Having limited indoor space doesn’t mean you can’t welcome a canine chum into your life. While a Great Dane or a German shepherd might be out of the question, there are plenty of dog breeds that are perfect for apartment life.
Most of them are small, because size matters when you’re choosing the right pup for your place. Other factors worth taking into account if you live in an apartment are how much the breed sheds, whether it’s known for barking a lot and how much outdoor exercise it requires on a daily basis.
According to the American Kennel Club, these dog breeds adapt very well to urban life. Take your pick!
The adorable bichon frise wants to be everyone’s friend — and the feeling is likely to be reciprocated when your neighbors and doorman realizes this breed is not a naturally noisy one. There are exceptions, of course, but you can probably rely on a bichon not to cause a stir in your apartment block with incessant barking. And if it does let out an occasional yelp, that cute face is enough to win nearly anyone over.
Apart from its tiny stature (it weighs no more than 7 pounds and reaches a maximum height of about 8 inches), the Yorkshire terrier makes an affectionate, entertaining urban companion. The American Kennel Club describes the Yorkie as a true “personality breed,” which explains why it’s such a big hit (in a small body) in numerous U.S. cities. It’s also a low allergen breed, as its fine, silky coat is actually more like human hair than dog hair.
One of the world’s most popular dog breeds is the French bulldog — it ranked fourth in the American Kennel Club’s list of the most popular dog breeds of 2019. It’s a particular favorite with city dwellers, due to the fact that it doesn’t need a lot of outdoor exercise and doesn’t bark much. But most importantly, it’s affectionate, playful and completely charming. Just be aware that purebred Frenchies can be among the most expensive dogs in the world.
It’s reasonable to assume that a dog named after a city will be a great urban companion. The Boston terrier, nicknamed “the American gentleman” due to its impeccable manners, is bright and friendly, with a flair for comedy that will keep everybody amused. It’s also an infrequent shedder, and weekly brushing with a soft-bristled brush or hound glove will help to get rid of any loose hair.
Among a pug’s many desirable qualities is its adaptable nature. Wherever its owner is, it’ll likely be happy. And if that’s on a couch, it’ll be even happier. Actually, this laid-back nature can be a pug’s downfall. It’s so willing to lead a couch potato lifestyle that it’s prone to weight gain, so owners need to make sure their pug gets regular exercise and not too many treats.
Toy Fox Terrier
Alert, intelligent and friendly, the toy fox terrier is easy to train and makes a great watchdog. It crams a whole lot of personality into a 3.5-to-7-pound package, resulting in a canine comedian who is always eager to entertain the humans in its life. An occasional shedder, the toy fox terrier loves outdoor adventures and needs plenty of exercise, although it will happily make do with racing around the apartment on days you can’t go outside.
There’s a reason you might have seen lots of tiny Chihuahua heads sticking out of purses on city streets — and it’s not just because they’re incredibly cute. This tiny breed, which rarely weighs more than 6 pounds, is an ideal urban breed. Not only does it need very little exercise, it’s happiest when it’s close to its owner.
The Pekingese, a sturdy toy dog, was created for royalty in ancient China. This heritage has resulted in an incredibly loyal breed that tends to form a close bond with one family member. Although it’s an independent dog by nature, it’s happiest when it gets lots of attention and affection. The AKC calls them “fairly sedate” and recommends only moderate exercise for these little pups.
If you want a confident, energetic breed to keep you company in your apartment, the miniature pinscher is a great choice. It also makes a great watchdog, as it’s naturally wary of strangers. Known to fans as the “King of Toys,” this tiny breed is sturdy and compact, weighing no more than 10 pounds and standing 10 to 12.5 inches tall. That’s a perfect stature for a tiny downtown dwelling!
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The smallest of the spaniel breeds, the cavalier King Charles spaniel always has enough energy for a walk around the block or frolic in the park, but will then want to curl up on your lap for hours. This toy breed rarely weighs more than 18 pounds and is only an occasional shedder, which are more reasons it fits well with apartment life.
The speedy greyhound might not seem like an obvious choice for an apartment dog, but it’s actually the perfect breed for a small indoor space. Despite being the fastest dog around — capable at hitting speeds of more than 40 miles per hour — it actually favors a more sedentary lifestyle. A run around the nearest park will tire it out enough to ensure it snoozes at your feet — or on your lap — for the rest of the day.
