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The 15 Best Dogs for Apartments

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 perhaps 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 need to wait to have your own home to have a pet. According to veterinarians, there are plenty of dog breeds well-suited for small spaces and multi-family living. Read on to learn about the 15 best apartment dogs.

READ THIS NEXT: 9 Low-Maintenance Dogs You Barely Need to Walk.

What to know before getting a dog in an apartment.

A close up of a person walking a Golden Retriever on a city street
hobo_018 / iStock

For the same reasons your apartment building likely doesn't let you blast music in the middle of the night or leave messes in the hallway, they probably have some rules surrounding pets—and you'll want to familiarize yourself with them before bringing a dog home (especially since you probably signed off on these stipulations in your lease).

"Many organizations have restrictions for size, breed, and other specifications," points out Teresa Manucy, veterinarian at Chewy. "There may be limits on noise allowances as well."

While size certainly plays a role (housing a 100-pound dog in a studio apartment is probably not the best idea), Manucy says that's not the only consideration.

"All dogs, regardless of size, require physical and mental enrichment, which can be time-consuming for many pet parents, especially without access to outdoors or limited walking spaces," she says. "Puppies require more training, education, and time."

"Toy or miniature breeds may be the right size, but some breeds are more vocal and can have separation anxiety when left alone for too long," she adds. "When stairs are the only option, be careful to consider that navigating them may be difficult for very short dogs or older ones that have arthritis."

All that said, here's a vet-approved list of the best dogs for apartments.

RELATED: I'm a Veterinarian and These Are the Top 5 Neediest Dog Breeds.

Bichon Frise

bichon frisé
Eudyptula / Shutterstock

Bichon Frise is the most recommended dog breed for apartments on this list. The American Kennel Club (AKC) describes Bichons as charming, intelligent, and "irresistible canine comedians."

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 and 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.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Young beautiful woman with long curly hair playing with her dog in the park .She is wearing black jacket, jeans,boots and hat .
Sabelnikova Olga / Shutterstock

The next most recommended apartment dog is the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. This breed 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.

French Bulldog

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. In fact, they were recently crowned the most popular dog breed for the second consecutive year.

"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.

RELATED: 10 Dog Breeds That Bark the Most, According to Veterinarians.

Yorkshire Terrier

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.


pug in a blanket

Pugs are another breed well suited to an owner with a busy schedule.

"Pugs enjoy short walks, indoor activities, and lounging at home," shares Manucy. "They are an ideal breed for apartments as they often have laid-back, loyal personalities and are happy to hang out and cuddle with their people."

Embark veterinary geneticist Jenna Dockweiler, DVM, DACT, adds that they don't bark very much. However, she points out that "similar to the French bulldog, they are brachycephalic and may not tolerate warmer temperatures." So be sure your apartment stays cool.

According to the AKC, they do shed more than some other breeds, but they have minimal grooming needs and usually don't weight more than 18 pounds.


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.

RELATED: The 7 Best Dog-Friendly Cities in the U.S.


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."


Beautiful young havanese dog is sitting on a gravel forest road in soft light in late summer - Image

Manucy says Havenese make great apartment dogs because they have moderate energy and training needs.

"Havanese are affectionate, intelligent dogs that weigh up to 13 pounds and stand under a foot in height," she shares. "They are good with children and other dogs."

The AKC agrees and says, "Their small but sturdy bodies, adaptable nature, and social skills make Havanese an ideal city dog." They add, "Havanese are also excellent watchdogs and take the job seriously, but will usually keep the barking to a minimum."

This breed doesn't shed much, but they do have some specific grooming needs for their long, silky coat.

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, but 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.

RELATED: 20 Popular Dogs That Don't Shed.

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. 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 energetic dogs 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!"

Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu in the Grass

Shih Tzus are 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 much 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.

RELATED: Top 5 Most Difficult Dog Breeds to Potty Train, Veterinarian Says.

Italian Greyhound

italian greyhound laying on blanket in a room with carpeting
stelo / iStock

"Despite their athletic build, Italian Greyhounds are surprisingly well-suited to apartment living," shares Jennifer Sperry, DVM, veterinary advisor at AKC Pet Insurance. "They enjoy one or two sessions of high-intensity 'zoomies' in open spaces twice daily. With that, they are relatively low-energy when indoors and enjoy snuggling up with their owners."

However, Dockweiler notes that you'll have to be a bit more conscientious when taking this breed outside, especially in the city.

"Although they are small, Italian Greyhounds are true sighthounds and will take off after fast-moving critters or objects," she explains. "Because of this trait, a leash or fenced area is a must when taking them out for exercise."

They also have fragile bones, which means you'll want to avoid uneven terrain, according to Sperry, and dog parks that allow larger and smaller breeds to comingle.


newfoundland dog in grass

If your apartment building has no weight limit on dogs—and you prefer a larger breed—the Newfoundland might be the perfect pet for you. Just be sure your home is spacious enough since these dogs can weigh up to 150 pounds.

"Newfies have lower energy and barking levels and moderate training needs," says Manucy. "Newfies have a sweet temperament, are friendly with families, and are patient with children. They can be lazy couch potatoes in the home, so they will enjoy lounging with you."

They can also be left alone during the day while you're at work, but "offering extra physical and mental stimulation will help avoid separation anxiety," Manucy notes.

Japanese Chin

Japanese Chin dog breed

The AKC calls the Japanese Chin "tiny 'indoorsy' companions," so it's no surprise that Manucy agrees they're one of the best dogs for apartments.

"They are small, typically weighing up to 11 pounds, and are a perfect, cuddly companion and lap dog for hanging around the apartment," she shares, adding that this breed doesn't need a ton of exercise and will be content with a short walk.

The AKC gives the Japanese Chin top scores for how affectionate they are with their family and how good they are with other dogs. They have moderate energy and aren't big barkers.

This story has been updated to include additional entries, fact-checking, and copy-editing.

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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