Which Dog is Best for Apartment Living?

Last Updated on April 24, 2023

If you live in an apartment but you love dogs, then you’re no-doubt wondering what are the best dog breeds for apartments. 

Whether you prefer a petite pocket pal or a great dane-sized buddy, some breeds are perfectly happy living in a smaller space.

a Chihuahua and English Bulldog sitting side by side
A Chihuahua and English Bulldog puppy

It’s not cruel to keep a dog in an apartment so long as you pick the right breed and give them plenty of play time. 

Best Dog Breeds for Apartment Living based on Sizes

While toy breeds lend themselves nicely to apartment life because of their smaller size, larger dogs can also be happy in an apartment. Let’s look at some of the best breeds for apartments based on size.

Best Toy and Extra-Small Dog Breeds for Apartments

Tiny toy dogs like pekingese and brussels griffons make excellent apartment dogs because they’re so tiny. They can practically get all the exercise they need just running around your space. 

1. Chihuahua

a Chihuahua wearing a sleeveless shirt laying on a bed

Chihuahuas are one of the smallest dogs in the world, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they are perfect for apartment life.

And even though chihuahuas can have lots of energy, they can get plenty of exercise zooming around an apartment.

On the downside, these tiny pooches can be quite vocal, which could annoy your fellow apartment dwellers. Training them to not bark at every little thing is really important. 

Chihuahuas need frequent potty breaks, so you might not want to live with one on the 16th floor of a highrise. Alternately, you could always set up an indoor potty zone.

2. Maltese 

Little Maltese puppy with blue bow tie
A charming Maltese puppy with a bow tie

Maltese seem to be tailor-made to live in small spaces. They don’t have a ton of energy, so they don’t need much exercise.

They are small, aren’t messy or stinky, and are happiest just snuggled up with you on the sofa. 

You do need to brush their teeth daily and be very dedicated to teaching them when and where they can potty or else they may decide for themselves where they’ll go if you don’t train them. 

3. Yorkshire Terrier 

a Yorkshire Terrier laying on the floor eating bellpepper

The sweet little Yorkie isn’t a couch potato, but they make a great apartment dog.

They’re small enough that they can be completely happy in an apartment, but remember that they have a big personality.

Your biggest challenge won’t be giving them enough exercise but teaching them not to bark. Yorkies are known for being quite vocal and noisy, whether they’re playing or guarding your home. 

Like poodles, Yorkies have long hair that doesn’t shed like the fur that other dogs have. That makes them more hypoallergenic, though you will need to brush them daily if you keep their coat long. 

Yorkies are also prone to separation anxiety, so training and socialization is important. 

4. Chinese Crested

two Chinese Crested puppies comfortably laying on a fluffy dog bed
Source: @on__the__spot__  / IG

The Chinese crested dog makes a great apartment dog not just because of their small size, but because they are largely hairless, you won’t have to deal with hair all over your apartment.

While they do like to be active, a few daily walks is all it takes to keep them happy. 

These playful, sensitive dogs love to cuddle with their people, and you may need to give them a sweater during cold weather.

Other than that, just make sure to include them in your daily activities and they’ll be as happy as can be. 

5. Toy Poodle

Toy Poodle tilting its head and wearing a plaid bow tie
Source: @scoopythepoodle / IG

The Toy Poodle is a perfect apartment dog. They don’t shed like other dogs.

Instead, their fur is actually hair, like a human’s, and it falls out gradually, just like a person. So you won’t be dealing with a ton of hair everywhere. 

They’re also small. They do have more energy than some dogs, but because they are tiny, they can get plenty of exercise just playing fetch across the room.

A short walk a few times a day will be plenty to keep them happy. 

Finally, they’re super easy to train, so you can teach them to behave in elevators, not to bark at people walking down the hall, and to potty in the indoor potty zone, if necessary. 

Best Small Dog Breeds for Apartments 

Many small breeds like Shiba Inus, Coton de Tulears, and dachshunds are perfect for apartment living, thanks to their size and exercise requirements. Here are a few:

6. Bichon Frise

A dome head Bichon Frise sitting on a rug
Source: @chonzzang / IG

The playful, affectionate, clownish Bichon Frise may look like a little cotton ball, but these dogs are quite sturdy and resilient. They have a ton of personality but they fit nicely into a small apartment in the city. 

These dogs are easy to train and eager to please, so you won’t have any trouble teaching them to adapt to the city life or to behave on those trips to the dog park.

Because they are such friendly dogs, they’ll quickly become the favorite of everyone around in your building. 

7. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Two Cavalier King Charles Spaniel sitting on a toilet mat
Source: @baci_n_savi / IG

The American Kennel Club describes the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel as graceful, even-tempered, and regal. These characteristics make them one of the best apartment dogs out there. 

