Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He works mostly with dogs and also spends time training and caring for his own canine family.
The Best Apartment Dog?
Are you looking for that perfect dog for your apartment? It won't be easy.
Some apartments have weight restrictions and do not allow “apartment dogs” like Greyhounds and Great Danes because of their size.
Others have breed restrictions and do not allow protective dogs like the Staffordshire Terrier.
Are you thinking about a Rottweiler or German Shepherd? Those breeds can be kept out of your apartment because of their size and also because many buildings have breed restrictions against them.
Despite the limitations, there are still a lot of other great choices. If you do not want to get a small dog, for whatever reason, these medium-sized dog breeds will all do well in an apartment.
Here are several of the best, and why each of them does so well:
Best Medium-Sized Dog Breeds for Apartment Living
- English Bulldog
- Bull Terrier
- Basset Hound
1. English Bulldog
Almost everyone knows this distinctive-looking dog. They are cute, nice to have around, and great for a lot of other reasons, but remain one of the most expensive dog breeds.
If you do find a puppy you like and can afford him, is he a good choice for apartment life?
The English Bulldogs are the right size, around 20 kilos (45 pounds), and their personalities are fine since they can be stubborn but rarely aggressive. They do require exercise every day, so your dog will get you off the couch, and if you slack off on the English Bulldog is prone to fat.
If snorting and heavy breathing bother you, an English Bulldog is not the best choice to share a small apartment. If the noise is no problem, these dogs actually need air conditioning because of their short faces and sensitivity to heat and humidity, so an apartment is perfect.
Be sure to think about potential health problems before you bring your puppy home. Health problems are an issue with a lot of these dogs, and many of them are affected by hip dysplasia, respiratory problems, and cherry eye. Most only live for 7 or 8 years, and even an old dog only makes it to 11.
For that short life, though, an English Bulldog is a great medium-sized dog breed for an apartment. Just try keeping him off your lap when it is time for his evening nap!
2. Bull Terrier
“The Gladiator” has been bred to be a pet and is a good apartment dog.
They are a playful and active dog, but if there are severe weight restrictions on your apartment lease, you need to be careful when you go and select a puppy. Bull Terriers are normally around 25 kilos, but they can go up to about 38 kilos, or 85 pounds.
That is a large dog, not a medium. If you need really small and like the Bull Terrier's looks and personality, there is a miniature version of this dog available at about 12 kilos or around 25 pounds.
If they can be found in the right size, they are one of the best dogs for an apartment. A new puppy should be checked for deafness since it happens so often in white dogs. Some of them are prone to allergies, especially to insects, but if they are kept in an apartment, that should not be a problem, and they usually live over 10 years.
Are there other downsides to getting one of these dogs? They are affectionate, but they can be kind of stubborn too, and many Bull Terrier owners recommend that they only be purchased by an experienced owner. Since they have such a strong prey drive, they need to be well socialized so that they do not attack cats and other animals they are not familiar with.
Well, a Bull Terrier might not be right for every apartment, but he is definitely suited to a few.
3. Standard Schnauzer
Is the Standard Schnauzer as good a choice in an apartment as some of the other breeds listed here? Probably not. The dog has a lot of energy and will need active stimulation throughout the day. They usually do not slow down until they are two years old or so, and if left alone a lot when still a puppy will probably end up destroying the apartment.
The Standard Schnauzer does have the advantage of not shedding much. If this is what you are looking for in an apartment dog, you have found it. A few times a year, when other dogs are shedding all over the apartment, Standard Schnauzers will have a loose coat that can easily be stripped or clipped during grooming. The face and legs have to be clipped regularly and brushed every day.
This dog breed is the right size, about 15–25 kilos (35–55 pounds), but is more of a guard dog than most families want in a small apartment. They are easy to train but do become bored and can be destructive. Like all dogs, they need a walk at least once a day, and they usually are healthy enough to enjoy it. Dogs have a lifespan of about 13 years.
Although Standard Schnauzers are not popular, either in the city or country (only about 500 puppies are registered each year with the AKC, as opposed to about 100,000 Labrador Retrievers), they are good dogs if you want a clean medium-sized dog to guard your family.
