Best Apartment Dogs: The Definitive 9 Picks

Written by AZ Animals Staff
Published: November 24, 2020
Written by AZ Animals Staff
Published: November 24, 2020


What are the best apartment dogs? Good candidates adjust easily to smaller spaces, don’t bark much, and aren’t overly aggressive. So, to answer the question, we consulted our dog experts and came up with this list of the nine best apartment dogs.

#1 Dog for Apartment: Affenpinscher

  • AKC Dog Personality Description for Affenpinscher: Confident, Famously Funny, Fearless 
  • Average Height for Affenpinscher: 9 to 11.5 inches
  • Average Weight for Affenpinscher: 7 to 10 pounds

Affenpinschers — aka “Affens,” “Monkey Dogs,” and “Ape Terriers” — are notoriously funny and confident. The French have an appropriate name for the feisty toy canine: diablotin moustachu — or “mustached little devil.” They’re the class clowns of the canine world, hypoallergenic, and widely considered one of the best dogs for apartment living.

Affens are expressive and “almost human.” A professional dog handler once famously explained: “This isn’t a breed you train. [They’re] like humans. You befriend [them].”

Affenpinschers are also notoriously confident. Writer Desmond Morris swears that during a trip to Alaska he witnessed a lionhearted Affenpinscher chase off a grizzly! 

Affenpinschers can be willful, but it’s almost always entertaining — and with proper puppy training, they do well in small spaces. 

To keep Monkey Dogs happy, humans should brush their dense, shaggy coat two or three times a week with a brush and metal comb. Thankfully, their hair doesn’t grow quickly, and they only shed seasonally. But Affens need regular nail cuttings and teeth brushings. 

The breed got its start in Germany’s stables of the 1600s. They served as ratters by day and companions by night. As such, if you have a hamster, gerbil, or ferret, do NOT get an Affenpinscher because their rodent-hunting roots remain!

Affenpinschers: Wookies or Ewoks?

In some regions of the Internet, Star Wars fanciers aggressively argue about Affenpinschers’ galactic counterparts: Wookies or Ewoks? 

Learn more about Affenpinschers here.

Affenpinscher - one of the best apartment dogs - puppy in grass
Affenpinschers are hypoallergenic and considered one of the best dogs for apartment living.

#2 Dog for Apartment: American Eskimo Dogs 

  • AKC Dog Personality Description for American Eskimo Dog: Playful, Perky, Smart
  • Average Height for American Eskimo Dog: 9 to 12 inches (toy), 12 to 15 inches (miniature), 15 to 19 inches (standard)
  • Average Weight for American Eskimo Dog: 6 to 10 pounds (toy), 10 to 20 pounds (miniature), 25 to 35 pounds (standard)

American Eskimo Dogs are a solid choice for apartment dwellers looking for a medium-sized pooch. With their white fur and lion-like tuft around the shoulders and chest, American Eskimo Dogs are dignified beauties. 

But their name is deceptive. First Nations peoples in North America had nothing to do with breeding American Eskimo Dogs. Instead, they were a breed favored by German immigrants. However, once WWII hit, the name was changed to “American Eskimo” to avoid any association with the Axis alliance. 

Brainy American Eskimo Dogs form strong bonds with family members and are great with kids — but reserved with strangers.

To keep them looking fly, American Eskimo Dogs need brushings about three times a week. Conveniently, they only require about four baths a year. As for shedding…it’s seasonal. 

Some American Eskimo Dogs Can Walk Tightropes

A famous American Eskimo Dog named Pierre toured with the Barnum and Bailey Circus in the 1930s. His specialty? Tightrope walking.

Read more about American Eskimo Dogs here.

American Eskimo dog laying in leaves on the ground.
American Eskimo Dogs need to be brushed about three times a week, but they only require about four baths a year.

#3 Dog for Apartment: Basenji

  • AKC Dog Personality Description for Basenji: Independent, Smart, Poised
  • Average Height for Basenji: 16 to 17 inches
  • Average Weight for Basenji: 22 to 24 pounds

Known as “Africa’s Barkless Dog,” Basenjis are graceful, regal, catlike canines. Bonafide “cult dogs,” Basenji owners are passionate about their babies. And the enthusiasm is warranted because the breed is truly unique. They stride like horses, groom like cats, and yodel like artisan Alpine shepherds! The cherry on top? They don’t emit “doggie smell.”

