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Top 10 Apartment-Friendly Dog Breeds

By: Yuki Graviet Knapp
February 25, 2016

Are you thinking about adopting a brand new puppy? It can be difficult making a decision on which type to get when all of their faces are just so darn cute! Whether you’re living in an apartment complex now or are about to move, you know you at least want to learn more about dogs that are best suited for apartments. We thought you might. That’s why we compiled this list of the most apartment friendly dogs for your consideration and although we’ve narrowed it down to the top ten, that doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of great pups out there! Use this list as a jumping off point to get you going in the right direction.

1. Pug

This snorting, wrinkly-faced little character with a cinnamon-roll tail is one of my favorite toy dog breeds. He’ll grow to be about 18 lbs (unless you over feed him and make him a big fatty!), follow you around the house, and want to sleep in bed with you. If you can’t stand snoring, then the pug is not your dog. He’ll wheeze louder than your drunken grandpa, who’s passed out in front of the TV. And his beauty is unique. But how can you stare into his cartoon-like eyes and feel anything but love? Unfortunately, due to those bug eyes, pugs are prone to eye injuries. But they’re easy going and affectionate, getting along well with other dogs and with cats too. So if your girlfriend’s high-maintenance Siamese has to stay, you won’t worry about your pug making a meal out of it (he might wrestle with it instead, so let’s hope the cat’s a fighter!).

Take your pug on daily walks and everyone in the neighborhood will admire his cute wiggle as he struts around town. Just be careful not to over exert him. Because of their brachiocephalic (fancy way of saying flat-nosed) faces, pugs can have breathing issues, especially in warm weather. So when you’re outdoors, watch your pug carefully for signs of overheating.

  • Grooming level required: High. This guy needs you to clean out his facial wrinkles on a daily basis to remove dirt and debris, and also requires daily brushing. Pugs shed a lot, so invest in a decent vacuum cleaner!
  • Noise level: Medium. Pugs aren’t going to bark without good reason.
  • Kid friendliness: High. If trained well, pugs enjoy children!
  • Exercise: Low. Don’t overwork or overheat this little sausage!

2. Bichon Frise

Your Bichon Frise will get along well with other animals, should you already own any. His energy level is high, so be sure to take him for walks in the park and to play indoor games as well. Except scrabble. He’s intelligent, but c’mon, he’s still a dog. If left alone for long periods of time, the Bichon suffers from separation anxiety. Workaholics who spend all day and night at the office will break his fluffy little heart!

  • Grooming level required: Low. The Bichon’s coat barely sheds, so this breed is good for people with allergies. Bichons do need daily brushing to keep their fur from matting. Also, a monthly bath is required to keep your dog’s coat white.
  • Noise Level: Low. He’s not prone to yippiness like the poor excuse for a dog that belongs to that crotchety old lady down the hall.
  • Kid friendliness: Medium. Bichons are good with children, but puppies should be handled by kids only under adult supervision.
  • Exercise: High. Get your Bichon out of the house regularly for a game of fetch, and practice teaching him tricks at home.

3. Chihuahua

I know what you’re thinking. Yo quiero Taco Bell. Three crunchy tacos supreme, please! But there’s a reason that the adorable Chihuahua is the star of commercials and Hollywood movies: she’s got that it factor! This little baby weighs in at 2-6 lbs, so she can definitely fit in your Fendi handbag. But you don’t need to be a reality show has-been like Paris Hilton to walk around toting one of these babies. Chihuahua’s can be bigger divas than J-Lo if overindulged, so remind your doggie who’s the boss. That being said, they’re affectionate, intelligent and fast learners.

Your Chihuahua’s larger-than-life personality means she’s loud and talkative. Forgetting her size, she’ll probably challenge the Doberman down the block to a fight, so be careful when you’re on walks together. This go-anywhere companion needs a loving owner to take care of her for the next eighteen years. If that scares the bejesus out of your commitment-phobic self, this dog is not for you!

  • Grooming level required: Low. You only need to brush once a week.
  • Noise level: Medium to high. These dogs like to talk!
  • Kid friendliness: Low. It’s too dangerous to have these tiny dogs around children under the age of eight, because your Chihuahua might get injured. But do socialize her around kids.
  • Exercise: High. Chihuahuas need 20-30 minutes of daily exercise, and are eager to keep playing, so make sure your dog doesn’t wear herself out.

