The Best Dog Breeds for Apartment Living

If your apartment seems to be missing something -- such as an adorable furry friend to meet you at the door at night -- then maybe a dog is in your future. But is your home truly worthy of a pooch?

If your quarters are tight (hey, we're still talking about your apartment) and you lack a yard where your canine could stretch its legs, might you be setting up your pet -- and yourself -- for a miserable relationship?

Not necessarily. Many dogs are born and bred homebodies, happy to lounge around at home without too much exercise, says Cyndy Bolte, senior scientist at Nestl Purina PetCare. Certain breeds are also famed for not being big barkers -- a godsend if you have noise-sensitive neighbors. So before you give up on your dream of owning a dog, check out this hot list of (hot) dogs perfectly suited for urban living.

Note: Although we're focusing on purebreds because they display reliable personality traits, mixed-breed mutts can often display the best qualities of their various lines and they're far more plentiful for adoption. Go, mutts!

Without further ado, here are some of the best picks for your apartment. All together now: awwwwww.

Toy poodle

At 10 inches or less in height, this is about as small as you can get without downsizing to a gerbil or, god forbid, an anxiety-ridden Chihuahua (don't hate us, please). With a toy poodle, you get a dog's big personality in a small package that gets pretty much all the exercise it needs running around your little place. Bonus: Poodles don't shed (though, the downside is they need to be bathed regularly and have their coat clipped every six to eight weeks). And while there are some wild and rather disturbing poodle cuts out there, the easiest is the "lamb clip," an all-over short cut.

Live on the 35th floor? No problem. It's no big deal to litter train this pet or use potty pads so you don't need to take it outside the required three to six times a day to answer nature's call. That's great for someone who lives in a high-rise or walk-up, has no urge to exercise, or prefers a pet that fits in a purse. You know who you are.


Love large dogs but worried they'll run you ragged with their need for open spaces? Then the mellow mastiff is a surprisingly great choice. Despite its relatively gargantuan size, it doesn't require much exercise. In fact, its bigness is the cause of its low energy. Being a mastiff is tiring! "A simple walk daily" should do it, confirms Bolte.

Shih Tzu

Anyone who follows Marnie the Dog, a 13-year-old rescue and Instagram sensation, may already be craving one of these mop-headed cuties. But here's what you may not know: The Shih Tzu was bred to be a companion -- it has no hunting genes! Its compact size and contentment with being indoors makes it ideal for small spaces.

One caveat: All that long, silky fur requires daily brushing to prevent knots, and bathing as often as once a week. Also, much like humans, it needs regular hair-cutting every six to eight weeks. It's a bit high-maintenance, but just think of how chic your companion will look strutting down the street by your side.

English bulldog

Sure, these droopy jowled charmers are a more robust size. But once they've outgrown their puppy stage, they become big, wrinkly couch potatoes. In fact, you may have to drag this breed out and about -- so if you love regular trips to the park, you may be in trouble. But for human homebodies, this is the perfect companion.

Great Dane

Yes, the Great Dane can make a great apartment pet. On its hind legs, it can tower over humans, but indoors, it's relatively inactive, thanks in large part to its large size (same as for the mastiff). Known as a gentle giant, this affectionate, short-haired breed is relatively graceful, considering -- so don't worry too much about it knocking over your home decor. Bonus: "They're on the quiet side," Bolte says. So odds are slim this companion will bark and annoy (or terrify) your neighbors.

Cavalier King Charles spaniel

If you prefer your dog to be seen and not heard, this brown-eyed beauty is for you.

"Spaniels such as Cavalier King Charles are small and known to be relatively quiet in demeanor and with barking," Bolte says. Made famous as Charlotte's pet in "Sex and the City," this serene spaniel is surprisingly low-maintenance. Its coat is no muss, no fuss, requiring just weekly brushing. Its energy level depends on you -- it can go for a hike or hike on to your lap, and requires just one walk daily.


A borkie is a combination of two great apartment breeds: a bichon and a Yorkie. You get the fluffy white fur of a bichon and the even-tempered personality of a Yorkie all in one. Borkies don't require much grooming or exercise, making them a good option if you're away from your apartment most of the day.

More of a cat lover? Stay tuned tomorrow for an article on the best feline breeds for apartment living. (Spoiler: Despite conventional wisdom, not all are ideal indoor dwellers.)