3, so they're easy to pick up and carry around if you don't want them in a certain area of your home. They're also incredibly affectionate and great with children and other pets.
Their wiry coats don't shed as much as other types of dogs, so you won't have to frequently clean your home to remove fur and hair from the carpet or furniture. They also don't require too much grooming and can get away with regular brushing to remove hair during shedding season.
Border terriers are terriers, so they'll need tons of activity, especially when they're young. At least one walk per day, along with playing, should be enough to keep them happy and healthy, but if your dog spends time inside, they may require more frequent walks throughout the day to burn off energy. In addition, these dogs love to dig and hunt, so they must be leashed at all times.
Border terriers can be stubborn, so they need training as soon as possible to help them learn desirable behaviors. Because they have such high energy, if they're not trained, they can engage in destructive behavior as a way to burn off energy.
5. Boston Terrier
Boston terriers are by far one of the best apartment dog breeds because they're gentle and affectionate but small. Boston terriers like people and dogs, making them great pets for families. They don't often shed, and their bark is quiet enough that it should not disturb your neighbors. However, Boston terriers are vocal, so you may need to learn how to train a dog to stop barking to prevent them from annoying the neighbors.
Being a member of the terrier family means they will have high energy, so you'll need to find a way to help them burn that energy to maintain their health and happiness.
6. Brussels Griffon
Brussels Griffon is a dog with a unique appearance. These sensitive dogs typically bond with one family member but still get along with others. These dogs love to play, so they'll need tons of attention and exercise throughout the day. Unfortunately, if you don't take the time to train your pet, this breed can bark a lot. However, they make great family dogs and don't shed too much. Instead of grooming, they need weekly brushing to remove fur during the shedding season.
7. English Bulldog
So far, we've mentioned primarily high-energy dog breeds. However, some apartment dwellers might be looking for lower-energy dogs that don't require constant attention. Bulldogs are ideal apartment dogs because they become calmer as they age. Of course, all puppies have high energy, but as your bulldog ages, it will become more relaxed. These dogs are relatively inactive indoors, so while they may play with toys, they won't be as physically active as other breeds.
Of course, daily walks are still necessary to reduce any energy they have to prevent destructive behaviors and anxiety. Also, bulldogs need a different type of maintenance than other pets because they have skin folds. It's always best to check your bulldog's facial folds because bacteria and moisture can get trapped within them and cause irritation. Other than that, grooming a bulldog is fairly easy, and they have short hair that won't shed often.
Bulldogs can overheat easily and can have breathing problems because of their very short muzzle. They are also very prone to allergy/skin problems and are one of the most expensive dog breeds to own.
8. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are some of the best dogs for first-time owners because of their temperament, but they're also some of the best dogs for apartments. This adorable breed has a beautiful coat that doesn't require too much maintenance. Instead, they should be brushed regularly and bathed occasionally to maintain their silky soft fur.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are lap dogs, so they love to cuddle up on the couch. However, they should still have a walk every day to get the exercise they need for their health. These dogs make great family pets because they're affectionate and friendly with people and other pets.
9. Cocker Spaniel
Cocker spaniels are considered medium-sized dogs because they can weigh up to 30 pounds.4 However, much like the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Cocker Spaniels are affectionate and great with children and other pets. They have long fur that requires regular grooming to prevent mats and tangles, and they can shed quite a bit, especially when they're not regularly groomed. Cocker spaniels are a sporting breed4 but don’t need much exercise to reduce their energy. Instead, they may get enough exercise by playing fetch or walking with their pet parent.
10. French Bulldog
French bulldogs are known for their round figure and short nose. However, they're also affectionate and great with children and other dogs. They have a short coat, so they don't need regular grooming outside of the shedding season. Instead, focus on keeping their skin folds dry and clean to prevent infections from moisture and bacteria growth.
Frenchies don't need much exercise to expel energy. Instead, you can give them a short walk around the block or play with them outside. Other than that, these dogs are lower energy and enjoy spending quality time with their humans.
Greyhounds are most known as racing dogs, so they have extremely high energy. However, even though they might require more exercise than a low-energy dog, they're easily trainable and affectionate with family members. In addition, they don't shed often and require minimal grooming, so there's virtually no maintenance with greyhounds.
Because greyhounds are such a high-energy breed, they require both mental and physical stimulation. Greyhounds are also much larger than other apartment dogs, coming in at up to 70 pounds.5 However, even though they're large, they still make great apartment dogs because they love to bond with their humans.
If you love greyhounds, you may also consider the Italian greyhound. While the greyhound and Italian greyhound share similar features, they have some key differences. Italian greyhounds are much smaller, so they might be better for your small home. However, they're typically more energetic, so they'll need more exercise than a greyhound.
Havanese are small breeds native to Cuba.6 They have a soft, long coat, so they must be groomed often to prevent tangles. Additionally, they will need to have their fur clipped to prevent them from stepping on it as they walk, run and play.
Havanese have moderate energy, so they'll benefit from a daily walk but don't really need much else to be happy or healthy. However, they tend to get hot quickly because they have so much fur, so they may need shorter walks in the warmer months. Also, even though Havanese thrive in apartments, they don't like being left alone too long, so if you have a full-time job or don't work from home, this breed might not be right for you.
Who can resist the flat-faced pug that's full of love? Pugs are some of the most affectionate dogs. Great with children and other dogs, pugs are friendly, which can make living in an apartment easier because they're unlikely to bark at your neighbors in the hallway. They have a short, smooth coat that won't shed too much and doesn't need excessive maintenance. Instead, they can be bathed whenever they get dirty and brushed regularly to keep their fur shiny and healthy.
