The best dogs for apartment living don't tend to be pooches with giant paws and long legs, even though they make for incredible companions. However, this doesn’t mean that people living in apartments can’t have a dog at all… it’s just the size of the canine that matters!
Ensuring you have the right dog for the quarters you’re living in is crucial for your pet’s health and mental wellbeing. A canine that doesn’t have enough space can become incredibly irritable and agitated, which could manifest into bigger problems as time goes by.
As well as size, when choosing the best breed for your small living space, it’s important to also take into consideration the pup’s energy levels, their friendliness, and whether they are particularly noisy.
Let’s take a look at some of the top breeds for apartment living but lookout too for the friendliest dog breeds that make perfect pets or, for that matter, the best large dogs for apartments if you've got a decent amount of space.
1. French Bulldog
This adorable pointy-eared, wrinkle-faced breed has become increasingly popular over the years. Frenchies are known for loving their cuddles and having a fuss made of them. They may be miniature in size but they have big personalities, making them one of the best breeds to share your small apartment space with.
Another positive for owning a French Bulldog is the fact that they don’t shed all that much and aren’t known for being yappy, so you won’t have to worry about disturbing your neighbors.
It’s often reported that French Bulldogs do not require all that much exercise, yet that doesn’t mean you should let them lounge around on the sofa all day. As with all breeds, it’s important to ensure they remain fit and healthy with at least two walks a day of 15 minutes minimum.
Chorkies (a Chihuahua and Yorkshire Terrier cross) are quite possibly the perfect size for apartment living weighing between three to 10lbs – that’s no heavier than a house brick!
Although they can be quite vocal breeds, they make up for their noise with their affection and playfulness and are often very loyal dogs. Known for being fairly energetic, Chorkies don’t require long daily walks – one or two short-medium length walks (1-2 hours per day) is enough to keep them exercised and entertained. Plus this can be topped up with indoor games for dogs and activities at home.
Despite their long hair, inherited from their Yorkshire Terrier side, this mixed breed is generally low-shedding. This makes them ideal for apartment living, especially for owners who may suffer from allergies.
3. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Historically bred as hunting dogs, nowadays Cavalier King Charles Spaniel’s tend to live the life of a lapdog. Picture cold winter’s days and lots of snuggles from these beautiful, long-eared canines.
Cavalier’s are recognized as the original breed of Spaniel and possess a very calm disposition. They make wonderful life-long companions, with an average life expectancy of between 12 to 15 years.
Belonging to the Toy Group, when it comes to size this breed commonly reaches heights no taller than 13 inches and weighs up to 18lbs, which is another reason why Cavalier’s can cuddle comfortably on your lap.
Depending on the owner’s lifestyle, they can be quite laid back when it comes to exercise or be upbeat athletes.
The smallest of the Spitz family, weighing in at between 4.5 and 5.5lbs, you could quite literally carry Pomeranian’s around with you, everywhere you go!
What they lack in size they certainly make up for in bold personality. Pomeranian's are an incredibly obedient breed, as well as displaying intelligence and the ability to socialize, which makes them a wonderful all-around companion.
Pomeranian’s are also quite energetic and are capable of going on long walks – providing you supply them with enough water, dog treats, and a few stops along the way to give their little legs a break. As a minimum, they should be walked for 20 to 30 minutes, twice a day.
Known as one of the goofballs of the dog world, Pugs are incredibly friendly and never fail to put a smile on your face, even if it is for being a little mischievous!
The breathing difficulties many of them suffer from may make you think that they need little to no exercise at all, but that’s not quite true. While Pug’s are known lazy logs, they do require small bursts of exercise every day in the form of a gentle walk. Whilst out walking, it’s important to monitor how they are doing, especially during hot or cold weather, in which short bursts and indoor play are deemed best.
Pugs love humans and often get on well with children and other animals. Although they’re not complete couch potatoes, they do love their sleep and can clock up an impressive 14 hours a day with their eyes firmly shut.