Basenjis short coats are easy to maintain — which is a great quality in apartment dogs. A quick weekly brushing with a rubber grooming mitt, soft-bristle brush, or hound glove does the trick. They only shed occasionally and don’t need baths unless they get into a mess.

Be aware, though, that Basenjis are very active. Both outside and indoor play times are musts. So if you’re not prepared to hit up the doggie park daily, play roll the ball at home, or go for brisk walks with your four-legged pal, consider another breed.

Basenjis Have Ancient Roots

Basenjis are believed to be among the first domesticated dog breeds. Kings and pharaohs from the Nile and interior Africa exchanged the animals as gifts. Basenjis are frequently depicted in ancient Egyptian, Babylonian, and Mesopotamian art.

Read more about Basenji Dogs here.

Basenji sitting on a window sill.
Known as “Africa’s Barkless Dog,” Basenjis are graceful, regal, catlike canines.

#4 Dog for Apartment: Basset Fauve de Bretagne 

  • AKC Dog Personality Description for Basset Fauve de Bretagne: Smart, Cheerful, Determined
  • Average Height for Basset Fauve de Bretagne: 12.5 to 15.5 inches
  • Average Weight for Basset Fauve de Bretagne: 27 to 35 pounds

They may have grand-sounding names, but these little bullets are fast, friendly, and eager to please their masters. With their big floppy ears and golden-tan fur, Basset Fauve de Bretagnes are also adorable.

What’s the downside? Breeders engineered Basset Fauve de Bretagnes to scent-hunt rabbits — an instinct that still guides their doggie souls. If they sense a rodent near-by, they will bolt! That’s why these sprinters need to be leashed when out for walks.

Basset Fauve de Bretagnes aren’t nuisance barkers, and they love learning tricks, which can easily be done in an apartment. Keep in mind that these French beauties are also highly intelligent and need mental stimulation as much as physical fun.

They’re super with children, other dogs, and cats. Plus, they find nothing more satisfying than curling up with their humans after a long day.

To keep their coarse, wiry coats — which naturally repel dirt — in shape, brush weekly with a fine-toothed comb and stiff brush. Basset Fauve de Bretagnes shed seasonally, and it’s very manageable. 

Basset Fauve de Bretagne puppy chewing on a pink rope toy.
Basset Fauve de Bretagne dogs don’t bark frequently and love learning new tricks.

#5 Dog for Apartment: Bichon Frise

  • AKC Dog Personality Description for Bichon Frise: Playful, Curious, Peppy
  • Average Height for Bichon Frise: 9.5 to11.5 inches
  • Average Weight for Bichon Frise: 12 to 18 pounds

Bichon Frises are hypoallergenic, speedy, gregarious, and look like bags of cotton balls! Happy-go-lucky and plucky, these small canines have never met a stranger. They’re so friendly they don’t like to be left alone for long periods.

Though Bichon Frises don’t shed much, they’re a bit high maintenance. Not only do they need daily brushings, but they require two baths a month and trips to the groomers every four to six weeks.

Bichon Frises are somewhat active and typically do well with three walks a day. Indoor play sessions also fulfill their needs.

But beware: Bichon Frise can be challenging to housebreak. They have tiny bladders that fill up quickly — plus independent streaks. The combination can lead to some unfortunate incidents early on. However, puppy training usually corrects the problem.

Street Performers Saved the Bichon Frise Breed from Ruin

Bichon Frises first emerged on the Canary Islands and were favored by European nobility from the 1200s on. But when monarchies went out of style in the 18th century, so did the poor Bichon Frise. Many found themselves homeless like their once aristocratic masters. Thankfully, street performers took pity on the irresistible little lap dogs and incorporated the four-paws into their performances.

Click here to learn more about Bichon Frise.

Bichon Frise dog standing on concrete steps covered in leaves.
Bichon Frises are somewhat active and typically do well with three walks a day.

#6 Dog for Apartment: Biewer Terrier 

  • AKC Dog Personality Description for Biewer Terrier: Intelligent, Devoted, Amusing
  • Average Height for Biewer Terrier: 7 to 11 inches
  • Average Weight for Biewer Terrier: 4 to 8 pounds

Biewer — pronounced “beaver” — Terriers are all about giving and receiving love. Yes, their long, silky coats need daily brushing, and you may even need to style their hair in barrettes to keep the fringe under control. Also, their nails and ears need regular checking. But all the effort is worth it!

