The Best Dog Breeds for Apartments and Small Spaces


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The Best Dog Breeds for Apartments and Small Spaces

  By Bryn Souza

The American dream of a home complete with a white picket fence and a backyard for a dog to play in is getting farther and farther away for many people to achieve, regardless of age bracket.

While home ownership and an expansive yard may be further from reach for many, creating a comfy dwelling in an apartment can be a great place to call home. That said, folks who would like to also be pet parents, may be concerned about what is the best dog for living in an apartment.

small mixed breed dog in an apartment on a colorful rug

The smaller living space, the possibility of going up multiple flights of stairs, not having a fenced-in yard, and the shared walls of an apartment are considerations when choosing which apartment dogs may be the "best fit" for apartment living. Here are some considerations when deciding which furry friend is the best for apartment dwellers.

Physical Exercise Demands in different dog breeds

While some folks would likely think that a pet's overall size is the first thing to consider when living in small spaces, realistically, the dog's need for regular exercise is a more important factor for pet parents to evaluate.


For example, while it seems counter-intuitive, Greyhounds are often thought of as couch potatoes, preferring to lounge on soft spots in the apartment like memory foam dog beds or your couch rather than going for tons of runs. Greyhounds are content with a daily walk and lots of naps.

Silver colored greyhound laying on a dog bed

Basset Hound

While stubborn from a training standpoint, the Basset Hound is also a dog breed that normally doesn't require much exercise. If you ask a Basset Hound to go on a run with you, he's more likely to give you a hefty dose of side-eye than actually join you on a jaunt.


Pugs with their compact size and brachycephalic noses are a dog breed that also needs little exercise to be content and are a great option for apartment living. A short walk and some indoor playtime are likely enough to entertain a Pug and give them the exercise they need.

tan and black pug laying on a chair

Be careful with over-feeding this dog breed, though. Sometimes it's hard to resist their adorable eyes when they beg for food!

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Perhaps the ultimate lap dog is the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Smaller in size and requiring little exercise, this dog breed is a great apartment dog.

This breed LOVES human companionship making them the right dog for people who love to cuddle with their pup. Keep in mind that there are some health concerns associated with the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel which means you should research dog breeders carefully if you choose to go that route and not the adoption route.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel laying down

How "Talkative" is the Dog Breed?

Sharing a ceiling, the floor and some walls with neighbors can be a challenge when living in an apartment complex. Many of us have experienced times when an upstairs neighbor starts moving around furniture after midnight, making a ton of noise along the way.

Having a dog that isn't as likely to vocalize in the form of barks, whining, or howls is certainly preferred when living in close proximity to neighbors.

Positive reinforcement training is also key for any breed to help provide rewards when they are calm and quiet and do not receive attention when making noises.

Boston Terrier

The Boston Terrier is one breed of pup that is small in stature, big in personality and isn't much for making a ton of noise.

meme of a young boston terrier not barking

Image by Bryn Souza

PetHub's director of marketing has had a new-to-her Boston Terrier for three months and she hasn't heard it bark once, yet. Her prior Boston Terrier did bark occasionally, so it's important to remember that each pet is unique, even though there are common breed behaviors.

French Bulldog

Another small in size but big in personality dog breed is the French Bulldog, making them a great apartment dog. They require minimal exercise, don't take up much space, and rarely bark.

light tan french bulldog sitting outside wearing a black harness and PetHub tag

French bulldogs are known to have health issues, though, so if the French Bulldog is one of the dog breeds you are considering, definitely plan on getting pet insurance ASAP!

Italian Greyhound

Like their larger cousins, the Italian Greyhound is another breed that is great for apartment living because they don't need a ton of exercise and are normally pretty quiet. As a bonus, because they are small and don't have much fur, you'll get to dress your Italian Greyhound in snuggly outfits to keep them warm, which will make neighbors in the dog park jealous!

Sometimes size matters for apartment dogs

Yes, there are many larger breeds of dog, including Greyhounds, big dogs like the Great Dane, and even the Irish Wolfhound which are often referred to as gentle giants, do well in apartments.

meme of a black great dane sitting outside wearing a collar and PetHub tag

Image by Bryn Souza

That said, many apartments tend to be smaller in size than a house, meaning there may be less apartment space to accommodate a companion dog. That's why a pint-sized cutie may be one of the best dog breeds to consider when preparing for apartment living.

Shih Tzu

One of the small dog breeds to consider is the Shih Tzu. They are loving furry friends who are compact in stature and make great apartment dogs.

Shih Tzus are content with being a lap dog, and they prefer to follow their humans around the abode to keep them company wherever they roam. Keep in mind that Shih Tzu dogs do require regular grooming, which is an expense to consider for this small breed dog.

black and white shih tzu dog with pink ribbons wearing a PetHub tag

Chinese Crested

The Chinese Crested is sure to make an impression with their stately appearance and fun personalities. Chinese Crested are sweet dogs who do well in small spaces. As with the Italian Greyhound, be prepared to dress the Chinese Crested with fun outfits to help keep this hairless breed warm.

There is a version of the Chinese Crested that has silky fur, and either way, they come, these small companion dogs do great in small apartments and are amazing lap dogs.


Members of the toy dog breed category, like the Chihuahua, also make some of the best apartment dogs based on their size and desire to be companion animals. This cute dog breed can be vocal, though, so consider your proximity to neighbors and shared walls when deciding if this breed is an option for your living setting.

two tan chihuahua dogs wearing collars and pethub tags

Apartment Breed Type Restrictions

We know that all dogs dog can be good dogs for an apartment, regardless of size, or breed.

