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Breeds for Every Lifestyle

Best Apartment Dogs for Small Space Living

By Mawoo Pets · 16 Feb · 15 min read
Best Apartment Dogs for Small Space Living

Living in an apartment can feel a bit restrictive, but there’s no reason you can’t share your space with a loving canine companion. Living with apartment dogs is all about making them happy, regardless of the square footage. Of course, it helps to choose your dog carefully to make sure it is well suited to apartment life! There are pros and cons to every type of dog, including health issues and behaviour patterns, so do some research before making a final decision.

Hypoallergenic Apartment Dogs

Though no dog is completely hypoallergenic, there are many breeds that shed rarely and are easier for allergy sufferers to live with. The following list includes dogs that not only shed less than others but are better suited to apartment life than other breeds, too!

Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu is a playful and curious dog originally found in China and Tibet. In Mandarin, the name means “Lion Dog.” They have a long, silky double coat that requires regular professional grooming, and a friendly personality with humans. The Shih Tzu is generally healthier than other types of small dogs, but it is still prone to eye problems and hip dysplasia. Shih Tzus are packed with energy as puppies and as adults, so they love to play and follow their family members from one room to the next. These dogs live 9-16 years.

Photo by Nikolay Tchaouchev on Unsplash


The Maltese is another small breed with long, luxurious, double-coated fur. These dogs need regular grooming to keep that coat looking tidy. They should be bathed and brushed every one or two weeks. Maltese love meeting new people and are happy to make friends any time. They adore running around and getting exercise with their favorite people and would suit an owner who likes to go for weekend hikes or camping trips. Make sure to start training early and give these dogs enough attention so they don’t develop a barking habit. A well-exercised and well-loved Maltese can handle spending the day alone as long as there is some payoff once you come home! These dogs live 12-15 years.


Greyhounds are well known as one of the fastest dog breeds in the world, but you might be surprised to learn that they aren’t the most active pets. In fact, they sleep up to 18 hours every day and don’t require any more exercise than any other dog! Most greyhounds get along well with other dogs and cats, as long as they are socialized early on. They love to hang out with their families and can be a bit shy around strangers but not aggressive. Greyhounds aren’t big talkers, so you won’t have to overcome any instinctual yappiness with a pet of this breed. Greyhounds live about 10-14 years on average.

Photo by Juan Gomez on Unsplash


Poodles are popular pets in a range of sizes, from standard (over 38 centimetres at the shoulder), miniature (less than 38 centimetres), or toy (25 centimetres maximum.) All poodles have curly, soft fur that won’t pile up around the furniture. Originally bred as hunting dogs, poodles are both athletic and intelligent in any size. Standard poodles have a life expectancy of 12-15 years, while toy poodles can live up to 18 years. Smaller poodles are more prone to orthopaedic problems, while standard poodles are more likely to develop gastric dilatation. Relatively, poodles are a healthy breed that loves playing fetch and swimming. 

Photo by Mia Anderson on Unsplash

Bichon Frise

The Bichon Frise is a small dog with a life expectancy of 12-15 years. A Mediterranean, curly-haired breed, the Bichon Frise is very adaptable to apartment living, and extremely friendly. These dogs love to be the centre of attention and your very best friend. They also love to make friends with other dogs and cats but can tend to bark a bit much if not trained properly. Easily trained, a Bichon Frise could live into its late teens, though you need to watch out for hip dysplasia and dislocated kneecaps. They need relatively little grooming and only a little outdoor exercise every day. 

Photo by Matt Briney on Unsplash

Quiet Apartment Dogs

Some pet owners like their dogs to bark when someone approaches the front door; other owners aren’t so keen. If you prefer to have a dog without those almost insurmountable barking instincts, look for one of the following breeds.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Remember Lady, from Lady and the Tramp? That lovely dog was a Cavalier King Charles spaniel. Bred as a companion dog in 17th-century England, these spaniels have a particularly sweet and flexible character. Whether you are a bit of a homebody or fancy yourself an after-work athlete, this spaniel is the ideal pet. They also get along well with kids and other dogs, making them great pets for families. There is a chance that the graceful and affectionate Cavalier King Charles spaniel will develop heart disease by the age of five, but the breed has an average life expectancy of 9-14 years.  

Photo by Courtney Mihaka on Unsplash


The affectionate pug is a quiet and docile dog, happy to make human, canine and even feline friends. Intensely loving and playful, the pug is often described as the clown of the dog world. Though pugs are generally quiet and happy in smaller households, they prefer not to be left alone for long periods of time. If you work at home or are only away part-time, a pug could be the perfect apartment companion for you. Purebred pugs are likely to develop health issues over time, especially as they grow older, but have an average lifespan of 12-15 years. They can be stubborn but are trainable as long as you are persistent!

Photo by Mink Mingle on Unsplash


The average life span of this stocky, powerful breed is 8-10 years. Like their similar cousin, the pug, bulldogs are prone to breathing issues and other health problems like dermatitis. Also like the pug, this breed is friendly, playful and fun loving. It needs relatively little exercise and makes the perfect pet for someone who enjoys being indoors most of the time. Though a little oversized for lapdogs, that’s exactly what these 18-23-kilogram dogs think they are! Bulldogs are loyal, sweet dogs that prefer temperate or cooler climates. If you’re looking for someone to cuddle up with on the couch, this might be your dog.

