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Best Breeds for Apartment Living

December 03, 2019 9 minute read time

A blurry streak of fur-covered lightning tears across the field after a tennis ball leaving a slow sprinkle of shredded grass in its wake. A vigorous game of tug-of-war spins you and your pup in arcing circles around the back yard. The sweat glistens on your brow and your dog’s tongue hangs out along the final mile of your favorite hike.

frisbee dog

For many dog owners, these are some of the greatest pleasures that having a furry best friend can provide. Exercise, playtime and physical activity are the foundations many people build their relationships with their dogs on.

However, not every human/canine companionship is constructed on this type of foundation. Many dog owners prefer a more laid-back lifestyle. Sometimes pet owners are looking for a mellow couch comrade who finds happiness simply in snuggling up for a snooze. Perhaps you live in a smaller apartment surrounded by a concrete jungle and don’t have ready access to hiking trails but still want a dog. For those prospective pet owners who live in a more urban area with less space, getting a pet prone to hyperactivity wouldn’t mesh well with their lifestyle.

Not everyone has a yard and a large living space, but everyone should still be able to have a dog. Even if you live in a small apartment in an urban environment, there are plenty of breeds out there that thrive in that setting.


Why Your Dog’s Breed is Important

There are a few important points to take into consideration when looking for a canine companion. The basics to focus on when looking at breeds are their noise level, physical activity requirements, size and temperament.

If you’re in an apartment, odds are you’ll be sharing a wall with at least one other person who likely appreciates a minimal amount of noise pollution. If your dog goes bark raving mad at every little noise and shadow, it’s not going to win you any points with your neighbors.

Unless you’re happy to bring your pooch on regular jogs or trips to a dog park, it’s a good idea to steer clear of breeds that require vigorous exercise. Super athletic breeds like the Border Collie or German Shepherd are prone to get destructive if kept cooped up for too long. They are easily bored and will find ways to amuse themselves that can end with disastrous results.

Most dogs are quite adaptive and loving toward their owners. However, it’s difficult to justify bringing a Great Dane home to live in a 350 square foot studio apartment no matter how cute they are. Larger dogs are better suited to homes with a bit more space and perhaps a yard where they can stretch their legs.

A dog’s temperament is also quite important when considering if they’ll thrive in an urban environment. While many working terrier type breeds are compact in size and on the quieter side, for example the Jack Russell Terrier, they require a great deal of mental and physical stimulation. Otherwise, similar to the super-athletes mentioned above, they will find ways to entertain themselves, sometimes to the chagrin of their owners. A bored dog left alone can leave a home in tatters quickly.

Dog Destroying

These characteristics are important to consider when looking for a pet. There are certainly a high number of variables to account for and there are always exceptions to generalizations like those mentioned above. Noisiness, physical activity, size and temperament are still good concepts to take into account though. They’re a solid foundation to think about if you’re looking for a dog and you don’t know where to start.

Breeds to Consider

The following is by no means a definitive list of dog breeds for apartment dwellers and there are a ton of breeds we haven’t included that fit into this category. This guide highlights just some of the breeds that are better suited to a more mellow lifestyle. This selection can provide a good jumping off point for anyone looking for a canine companion who'd adapt well to city living.

Boston Terrier

With a nickname like the “American Gentleman,” Boston Terriers are one of the prime examples of what to look for in a breed that slides right into urban life. They are compact but sturdy so you don’t have to worry about them getting ruffed up by the bustling pace of a city. Boston Terriers are upbeat and full of zest and personality. They are one of the more active breeds on this list so they do benefit from nice, long walks but they are still small enough to get their exercise in with a bit of indoor tug-of-war.

Boston Terrier Dog

English Bulldog

Full disclosure, we’re utterly biased on this breed. One of our office dogs here is Penny the English Bulldog. She is one of the sweetest pups around. Penny exemplifies why English Bulldogs are so perfect for a laid back lifestyle. Generally one of the more easygoing breeds, English Bulldogs love pretty much everyone they meet and are content to snooze and snuggle all day long. Penny’s the princess of pillows, a professional of puppy eyes, and a master of making everyone’s day a bit brighter, even if the clouds are covering the sky.

English Bulldog

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

These smiley pups are sweet, gentle companions. They adapt well to their owner’s lifestyle and have a good amount of natural athleticism but are also happy to hangout at home. They’re quite compact so they can always use the couch as jungle gym to get any excess energy out but they’re still super enjoyable to bring to the park. One thing to keep in mind is that they’re quite social and require a good amount of attention and affection, which is pretty easy to give these devastatingly cute pups. Just look at those eyes!

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Dog


A proper purse-pup, these little handfuls have a penchant for being one of the more perfect pets for apartment dwellers. Chihuahuas are small in size but have big personalities. While they are wonderfully expressive, they are also on the fragile side. They don’t do well in cold weather, and they don’t enjoy roughhousing. Chihuahuas prefer to spend quality time with their people, snuggled up with a book and a bone.

Chihuahua Dog

French Bulldog

The French Bulldog, or Frenchie, found fame when it was adopted by Parisians in the 19th century and it’s easy to see why. This little boisterous bulldog is instantly recognizable with their compact body, cute squishy face and large expressive ears. Once again we’ve got to disclose our utter bias on this inclusion. Franco the Frenchie is our other office dog. He is exceptionally conversational for a French Bulldog and greets postal workers and anyone else arriving to the office with a ruckus. Frenchies are generally on the quieter side but Franco is a special one. We're sure you can see why. Here he is with Penny taking a break from packing orders.