4. Poodle

There’s a reason there are so many -oodle bred dogs (goldendoodle, labradoodle, schnoodle, etc)! Poodles are one of the best-behaved and even-mannered breeds you can own. They’re also hypoallergenic so people with allergies won’t have to worry! The poodle is the second most intelligent dog breed which makes them incredibly skillful and quick learners . Although they are slightly larger in size, they’re also skinny so tend to fall under most apartment weight limits. They are relatively quiet, don’t have large amounts of energy, and tend to get along well with other dogs and humans. Basically, Poodles are every apartment accommodating personality trait rolled up into the perfect pup!

  • Noise level: Low. You’re more likely to hear your neighbors getting rowdy during a game of Pictionary than hear your Poodle make a racket.
  • Kid friendliness: High. Poodles love kids. Simple as that.
  • Exercise: Medium. Poodles do have a good amount of energy but that doesn’t mean they need to be running around in open spaces all the time. Exercising their minds with thinking games and training inside your apartment work just as well!

5. Shiba Inu

This member of Japan’s six native dog breeds is known for her fun personality, pointy ears and agility. Your friends might point out that your curly-tailed Shiba resembles a fox. And just like your favorite show on G4, your Shiba Inu could become the next Ninja Warrior! Weighing in at 20 lbs, she’s nimble, quick, keen and alert. But like Beyonce, your Shiba is fiercely independent, which is why it’s important to socialize her early with other dogs. This smarty-pants may think she knows what’s best, so look for a trainer who understands this breed’s unique mindset.

Another thing- your Shiba doesn’t like to share her toys. She’ll guard her belongings with her teeth bared. Be sure to give your Shiba Inu enough exercise with a neighborhood walk or jog. But if you take her off leash, be careful-she’ll chase rats (if you live in an urban neighborhood like mine) or squirrels, and could potentially be aggressive with other dogs. If you don’t appreciate her firecracker personality, the Shiba might not be for you. But give her love and she’ll love you right back, charming you with her spunk and loyalty.

  • Grooming level required: Low, though she’ll shed heavily twice a year. Ready to splurge on that Dyson vacuum yet?
  • Noise level: Medium. She shouldn’t bark unless something suspicious is going on, or another dog is making her feel threatened.
  • Kid friendliness: Medium. The Shiba Inu will be friendly towards children as long as they treat her with kindness and respect. No tail pulling!
  • Exercise: Medium. Getting outside is important for this breed. Make sure she gets a good daily workout.

6. Chinese Crested

Some refer to the Chinese Crested as the worlds ugliest dog? But if you’re sick, your Chinese Crested will lie in bed with you for hours. This 12 lb sack of love will fall in love with you, make you her world, and never leave your side. If you’ve just gone through a soul-crushing breakup, the Chinese Crested will nurse your blackened heart back to health.

This heat-loving canine can lounge in the sun like a lizard, so if you live in the Arizona desert, a Chinese Crested is for you. However, he has no tolerance for cold, and can’t be exposed to it as a means of ‘toughening up.’ Please don’t torture your dog, let him be comfortable!

Like that time you sent your ex-boyfriend two hundred text messages, your Crested also suffers from separation anxiety. Be careful, this David Blaine-esque dog can escape from almost any enclosure, and will dig, bark and climb if he’s freaked out. But he’ll play games, cuddle affectionately, and love your family with all his hairless little heart.

  • Grooming level required: Medium. Even though he’s hairless, the hair he does have needs to be trimmed. Also, he needs to be bathed regularly.
  • Noise level: High. Yep, this guy’s a talker. He’ll bark to protect his home, and sometimes he’ll sing!
  • Kid friendliness: Medium: They do well with kids, but small children could be a danger to the dog because he’s so tiny.
  • Exercise: Low. Chinese Crested dogs will tire out after about 15-20 minutes of play time and want to go back to their den. But they can jump over low fences, so be careful not to let them escape!