They can have a lot of energy or they can be an easygoing lapdog, depending on what you ask them to be.

If you like going on long, brisk walks, they’ll be happy to join you. If you want to curl up in front of a movie, they’ll be there with you. 

They’re super attached to their owners, as many small breeds are, so don’t leave them alone for long periods.

If you work all day long outside of the house, you might want to take them to doggie daycare. 

8. Havanese 

a Havanese sitting and tilting its head
Source: @ha.vi_mi.lo / IG

Havanese pups are little dogs with big personalities. They are often found in cities because they are sociable, sweet, and make good watchdogs.

They’re adaptable to whatever living situation you put them in and they’re extroverts who want to say hello to everyone you pass on the street. 

They are prone to becoming overweight, so you’ll need to watch how much you feed them and keep an eye on their exercise needs.

You may need to take them on some long walks if they start to gain weight. 

These dogs are really smart and they’re quite sensitive, so they need good training and socialization but not harsh corrections. 

9. French Bulldog

a French Bulldog puppy sitting on a sofa
Source: @francis.the.french / IG

With their adorable bat-like ears that make them irresistible to everyone and their playful, alert personality, Frenchies are a hit with apartment dwellers.

These dogs love to charm everyone they meet and love to make new friends. 

Bonus, they aren’t big barkers, but they are watchful. That means they will alert you when something concerning is happening, but they aren’t the type to just bark at any old thing. 

They can be just as happy in a small living space as a large one, though they do tend toward obesity, so you’ll need to watch their diet and exercise. 

10. Basenji 

an adorable Basenji laying on a couch yawning
Source: @benji_basenjii / IG

Basenjis are an attractive option for people living in an apartment because they are considered “barkless.” That doesn’t mean they are totally silent, but they don’t have that typical woof that most dogs do. 

Instead, they make a sort of yodel sound when they want your attention. 

They are also extremely clean. Some people describe them as closer to a cat than a dog in many ways, including their quiet, reserved personality. 

Be aware that just because they’re quiet and clean, that doesn’t mean you can just plop them in a small home and expect them to be happy.

These dogs need a lot of exercises! They also can’t be trusted off-leash because they have strong hunting and prey drive. 

That means lots of time at a fenced off-leash park or going on jogs every day with their humans. That makes them perfect for the active apartment dweller. 

11. Boston Terrier

a Boston Terrier sitting with ears up
Source: @goodestboygus_ / IG

Because of their size, Boston Terriers make great apartment dogs. But there’s a catch. These dogs were bred to be your constant companion, plus they can be up to 20 muscular pounds. 

That could add up to a bad combination if you leave your pupper alone way too much. They may decide to take out their frustration on your favorite pillow.

Be sure to socialize them well and train them to tolerate being left alone for short periods when they’re young.

This video talks about handling separation anxiety in a Boston dog.

Other than that, a few daily walks and that should be all they need to get enough exercise, but be sure to keep some toys around to entertain them when you can’t be. 

12. Pug 

Pug puppies adorably looking up while sitting on a soft dog bed
Source: @wolstenholmepets / IG

Pugs are known for being pretty lazy. They’ll take a nap over a jog around the park any day. That, combined with their size, makes them a pretty darn good apartment dog.

Of course, they’ll still need some exercise and a few potty walks a day, but not nearly as much as other breeds. 

Pugs can be vocal, but their bark isn’t always very booming, which also helps them fit right into an apartment. Plus, while they will bark to alert you of a situation, they aren’t known for being yappy. 

Pugs are sensitive and they need lots of human contacts, so socialization and training are a must to help your friend settle into their city home.

Out on walks, they’ll revel in all the love and attention they’ll get while out and about. 

13. Shih Tzu

a beautiful Shih Tzu with groomed hair sitting on a chair
Source: @chloerodriguesshihtzu / IG

Shih Tzus make good apartment neighbors because they are generally calm and quiet animals. As long as they are with you, they’ll be happy in a palatial palace or a petite apartment. 

That said, like many toy or small breeds, which were bred to be companions, they want to be near you at all times.

They might bark or otherwise make a fuss if you leave them alone for too long. 

Still, they don’t need too much exercise and while some can be yappers, with careful training, you can teach them to be careful of your neighbor’s ears.

Other small-sized dog breeds:

  • American Eskimo Dog
  • Australian Terrier
  • Bedlington Terrier
  • Border Terrier
  • Cardigan Welsh Corgi
  • Lhasa Apso

Best Medium Dog Breeds for Apartments 

Not into the toy and small breeds? Totally understandable.

