Best City and Apartment Dogs

By: Orvis Staff


Photo by Sandy hays

For city and apartment dwellers, that joyful decision to bring home a dog (congratulations!) should coincide with a reality check (sorry). Not all rescue dogs and dog breeds are well adapted for an urban environment, or for the square footage offered by an apartment or condo. It’s best to take your time deciding whether a dog is a good match for your lifestyle in advance, so you don’t face unnecessary frustration or, worse, bring home a dog you must later give up. Here’s a roundup of the top breeds for apartment living, as well as the most important considerations for a canine in the city.

Top Dog Breeds for the City and Apartments

  • Pugs – Playful and gregarious, your pug will have energy for long walks and become the beloved mayor of the block. When you get home, she’ll be quiet and ready for couch time.
  • French Bulldogs – Little and friendly, Frenchies love exploring the city with you. They will bark if something is amiss, but are otherwise a quiet breed.
  • Japanese Chins – Described as catlike, Chins are affectionate, adaptable, and don’t require much exercise.
  • Newfoundlands – Though too big for a studio, Newfies can live happily in a large apartment. They don’t require a lot of exercise and they take the hubbub of the city in stride.
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniels – Sweet-natured and quiet, Cavaliers are a perfect fit for apartments. The breed is not a good choice if you have to leave your dog alone all day for work, because they can develop separation anxiety.
  • Pembroke Welsh CorgisThis cheerful breed needs active owners. When they get enough exercise, they are enjoyable and make chill company.
  • Dachshund – Though Doxies have a tendency to bark, they can learn to be quiet with patient training and positive reinforcement. They love exploring with their people, but can also tolerate a few hours alone.
  • The Metropolitan Mutt – This refers to any mixed breed rescue dog with the temperament for city and apartment living. You’ll know her at the shelter by her calm confidence, engaging, but quiet personality, and tendency to sit rather than jump around. The shelter staff can vouch for her street cred.

The above are strong bets for city and apartment dogs, but temperaments of individual dogs will vary significantly. Here are a few other factors to keep in mind:

Energy Level

Both the dog’s energy and yours are important factors in this decision. Living with a high-energy dog is simply harder in an apartment where space is limited and there’s no yard handy for regular play sessions. It’s feasible only if you have the energy—and the time—to take your dog to the dog park, and on long walks or runs during the day. When you leave a high-energy dog at home for hours on end without adequate exercise, she’s sure to chew the couch cushions or your favorite shoes. Though crate training is helpful and prevents household damage, it isn’t fair to leave a lively dog contained for more than an hour or so.

Dog breeds that may be too energetic for the big city and small spaces include most sporting dogs, herding dogs, and terriers, as well as mixes that include these breeds. These dogs were developed to have the stamina for long days of hunting and herding, and to cover a lot of ground in the process. Australian Shepherds, for example, are highly athletic dogs who need to be on the move throughout the day, as are German Shorthaired Pointers. Compact Russell Terriers may be the right size, but they actually have bottomless reserves of energy and do best when they have ample room to roam.

Noise Level

For the close quarters of city and apartment living, a quiet dog is ideal. You may love your talkative best friend, but she won’t be endearing herself to your neighbors. Many small dog breeds lean towards the yappy side, including Miniature Schnauzers, Chihuahuas, and Dachshunds. Russell Terriers get another strike against them as apartment dogs because they are highly vocal. While patient training can help reduce barking in some dogs, it’s unrealistic to expect a noisy breed to become the silent type. Peace and quiet is also more likely when you keep them company—many dogs bark because they are lonesome and bored.

The hustle and bustle of the city can also be unnerving for some dogs. This has more to do with individual temperament than specific breed traits. Socialize your dog from an early age so she’s comfortable with crowded streets, honking horns, and new dogs at the dog park. If you are rescuing a dog, the shelter staff can probably help guide you to a quiet, laid-back dog, and even one who once lived in the city. An even tempered pooch also makes a great cubicle buddy if you work in an office that lets dogs come to work.

Are Small Dogs Best?

The size of your dog isn’t as important as her noise and energy levels. Some mellow giant dog breeds make wonderful partners for your city adventures. Big dogs who are easy to live with in town or country include the gentle Great Dane, the placid Irish Wolfhound, and the low-key Basset Hound. No matter the size of your dog, walks and visits to the dog park should be part of your daily routine. Because city and apartment dogs don’t have yards to romp around in, giving them enough exercise requires extra effort and attention. As a bonus, you’ll enjoy the health benefits of being active with your dog.

If you stay mindful of noise and energy levels, choose from the breeds listed above—or adopt a mellow mutt—you’ll have a wonderful dog who’ll make your cozy apartment feel more like home, and exploring the city tons more fun.

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