When they’re ready to get a dog, most people make their selection based on size, looks, and friendliness of the dog.  However, one of the most important things to consider when choosing a dog is the breed of dog.  The breed will give you a good idea of the dog’s inherent characteristics and attributes.   This is even more important when you have limited living space in an apartment.

At the shelter, I help people find a dog that fits their lifestyle.  I ask questions about their living situation such as:  Do they live in a house or apartment?  Do they have a yard?  Do they want a dog they can run/hike/bike/cross country ski with?  This gives me an idea of the type of dog that will fit their lifestyle.  Even if you’re adopting a shelter dog, the main breed of the dog is usually identified.  It might be a Pit Bull mix, a Chihuahua mix, a Golden Retriever mix.  The majority breed characteristics can still be determined and should be considered when choosing a dog to adopt.

I lived in Manhattan apartments for a few years when I was younger (a LOT younger).  New York City is a very dog friendly city, but finding the right dog to cohabitate with you in a veritable shoebox of a home isn’t always obvious.  There are a couple of important things to consider when you and your dog are going to be apartment dwellers.
BARKING:  You want to be sure your dog isn’t going to bark his head off all day while you’re out.  You don’t want neighbors to complain about nuisance barking.  An energetic dog stuck in an apartment may become frustrated, causing him to bark and whine all day.   In addition, some breeds are more "yappy" than others; they like to bark or howl more than others.  If you choose a dog that is known to be very vocal it could become an issue when neighboring apartments are close and the walls are thin. 
ACTIVITY LEVEL:  A high energy dog with no outlet may go stir crazy in a small space if he’s not well exercised every day, especially in the morning before you leave the house.  You don’t want to come home from work to find that your high energy dog has gone nuts being cooped up all day and eaten your couch out of boredom and frustration.  Dogs that don’t have a high energy level don’t require tons of exercise and may be a better choice for apartment living.  However, if you’re an apartment dweller and you get out for vigorous exercise every day with your dog than a higher energy dog might be a good fit for you.  But you have to be very diligent about adequate exercise every day.  Lots of Manhattanites run with their dogs in Central Park every day all year long.  I was SO not one of those people!  All dogs need some exercise, but high energy breeds require a LOT of exercise on a daily basis.
SHEDDING:   Apartment dwellers may prefer a dog that doesn’t shed too much.  When you live in a small space, it can get dirty really fast.  When guests come over, everything is usually right out there front and center, there isn’t a lot of room to hide the mess.  Unless you don’t mind vacuuming a lot and have plenty of lint brushes on hand, a low shedding dog is a good choice for apartment living.  With Isis, it basically looks like it’s snowing 3 times a year inside our house!  Phoebe on the other hand, doesn’t shed one little bit.  Ever.  She’s a Lhasa Apso/Havanese mix, or something like it.

Here are some dog breeds that don’t have high energy requirements, shed very little or not at all, and tend not to bark much.  If you live in an apartment and want to get a dog, these are good dog breeds to consider.

Japanese Chin: Recently we had a 7 year old Japanese Chin in the shelter, which is rare.  We hardly ever see them at our shelter.  A lady was considering him for adoption.  When we told her that they are quiet dogs that bark very little, she gasped with excitement!  She lived in an apartment and was very concerned about getting a dog that might bark too much.  She adopted him on the spot!  A great little companion dog, the Japanese Chin originated in ancient….. China!   They are very quiet unless they’re alerting you, for example, to someone approaching the door.  In addition, they are not high energy dogs, and therefore don’t require a lot of exercise.  They do shed once a year, but not much. 
A beautiful little Japanese Chin
Source: Wikipedia

Lhasa Apso:  Lhasa Apso’s are an ancient breed that originated in Tibet.  They were bred to be indoor dogs, although they were also bred to be little guard dogs alerting their masters to approaching intruders.  They do not bark excessively and although their coat is somewhat dense, they don’t shed much.  They don’t require a lot of exercise either.  I had a friend years ago who had a delightful Lhasa Apso.  They lived together quite happily in their small Manhattan apartment.

My girl Phoebe.  We think she's a Lhasa Apso and Havanese mix.