If you are looking for an apartment dog that is affectionate, the Brittany is really your best choice. (Basset owners and many others will be sure to disagree!) They are not known to be as mellow as the Basset, however, nor as quiet as the Whippet, so you should not make your choice based just on that one characteristic.
If starting out with a puppy, she does need to be well socialized. Not because of aggression, though! Brittanys can become very shy. These dogs are really sweet and only 15–20 kilos (about 30–40 pounds) but are not as famous as some other medium breeds since they do not have any abnormal anatomic features like a flat face or long and floppy ears.
Well, they do have floppy ears, they just are not too long, and they do require regular cleaning. About 10% of them are affected with hip dysplasia, but they are usually healthy and average around 13 or 14 years of life.
Like all dogs, Brittanys need exercise every day. Some Brittany owners will tell you that the dogs are so active that they need a fenced-in yard, but if the dog has an active owner who will take the dog out every day, they are fine in an apartment.
Not the best, but they definitely make the list.
5. Basset Hound
So is the Basset Hound the perfect apartment dog? They may have originally been developed as a scent hound, but like his little cousin the Beagle, they are now a popular pet for several reasons.
One reason they are popular: their great looks. They are probably also popular because they are so affectionate, great with kids, and spend most of the day sleeping.
But are they perfect? They do shed constantly, and of course, they have the voice of a hound. A lot of people call them stubborn and hard to train, but that may be because they are food-driven and do not respond well to negative training styles.
Weight can also be an issue with this dog. They are heavy, up to about 35 kilos (around 75 pounds), and will exceed some weight restrictions, even if they are not too tall. They are prone to obesity and can develop serious back issues if allowed to become overweight.
And despite his mellow character around the house, when a Basset goes for his daily walk, he is also likely to run off when tracing an interesting scent.
Some dogs are prone to ear infections, others to eye problems, and many can develop lip fold infections because of their heavy drool. If they are cared for and kept in shape, they can live 11 or 12 years.
A good choice, but not perfect.
Best is always a matter of opinion. I am sure there are those out there that consider the Siberian Husky the best medium-sized dog for an apartment, despite the fact that they shed a lot, need a lot of exercise, and will do their best to escape all day long. (I would list the Siberian Husky as the best dog to accompany you on a race in the snow, but not the best dog for an apartment.)
In my opinion, the best medium-sized dog for an apartment dweller is the Whippet. They are only about 10 kilos (22 pounds) but are lean and healthy dogs. Like the Greyhound, from which they are descended, Whippets like to sleep a good part of the day if they have a comfortable bed in which to rest their bodies. They are not good watchdogs and bark little, much less than many other breeds.
They are active dogs when awake and excel in agility, flyball, and lure coursing. Like all dogs, they need to be taken out for exercise, and if they have an enclosed area to run in will be a lot happier.
They do shed a little, but their hair is fine and short. Since they are so healthy, Whippets also have an impressive lifespan. Many live 12–14 years and are only occasionally affected with eye problems. Hip dysplasia is rare in this breed.
So if you like the looks of this thin dog, need a medium-sized couch potato that will wait for you to come home from work, and expect a healthy dog that will keep you busy at the park when you are available, the Whippet is an excellent choice.
Good Luck Finding the Perfect Dog for Your Apartment!
So is there a cute medium-sized dog who is hypoallergenic, does not shed much, does not bark excessively, sleeps most of the day, needs little exercise, and is healthy and inexpensive? Not that I know of. Maybe a young designer dog breeder will decide to establish a new breed, and it will be available in the next few years.
In the meantime, you have a great number of dogs to choose from. Visit local dog shows and talk to breeders for more information about the dog you like. Don’t forget to look at your local animal shelter too. You might find just what you are looking for before going off to search for a new puppy.
Just do not buy that new dog at a pet shop. Pet shops are supplied by puppy mills, and not only will you end up with a dog that may not look like what you want, you may end up with behavioral problems too.
Good luck finding that new dog for your apartment!
More About Dogs . . .
- How to Convince Your Parents to Let You Get a Dog
All kids should be allowed to have a dog, so make it easy for your parents to say yes. Find out five things you should do, and take a look at a bunch of great puppy pictures!
