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Top 10 dog breeds for city living

Written by FOTP Team


dogs going walkies

WANTED: ROOMMATE IN THE CITY.  Must be house-trained and enjoy Netflix binges.  No howlers allowed.  Are you searching online to find the perfect pal for city living?  We love dogs.  ALL dogs: big, small, noisy, shy, daft... But we know you’ll have specific needs if you want to introduce a canine companion into your city routine.  So we’ll dig into the desirables – and the undesirables – to find you the perfect breed.  Here’s our round-up of the best dog breeds for city life!

Can dogs be happy in a city?

Hey, that’s a good question.

Dogs, as you know, love to run, fetch, and generally bounce about.  Can they do that in a city?

Absolutely they can.  There’s no doubt that you’ll need access to green space for exercising your dog – but we bet you can find that.  

If you’re unlikely to have time for long walks on weekends, you could find a dog-walker to support your dog.  Or you could choose a dog with lower exercise needs (see below).

What about alone-time?  Can dogs be left alone while you go to work?

The answer to this is, unfortunately, less positive.  There’s hardly a dog in the world who doesn’t crave attention from their bonded owner.  And many (or maybe ALL) of them will be devastated if you leave home to work every day.

Dogs, we think, really depend on their human companions.  But if you work from home – even part of the week – then you can make this work.  On the days you’re expected in the workplace, you could make arrangements to keep your dog from getting lonely.   Some cities have doggy daycare.  Some dogs cope okay with alone-time, if they’re not left for too long: a lunchtime walk from a friend or a dog-walker might allow them to burn off energy and relax.

In summary: If you can offer enough time to a dog, then your dog can be happy in a city.  So what kinds of breed should you check out?   Here are some faves.  We’ve tried not to be biased, and made this selection on strict ‘CITY LIVING’ criteria – size, demands, and adaptability.  Some of these guys really deserve a place in your home and your heart! 

Our Top 10

The French Bulldog

french bulldog

This daintier version of the bulldog almost never existed: British bulldogs nearly became extinct after dog-fighting was banned, but a group of dedicated owner-breeders determined to keep them going.  

And what a relief, because the French Bulldog’s adorable face and character brings a lot of joy to owners!  These wrinkle-faced dudes are among the most loving dogs we know.  They’re extremely affectionate and well-suited to family life, where they’ll have plenty of opportunities to doze on a warm lap.   French Bulldogs sound fierce, but they are the exact opposite.  They’re laid-back to the point of falling off the couch.

French Bulldogs have some great traits which pushed them onto our Top 10 list.  For one, they’re not big barkers; your pup might bark if they’re unhappy, but it’s not a major problem in this breed.  And secondly, they don’t shed much: that irresistible short coat is delightful to scratch, and won’t fall out all over your home. 

Two things to note before you rush off to browse puppy ads.  

Like most dogs, French Bulldogs don’t like being left alone for long.  So they’re ideal if you’re working from home.  Another thing worth noting about French Bulldogs: they’re a flat-faced breed and their breathing can be shallow, which means they’ll overheat in hot weather.  Make sure you have a cool spot for them – and a clear schedule – at the peak of summer.   

The Chihuahua

The Chihuahua

These dinky, designer dogs were bred as human companions – and yours will come with an engaging personality.  Chihuahuas pack a lot of mischievous charm into a tiny little package!

They’re known for being divas and will form an extremely close bond with their chosen human.  This means they don’t usually like being left alone for longer than a couple of hours, and in any case, the Chihuahua likes to command the privilege of unpredictability, being independent one minute and clingy the next.  You’ll want to train your Chihuahua early, using rewards, because these dogs can really know their own minds...

On-screen Chihuahuas are often carried in designer bags, but it’s not because they are layabouts.  In fact, these little dogs are usually quite busy and will enjoy puzzles at home as well as plenty of daily exercise.   Provided you’ve got the time, you don’t need much room for a Chihuahua!  Small and compact Chihuahuas won’t take up much space in your home and they’re very easy to fit into your busy social life, which they’ll likely enjoy. 



If you want a sweet little dog which can be nicely trained, and loves nothing more than your lap, check out the Maltese.  

The companion dog of Maltese nobility, this is probably the most glamorous of all lap dogs!  With their irresistible long-haired coat and soft ears, Maltese will benefit from a daily grooming session.  But these little darlings have much more to give...

Maltese are known for their lovely character and require little exercise: around half an hour+ each day.  They’ll benefit from some entertainment at home, such as puppy toys or puzzles.  Attend training classes, and you’ll be rewarded with an affectionate and adaptable dog who is lots of fun.  

The Bichon Frise

The Bichon Frise

The adorable Bichon Frise is famously hypoallergenic.  That means they can be homed with people who have dog-fur allergies, AND you won’t have to be obsessed with your vacuum!

Asking little more than 30 minutes of walking each day, the Bichon Frise is small and affectionate.   It’s another breed which was developed as a lapdog – this time in Italy – packing all the best doggy qualities into a small and delightful fur-baby.  It’s one of the best dog breeds for city life. 

