The 10 Best Dogs for Apartments, According to Vets

Small spaces, elevators, and lots of neighbors are no problem for these dog breeds.

If you've ever lived in an apartment, you know that your four-legged neighbors, no matter how adorable, can be one of the biggest nuisances. Maybe the dog upstairs loves to jump, and it sounds like someone is bowling up there. Or maybe the pup in the adjacent unit barks every time someone walks by the front door. And, of course, no one likes sidestepping an accident in the elevator. But this doesn't mean that you have to wait to have your own home to also have a pet. According to vets and animal experts, there are plenty of dog breeds well-suited for small spaces and multi-family living. Read on to learn about the 10 best dogs for apartments.

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Bichon Frise

bichon frise
Spill Photography / Shutterstock

The American Kennel Club (AKC) refers to Bichon Frise as "irresistible canine comedians" who are charming and intelligent. However, despite their playful and cheerful personalities (which they extend to both humans and other dogs) Bichons "don't get too worried by noisy neighbors or outdoor traffic," according to Linda Simon, MVB, MRCVS, a consulting veterinarian at FiveBarks.

In addition to being quiet, these dogs "don't have an undercoat, so they rarely shed," says Deepanshu Bedi, marketing director of CBD dog treat company Holistapet. This is important for small spaces that more easily collect hair, as well as for owners who have allergies. Do note, however, that the AKC recommends daily brushing. Other than that, a Bichon Frise is very low-maintenance, content with a daily walk and playing in the apartment.

French Bulldogs

A man relaxing on a brown leather armchair with his smartphone together with his French Bulldog resting on his lap.
gollykim / iStock

Pet experts say that both French and English bulldogs make great apartment dogs since they aren't big barkers and only require moderate exercise. "They're incredibly easygoing and couch-friendly pups who enjoy lounging about and relaxing," says Josh Snead, CEO of Rainwalk Pet Insurance.

However, English Bulldogs are prone to breathing difficulties in heat and don't do well with stairs. French Bulldogs are the smaller of the two breeds, usually weighing less than 28 pounds, and are considered especially popular "among city dwellers," according to the AKC.

"These compact yet gentle dogs, also known as Frenchies … love to play and interact with humans, and a quick walk is all they need for their physical activity," notes Bedi. "The best thing about this breed? They rarely bark (except in the face of danger or threat), something your neighbors will be thankful for." French Bulldogs are also prone to breathing issues in hot weather, so be sure your apartment is air-conditioned.

Yorkshire Terriers

Dog Yorkshire Terrier eats a snack - Image
Valerie Nik / Shutterstock

If you're concerned about not being home enough with your pup, consider a Yorkshire Terrier. "Yorkies are known for being independent, so if you're looking for a dog that will be content to spend time alone while you're at work or out of the apartment, this may be the breed for you," explains Jeff Netzley, a Colorado-based dog trainer and creator of Dog Training Near You.

And, of course, their petite stature is a plus. "Adult Yorkshire Terriers are an average of about seven pounds, so they won't take up too much space in your home," says Daniel Caughill, a co-founder of The Dog Tale. "This also means you'll be able to easily scoop them up when riding the subway, going up escalators, or popping into the grocery store."

The AKC gives Yorkies a five out of five for affection, adaptability, and openness to strangers. They're also "long-lived and hypoallergenic," though their coat is more like human hair and requires a good deal of upkeep.

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Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Lari Cavalier / Shutterstock

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is small, but not too small (they usually weigh between 13 and 18 pounds). "Their compact size and moderate energy levels make them well-suited for apartment living since they are generally happy with two walks a day, as long as they get some quality outdoor time on the weekends," says Alexandra Bassett, CPDT-KA, lead trainer and behavior specialist at Dog Savvy Los Angeles.

Two other apartment-friendly traits of this breed are that "they tend to be really affable and friendly towards strangers, as they were not bred for guarding like some dogs, which means they don't tend to be barkers," notes Bassett. But perhaps most important is their adaptability. "They can be upbeat athletes or shameless couch potatoes, depending on an owner's lifestyle," per the AKC.


