Just because you live in an apartment doesn't mean you must forego
canine companionship. More and more apartments are allowing their tenants to
keep pets, and dedicated dog parks are now found in almost every city in the
country, making it easier than ever to get your cooped-up dog some exercise.
But the key to success lies in breed selection. While some dogs adapt
very well to apartment life, others require more exercise than the average
apartment dweller is willing to provide.
Great breeds for apartments are typically somewhat small, have
relatively low energy levels, require only modest amounts of exercise and do
not feel the need to bark at all hours of the day and night. However, it is
rare to find a breed that exhibits all of these traits, so you will have to
weigh the pros and cons of each breed to determine which one will best fit into
The lists below will help you narrow down your search for the perfect
dog for your domestic situation.
The Best of the Best
Pugs - Pugs are small dogs, with rather modest exercise requirements and a
quiet nature (pugs rarely bark, and when they do, it isn't as shrill as most
other small dogs). Accordingly, they are well-suited for apartment living,
aside from their tendency to shed heavily.
French Bulldogs - Everything about the French bulldog is easy going: Their coats
require very little care, they need very little exercise and they are usually
content to just hang out with their favorite person. Just be sure to socialize
French bulldogs thoroughly while they are young to help prevent behavioral
problems - they can become quite territorial, which can lead to fights with
English Bulldogs - English bulldogs (which are often simply called "bulldogs")
are a good bit beefier than their French counterparts, but they are still
relatively small dogs, who can be quite comfortable living in an apartment.
Their exercise needs are pretty low, and they love nothing more than lounging
around the house with their people.
Great Danes - Despite their gigantic size (some Great Danes tip the scales at
nearly 200 pounds), Great Danes are actually great dogs for apartment dwellers.
Great Danes are typically gentle animals, despite their massive proportions, so
they aren't as destructive to small living spaces as some smaller, but less
deliberate breeds are.
Chinese Cresteds - Chinese crested are some of the world's most dedicated lap dogs, and
they'll rarely want to leave their owner's side - they were original bred to be
companions for bed-ridden people. There are two forms available, a hairless
version, which sheds very little, and the fluffy, "powder puff" form
that has more body fur. Because they require only minimal exercise and are rather
small, they make perfect apartment dogs.
Maltese - Like other toy breeds, Malteses are small dogs, who rarely weigh more
than about 6 pounds. They are a little more energetic than some other toy
breeds, but a few brief walks each day will help keep them healthy and happy.
Maltese do require more grooming than some other breeds, to keep their long,
luxurious fur looking its best.
Shih Tzu - Unlike many other breeds, which were originally created to perform
some type of work, Shih Tzus were bred solely for the expressed purpose of
companionship. They are not only beautiful dogs, but their sweet personalities
and loving nature make them favorites of people who need a dog for a small
The Worst of the Worst
Australian Cattle Dogs - Few dogs bred to herd cattle adapt well to life in confined quarters,
and Australian cattle dogs are no exception. These dogs require more space and
exercise than most other breeds of similar size, so look for another breed to
join your apartment-living family.
Border Collies - The intelligence, energy and exuberance that make border collies so
well suited for agility training make them poorly suited for apartment life.
When bored, frustrated or under-exercised, border collies may become
problematic chewers or develop other behavioral problems.
Labrador Retrievers - Labradors may love hanging out on the couch
with their family, but they only want to do so after a long day spent fetching
toys. They are rarely happy unless provided plenty of room to run and play, so
those living in apartments should avoid them and select a smaller, less
energetic breed. Additionally, some labs grow large enough to make your
apartment feel cramped.
Bloodhounds - Despite having a gentle and relaxed demeanor, bloodhounds are
high-energy dogs that require copious amounts of exercise. Additionally,
because they tend to sling drool every time they move their heads, they can be
a little messy for close-quarters companionship.
Belgian Malinois - The intelligence, drive and intensity of Belgian Malinois help make
them the preferred breed for police and military K9 handlers, but these same
traits make them unsuitable for apartment life. Belgian Malinois need lots of
stimulation to stave off boredom, and a great deal of exercise to ensure they
don't develop destructive behaviors.
Beagles - Originally bred to hunt rabbits, modern beagles display the same
energy and vigor of their ancestors, and they aren't easily contained inside an
apartment - they'd rather be outside running around. Additionally, beagles can
be vocal dogs, which can turn into a nuisance for your neighbors.
Whippets - Whippets are sighthounds, who've been bred to be spectacular
sprinters. The require copious amounts of exercise and they do not tolerate
being away from their family for long periods of time, so they are among the
worst dogs for those living in an apartment.
Understand that these are not unflinching rules - they are
generalizations. Owners willing to go running every day may be able to keep an
apartment-bound border collie content, while others may find that even tiny
breeds make their apartment feel too cramped for comfort. But these lists
provide a good starting point and can help improve your chances of adding
the right dog to your domicile.