6. Bichon Frise
Like many other dogs of a similar size, the Bichon Frise is ideal for apartment living. Obviously, their diminutive stature means they won’t be rattling around too much, but there are other reasons for their suitability for living in relatively confined spaces.
Firstly, they’re hypoallergenic, meaning the chances of them triggering any allergic reaction are pretty remote. Secondly, their exercise requirements aren’t all that stringent – a walk a day will generally be enough for them. Finally, they don’t take up too much room on the couch, which is the all-important factor, right?
In all seriousness, they’re incredibly lovable, and great with house guests, making them a top choice for all you apartment dwellers out there.
7. Shih Tzu
We’ve always detected a slightly regal air around the Shih Tzu, which is no surprise, considering that they were originally bred to live in Chinese palaces. Your apartment may not have the same sense of grandeur about it, but the Shih Tzu will be more than satisfied with it.
As well as their small size, Shih Tzu’s love a cuddle, and are great lap dogs, so won’t mind chilling out all day while you’re out at work. They’ll expect attention when you’re at home, but that’s hardly any hardship.
They can sometimes get overwhelmed when a lot of people are around, so they will need their own dedicated space for these occasions – a crate will do the trick – but should you be able to provide this, they’ll be perfect for apartment living.
8. Boston Terrier
Playful and not particularly energetic, the Boston Terrier seems almost tailor-made for apartment living – and again, not just because they’re a bit miniature.
Nicknamed ‘the American Gentleman’, they live up to their name due to their keen and friendly disposition. They seem to live almost solely to keep their human happy, and it’s fair to say that they succeed in this regard.
Like similar-sized dogs, their exercise requirements are minimal too, meaning you don’t have to worry about them sitting around the apartment all day.
9. Italian Greyhound
While having a greyhound in a small apartment may seem crazy, Italian Greyhounds are perfect pooches for small spaces. ‘Iggys,’ as they’re often referred to, are classified as Toy Dogs and are smaller and more slender than their athletic cousins in the dog world. Fiercely loyal, these pups form strong emotional bonds with their owners and boast bags of personality.
Iggys are energetic canines and can pull off zoomies at lightning speed, but they also have a reputation for being couch potatoes when they’re indoors. If you give them plenty of exercise – around an hour daily – they’ll adapt well to apartment living. They’re also low maintenance when it comes to grooming, with short coats and minimal shedding.
Because they’re companion dogs at heart, Italian Greyhounds don’t always like being separated from their owners. Hence, it’s a good idea to leave them alone for short periods during training, and you’re guaranteed a warm and excited welcome when you return home.
10. Miniature Dachshund
Dachshunds come in various sizes, but the miniature variety is perfect for small-space living. These adorable dogs have tiny legs and long bodies, so they won’t take up much room in your apartment. Plus, they’re not natural stair-climbers which could be ideal depending on your circumstances.
Like any human living in an apartment, Dachshunds need physical exercise and mental stimulation to keep them happy and healthy. You’ll need to adapt your lifestyle to make room for at least 30 minutes of exercise, ideally twice daily. A stroll around the streets should do it, but a game of fetch in the park is a great way to spend some fun time with your pup. You’ll also need to invest in lots of toys at home to keep them busy!
Dachshunds have a reputation for being yappy, and it’s not surprising as they were taught to bark by their masters to communicate their location on hunts. Training your tiny pal to turn down the volume isn’t challenging. They’re clever dogs that quickly associate a tasty treat with a simple command. Your neighbors will thank you for your efforts too!
Chihuahuas are one of the world’s smallest dog breeds, and their diminutive status counts in their favor when it comes to apartment living. These cute canines adore snuggles and a lot of lap time, and their low energy levels mean they don’t need much exercise. They’re also highly adaptable and can adjust to new environments quickly.
If you’re looking for a low-maintenance dog, these bijou pups fit the bill. You won’t need to groom or bathe them too often, they don’t leave much hair in their wake, and unsurprisingly they won’t eat you out of house and home.
