Which Dog Breeds Can Be Left Alone?


If you’re going to be out of the house a lot, make sure you choose a breed that’s comfortable alone.
Photo by Julie, Waupun
 

Dog breeds that can be left alone include Labrador Retrievers, Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs, and Corgis (Welsh and Pembroke varieties). These breeds tolerate being alone because their temperaments lean towards the laid-back side, provided they receive abundant exercise, play, and attention from their people during together time.

For some breeds, alone time is NBD because they’ve got an independent streak, while others are the canine equivalent of an introvert—they need a bit of peace and quiet to recharge their batteries. Read our rundown of dog breeds that take solitude in stride.

Dog Breeds That Can Stay Home Alone

Labrador Retriever


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The Labrador Retriever’s constant popularity is due in no small part to his unique mix of charm and chill. The Lab is boisterous, loving, and playful when you are home, and won’t kick up a fuss when you go out for a few hours. Though Labrador Retrievers are highly social dogs, they’re also self-confident and independent, so their gregariousness rarely morphs into neediness.

Because they are deeply attached to their people, however, be careful not to extend alone time beyond your Lab’s comfort zone. It’s best to increase his alone time in increments, so you can watch him for signs of separation anxiety, such as incessant barking, destructive chewing, and scratching at the door. A full workday may be too much for Labs, who crave companionship and need plenty of exercise, but an easygoing Lab can usually manage about six hours alone.

Greater Swiss Mountain Dog


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This large breed is easygoing and tolerates alone time—to a point. Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs are working dogs and are most content when on the job. When left alone, your GSMD will appoint himself guardian of the homestead for a few hours and keep a keen eye and ear out for anyone entering his territory. After four to six hours, however, he’ll get bored and restless without activity or exercise.

Make the most of time with your Swissy by enrolling him in agility or drafting (cart pulling) classes. If you hike with your dog, a GSMD will proudly help carry supplies for the trail in a dog pack.

Chow Chow

 


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Though Chow Chows have attention-grabbing good looks, they prefer keeping a low profile. Rather aloof, they reserve all of their affection for immediate family members, and even then aren’t especially demonstrative. Because of their independent natures, Chows adapt easily to time alone.

The puffy, Spitz-type dog can spend an entire workday on his own as long as someone takes him for a midday walk. Relegate dog walking duties to someone your Chow knows well. The breed is territorial and somewhat stubborn in nature, and he won’t be agreeable to walking around the block with a stranger.

Great Pyrenees

Though your Great Pyrenees would much rather spend time with you, he’s a laid-back chap—as long as you shower him with love and attention whenever you’re together, you can leave him alone for four to eight hours. If it’s more than five hours though, a walk in the middle of the day is imperative. Challenging puzzle toys and a cozy dog crate may also be necessary to stave off boredom and give him a sense of security. When left unoccupied, this intelligent herding dog is sure to get antsy and bark for attention.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

This lively, intelligent sporting dog is happy to spend time relaxing at home alone, but only after he’s expended most of his energy. Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers are active and alert, and thrive when they have work to do—whether it’s retrieving waterfowl or chasing down tennis balls in the yard. Without an abundance of challenging exercise and engagement, Tollers become bored and relieve their boredom with destructive behaviors, such as chewing couch cushions or barking excessively.

Before and after leaving him on his own, play games in the yard with your Toller and go out for a 30-minute walk. A stroll around the block won’t be enough to burn off this bouncy breed’s energy. Tollers also benefit from physical and mental challenges, making advanced obedience training, agility classes, and bird dog training great options. Leave your Toller home without worry for half a day, as long as you keep him busy and occupied once you reunite.

Welsh Corgi (Pembroke and Cardigan)

Though high energy, Corgis know how to comport themselves—after all, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi is companion to the Queen of England. These low-slung herding dogs are intelligent and alert, and need challenging activities to keep them from getting bored. But as with Tollers, if you’re conscientious about their exercise regimen, Pembroke and Cardigan Welsh Corgis are untroubled by a few hours of alone time.

Bullmastiff

Originally bred to protect large tracts of land in England, Bullmastiffs don’t mind guarding the homestead for several hours while you run errands or go out for dinner. This powerful dog doesn’t need as much exercise as his muscular frame suggests. Bullies are fairly low-energy—a few walks and short play sessions per day are enough to keep them fit and content. While you’re gone, he’ll keep an ear out while kicking back on the dog bed or couch.

Golden Retriever

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With proper considerations, the easygoing Golden can be left home alone for a few hours. Just tire him out before you leave, provide toys to keep him busy, and give him plenty of exercise when you get home. They’re a social breed that loves having their human companions nearby, so expect an exuberant greeting every time you return home—whether you’ve been gone an hour, or six.

Boxer

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With plenty of exercise when you’re home, a Boxer may be able to spend a few hours home alone. Boxers may display signs of separation anxiety or become destructive if left alone for too long, so limit the stretches to a few hours and give him plenty of attention when you’re home to make up for the time away.

Mixed Breed

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Mixed-breed dogs can be a mixed bag when it comes to behavioral traits—they won’t always show the same characteristics as the breed they most resemble. When adopting a mixed-breed dog, ask rescue or shelter staff about how the dog behaves in his kennel when left to his own devices, whether a foster family can tell you how he manages time alone, and what the previous owners had to say about his independence. But remember: A shelter environment is not the same as living in a home. The state of his kennel or his in-shelter behavior is not a reliable indicator of how he’ll do once settled with you. When you bring home a new rescue dog, expect an adjustment period, and ease him into the new schedule gradually.