It isn't the breed that matters, it's the individual dog and their personalities.

We're guessing that a TON of our readers don't even know their dog's breed because they came from a rescue or shelter.

mixed breed medium sized tan and white dog wearing a PetHub tag

In this case, gaining an understanding of your dog's breed makeup can also help you to understand behaviors like vocalization and their need (or lack thereof) for exercise.

Embark DNA tests can help to demystify this information for dog lovers as they prepare for apartment living.

Apartments & HOAs may have size and breed limitations

If you're looking for a new place to live, it's important to research what size and breed limitations may be common in your area so it's something you're aware of. Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) is mirrored frequently in limitations put forth by apartment complexes or HOAs (Home Owners Associations, if you live in a condominium). Meaning it's a vital factor to keep in mind.

white and brown pitbull type dog wearing a collar and PetHub tag

In general, a small dog breed is easier to find spots to rent than a large dog. Some apartments will list a size limitation based on approximate dog weight, so medium-sized dogs and smaller are allowed but big dogs of 40 or more pounds may not.

There may also be restrictions on the number of dogs a pet parent may own or whether or not they're allowed other pets like cats, rodents, amphibians or lizards. Researching these details is key when deciding which residential option is best for you and your family.

Renters insurance rules

Renters insurance, while not a requirement for all apartment dwellers, maybe something to consider. Certain insurance companies may have other breeds or size restrictions that may not be indicated by the apartment complex or landlords, so it's another factor to research when evaluating the best dog breeds for apartments.

Products we LOVE for pets & small spaces

Now that you've learned the dog breeds that are great options for apartment living, we'd like to highlight some of the products that are on the market that help pet parents maximize the space they have for themselves and their apartment dogs.

Pet Products that can also be furniture

There are a lot of dog crates on the market that can also function as furniture for their humans, allowing folks to maximize the space they have.

Side tables, a credenza option, and even a crate with shelving that can be used in a kitchen are furniture choices that double as dog crates.

If you already have a dog crate but want it to be a multipurpose furniture option, you can also add a wood topper that can help the wire crate transform into a surface to place other items in your home.

Washable floor coverings

Protecting the floors of a rental space where getting a security deposit back is often dependent on the condition the living space was left in is something many folks consider for apartment life.

Even with apartments with wall-to-wall carpeting, placing area rugs in high-traffic areas can help keep the floor coverings clean and protected from wear and tear.

yorkie on a light colored carpet with a urine stain on it

That's why we love washable rugs from My Magic Carpet. They come in a variety of sizes and shapes and with a ton of patterns to choose from. Best of all, they can be popped in the wash to clean up any accidents quickly and easily.

Need to do some spot cleaning of accidents but don't want to wash the entire rug? Cleaning products from Bissell are clutch for keeping carpets and other flooring spotless for apartment living.

We may be a little biased, but a HUGE reason why we love Bissell so much is their commitment to helping shelter pets find their forever homes through the non-profit arm of their organization. There's a good chance that a shelter near you has been able to reduce or remove adoption fee expenses for potential adopters with the help of a donation from Bissell.

Convenient potty options

For pet parents living in an apartment requiring multiple flights of stairs or an elevator trip to get outside for potty trips with their pup, alternative options for a pet to relieve themselves can be a lifesaver. This is especially true for senior pets where the warning time between needing to relieve themselves and relieving themselves can be super short.

blue porta potty

For small apartments that don't have a balcony or porch, an indoor potty option like the DoggyBathroom is a great way to provide a spot for a pet to go potty inside the home. The concept is similar to a litter box for cats and is easy to clean for pet parents.

The Bark Potty is made from bark and grass and can easily be set up on a porch or balcony for a pet to relieve themselves. It can also be used indoors, but doesn't have walls to keep things enclosed like the DoggyBathroom. It's easy to use and can be used multiple times. One BarkPotty replaces up to sixty pee pads, which is much more environmentally friendly.

Foldable dog stairs or ramps

Quite a few of the dog breeds mentioned in this post are smaller in size and may need assistance with getting up on the couch to share some snuggles with you, or for getting into bed with you at night.

Dog stairs and ramps are amazing for pets who are smaller in size or for larger pups that have mobility restrictions from age or prior surgeries. That said, stairs or ramps can be bulky which is hard for apartment living.

three chihuahuas sitting on a couch

Thankfully, there are a lot of stairs or ramps that can be folded up and tucked away when they're not being used by your apartment dog.

Is there really a best dog for apartment living?

No single breed is the best apartment dog. There are a ton of dogs that do well in apartment living settings ranging from the smallest dog breeds to massive dogs like the Great Dane.

In general, dog breeds for apartments are ideal when they have been trained with positive reinforcement training to not respond to distractions with barking or other vocalizations AND have been given enrichment tools like food and treat dispensers and puzzles that help to provide distractions and mental stimulation.

Resources that allow a pup to get the exercise they need can also ensure your dog is happy living in an apartment. In addition to indoor playtime, consider using doggy daycare options in your community (some apartment complexes have their own doggy daycares on-site) or hiring a dog walker to give your dog time outside for a walk even if you aren't able to be home with them during the day. These tools can help your dogs be the best dogs for apartment living, regardless of breed!


Published 8/31/23