French Bulldog


It’s hard to imagine these speedsters fitting into a more urban lifestyle when most people have only seen them tearing up a racetrack. However, you might be surprised to learn that these thin, lanky sprinters have a remarkably mild mannered nature. For those who want a larger breed that adapts well to city life, it’s worth checking out the Greyhound and their smaller cousins (but still taller than most other breeds on this list) the Italian Greyhound and Whippet breeds. As long as they get the occasional trip to the dog park to stretch their muscles, they are perfectly pleasant and calm companions in a city setting.

Greyhound Dog


Well mannered, pleasant and social, the Havanese is a real “people-pup.” They have a long beautiful coat and enjoy learning tricks and performing them for an audience. They were bred in Cuba and are incredibly popular in their namesake city, Havana. It’s hard to argue the city dwelling compatibility of a breed when they are named after a city. Especially one as dense, populous and lively as Havana.

Havanese Dog

Japanese Chin

These pooches have an easy-going, cheerful demeanor that perfectly accommodates city life. They are quiet, well mannered and compact pets. As a breed, they’re quite often compared to cats. Some traits that are frequently highlighted in these comparisons are the Japanese Chin’s small balanced body, their habit of resting in high places, and their habit of washing their face with their paws. Another reason they work well in smaller spaces is their method of burning off excess energy. They’ll run in small circles endearingly named “Chin spins” by Chin owners.

Japanese Chin Dog


These little white clouds of floof have an ancient history of being lap-dogs to royalty. The Maltese breed is named after a sea port mecca for merchants, the country of Malta. Modern day Maltese are merry and down to earth companions. Compact, compassionate and caring, these sweet little pooches are the perfect pawtner for city dwellers looking for a canine companion. Sometimes they can be on the noisier side, but with proper training, they are well behaved and adoring friends.

Maltese Dog


This little regal looking breed is a pleasant surprise on a list for urban living. One of the more athletic breeds on this list, the Basenji is a compact ball of inquisitive, sweet-natured fun. They are known for their uncommon vocalizations. Instead of barking, the Basenji, or “African Barkless Dog” emits a noise that’s more of a mournful hybrid between a howl and a yodel. They certainly can be loud when they want to but for the most part, they are a soft spoken breed. If you want to hear what a Basenji’s yodel sounds like you can find out in this video: 


Pomeranians are incredibly popular, and rightly so. These personality packed fluffballs are the perfect companion for any city dweller. Spritely and full of energy, they make shining and playful pals in the city while still being small enough to get all their energy out in an apartment. These little smiling pups are naturally charming and bring cute to a new level!

Pomeranian Dog


If you’re looking for more of a roommate than a pet, then the Pug is an ideal candidate. Their elegant faces are almost human-like in their expressiveness and they will always want to join in on whatever you’re up to. If you want to feel like you have six feet while exploring the city and walking around your apartment, the Pug will happily join you on all of your adventures.

Pug Dog

Bichon Frise

These dogs are bone-ified charmers. They’ve held positions of royalty, living quite literally in the lap of luxury as pets to kings and queens since the 13th century. Despite the fact that they were doted on by European royalty for centuries, these dogs are quite humble in their day-to-day needs. As companions, they are bright eyed, curious and relentlessly happy. Everyone is a friend to the Bichon. They sometimes feel compelled to noisily greet “new friends” for the first time. But once acquainted with houseguests, the Bichon couldn’t be more pleasant.

Bichon Frise Dog

Shih Tzu

This ancient breed is straight out of Chinese history. They have been gifted back and forth across royal courts for centuries and it’s easy to understand why. The Shih Tzu, or “Lion Dog” is a joy to be around. They have a pleasant affectionate nature and are the perfect lap warmer for any lonely living space that needs a happy, loving addition.

Shih Tzu Dog

Shelter Dogs: Mixed Breeds and Senior Dogs

All of the above breeds are generally well suited to an urban lifestyle. However, for those looking for a real match in terms of personality, there’s no better option than visiting your local shelter! You can find pups of all walks of life and different backgrounds. When adopting from a shelter, you often get to spend some time with a dog to familiarize yourself with their personality before making a decision. The more time you spend with a dog the more insight you have into whether you have compatible personalities. Adopting a dog from a shelter is a great way to find a four legged furiend you know you'll love to hang out with.

Mixed Breed Dog

For those looking for a low maintenance pal, another great option that you can often find at your local shelter is a senior pup. These dogs are perfect for those who just want a mellow companion. There are tons of reasons to adopt a senior dog in a more urban setting. Chief among them are: ease of care, they don’t have crazy puppy energy, they’re house-trained, and they make fast friends.

Senior Dog

While the tips laid out in this article aren’t hard and fast rules, they should provide a helpful guide when looking for a furry friend to take on city life with. If you’re already a fan of any of the above mentioned breeds, don’t forget to check out our pup-themed apparel! You can rep your favorite breed on your next night out on the town or pick up a present for your favorite pet-loving parent. Franco and Penny look forward to helping with any of your pet apparel needs!

Cute Dog Friends

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