The Best Dog Breeds for Apartments

September 17, 2019

When we think of apartment living, giant Mastiffs or scruffy Bulldogs usually don’t come to mind. Most of us usually think of smaller breeds, like Chihuahuas or Pugs. Believe it or not, giant Mastiffs make ideal apartment dwellers for the educated owner, while small and closed off spaces will rarely meet the energy requirements of America’s favorite family oriented Beagle.

Sure, there are a few ideal breeds most consider perfect for apartment life, and there are even some you would probably never think of. We could simply list them off (we’ll list a few below), but wouldn’t it be so much better to understand why these pups are the apartment dweller’s favorite?

Energy Level and Exercise Requirements

If you live in an apartment, unless you are a millionaire, your pup probably won’t have a whole lot of room to roam. Sure, there might be a fenced in dog park nearby, and you might be willing to go for one or two walks a day, but that just doesn’t always cut it. Some dogs need to be able to run (and run a LOT) to be truly happy, while others can even cause quite a bit of destruction if they can’t expel all that energy.

Perfect Example

Let’s talk about Siberian Huskies. After the popular series ‘Game of Thrones’, almost everyone has their own perception of these wild looking dogs! So hundreds of people ended up adopting one of these adorable little guys, and more than a few monstrous holes in their yard along with a few hundred dollars worth of household destruction later, took their slightly larger pup straight back to the shelter.
At least one of the ‘Dire Wolves’ in GOT was actually a Northern Inuit Dog, a close relative but not a purebred Siberian Husky.

These dogs were bred about 3,000 years ago for one purpose above any other- to work, and work HARD. They were also bred to not only endure, but enjoy, climates so harsh few humans on earth tolerate it today. Very few pet owners can replicate these environments, and animal control is called more often than not when a Husky is left outside in frigid weather for more than 5 minutes.

The Point

The point is, some dogs will cause a lot of damage to an apartment, costing the owner hundreds or even thousands of dollars in repairs. If it’s a high energy breed, your apartment probably isn’t the place for it. Before adopting, be sure to do your research! You might see a cut pup in that window, or huddled in the back of that cage, but make sure to look into the breed before committing.


Your landlord will usually require your dog to be spayed or neutered! Having this done not only prevents unexpected litters, but also helps eliminate many unwanted behaviors. For example, neutered males are less likely to urine mark, something your landlords certainly don’t want! Statistically, more dog attacks also happen with intact males than neutered males.

Watch the Noise Level

So, you’re looking for a watchdog for your small apartment? If you have neighbors, you sure aren’t, not if you want to keep your apartment. Several dog breeds were bred for things like protecting or guarding livestock (for example), and the desire to bark at absolutely everything they don’t like is genetically ingrained.

A Few Noisy Dogs

  • Shetland Sheepdog (Sheltie)
  • Collie
  • Basset Hound (famous Basset Hound Howl)
  • Jack Russell Terrier (also high energy)

Banned Breeds

Then you have the restricted breeds. Whether it is out of simple fear, a liability issue for the landlord, for insurance purposes, or to simply satisfy other tenants, these dogs sometimes simply aren’t allowed. Of course it depends on your area and the landlord or company owning the complex, but more often than not there is a size/weight limit, on top of a list of dog breeds simply not allowed.

These often can include:

  • American Pit Bull Terrier
  • Many other ‘Bully Breeds’
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • Rottweiler
  • Great Dane
  • Various types of Mastiff
  • Chow Chow
  • German Shepherd Dog
  • Akita

Certain Mastiff breeds are actually ideal for apartment living. Believe it or not, the American Pitbull Terrier is in fact one of the friendliest, most sociable and best dogs to raise around children and families, despite the breed’s misguided reputation. American Staffordshire Terriers are almost always an accepted breed, ironically, despite the breeds coming from an extremely close lineage.

In many cases, these dogs are either banned due to a recent ‘dog attack’ incident broadcasted on the news, or because a previous tenant allowed their dog to cause damage. This doesn’t mean they are naturally aggressive in the least, but rather speaks of simple human ignorance and bias.

Be sure to check your complex’s rules and limits regarding dogs!

Dog Breeds Recommended for Apartment Life

We’ve made a small list of breeds with low energy requirements, several small or toy breeds. Not one of these is commonly referred to as a ‘watchdog’, and some rarely bark at all.

  • Basenji
  • Boston Terrier
  • Bulldog
  • Spaniel
  • Chinese Crested
  • Dachshund
  • French Bulldog
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Pomeranian
  • Pug
  • Yorkshire Terrier

*Mastiff- there are actually several different types of Mastiff, and not every single one is recommended for apartment life. While they don’t have high energy requirements, and many are great for apartment life, some were originally bred with protection in mind. If you do adopt a mastiff, research him ahead of time!

Dogs NOT Recommended for Apartment Living

Some dogs just are never satisfied with that walk or two a day, and will never truly be happy in an enclosed space. Though the list below is far from complete, it will give you a basic idea of which pups not to bring home (to your apartment, that is).

  • Labrador- exercise needs
  • Several other ‘Retriever’ breeds, like the Chesapeake Bay Retriever
  • Border Collie- high energy
  • Beagle- high energy
  • Jack Russell- high energy
  • Siberian Husky- High Energy
  • Alaskan Malamute- High Energy
  • Several Working Breeds
  • German Shepherd Dogs- High Energy