Photo by Sébastien Lavalaye on Unsplash

Great Dane

The Great Dane is a giant of a dog, standing between 71 and 86 centimeters in height at the shoulder. Yet, despite their size, Great Danes truly do make wonderful apartment dogs. They are friendly with kids, kind to strangers, and peaceful around other animals. Due to a lower-than-expected energy level, many dog lovers consider the Great Dane a good candidate for apartment living. That being said, these dogs also require plenty of attention because they are extremely family-oriented and sensitive. Do you have lots of time to spend with your dog, or someone at home to care for it while you work? A Great Dane could make the perfect family pet!

Golden Retriever

The golden retriever is a much-loved breed due to its sweet nature and high intelligence. These pretty dogs are often chosen as service animals because they are calm, friendly, and can easily learn a range of commands and behaviors. Their gentleness makes golden retrievers great apartment dogs, though they do need to get outside to burn off extra energy on a daily basis. With those exercise needs met, dogs of this breed are more than happy to curl up at your feet and watch movies for the rest of the day. A medium-sized dog, retrievers can expect to live 10-15 years and experience relatively few health concerns. 

Photo by Bill Stephan on Unsplash

Low Maintenance Apartment Dogs

Some dogs are more suited to life in a small home than others, and that includes the following breeds. These need relatively little grooming, as well as only an average amount of exercise and attention. 


Chihuahuas are small dogs that fit wonderfully into small homes. Not only are they great apartment dogs because of their small size, but they have relatively few health issues compared to other canines. Daily brushing keeps the short Chihuahua coat in good shape, and 30 minutes of walking per day should be plenty to meet this dog’s needs. Chihuahuas weigh no more than six pounds and can live up to 20 years. Keep in mind that they can quickly develop a barking habit if not trained with perseverance! Chihuahuas are wary of strangers so be careful to socialize them slowly with new pets and visitors.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash


This breed was originally created as a hunting companion, but the modern whippet truly loves to snuggle with human family members. Whippets are naturally very quiet but also very entertaining, as they can keep themselves occupied with toys and games for hours. This is the sort of dog you can trust at home alone when you need to! The whippet is friendly, docile, and needs minimal attention besides regular exercise. Expected to live between 12 and 15 years, these dogs are sometimes prone to heart and blood disease, so regular checkups with the veterinarian are essential. 

Photo by Mitchell Orr on Unsplash


Picture a tiny, fluffy little Pomeranian, and you’ll already understand why they make good apartment dogs. Small and very loyal to their human family members, Pomeranians live 12-16 years. Once they are trained, they require relatively little maintenance. These fluffy puppies slowly grow a long, thick double coat that should be trimmed once a month. Pomeranians are very energetic but can easily burn off a lot of that energy inside the space of a few rooms if given the freedom to run around and play with toys. A daily romp or two outside will round out the need for this dog to stretch its legs and breathe some fresh air. On average, the Pomeranian is a generally healthy dog that is clever enough to be trained out of barking early on.

Photo by FLOUFFY on Unsplash

Miniature Schnauzer

The miniature schnauzer is a darling small dog with few demands except love and affection. Monthly haircuts in the classic schnauzer fashion reveal sophisticated and even aristocratic-looking canines who love slumming in the dog park. Though you may have met more than one loud schnauzer, the truth is they are very easy to train to stay quiet. Smart and curious, this breed requires minimal outdoor exercise as long as it has a few toys and someone to play with. They can be left alone for a few hours at a time and be trusted while you are at work, but miniature schnauzers are also eager to travel with you and make new friends. The breed’s life expectancy is between 12-15 years.

Photo by Katja Rooke on Unsplash

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it cruel to have a dog in an apartment?

Having a dog is about making that dog happy and healthy. While it is not always ideal to have a pet in a small living space, that doesn’t mean plenty of dogs wouldn’t love to live with you in your apartment! Most dogs can be perfectly happy living in a small home, whether they are small or large. 

Big dogs have the potential to be the least well-adjusted in an apartment, not really because of their size but because they often need so much exercise. Many large dogs were bred to work, whether that work was hunting, herding, or pulling sleds. Because of this genetic disposition to expel a lot of energy, breeds like Akitas and border collies need to get outside to run around and play a couple of times every day.

Even tiny dogs need plenty of exercise and attention! As long as those needs are met, most dogs can live anywhere you do. 

Which breeds are best for living in an apartment when I work all day?

Some dogs can spend all day alone in your apartment while you work—and some just can’t. If you want a happy canine companion who won’t get sad or destructive when it is alone, consider adopting a greyhound, basset hound, Maltese, poodle, pug or Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. These breeds are known for their ability to entertain themselves quite easily until you get home to pay them some attention.

Which dogs are best to live in an apartment and go hiking on the weekends?

Good apartment dogs that like to hike are plentiful if you know what to look for! A Labrador or golden retriever can adapt well to apartment life while also enjoying a few hours of playtime every weekend. A German shepherd would also suit a smaller living space when paired with an energetic and adventurous human companion.

What are the best big dogs for apartments? 

If you worry that a big dog in an apartment won’t work, you might be wrong. In fact, some oversized dogs are more than happy to live in a cozy space with the person or family they love! It helps to focus on breeds that have a good reputation as calm and highly trainable. Those include Great Danes, greyhounds, Saint Bernards, poodles and Tibetan mastiffs. For the best big apartment dogs, start socializing and training your dog as a puppy. 




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