Chihuahuas are quiet dogs and bark little or not at all, which is excellent news if your apartment walls are thin. That all changes if they sense danger or an intruder, in which case they’ll turn up the volume to alert their beloved humans.
Poodles come in all shapes and sizes, but the Toy and Miniature varieties can make perfect apartment pets. They’re obedient, friendly, and easy to train, and they won’t leave hair on your furniture or drive your neighbors crazy with barking.
Toy Poodles generally weigh less than 10 pounds, while Miniature Poodles are usually under 17 pounds, and it won’t surprise you to learn that they’re high maintenance when it comes to their hair. Be prepared for some intensive grooming sessions with your hypoallergenic pal.
These curly canines love to play. While they’ll quickly adapt to your lifestyle, you’ll have to exercise them at least twice daily and for around 30 minutes each time.
13. Miniature Pinscher
The Miniature Pinscher, also known as the Min Pin, has earned the title ‘The King of Toys’ among its fans for its regal appearance and confident attitude. Its nickname may also have something to do with the fact that it will happily rule you and your home if given half the chance. While it looks like a smaller version of the Doberman, the Min Pin is an entirely separate breed and has been around for much longer.
These compact and fearless canines are bursting with energy and need significant exercise to keep them healthy and happy. When it comes to being indoors, expect them to roam their home with the curiosity of a toddler. That means ‘baby-proofing’ your home is essential as these highly-intelligent hounds will find escape routes you never knew existed.
Min Pins are definitely not lap dogs, but their short fur (that’s easily groomed) means they’ll enjoy a cuddle on a cold night. One thing you can be sure of if you take one of these dogs into your home – you’ll never be bored again.
A Basenji could be the perfect option if having a dog that makes hardly any noise is top of your list. One of the oldest breeds in the world, Basenjis are often referred to as the ‘barkless dog’ as they make a unique yodeling sound instead of barking, which is ideal if you have thin walls.
These small, hypoallergenic dogs don’t need much grooming and often give themselves a good clean, just like a cat. They’re also one of the few breeds of hound that doesn’t develop a ‘doggy smell.’
With plenty of exercise and mental stimulation, a Basenji will happily settle into your small home. Some early training is essential to keep their yodels under control and they can be pretty stubborn, particularly if you try to take them for a walk on a rainy day – these pooches are not fans of water.
The Maltese is a super-cute and affectionate dog that thrives in small spaces. While they’re lively and playful, you won’t need to change your lifestyle to include long walks to the park, as they’re generally happy to burn off energy at home.
One of the dog world’s more glamorous specimens, they have a gorgeous silky white coat that you’ll need to brush daily, and they also look fabulous topped off with a bow.
These dogs love spending time with their humans and will happily cuddle on the couch or get cozy on your lap for hours.
16. Lhasa Apso
Small in stature but big on personality, the Lhasa Apso is the perfect pet if you don’t have much space at home. Originally from Tibet, they were bred to be royal watchdogs, and that fierce loyalty in protecting family and home remains today.
Their beautiful long silky coats need regular grooming to keep them looking fabulous, but they won’t complain about the extra attention. They form strong bonds with their owners and will happily curl up on your lap for cuddles or snooze for hours on a cozy bed.
A daily walk will give these cute canines all the exercise they need, and they adapt well to your lifestyle and apartment living. They’re usually very quiet, but if they sense danger, their guard dog instinct kicks in, and you’ll undoubtedly know all about it.
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Chloe is a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader, who has more than ten years’ experience in creating animal-focussed content. From National Geographic to Animal Planet, Chloe’s passion for creating fact-filled features all about wildlife and the environment is evident. But it’s not just wild animals that Chloe’s fascinated by. Having written more than 75 articles for PetsRadar - and having her very own four-legged friend by her side - it’s no wonder that her love of dogs (and, of course, cats) has grown exponentially.
Her website, www.chloemaywrites.com, and social media pages - @ChloeMayWrites on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter - showcase her knowledge through daily facts and trivia tidbits. For example, did you know that snails have teeth?!