What Are The Best Apartment Dogs?

If you came to this article expecting a list of the best apartment dogs, I’m here to disappoint you. In fact, I will shamelessly take this opportunity to share my personal opinion about what breed of dog is best for apartment living with you. It’s unlike anything else you’ll easily find on this topic online, but I believe it’s worth a discussion. So, thank you for following along while I share my thoughts on the perfect apartment pet with you.

What breed of dog is best for apartment living?

I think if you’re an experienced, responsible, and dedicated dog owner, you can successfully live in an apartment with most dog breeds. In fact, I think it’s not too far fetched to even say that there are lots of dogs that have a better quality of life in apartments, than some dogs who live in the suburbs or even on acreage.

At the end of the day it comes down to your commitment to your dog, and how much time and effort you’re willing to invest to make it work.

For example, you could live in a really small apartment with your dog, but that doesn’t stop you from:

  • taking your dog on 1-2 walks a day
  • bringing your dog along when you go somewhere dog-friendly
  • providing your dog with enough opportunities for mental stimulation and enrichment
  • participating in dog sports together (think agility, flyball, or nosework)
  • taking your dog to the beach or on hikes
  • hiring a dog walker
  • or taking your dog somewhere for daycare while you’re at work

If you compare this to a dog who lives in a home in the suburbs, with a yard but with no human who makes sure that the dog gets an adequate amount of mental stimulation and physical exercise…. well I dare to say that the apartment dog has a better quality of life.

The question you should really be asking….

I think rather than asking what the best apartment dogs are, it would make more sense to take living spaces out of the equation, and to instead ask if a certain type of dog will be beginner-friendly. For example, you probably don’t want to get a Malinois or a Kelpie if you have no experience with the breed, live in an apartment, and don’t have enough time that can be dedicated to the dog.

So, what I would recommend doing, is to grab a notepad, and then write down what breeds you like, what your lifestyle is like, and what you’re hoping to do with your dog.

Next you could try to have a chat with a local dog trainer or vet to ask for their feedback, or you could join a breed-specific subreddit and ask for feedback on your notes. Bringing a new dog into your life is quite the commitment, so it can really help to get feedback and to manage your expectations based on it.

dog relaxing on bed
Image: Katja Rooke on Unsplash

Are smaller breeds more suitable for apartment living?

I wouldn’t say that smaller breeds are more suitable for apartment living. There are lots of small breed dogs that are high energy, and lots of big dogs who are happy to nap all day.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there certainly are genetic factors that will influence the activity level of a dog. But it’s also important to consider that even amongst the same breed, the characteristics of dogs vary. After all, there are lots of failed working dogs out there who aren’t interested in performing the jobs they’ve been bred for, so it’s just not black and white like that.

You can only get a good idea of a dog’s behaviour by either being able to assess the parents of a particular puppy, or by adopting an older rescue dog based on a behaviour assessment to determine suitability to your lifestyle.

Which dog can be left alone the longest?

There’s no particular dog breed that can be left alone the longest. It’s actually really important how you’ll train your new dog when you first bring it home, and there’s a lot you can do to teach a dog to be calm when left alone for long periods of time. This will always depend on the individual dog and your personal circumstances though, so it’s best to seek the advise from a qualified dog trainer on this topic.

That said, there are genetic factors that will influence a dog breeds risk of developing separation problems. As mentioned above, this does not mean that every single dog of that breed will have those problems, but it means that statistically speaking, they’re more likely to develop them.

Dog breeds with a higher risk of developing separation problems include:

  • Shih Tzu
  • Miniature Schnauzer
  • Pug
  • Pomeranian
  • Poodle (Toy and Miniature)
  • Maltese
  • Chihuahua
  • Miniature Pinscher
  • Yorkshire Terrier
  • Dachshund
  • Basset Hound
  • Beagle
  • Cocker Spaniel, and
  • Staffies

Dog breeds with a really low risk of developing separation anxiety include:

  • Portuguese Water Dog
  • Bernese Mountain Dog
  • Rottweiler
  • Golden Retriever, and
  • Boston Terrier
What Are The Best Apartment Dogs? rspb20190716f01
Heritability estimates for 14 behavioural traits. Source: The Royal Society Publishing



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