Unlike others on this list, the lhasa apso isn’t a low-maintenance breed — it requires daily brushing and frequent bathing — but its confident, entertaining personality makes it a positive addition to any household. It’s particularly suited to apartment life because it’s small and highly trainable. While it’s not a couch potato by nature, it’s happy to race around indoors to get its daily exercise. At the same time, it always loves a walk around the block.
Another breed that’s named after a city, the unmistakable Brussels Griffon is a devoted, sensitive urban companion. It’s playful and energetic, and needs at least half an hour of moderate exercise every day to be happy and healthy. A warning: don’t leave it alone in your apartment for long periods because the Griff has a low threshold for loneliness.
If you’re looking for a hypoallergenic breed, the hairless type of Chinese crested is a good option — for obvious reasons. This affectionate, energetic breed is nonstop fun, and is certainly eye-catching enough to stand out on the city streets. However, its exposed skin needs regular care to stay healthy, including sunscreen and treatment for any irritations or allergies. If you prefer one with hair, check out the “Powderpuff” variety.
The Shih Tzu may have regal blood — it was bred as a companion dog for Chinese nobles — but it’s just as happy in a small city space as in a sprawling palace. Affectionate and loyal, this breed is known for being particularly good with kids and will happily make friends with other dogs. Always fond of mischief, the Shih Tzu is guaranteed to bring laughter into your life.
Living with a dog in an apartment block can be stressful if you only have thin walls and easily irritated neighbors. But if you go for a basenji, you’ll never have to worry about barking. This breed’s unique voice box means it’s unable to bark like a typical dog, it instead makes a noise that’s been likened to a yodel. Apart from that unique trait, the basenji is independent and graceful, and will be happy living in an apartment provided it gets plenty of exercise and isn’t left alone for long stretches of time.
Not all hound dogs are suitable for apartment life, but the iconic dachshund adapts well to an indoor environment. It can even get all of its daily exercise without going outdoors, due to its characteristic short legs. However, a warning to potential adopters: despite its size, the dachshund has a big-dog bark, so that’s something to consider if your apartment isn’t well sound-proofed.
The shiba inu is a medium-sized dog (around 20 pounds) that does well as a predominantly indoor pet. However, it still needs rigorous daily exercise and is known to be a frequent shedder. This makes it something of a high-maintenance breed that’s best suited to an experienced dog owner. But that face will make even the toughest days at the office seem better once you walk through the door.
A compatriot of the shiba inu, the Japanese Chin has a rather unique skill — it’s known for scaling tall furniture like a cat. Adaptable and charming, this toy dog is well-suited to apartment life, both in terms of stature and personality. It’s generally quiet and loves to cuddle on its owner’s lap.
Energetic and feisty, the Pomeranian is one of the more independent toy breeds, so it’s a good choice for someone who spends time out of the apartment every day. When you’re there, it will want to curl up beside you and it’s happy to be exercised indoors or on short walks. To keep its thick double coat from matting, the Pom needs frequent brushing.
Löwchen means “little lion” in German, and that’s the perfect description of this outgoing, brave little dog. A popular pet in Europe for centuries, it’s now stealing hearts on this side of the world. This affectionate, friendly breed loves to play and has only moderate exercise needs.
Coton De Tulear
The small size and laid-back personality of the coton de tulear make it a great apartment dog. It’s also relatively low maintenance, with an easy-to-care-for coat and minimal exercise needs. Wherever you take your coton, it’s guaranteed to make friends, whether that’s with other dogs or humans.
If you want a tiny dog for your tiny space, the Maltese rarely weighs more than 7 pounds. And don’t let its long coat be a concern — it’s actually an infrequent shedder. Gentle and charming, the Maltese can be stubborn, but reward-based training is the answer.
Often described as a small breed with a big personality, the schipperke is easy to train, fairly quiet and has a low-maintenance coat. However, it can get bored easily and loves to get up to mischief, so deserves an owner who’ll invest lots of time and energy into raising it. While it can let off steam racing around an apartment, the schip loves brisk walks and outdoor romps.
A standard poodle is probably too large for a small apartment, but the toy and miniature sizes are ideal. As a breed, the poodle is smart, elegant and extremely easy to train. Poodles are regularly listed as a hypoallergenic dog breed because they’re infrequent shedders, which makes them a top choice for people who thought allergies would keep them from being dog owners.