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The Best Dogs for Apartment Living

Written by FOTP Team

Last updated

What is the best breed of dog for apartment life?

To help you make an informed choice, we’ve rounded up some of the best dogs for apartment living.  

When making this list, we had four important criteria:
- Low to moderate exercise requirements
- Small or medium sized
- Less propensity to bark
- Loves to cuddle on the couch.

The best mutts for apartments are chilled-out and affectionate.  We love French Bulldogs, Bichon Frise, and King Charles Spaniels – but you’ll find more ideas, small and bigger, in the lists below.   

Have we missed any?  Do you think yours is the best breed of dog for apartment life?  Get in touch and tell us about it.

What are the best small dogs for apartments?

When you’re looking for a dog to live in your apartment, your first thought might be size.  But be cautious.  Not ALL small dogs are suitable for apartment living. 

Those that bark recklessly – like the dachshund – will annoy your neighbours as well as you.  You can cover windows and provide extra entertainment, but some dogs just like to bark.  It’s a big problem in an apartment building.  

Housetraining is also an issue: this can be tricky when you’re in a 7th-floor apartment and can’t rush to an outdoor space.   You’ll need a dog that can be trained quickly.    

Now the cautions are over, it’s the great part.  Here are some of the best small dogs for apartments:

Peekapoo: For a little dog, the Pekingese/poodle cross has loads of attitude.  If you want a small, feisty apartment companion who will protect your premises but also look stylish on your daily outings, choose this designer pup.  The Peekapoo is perfect for couples and singles who have time for short walks and money for grooming.  

French Bulldog:  Lady Gaga, John Legend and Reese Witherspoon are fans.  If you want a dog who will adapt to your life and loves a good cuddle, choose the incredibly affectionate and wonderful French Bulldog.  Loyalty – high.  Sofa drooling – high.  Walking stamina – low.  With a comfy bed and a loving owner, your Frenchie will be happy doing whatever you are doing.  

Chihuahua: Adorable Chihuahuas have a reputation for getting into mischief.  But how could we scold them?  Chihuahuas form strong bonds with their owners and can be clingy, despite a generally independent nature.  Chihuahuas require moderate exercise and will face up to bigger dogs if they need to protect you (easy, tiger!).  They have short fur and get cold easily, so make sure your Chihuahua has a cosy bed, plus the obligatory dog jumpers in her wardrobe.  Most of their stuff will be compact in size – just like they are – which makes Chihuahuas perfect for apartment living.  

Bichon Frise: After centuries in Europe, this adorable dog travelled to the USA in the 1950s.  The curly-haired pups are known for their hypoallergenic fur and can be perfect apartment dogs.  They’ll need daily walking , but only about 30 minutes.  Bred as lapdogs and beloved by ancient Italian nobility, Bichon Frises are companionable and form a strong attachment to their humans. 

Shih Tzu: The name means “lion” but these sweet little dogs are loyal, calm, and extremely affectionate.  A shih tzu likes a little personal space, but will often follow you around.  They’re not big barkers so, provided you exercise them properly, they will be calm and delightful in the apartment.  

Terriers: often the first thought when people look at small dogs.  Are terriers good apartment dogs?  Well, there is a range of temperaments within this breed.  A Border Terrier is a good choice IF you will be at home or walking for most of the day.  They are loving and fun, with lots of energy.  Want a quieter pup?  The Boston Terrier is a beautiful dog recommended for those with a slower pace of life. 

What are the best medium sized dogs for apartments?

It’s totally possible to have a medium-sized dog in your apartment (if you have space for the extra body).  Lots of medium-sized dogs are relaxed, couch-potato types who will go out for a good run and return for a chilled evening in – perfect for apartment life.  

American Bulldog.  Brave and loyal bulldogs are sometimes perceived as fierce, but their hearts are as soft as butter.  They love a butt-scratch from their favorite person.  Bulldogs only need short walks; they’re home lovers.  That means they’ll be perfectly happy lounging around on the couch while you binge a new season on Netflix... just point the fan at them when it gets hot.  