Pugs are low-energy dogs, so they're content to spend their time napping beside you. Unfortunately, because of their low energy, they are predisposed to obesity, so pet parents must ensure their pugs are getting enough exercise. On the other hand, pugs are some of the easiest dogs to care for because they don't need to do much to be happy.
14. Shih Tzu
If you're looking for a friendly dog with a beautiful coat, look no further than a Shih Tzu. These dogs are incredibly affectionate with everyone, including children and other dogs, making them a great choice for apartments.
Shih Tzus were bred to not need much exercise, so they'll be happy just to get a short daily walk and some quality playtime indoors. However, Shih Tzus are considered high-maintenance dogs because of their long fur. They must be brushed daily and groomed regularly to prevent knots. They also get tear stains that will need to be gently cleaned.
Whippets are medium-sized dogs and can weigh anywhere from 25 to 40 pounds.7 This breed is loving and affectionate, making them great dogs for households with children and other dogs. The best part about whippets is that they don't bark a lot since they're not very vocal dogs. However, you can expect a few barks when someone knocks on your door.
Whippets are similar to greyhounds in that they enjoy exercise, so they may need longer walks than the average apartment dog to stay fit and healthy. However, their short coat requires little maintenance.
Making Apartment Living Work For You & Your Dog
Living in an apartment with your dog comes with additional challenges, including finding time to take them outside for walks and avoiding upsetting the neighbors with barking or howling throughout the day or night. Here are a few tips to make apartment living easier with a dog:
- Give them exercise: All dogs, no matter the breed, need regular daily exercise to help them burn off excess energy that may lead to destructive behavior.
- Take more frequent potty breaks: Apartment dogs may be more difficult to housetrain because getting outside requires walking down stairs or going down a hallway to get outside. Apartment dogs are often smaller than other types of dogs, so they have smaller bladders and will need to be taken out more frequently.
- Spend time together: All dogs need to bond with their pet parents. Spending time together is a great way to ensure your pet's emotional wellness. Depending on the breed, some dogs don't like to be left alone for too long.
- Socialize them: Because apartment dogs will spend more time around other dogs and pets, they should be socialized to prevent reactivity and aggressive behavior due to anxiety.
- Give them a safe space: All dogs should have a sanctuary space where they can go to relax. Since there's less room in an apartment than in a house, they may become frustrated or scared by multiple people walking around them. Instead, you can give them a safe space to spend their time away from the hustle and bustle of the household.
- Training: Teaching your pet the basic dog commands can help them become more comfortable in their surroundings. Dogs like being trained because it helps them learn what you expect from them, allowing them to figure out how they can make you happy. Training also can help you get rid of unwanted behavior. For example, if your dog howls whenever they want something, it can annoy the neighbors. While any dog breed can howl, you can train your dog to ask you for the things they want in a different, quieter way.
Best Apartment Dogs: FAQs
What is the best type of dog for a small apartment?
No single dog breed is best for a small apartment since it all depends on a dog's unique temperament. Every dog is different, so you must dedicate time to training them to ensure they can be happy and healthy in an apartment. Of course, small apartments are not ideal environments for larger, highly energetic dogs.
What is the quietest dog for an apartment?
The quietest dogs for apartments are typically those with lower energy, like the bulldog, because they typically remain calm no matter what. Of course, you can expect any dog to bark when someone knocks on your door, but the lower energy dogs are more willing to ignore sounds than those with high energy that feel the need to protect their home.
What breed of dog can be left alone during the day?
Many dogs are independent and can be left alone while you go to work. The whippet and greyhound are great examples of independent dogs who are still affectionate with their owners but may enjoy some time alone. However, you should never leave your dog alone for too long. Anxious dog breeds are more prone to separation anxiety and destructive behavior that must be addressed as soon as possible.
Your dog should never be left alone for more than eight to ten hours because they should be able to empty their bladders at least once in that time. Smaller dogs are more prone to accidents because they have small bladders, so depending on the size of your dog, you may not be able to leave them alone for more than a few hours because they won't be able to hold their urine.
Finding the right dog for your apartment will take time and research. While learning about the different breeds can help you determine which type of dog is right for you, every dog is different. If you're not willing to put in the work to train your dog and ensure they can be happy in your home, you might not be ready to become a pet parent. Even low-energy dogs need affection and exercise, but they're less likely to bark at your neighbors on walks due to their calm nature. If you're looking for a low-maintenance dog, consider one that's low-energy with short hair that doesn't have to be groomed.
Any dog can have issues, though. For example, some dogs are more prone to health issues than others, and some may have behavioral problems that weren't effectively trained away. Talk to a Dutch vet if you need help training your dog or addressing their behavioral problems. A Dutch behaviorist can help you learn how to train your dog to become a good neighbor while ensuring they're happy and healthy.
Admin. “Affenpinscher Dog Breed Information.” American Kennel Club, 6 Nov. 2017, https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/affenpinscher/.
Kriss, Randa. “Bichon Frise Dog Breed Information.” American Kennel Club, 6 Nov. 2017, https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/bichon-frise/.
Kriss, Randa. “Border Terrier Dog Breed Information.” American Kennel Club, 6 Nov. 2017, https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/border-terrier/.
Kriss, Randa. “Cocker Spaniel Dog Breed Information.” American Kennel Club, 6 Nov. 2017, https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/cocker-spaniel/.
Paulenoff, Simon. “Greyhound Dog Breed Information.” American Kennel Club, 6 Nov. 2017, https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/greyhound/.
Paulenoff, Simon. “Havanese Dog Breed Information.” American Kennel Club, 6 Nov. 2017, https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/havanese/.
Kriss, Randa. “Whippet Dog Breed Information.” American Kennel Club, 6 Nov. 2017, https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/whippet/.