- 7 Best Dog Breeds for First-Time Owners
Learn what you should consider as a first-time owner and the best seven dog breeds to choose from.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Question: Can I train a standard five-year-old poodle to pee and poo during a walk instead of the backyard? I am moving from a house to an apartment and will not have a yard. Currently, the dog only goes in the yard, and never during walks.
Answer: This is possible but not always easy. When you take your dog out to the area where you want her to pee, tell her "Go pee" (or whatever command you want to use) and then when she does give her a treat and a lot of praise.
She should eventually get the picture. If you take her right back in as soon as she urinates, she is less likely to want to go right away. (Dogs will learn that when they pee they have to go in the house, so they start holding it longer.)
Do not forget that you need to take her out more often. You cannot just open the back door and let her out, so expect to take her for a walk three or four times a day.
© 2014 Dr Mark
Linda Crist from Central Virginia on February 20, 2014:
Dr Mark, I love your articles. I am starting the process of research that will help me determine the breed that will become my next companion. After losing Luna. I don't think I will have another Iggy. As much as I love them, there are just so many health issues waiting to break your heart. This article has me leaning towards a Whippet. We'll see where that takes me. :-) Thanks for the great writing and honesty. Voted up and more.
Elizabeth Parker from Las Vegas, NV on February 18, 2014:
Mona Sabalones Gonzalez from Philippines on February 17, 2014:
Good article. I like the Basett Hound. He's really cute and sleeps a lot. More rest, less mess, hahahahaha.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on February 17, 2014:
Thanks Bob. There are a lot of breeds out there I would not want in an apartment, but that is sad to think of them denying someone a dog for that reason.
gypsumgirl--I appreciate your comment and your visit.
Hi Suhail, great to see your comment! Sorry I have not gotten back to you about those Canadian Eskimo photos. There is not much interest in that hub, despite those interesting breeds up there. Can you imagine the great shots of K2 playing with a thin Whippet? I have a lot of good photos of my Pitbull playing with my Havanese. The contrast is amazing to see.
Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent from Mississauga, ON on February 17, 2014:
Another good article Dr. Mark!
If I were living in an apartment, I would go for a whippet for its quiet and calm temperament. Also, taking him in a dog park or a beach and letting him vent out his energy would be a treat to watch. As a photographer, I would have loved all the action shots.
gypsumgirl from Vail Valley, Colorado on February 16, 2014:
Thank you for this interesting and informative hub. It is difficult to find the right breed for the right environment and situation. This gives me ideas of which mid-sized dog is most appropriate for a restricted space. I have always thought that living in an apartment restricts dog owners to small, yappy lap dogs. I now know there are other options. Thanks again!
Bob Bamberg on February 16, 2014:
Interesting and helpful hub. This should be mandatory reading for shelter volunteers. I've heard people complain that they were denied for adoption because they were apartment dwellers, and the shelter worker didn't believe an apartment is suitable housing for a dog. Voted up, useful and interesting.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on February 15, 2014:
Congratulations Bk42author, that is an excellent first choice!
Brenda Thornlow from New York on February 15, 2014:
Great choices and love the pics and videos. I'm a first time dog owner (Maltese) and love it!
barbat79 on February 15, 2014:
Love this very entertaining and useful hub!!! Thanks Dr Mark1961!!! thumbs up!!! as usual
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on February 15, 2014:
Yes, that howling is a real issue with some dogs. They pretty much tie with English Bulldogs just because of that.
That sounds like a great apartment complex. I live in a house, and my door is always open so my dogs can go out when they want, but they would not crowd me even if we lived in a small apartment.
And, like you point out, they are out there.
Dawn Ross on February 15, 2014:
Good choices. Bassets are sometimes howlers, though. I have been lucky enough to always find an apartment that allowed big dogs. My bigger Chow/Shep mix Sephi moved with me from Texas to Kansas years ago into a pet friendly apartment. No size or breed restrictions there. In fact, one of my neighbors had a Mastiff! My Lab Maya later joined our family. And even though it was to big dogs in a one bedroom apartment we were not crowded. Sephi and Maya got plenty of walks and they sometimes played in the courtyard with our neighboring dogs. If you really want a particular dog, big or small, see you if you can find a TRULY pet friendly apartment. They are out there.