Apartment dwellers have a lot of options when it comes to pets—and not all of them are teeny tiny pups. Here are some breeds to consider if your home is a small space with neighbors nearby.

By Chad Taylor
August 24, 2020
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Finding the right dog to share your apartment space with you (while still being a considerate neighbor) can sometimes feel limiting. Apartment size, location, and even the age of your neighbors can all become factors in determining what kind of dog suits your situation. But don’t despair! With such a wide array of dog breeds to choose from, there are a ton of great options for you—maybe even a couple you hadn’t thought to consider before. And, even better, regardless of your lifestyle, there’s sure to be a dog that can fill exactly the roll you want while still living comfortably in your apartment.

“Larger dogs can live happily in an apartment,” says Dennis Riordan, DVM, of the Riordan Pet Hospital in Des Moines, Iowa. “But they’re going to require more compromise from their owner. Bigger dogs need more exercise than small breeds, and with no yard to run around in, that’s going to mean more time on the leash or at the dog park. But if you’re someone who runs a lot, or spends a great deal of free time outside, there’s absolutely nothing preventing a big dog from being happy in an apartment with a loving owner.”

“Best apartment dog” can mean a number of things, depending on the person. For some, it’s purely a dog that can live quietly and happily in a smaller space. For others, it might be a dog that can go out and be active with them on weekends, without feeling cramped or unhappy during the workday. With that in mind, what follows is a list with a little something for everyone!

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Bichon Frise

One of the most affable, adorable breeds on the planet, the bichon is a happy-go-lucky people pleaser who is easily one of the best apartment dogs. While they can make excellent agility competition dogs, they’re also more than happy to spend long stretches quietly on the couch. And at right around 15 pounds, they’re not going to keep your downstairs neighbors on edge!

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Greyhound 

We know, it seems counterintuitive for the dog kingdom’s fastest member to make a list of best apartment dogs. But here’s the secret about greyhounds: they have two speeds, sprinting and napping. So while they are happily going to accentuate your active lifestyle on weekends and evenings, life inside your urban dwelling should still be hunky-dory!

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Cavalier King Charles Spaniel 

Cavalier owners will tell you these remarkable little guys are the perfect family pet. Cavaliers are also just about the perfect apartment dog! These incredibly intelligent, deeply loyal little dogs are quiet, friendly, and small enough to fit into even the coziest of studios with ease.

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Bulldog  

These sturdy fireplugs may not be your first guess when it comes to the best apartment dogs, thanks to their gruff appearance and heavy frame, but bulldogs tend to be extremely easygoing, couch-friendly dogs who adjust well to apartment life. A couple of caveats to consider though: Bulldogs can have a difficult time with extremes in higher temperatures, and if they aren’t trained not to alert bark, your neighbors will definitely know they’re there.

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Boston Terrier 

This dapper fellow makes one of the best apartment dogs purely because of his ideal combination of size and temperament. Almost universally friendly, loving dogs, Boston terriers are also small enough to be able to get almost all of their exercise needs indoors and not annoy your downstairs neighbors while they do it!

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Italian Greyhound  

Coming in at about 20 percent the size of their racing cousins, the Italian greyhound brings most of the things that people love about the greyhound breed—in a smaller, lighter, and even quieter package. While they don’t tend to be quite as lethargic as the racing greyhound, at around 10 pounds, the Italian greyhound makes the “best apartment dogs” list because they’re light enough and quiet enough to not be a nuisance.

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Basset Hound  

Steadfast and loyal companions, basset hounds make some of the best apartment dogs purely thanks to their exercise requirements. One good walk a day should be plenty to keep your basset hound feeling healthy and happy, and the rest of the time he’ll be perfectly content to nap on a dog bed or engage in some light play on the living room rug. Potential considerations are their propensity to drool, and their BIG voices.

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Chihuahua  

A no-brainer when it comes to size, the Chihuahua is definitely the best apartment dog for fitting into even the smallest downtown studio! Thanks to their small size, they also have virtually no exercise needs that can't be met right there on your couch. They can be yippy if not trained against alert barking, but it’s hard to beat these little dogs for small apartment living.

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Coton de Tulear  

A companion dog through and through, the coton is one of the best apartment dogs for retirees, people with mobility issues, and folks who work from home. Barking is never a problem for these happy lap dogs, they tend to be very low shedders, and they travel well if you decide to get out of town for a while.

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Basenji  

Looking for a quiet apartment companion? It’s hard to find a better apartment dog than the one that doesn’t bark! Contrary to popular belief, the basenji is not a completely silent dog. Instead of barking, they vocalize through an odd kind of grunt that has been described as somewhere between a chortle and a yodel. They are on the smaller side—under 25 pounds—very light shedders, and have been described as having “catlike” personalities. However, be aware that basenjis can be somewhat difficult to train and have a high motor, which means they’ll be best suited for patient people with access to a nearby dog park or running trail.

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French Bulldog 

Seemingly created for apartments, these dogs have long been favorites among urban dwellers. They're small, they don’t tend to bark a lot, and they’re very low shedders, all of which help make these guys ideal for apartment life. As an added bonus, a brisk walk should be all they need in the way of exercise. When not quietly playing on the living room rug, these little guys are more than happy to play the role of lap dog, or snooze in a warm patch on the floor.