Young afro-american woman sitting with her pet Chihuahua and using laptop at home
filadendron / iStock

If you live in a really small apartment, you may want a really small dog like a Chihuahua. Described by the AKC as "a tiny dog with a huge personality," this breed won't exceed six pounds and eight inches in height. In addition, "they require little to no exercise and can be potty trained to use a pee pad or a small outdoor area," says Megan Conrad, BVMS, an Oregon-based veterinarian and member of Hello Ralphie. This is especially important since these dogs don't do well in cold weather.

However, if you live in an apartment with thin walls, this might not be the breed for you. Chihuahuas have a loud, high-pitched bark and will "alert you of any small or large sound by barking a lot," cautions Conrad. But, if you're looking for a watchdog, this might be a good thing. Plus, they're known to love cuddling.


Maltese dog sitting on bed at home with its leash
mixetto / iStock

Maltese is another very small breed, usually weighing less than seven pounds. However, you should be aware that these dogs need a decent amount of maintenance in the grooming department. Their long, silky fur "requires daily gentle brushing and combing to the skin to prevent mats and tangles," notes the AKC. They'll also benefit from "regular baths and coat conditioning," as well as routine nail trims. That said, Maltese barely shed.

According to Jacquelyn Kennedy, founder and CEO of PetDT, these dogs are "great as lap companions" and "don't need as much exercising as bigger breeds." She also says that they're extremely clever and, therefore, "can easily be socialized to adapt to elevators, neighbors, and the ins and outs of apartment life."

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Basset Hound

Basset Hound
Siberian spring / Shutterstock

Beloved for their long, floppy ears and low-to-the-ground bodies, Basset Hounds get the reputation of being couch potatoes. Of course, they do require some regular exercise, and the AKC says "a daily walk at a moderate pace will fill the bill." Inside the apartment, though, you won't have to worry much about them disturbing your neighbors by running and jumping, as they'd much prefer to "snuggle up on the couch with their owners," says Melissa M. Brock, a board-certified veterinarian and author at Pango Pets.

The AKC also notes that Basset Hounds love being around other dogs, so your building's shared dog run will be their favorite place. They do have a loud bark, but they mostly sound off outdoors since they were bred as scenthounds.

Toy Poodle

brown toy poodle with tongue out on white bed
Shutterstock/Lim Tiaw Leong

If you're looking for a tiny dog that's also hypoallergenic, the Toy Poodle checks both boxes, as they weigh between four and six pounds, and they barely shed or drool. Their curly fur does require clipping, so be sure you live near a trusted groomer that you can frequent every four to six weeks, according to the AKC. Living near a park is also advisable, as these are energetic dogs who love to play catch and run.

As Bedi notes, Poodles are a highly intelligent breed, which makes it easy to train them where to go to the bathroom and eat (they are, after all, common dog show competitors). If you're someone who moves frequently, this is an important trait.

Basset also suggests a Cavapoo—a cross between the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and a Miniature or Toy Poodle—for apartment dwellers, as they, too, are hypoallergenic and low-shedding, and have "the affable nature of a Cavalier with the smarts of a Poodle."

Miniature Schnauzer

Miniature Schnauzer laying in the grass
Debra Anderson / Shutterstock

The Miniature Schnauzer is a great all-around pet. They are "generally healthy, long-lived, and low-shedding," according to the AKC, and they also have a friendly personality that makes them affectionate and great with children.

Courtnye Jackson, a veterinarian and founder of The Pets Digest, points out that the smallest of the three Schnauzer breeds is extremely intelligent and easy to train, "which is great for potty training and teaching commands like 'quiet' which make them ideal for apartment living."

Brock also suggests this dog but points out that they are energetic. "They do need daily exercise, so make sure that there is room in your apartment for them to run around every day!"

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Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu in the Grass

Shih Tzus are also small, but they have huge hearts. Though most dogs enjoy affection and attention, this breed especially loves it. "A Shih Tzu's idea of fun is sitting in your lap acting adorable as you try to watch TV," says the AKC. Since they were bred to live in Chinese palaces, they're well-suited for indoor living and don't require a lot of outdoor space. A short walk and playing in the apartment are more than enough.

Because of their lapdog nature, even temper, and minimal shedding, Shih Tzus "are popular among the senior crowd," notes Brock. They also don't mind being carried around, which can be necessary if you live in a city.

Dana Schulz
Dana Schulz is the Deputy Lifestyle Editor at Best Life. She was previously the managing editor of 6sqft, where she oversaw all content related to real estate, apartment living, and the best local things to do. Read more
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