 Shih Tzu: Another ancient breed believed to have originated in China, this adorable friendly companion dog is perfect for apartment living.    This small dog doesn’t shed, will bark mainly to alert their owners of an approaching stranger at the door, and doesn’t require a lot of exercise.
Havanese: This charming little dog originated in Cuba and is Cuba’s national dog.  They are sweet, mellow dogs that don’t shed.  They are not a yappy dog at all, overall they’re quiet unless alerting their owners to someone approaching.   Their exercise requirements are very low as well; play in the apartment and some leisurely walks are all they need.
I like Big Mutts and I cannot lie………..! (MY favorite twist on Sir Mix-A-Lot’s song!)   Having a dog in an apartment doesn’t mean it has to be a small dog, there are plenty of Big Mutts that would do just fine in an apartment.  Here are just a few of them.
Greyhound:  I know what you’re thinking, Greyhounds are racing dogs so they must be high energy and need tons of exercise.  Not so!  They can sprint really fast but they are actually very low key, low energy dogs.  They’re also quiet and don’t bark much.  Greyhounds are a wonderful dog to rescue as well.  They can race for only a few years and often get abandoned by thoughtless owners after they can no longer race them.  They do shed, but not very much.
English BullDog: There are several different varieties of the breed known as Bulldog; the English Bulldog, the smaller French Bulldog, and the larger American Bulldog.  The English Bulldog is a medium sized dog with a mellow temperament.  They are pretty low energy dogs that don’t require a lot of exercise and are considered to be good family dogs.  They are moderate shedders but their short smooth coat is easy to care for.  They are definitely not yappy dogs.

English Bulldog Puppy.  Source: WikiPedia
 Standard Poodle:   This isn’t the Pfoo-Pfoo kind of poodle, Standard Poodles are the largest variety of Poodle.  They are somewhat regal and fairly low energy, although they like to take walks.  Like their smaller brethren, they do not shed.  They are also not considered to be yappy dogs.  When I lived in New York City I had a neighbor living with a gorgeous apricot colored Standard Poodle in a nearby apartment.  She was an amazing, well behaved, friendly dog.  Everyone in the building loved her and was delighted to run into her in the elevator!
Remember that every dog is an individual.   Breed attributes are great guidelines for the behavior of a dog, but any dog can be a product of their environment.   This list is not a finite list, there are certainly other dog breeds that also make great apartment roomies.  The important thing is to be aware of the dog’s breed attributes so you have an idea of what type of behavior traits you can expect, especially energy level and tendency to bark or howl.  Be sure to check the rules of your apartment building to see if there are any size or breed restrictions in the building.  Check out my post on 8 questions to ask if you're adopting a new dog.
Whether it’s a puppy or adult, with any dog you bring into your home, basic potty training, obedience training, and socialization are critical.  Put in the time for training and socialization as soon as you bring your new dog home to get started on the right paw!
We Want to Hear From You!  Have you had an apartment dog experience you can share?  When you’ve brought a new canine BFF (Best FurFriend Forever) into your life, what was it about that dog that made you decide to add him or her to your family?   Tell us by leaving a comment. 



Unknown said...

Great points! And so funny we both decided to do a similar post today! hahaha!
ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

Ha Ha! Great Husky minds think alike I guess! Your points on Huskies being able to live in apartments as long as they are very well exercised were really good as well!

ruckustheeskie said...

What a great summary. Hope you had a good Sepia Saturday!

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

Thanks! I did have a good Sepia Saturday, but unfortunately I don't know how to create photos in sepia ) :

Beth said...

I really appreciate that you said, "However, if you’re an apartment dweller and you get out for vigorous exercise every day with your dog than a higher energy dog might be a good fit for you. But you have to be very diligent about adequate exercise every day." I adopted a border collie mix 3.5 years ago and we've lived in an apartment our entire time together. I wasn't the most active person before I got her, but now we usually walk for 45-60 minutes every day and she stays crated when I'm gone (otherwise she definitely gets into things--and she seems to genuinely like her crate). I sometimes feel bad that she doesn't have acres and acres of land to roam on and sometimes her energy makes me nuts (like in February when it was too cold to go out for more than a few minutes at a time), but we've found a good way to make apartment living work for us, so I'm glad you didn't say that high energy breeds have no place in an apartment!

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

Wow, a Border Collie! You can't get much more high energy than that - and SMART too! They're one of the highest energy and smartest breeds of dog. I'm so happy that you've made it work living in an apartment with a super high energy dog! Kudos to you for recognizing that you have a high energy breed and knowing how to provide the exercise she needs to burn that energy. Thanks for sharing your story, Beth!

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