7. Boston Terrier

This tuxedo-wearing gentleman is a dapper and affectionate dog. The only problem? He might be too smart for his own good. 10-25 lbs of stubbornness in a handsome black and white coat, Boston Terriers can be hyperactive at times. But they’re so incredibly cute, all bad behavior is forgiven. Just look at those big round eyes! Not to say that Boston’s are all trouble. Like Matt Damon’s character in Good Will Hunting, they’re fighters on the outside, but loving and affectionate at home. Because they’re in the same class of dogs as pugs (brachycephalic), these guys are prone to over heating. Their funny antics will amuse all your friends, as will their snorting, drooling and flatulence. That’s right- don’t get a Boston Terrier if fart jokes make you uncomfortable. These dogs are usually quiet, but like a true Bostonian, they’ll get scrappy if another male invades their territory. How about them apples?

  • Grooming level required: Medium. Brush your Boston weekly and wash his face everyday, to check his eyes for redness or irritation. Like the pug, these big-eyed dogs are prone to eye problems.
  • Noise level: Low, except when another male is on his turf.
  • Kid friendliness: High. Bostons love children!
  • Exercise: Medium. These dogs are fairly inactive indoors. He’ll take a walk with you, and he loves to play, but then he’ll tire out and take a nap.

8. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

You fell in love with her as Elizabeth Taylor, Charlotte’s dog in Sex and the City. (If you’re a chick, then like me, you’ve probably seen every episode more than once). The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is intelligent, sweet and tail-waggingly cute. Cavaliers are attached to their owners and like to be spoiled. They shouldn’t be left alone for long, so part-time workers or stay-at-home moms make good owners. Cavaliers are too friendly to become good guard dogs. Please don’t rely on your girl as an alarm system! After barking at an intruder, she’ll probably try to lick his face off. At 13-18 pounds, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is the perfect size for apartment dwellers. Cavaliers enjoy a good game of chase; therefore, cats should be ready to play tag. But your parakeet will get eaten…seriously. So yeah, don’t own a bird. You can’t take the hunting instinct out of this English lady!

  • Grooming level required: Medium-High. Brush their coat 3-4 times a week and bathe the dog when necessary.
  • Noise level: Low. The Cavalier might bark when someone comes to the door, or she’ll just ignore it and keep quiet.
  • Kid friendliness: High. She’ll sit on your daughter’s lap while watching Spongebob.
  • Exercise: Medium. Take her out for walks, but don’t let her off the leash. This poor little princess has no street smarts whatsoever, and might run in front of a car.

9. English Bulldog

There’s a reason the English Bulldog has been chosen as a mascot for so many universities and sports teams. The breed is known for being tough and tenacious, but personally I think the bulldog’s squashy face is too adorable to be intimidating. I mean, look at that broad head and those stubby legs, that funny under bite and all those wrinkles! The laziest of dogs, this 40-50 lb guy is perfect if you want someone to cuddle with. Though they’re courageous and protective of their families, bulldogs are also friendly and playful. You might think it’s cute when your bulldog snores (not so cute when he farts), but beware of the many respiratory problems they’re prone to. You better start pumping some iron at the gym because you’ll need to be able to lift this fatty when it’s time to take him to the vet! Your bulldog will sleep until it’s time to eat again (just like your good-for-nothing ex-husband), so don’t expect a lot of activity from him. Though he loves children, you won’t find your bulldog playing fetch at the family barbecue. He’ll be sitting next to you, waiting for his hamburger patty.

  • Grooming level required: Medium. Brush his coat once a week and clean the wrinkles of his face every day with a damp cloth. He’s an average shedder: brushing more than once a week will reduce the amount of hair.
  • Noise level: Low. They are too lazy to bark. In fact, he’s probably asleep.
  • Kid friendliness: Very high. This tolerant sweetheart will let your toddler torment him.
  • Exercise: Low. He won’t want to go on a walk, but you need to take him anyway. Once a day is fine. But keep him away from swimming pools and hot tubs. He can’t swim!

10. Bitsa

What’s a Bitsa you ask? A bitsa this and a bitsa that! In other words, a mixed breed, a mutt, a few little slices of heaven all mixed into one great dog. Mixed breeds are great because they tend to not have any super dominant traits. Since they’re a mix of different breeds, their personality traits tend to blend together into a much more mellow mutt. A mellow temperament helps this dog breed adjust to a variety of households and living conditions more easily. Bitsa’s are also statistically proven to be healthier than purebreds, so if you’re spending extra on pet rent or a deposit, you’re more likely spending less at the vet. Lastly, because they are a combination of breeds, you’re more likely to be allowed to have say a pitbull-mix than, unfortunately, if your dog is predominately pitbull.