Chow-chow.  The chow-chow is an OG dog breed from China, with an unmistakeable bear-like appearance.  They’ll let you nestle in to that thick fur, but keep it cool: they also like alone-time and can get grumpy with other dogs.  The soulmate for a WFH introvert, the chow-chow doesn’t need long walks and doesn’t like to get hot and sticky.  A cool and peaceful apartment will be perfect.

Chinese Shar-pei.  Those squidgy wrinkles look like ripples of cookie dough.  Their distinctive faces are irresistible to humans, but beneath the adorable exterior is a fiercely loyal dog .  Shar-peis love their owners and will be happy with apartment living, although they need moderate exercise.  

Greyhound.  A surprise entry into our top-10 dogs for apartments: the beautiful and serene greyhound.  Yes, this dog needs to run, so you’ll need some space nearby – but once they get home, greyhounds are sleepy, gentle and affectionate.   They love to snuggle under blankets (their short fur doesn’t insulate them very well), so make sure the apartment is kept warm and they’ll be comfortable.  

King Charles Spaniel.  A great dog for runners and hikers: the KCS likes plenty of exercise, followed by chill-time.  These traditional companion dogs love sitting on your lap as much as running after a ball.  Smart and quick to train, they’re the perfect mix of fun and cuddly.   Just don’t leave them alone for long, because they’ll miss you too much. 

Apartment-dwelling dogs: things to remember

1 - Walking an apartment-dwelling dog


Living in an apartment doesn’t mean that your dog should be inside all the time.  Most of these dog breeds still need moderate exercise.  Just like humans!  But many breeds will be satisfied with a short stroll around the block.  Of course some apartment-friendly dogs (like greyhounds) love a big run, so check out your local park’s potential.  

If you work from home, an outdoor break has lots of benefits (like vitamin D production).  You’ll soon find a way to make it a beneficial part of your day.  You could walk via a coffee vendor to get your morning caffeine boost.  Or plan a jog in your lunchtime.  For dogs, keeping a routine can help with training and energy management. 

2 - Making space for an apartment-dwelling dog


Before you choose a dog, consider the living space that can be available for them – their dog bed and feeding area will change the layout of floor-space in your apartment.  

You might want to shampoo your dog occasionally and can do this in a shower or a bath; smaller breeds are easier to lift in and out of a bath!  

3 – Aftercare for an apartment-dwelling dog


You’ll want to be vigilant and maintain flea, tick and heartworm treatments for your dog.  This applies to every dog but in a small apartment, a flea invasion can be devastating.  Getting rid of fleas entirely can take weeks. 

Grooming is advisable if you want to minimise the amount of dog fur on furniture and carpets.  Invest in a professional brush and a hardworking vacuum cleaner, and you can keep fluff at bay. 

Apartment living with your dog

In a small space, every inch matters.  You can choose a small breed, but another body in your apartment can make it feel cramped.

Innovative thinking will make your life easier.  

So look for dog equipment that doubles as furniture (we’ve seen crates which resemble side tables), minimalist bowls, and beds that fit into the right spaces and suit your style (since they’re always on display).  

Decorating or renovating?  Choose wipe-clean paint and wallpaper, since your dog might shake off some muddy water or dribble after drinking.  It’s also a good idea to consider a dedicated shelf, cupboard, or hooks for keeping your dog’s stuff – like shampoo, brush, towel and leash.  

Like every little problem in life, this situation has been addressed by inventors around the world.  Here are some of our favourite accessories for apartment living with dogs:

A dog couch... A raised dog bed is more expensive than a pillow-type bed, but it leaves more space beneath, increasing the illusion of space.  You can buy luxurious chaise-longue style dog beds from prestigious manufacturers, although they are priced around $300.  Make sure the covers are washable so that it will last for a long time.  

Dog deodoriser... You can buy sprays which clean, de-tangle and scent dog fur – a sweet-smelling dog is a better apartment companion!  If you try a new spray, watch out for itchy skin; natural and sensitive sprays are available. 

What do you think?

Do you live in an apartment with a dog?  We’d love to hear about your experiences.  Tag us on Instagram or drop us an email here!