Some people want a dog that is big enough to take on long hikes or that can keep up with other big dogs. That doesn’t mean you can live in an apartment, though. 

These breeds are excellent options for apartment dwellers who want a medium-sized dog. 

14. Basset Hound 

a Basset Hound wearing an ice cream printed scarf
Source: @sherlockandliberty / IG

The Basset Hound has that instantly recognizable face and body.

These endearing animals have a stubborn streak a mile long, but they are lower energy and perfectly happy in an apartment… so long as you give them time to run around a bay and sniff outside every day. 

At home, these loyal pooches are quiet and calm and won’t bark unless they need to alert you to someone at the door. Outside, they have a loud, ringing bark. 

15. English Bulldog 

an English Bulldog sitting on a couch happily
Source: @shiholy7 / iG

English bulldogs are friendly, docile, and loyal. They are just as at home in the country as they are in the city. They’re easygoing and only need moderate exercise. 

So long as you give them several brisk walks a day, they’ll be totally happy hanging out with you on your sofa watching tv.

Outdoors, they’ll want to run and play and politely greet all the people on the street who will be sure to want to meet your furry friend.

16. Whippet

a Whippet with its whippet toy
Source: @spock.thewhippet / IG

Whippets look just like Greyhounds, only smaller. They also act a lot like greyhounds, which means that indoors they are total couch potatoes. Outdoors, they race around like they’re on the hunt. 

That makes them perfect for apartment life. Here’s the one thing to watch out for: whippets (and greyhounds) can’t be trusted off-leash.

They’ll take off and chase any little critter they see, which could be dangerous for them (and the critter). 

So you either need to take them running with you, or you need to have access to a safe, enclosed area where they can run around without the risk of being hit by a car. 

They aren’t barkers at home, so you’ll have a nice, quiet companion when it’s time to settle in for the afternoon. 

17. Keeshond

a Keeshond sitting while mouth is open
Source: @cosmo_keeshond.dk / IG

The adorable, foxy-faced Keeshond looks a lot like a giant gray pomeranian and can be good for an apartment, so long as you train them not to bark.

Keeshonds were bred to have a loud bark that carries a long way, which the neighbors will no doubt find annoying. 

They are easy to train, however, so you can teach them it’s okay to bark and when to keep it quiet. They need a good bit of exercise, so be sure to take them out for lots of walks or romps at the park. 

18. Japanese Spitz

a Japanese Spitz sitting on a soft blanket
Source: @paddington_thejapanesespitz / IG

The Japanese Spitz is smart and low-maintenance, so they’re easy to train to live in a smaller space.

They’ll appreciate lots of walks with their people, however, so be sure to give them plenty of outdoor time. 

Indoors, they like to snuggle, but they may also bring along a ball for you to toss down the hallway. 

Best Large Dog Breeds for Apartments

Despite the fact that large dogs take up more room, they can still be perfectly happy in an apartment.

Some large breeds have far less energy indoors than their smaller counterparts and they’ll be happier hanging out on the sofa. 

Many large breeds, like Great Danes, are also less prone to barking and can hold their pee a lot longer, so you don’t have to worry about accidents as you’re heading down the elevator. 

You probably wouldn’t want a higher energy dog like a golden retriever in an apartment, but there are some good large breed options. 

19. Greyhound 

a Greyhound wearing a watermelon collar

The Greyhound is the ultimate low-maintenance dog. Despite being quite large, it’s perfect for apartment life.

That’s because, indoors, these sleek racers just want to lounge around on a soft surface (don’t expect them to stay off the sofa or your bed). 

They were bred to have short, intense bursts of energy in order to chase down prey, and that’s how they behave.

Once it’s time to head outside, they’ll want to zoom around like a shot for a few minutes before being ready to relax again. 

They also have a short coat, so wipe them down with a soft cloth to catch the loose hairs, and you can basically forget about grooming.

They’re also quite clean, naturally, so your apartment won’t stink to high heaven. 

What dog breeds are banned from apartments?

a Rottweiler laying happily on the grass
Source: @love_eddie2 / IG

Some apartments have completely banned certain breeds.

These are usually the bully breeds, such as Pitbulls, Staffordshire bull terriers, rottweilers, American Pit Bull terriers, Bulldogs, Mastiffs, and mixes of these. 

Some apartments also ban dogs like Shar Peis, Akitas, and Chows. 

Find the Best Pooch for Your Apartment

A white and fawn Pugs sitting on a couch
Source: @gigipugandbellafrenchie / IG

Whether you want a tiny pal or a giant friend, there are lots of breeds that are perfectly happy living in a smaller space. With a little bit of exercise, the breeds above can thrive in your apartment. 

Which breed is your favorite? Have you ever lived in an apartment with a pup? Let us know! 


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