  • Noise level, kid friendliness, and exercise all depend on the specific dog you have but can be highly affected by the way they are raised!

Honorable Mentions

We have a few honorable mentions for apartment living that used to be on our top ten list. We traded them out for breeds that are more widely accepted, but we still think these dogs are great apartment companions.


Your image of the greyhound is the Olympic athlete of dogs, whipping around the track at lightening speed. But the truth is that this dog could earn a gold medal in the art of being a couch potato. Greyhounds are quiet, gentle and very mellow. Because the greyhound weighs in at 60-70 lbs, you should probably consider a different breed if you live in a studio. Your greyhound is just as happy snuggling up with you, watching HBO as he is playing in the park. He can spend all day lounging in bed, just like you with your very worst hangover. (If you overdo it on the wine, you can both burrow under the covers together.)

When walking your greyhound, be sure to keep him on his leash. If he sees a squirrel it’s over! Because let’s face it, you’re way too out of shape to chase him, and he might not want to come back. A 20-30 minute walk should keep your adult greyhound healthy, but more than two short walks a day are recommended.

  • Grooming level required: Low. The greyhound has a short, smooth coat and no undercoat. This is a good dog to have for people with allergies.
  • Noise level: Low. He’ll bark occasionally, but nothing major.
  • Kid friendliness: Medium. Greyhounds can tolerate little ones and become great companions. But if you’ve adopted a retired racer, he may have never seen a kid before. (Now imagine how traumatic that would be!)
  • Exercise: Medium. You’ll need more than one walk a day if you don’t want a smelly present to come home to. This is true for all dogs. Teach the command to potty!


He’s huge, right? He’s 130 freakin’ pounds! That’s like having another human being in the house! Don’t worry, I haven’t lost my mind and forgotten that we’re talking about apartment dogs. As long as you have enough space for him to sniff around, he’ll be happy to live indoors. The mastiff doesn’t require a lot of maintenance. He’s calm, loyal, and very kind around children. This gentle beast has a low energy level because he’s so damn gigantic. Don’t let him fall prey to the obesity epidemic, or he’ll end up on some TLC special about fat dogs (it doesn’t exist yet, but I’m sure it will).

Mastiffs were bred to attack intruders. If someone tries to steal your precious flat screen TV, your dog will be a lot more frightening than Tinkerbelle the Chihuahua. And that’s a good thing. He won’t bark for fun, but your mastiff will let you know when something suspicious is going on. Take him for regular 20 minute walks and you can both stroll at a leisurely pace before coming home to crash out on the sofa. Now where’s that bag of Doritos?

  • Grooming level required: Low. The mastiff has a short coat and doesn’t shed very much.
  • Noise level: Low, except when creepy dudes are trying to climb in through your window!
  • Kid friendliness: High. They’re great with kids if raised with kids. But when a mastiff has never seen a child before, he gets freaked out by how loud and unpredictable they are!
  • Exercise: Low. Be sure to take this guy on long walks so that he doesn’t get fat, but you don’t need to run marathons together.

Common Restricted Dog Breeds

Unfortunately, some properties do have breed restrictions. While we here at Apartment List love all our furry friends, we think it is important that renters know which breeds are most likely to require a little extra work to find a home that will allow them. The following list is based on our research of most commonly restricted dog breeds, and is not based on opinion, temperament, personality, energy level, or any other factor. Apartment List is lucky as most of our communities report which/if breeds are restricted (which is how we gathered the below information). We want our renters to be as informed as possible while conducting their search – if you see an apartment you are excited about but your pet can’t come with you, it is always important to speak with the property directly before passing on the place.

In no particular order, the most restricted dog breeds are:

  1. American Staffordshire Terrier
  2. Akita
  3. German Shepherd
  4. Pit Bull
  5. Shar Pei
  6. Rottweiler
  7. Doberman
  8. Chows
  9. Great Danes
  10. Huskies

Originally written by Meredith Jaeger.

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Yuki is a former member Growth Team at Apartment List. She enjoys eating, reading, spending time in the mountains, singing in the car, and exploring new places. Read More
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