More Dog Breeds That Can be Left Alone for Eight Hours

What feels like a long day at the office can seem like an eternity for some dog breeds. We’ve rounded up a list of breeds that may be better equipped to handle eight hours home alone—but any breed will be more comfortable with a lunch break visit or a trip out with the dog walker part way through the day. Here are some breeds that manage longer stretches of alone time:

  • Bulldogs are happy to snooze the day away; just provide durable toys for them to play with if they feel the urge to romp.
  • Basenjis can stay home alone for longer stretches—if you make adjustments to manage their proclivity for counter-surfing and trash bin hunting.
  • Standard Poodles may be able to handle a full day alone—be ready for plenty of fetch, running, and attention once you’ve gotten home. (Toy and Miniature Poodles are not as well-suited for long stretches alone.)
  • Boston Terriers can stay home while you’re away for the day, but choose a dog-proofed space or crate: This breed may become destructive if bored.
  • Basset Hounds may be independent enough to leave home alone for a full day if they’re given time to adjust to the schedule, but some Bassets may depend on companionship, and may howl when left alone.
  • Greyhounds are quiet, laid back, and spend most of the day snoozing, so they often adapt to schedules that keep them home alone for a full day.
  • Great Danes are energetic, but with plenty of exercise and mental stimulation when you’re around, these giants can lounge about happily through the day.

Small Dogs that Can Be Left Alone

Whether you’re looking for a dog you can leave alone in an apartment, or you simply prefer a compact canine, these small breeds can often tolerate a few hours home alone. Just remember: A smaller dog means a smaller bladder—you’ll want to limit your trips or hire a dog walker to get them outside as necessary.

  • Mini Schnauzers may be able to handle four to five hours home alone, especially if brain game toys and a dog walker are available to break up the solitary time.
  • The Maltese is a small breed that can stay home alone. This breed is most comfortable alone when crate trained—it gives him his own den—or contained in a dog-proof room.
  • French Bulldogs may tolerate staying home alone for a few hours at a time, but their social nature means they’ll crave attention and activity to break up the day.
  • West Highland Terriers have an independent streak which means they can often tolerate a few hours home alone—they’ll be ready for attention when you get home.
  • An Irish Terrier may be able to stay home alone for a few hours at a time if provided enough mental stimulation during the day.
  • Lhasa Apsos are independent enough to spend half a day home alone—even longer with a walk partway through the day.

How Long Can You Leave a Dog Alone?

Though the above breeds are generally amenable to hours spent alone, each dog handles alone time differently—even individual dogs within the same breed. No dog should spend more than six to eight hours or so in solitude, but the amount of time you leave your dog alone also depends on his breed and training. On the flip side, you should allow your dog at least some time alone to help prevent him from developing separation anxiety.

Some breeds are especially prone to separation anxiety or destructive behaviors and thus shouldn’t be left home alone for long stretches. For instance, you wouldn’t want to leave a Japanese Chin or Weimaraner for more than an hour or two without checking in on them, while Rat Terriers and Dachshunds can be happy for longer stretches without company. We’ve addressed each breed’s ability to stay home alone in our Dog Breed Guide.

How to Leave Your Dog Home Alone

Though the above breeds are generally amenable to hours alone, no dog should spend more than six hours or so in solitude. No matter how amenable your dog, he is a highly social animal who thrives on human and canine interaction. His health also depends on regular exercise and walks to relieve himself.

To keep your dog content and comfortable when alone for more than an hour or two, here are a few tools and tips:

  • Leave out his favorite dog toys, especially puzzle toys that take time and require focus.
  • Schedule a dog walker, whether a friend, family member, or a professional.
  • Exercise and play with your dog extensively before you leave and when you return.
  • Crate train your dog to give him a sense of security and prevent destructive behaviors.
  • Use training techniques that help stop your dog’s barking—whether from boredom or separation anxiety—when he’s left home alone.
  • Leave your dog with fresh food and enough water to last his entire time alone.

Even though the above breeds have traits that make them good candidates for solo time, it’s possible your Corgi or Lab won’t tolerate lengthy separations from you. Base alone time on your dog, building up to extended stretches slowly and observing him for destructive behaviors and signs of separation anxiety. If he prefers company, remember it’s simply his nature, and enrolling him in doggy daycare or enlisting someone to stay with him at home is the kindest solution. You might even want to start a conversation with your employer about bringing your dog to work.

Consider yourself lucky if your dog is unfazed by time alone, but never take it for granted and extend his alone time unnecessarily. Though he may be relaxed while you’re gone, at the end of the day, he can’t wait for you to come home.

Though the above breeds are generally amenable to hours alone, no dog should spend more than six hours or so in solitude. No matter how amenable your dog, he is a highly social animal who thrives on human and canine interaction. His health also depends on regular exercise and walks to relieve himself.

To keep your dog content and comfortable when alone for more than an hour or two, here are a few tools and tips:

  • Leave out his favorite dog toys, especially puzzle toys that take time and require focus.
  • Schedule a dog walker, whether friend, family, or professional.
  • Exercise and play with your dog extensively before you leave and when you return.
  • Crate train your dog to give him a sense of security and prevent destructive behaviors.
  • Leave your dog with fresh food and enough water to last his entire time alone.

Even though the above breeds have traits that make them good candidates for solo time, it’s possible your Corgi or Lab won’t tolerate lengthy separations from you. Base alone time on your dog, building up to extended stretches slowly and observing your dog for destructive behaviors and signs of separation anxiety. If your dog prefers company, remember it’s simply his nature, and enrolling him in doggy daycare or enlisting someone to stay with him at home is the kindest solution.

Consider yourself lucky if your dog is unfazed by time alone, but never take it for granted and extend it unnecessarily. Though relaxed while you are gone, at the end of the day, he can’t wait for you to come home.

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