How to Choose the Right Size Dog for an Apartment with Space Limitations?

Navigating the world of pet ownership while living in an apartment can seem daunting. Space limitations may make you feel as though dog ownership is off the table. However, this isn’t necessarily the case. There are several dog breeds that are well-suited to apartment living, and by selecting the right size and breed, your small living space can become a comfortable home for your new furry friend.

Considering the Dog Size

Your apartment’s size is an important factor to consider when choosing a dog. While many would assume that smaller dogs will always be the best fit for smaller homes, this isn’t necessarily the case. The dog’s energy levels and trainability often have a larger impact on how well they are fit for apartment living than their size.

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Small Dog Breeds

Small dogs are often the first choice for potential pet owners living in apartments. Their small size makes them physically easier to accommodate in tight spaces. Breeds like the French Bulldog, Shih Tzu, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel are compact, yet they also have relatively low energy levels. Small dogs also tend to have fewer exercise requirements than larger breeds.

However, not all small dogs are low-energy or easy to train. Jack Russell Terriers, for instance, are small but have high energy levels and can be difficult to train. Also, some small dogs are known to be frequent barkers, which might not be ideal for the close living quarters of apartments.

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Medium Dog Breeds

Medium-sized dogs can also be a good fit for apartment living, provided they are of a breed with lower energy levels. Breeds like the Bulldog, Basset Hound, and Shetland Sheepdog are known for being relatively calm and quiet, making them suitable to live in apartments.

Again, the breed’s temperament and trainability are crucial. Some medium-sized dogs require more exercise and mental stimulation than others. Be sure to research a breed’s specific needs before making your final decision.

Understanding Your Dog’s Energy Level

The energy level of a dog plays a significant role in how well they can adapt to living in an apartment. Some dogs require large amounts of exercise and mental stimulation, which can be challenging to provide in a small living space.

Low to Medium Energy Dogs

Dogs with low to medium energy levels are typically the best fit for apartment living. These dogs require less exercise and are generally more comfortable spending time indoors. Breeds such as the Bichon Frise, English Bulldog, and Bernese Mountain Dog are known for their low energy levels. However, they still require regular walks and mental stimulation to stay healthy and happy.

High Energy Dogs

High-energy dogs, on the other hand, can be more challenging to accommodate in an apartment. Breeds like Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, and Labrador Retrievers are known for their high energy levels and may become frustrated or destructive without adequate exercise and mental stimulation.

However, this isn’t to say that you can’t have a high-energy dog in an apartment. It just means that you will need to be more proactive in ensuring that they get plenty of exercise and mental stimulation, such as through regular walks, playtime, and training exercises.

Evaluating a Dog’s Trainability

Trainability is another important factor to consider when choosing a dog for an apartment. A well-trained dog will be easier to manage in a small space and will be less likely to engage in destructive behavior.

Easily Trained Breeds

Breeds that are known for their ease of trainability are typically a good fit for apartment living. These breeds are often eager to please and quick to learn new commands and behaviors. Breeds like the Poodle, Papillon, and Labrador Retriever are known for being easy to train.

Breeds that Require More Training

On the other hand, some breeds are known for being more independent or stubborn, which can make training more of a challenge. Breeds like the Beagle, Dachshund, and Afghan Hound can require more patience and consistency when it comes to training. Again, this doesn’t mean these breeds can’t live in apartments, but it might require extra effort from their owners.

Assessing the Breed’s Friendliness

Finally, consider the breed’s friendliness — not just towards you, but also towards other people and pets. Living in an apartment often means living close to many other people (and perhaps other pets).

Breeds with Friendly Temperament

Breeds known for their friendly and sociable nature can make great apartment pets. They are generally more comfortable with meeting new people and less likely to become anxious or aggressive in the confined spaces of an apartment complex. Some of these breeds include the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Labrador Retriever, and Beagle.

Breeds with a More Reserved Temperament

However, some breeds might be more reserved or wary of strangers, which could potentially cause issues in an apartment setting. Breeds like the Akita, Chow Chow, and Shiba Inu are known for their more reserved and independent natures.

In conclusion, while space is an important factor when choosing a pet for apartment living, the dog’s size is not the only thing to consider. The breed of dog, its energy level, and its trainability are all important factors. With careful consideration and planning, you can find the perfect breed that will be comfortable and happy in your apartment, and become a cherished addition to your home.

Considering Your Lifestyle and Breed Restrictions

While choosing the right size of the dog, it’s also crucial to consider your lifestyle and the breed restrictions that may be in place in your apartment complex. Some apartments have specific rules regarding the type and size of pets permitted.

Lifestyle Considerations

Your lifestyle plays a significant role in your choice of dog breed for apartment living. A dog breed that matches your lifestyle is more likely to be content and well-behaved in your apartment. For instance, if you lead a sedentary lifestyle, you might want to consider a low-energy dog breed like the Basset Hound or Bulldog. These breeds are generally more comfortable spending time indoors and require fewer exercise.

On the other hand, if you’re an active person who enjoys daily runs or hikes, you may opt for a medium energy breed like the Vizsla or English Springer Spaniel. These dogs will appreciate the physical exertion and be less likely to get bored or anxious in your apartment.

Breed Restrictions

Some apartment buildings have breed restrictions in place. These restrictions mainly apply to breeds perceived as aggressive or destructive. Make sure you know and understand these restrictions before you bring a new dog home. Breeds often restricted include the Pit Bull, Rottweiler, and Doberman Pinscher.

However, remember that the behavior of a dog is largely dependent on its upbringing and training. With proper socialization and training, many breeds typically labeled as ‘difficult’ can become great apartment dogs.

Understanding Your Dog’s Shedding Levels

Another significant factor to consider when choosing an apartment dog is their level of shedding. If you or a family member has allergies, the amount of fur your dog sheds could be a crucial factor in your decision.

Low Shedding Breeds

If you’re looking for dogs that shed minimally, breeds like the Bichon Frise, Poodle, and Shih Tzu may be right up your alley. These breeds have hair that grows much like human hair, reducing the amount of dander and fur they leave around your apartment.

Medium to High Shedding

On the other hand, dogs like the Golden Retriever, Siberian Husky, and Bernese Mountain Dog are known for their high shedding. These breeds require regular grooming to keep their shedding in check. If you’re comfortable with the extra cleaning and grooming, these breeds can still make great apartment pets.


While apartment living can pose some challenges for dog ownership, it certainly does not rule it out. When choosing the right dog breed, consider your apartment’s size, your lifestyle, potential breed restrictions, and the dog’s size, energy levels, trainability, and friendliness.

With these considerations in mind, you can find a pet-friendly and dog-friendly breed that fits well with your living situation, whether it’s a low energy, medium-energy, or even a high-energy breed.

Remember that every dog, regardless of their breed, size, or energy level, requires love, care, and commitment. With the right amount of these and a suitable living environment, your apartment dog will not only adapt but thrive in your home. Whether it’s a small, medium-sized, or large breed, the perfect apartment dog is out there for you.

Becoming a pet owner is a rewarding experience, and even in an apartment with space limitations, it’s more than possible to create a happy, healthy home for your furry friend.

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