Every Bichon Frise is different.  Personality is a vibrant part of their appeal – and yours may be funny, cute, stubborn, or feisty – but you’re going to love them.  Bichon Frises require grooming to care for that beautifully soft coat, which is an extra expense... but your dog will more than repay it.

The Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu

With a name like that (“lion”), you’d expect ferocity... but the Shih Tzu has one of the sweetest pup faces you’ve ever seen. 

 In fact, these loyal companion dogs are sweet-tempered, calm, and very affectionate.  Shedding and drooling are both low, just like their daily exercise needs – so these dogs suit people with a sedate lifestyle, and there’s no need to whip around with the vacuum every day.

If bored at home, the Shih Tzu might get barky.  You can prevent this behaviour first through puppy obedience training and secondly through supplying entertainment and stimulation at home.  Short and frequent walks can help your Shih Tzu to be more settled in the house, too.  

The Dachshund

The Dachshund

Yes it’s fashionable, but for so many good reasons!  The Dachshund or sausage dog is energetic, affectionate, and loaded with personality.  Without significant shedding or grooming, the Dachshund is an easy-going choice who will get on well with city living.

However, you’ll need some good outdoor space for exercise.  Dachshunds are playful and will need to go out for around 1 hour every day.  Provided they’re brought up with children, this dog will adore babies and kids – always ready to roll onto their back for a loving tickle.  

There is one proviso.  Dachshunds are famous barkers!  We recommend puppy training, but it’s also important that your dog won’t be left alone for long.  That barking could drive city neighbours crazy.

The Yorkshire Terrier

The Yorkshire Terrier

#NotJustForTheElderly – Yorkies have come back into fashion, and we couldn’t be happier!  Beneath that glossy coat is the soul of a rascal.  So if you love a bit of spice in your life, the Yorkshire Terrier is a fantastic choice.

Bred to catch rodents, terriers make excellent watch-dogs and have a fiery, tenacious personality that you can’t help but love.  You’ll need time to train, groom, stimulate and walk this dog: 30-40 minutes every day for a walk, with daily brushing and additional stimulation through toys at home.  

Yorkies can be brought into family city homes if they’re pups, but are probably better suited to older children and adults.  

The Italian Greyhound

The Italian Greyhound

With slender legs and a smooth, elegant coat, the Italian Greyhound is so chic, it could be on a catwalk.  But don’t pick it for its style: pick it for its charming character.  This petite breed has a playful and loving nature, and loves trying to get onto your lap! 

Bred as a companion dog around 4000 years ago, the Italian Greyhound is a fun family dog, with energy to play and a wet nose to rest on your hand at the end of each day.   Because they were bred to be supplied as companions to nobility, Italian Greyhounds tend to be fairly adaptable and friendly to strangers, which makes these dogs perfect for city life.  

While Italian Greyhounds don’t shed much, thanks to a very sleek coat, they do need attention and dental care.  At risk of repeating ourselves, every dog owner should invest in a canine toothbrush and toothpaste to fend off the all-too-frequent dental problems that are now being seen by our dogs.

The Italian Greyhound also needs plenty of exercise, so investigate your city’s parks and perimeter and find some outdoor spaces where you can let your greyhound run.

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has the huge eyes and silky fur that render most humans helpless.  Fortunately, this adorable breed is amenable to a good snuggle.  So cuddle in!

Their fabulous nature means they’re welcoming to children and strangers.  Known for being very adaptable to their owners’ lifestyles, the King Charles Spaniel will need about an hour’s walk to stay fit and healthy.  They can come on longer walks because they have plenty of spaniel energy – and might benefit from toys and puzzles at home to keep them busy.  When they’re young, make sure that walks encompass different places and people; then you’ll have a chilled pup who’s totally accustomed to city life.  

The Pug

The Pug

How could we tell you about so many others before we reached the delightful and adoring Pug?  This little dog is ideal for small homes and older people, requiring very little but L O V E !

Wonderful with children, families, strangers and other dogs, Pugs are truly laid-back pups.  In an apartment or studio, you’ll be pleased to know that not only does the Pug take up very little space, they’re also not big barkers.  They’d rather be stretched out on your couch than waiting on first-alert for robbers.  Well, that’s your job, right?

You’ll need to be vigilant over your dog’s health because Pugs do have some well-known conditions.  Pugs are flat-faced and that can lead to breathing problems; on a hot day you’ll need to monitor them carefully.  Your vet can explain the typical eye and skin problems which are common to Pugs.  There are preventative measures you can take – just be prepared.

PS: Pugs are also pretty famous for becoming a bit too solid!  If they get into the cupboard, your cheeky Pug could easily chomp through a day’s supplies – so be careful with feed and treats, and your Pug will become a happy part of your city life.   

Share your experience

Have you perfected the art of city living with your dog?  Does your local coffee house keep a fresh water bowl for your dog on their daily walk?  We’d LOVE to hear about your pet and see some pictures if they’re living their best city life!  Tag us in your pet pics on Instagram or drop us an email here!