Biewers are dainty, sociable, calm — and surprisingly athletic. However, they’re more likely to enjoy leisurely play dates in the park with their bestie instead of intense hikes. Even a walk through apartment halls is good enough for Biewers on a lazy day. These babies also have sensitive tummies and must eat quality food. They do best on lamb- and fish-based foods. 

What makes them one of the best apartment dogs is their aversion to barking. They only do it in rare circumstances to alert about something unexpected.

Learn more about the Biewer Terrier here.

A Biewer Terrier with a red bow sitting near purple flowers.
Biewer Terriers are ideal apartment dogs because they rarely bark.

#7 Dog for Apartment: Bolognese

  • AKC Dog Personality Description for Bolognese: Playful, Easy-Going, Devoted
  • Average Height for Bolognese: 10 to12 inches
  • Average Weight for Bolognese: 5.5 to 9 pounds

An easy-going, Italian breed, Bolognese are serene, devoted, and very friendly. But they love to be around people so much they suffer from extreme separation anxiety. In fact, being away every weekday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. is no good. Bolognese need humans who work from home or take them to the office daily.

These gorgeous pups have white, wavy curly fur that needs brushing two to three times per week, but only occasional baths. Another positive is that they hardly ever shed.

Italian Renaissance Nobles Were Bonkers About Bolognese

Italian Renaissance aristocrats dug Bolognese dogs, and gave the pups as gifts. In 1668, Cosimo de Medici sent eight Bologneses to influential families in Brussels via royal courier.

Click here to learn more about Bolognese.

Bolognese sticking her tongue out
Bolognese require humans who work from home or take them to the office daily.

#8 Dog for Apartment: Bulldog 

  • AKC Dog Personality Description for Bulldog: Friendly, Courageous, Calm 
  • Average Height for Bulldog: 14 to 15 inches
  • Average Weight for Bulldog: 40 to 50 Pounds

Is there any dog breed more recognizable than the Bulldog? With their “sourmugs,” wrinkly bruiser physiques, smooth glossy coats, and smooshy noses, Bulldogs are synonymous with courage and tenacity. Plus, they do very well living in apartments. 

To keep their short coats looking good, they’ll need a soft-brush combing two or three times a week. Additionally, it’s essential to check under their wrinkles and nails often. Moreover, they shed regularly, so it’s best to use a rubber curry brush for daily grooming during those times.

What makes Bulldogs one of the best dogs for apartments is their mellow attitudes. Plus, they’re not big barkers.

But they do enjoy walks and playing at home. Bulldogs love to chew on things, so make sure to stock up on toys. However, if you live somewhere warm, Bulldogs probably aren’t the best breed for you because it’s difficult for them to breathe in hot, humid weather.

Bulldogs: From Brutes to Docile Babies

Bulldogs originated in 13th-century England, during King John’s reign, for the “sport” of bull-baiting. Thankfully, in 1835, UK lawmakers banned the “sport.” Since then, breeders have transformed the stocky pups from brawler to best-bud companion.

Click here to learn more about bulldogs.

Cute brown, black, and white English Bulldog puppies
Bulldogs have mellow attitudes, rarely bark, and love to chew.

#9 Dog for Apartment: Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen 

  • AKC Dog Personality Description for Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen: Alert, Happy, Vivacious 
  • Average Height for Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen: 13 to 15 inches
  • Average Weight for Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen: 25 to 40 pounds

The last pick on our best dogs for apartments list in the Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen. That’s a mouthful! Let’s break it down: Petit means small, Basset means low, Griffon means rough-coated, and Vendéen references the region of France where they originated.

These small, happy hunting hounds love to be around other animals and their humans. As a hunting breed, they aim to please and can adjust to just about any environment. And while they have a loud hound bark, they keep it under tight control when adequately trained. However — and though friendly — Petit Bassets can be stubborn, and training may be slow going with the energetic breed.

A great companion for hikers, runners, or bikers who live in apartments but get out often, Petit Bassets need lots of exercise to thrive. Also, a complete brushing-out and ear check are weekly musts. But don’t worry if they never look neat; Petit Bassets are supposed to appear tousled. Plus, they don’t shed all that much.

Why Do Petit Basset Griffon Vendéens Have Hearty Coats?

Petit Basset Griffon Vendéens coats are similar to goat hair because breeders wanted a dog that could withstand the harsh weather of the rocky, coastal France.

Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen sitting on a chair in front of Christmas tree.
Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen dogs are a hunting breed that require lots of exercise to thrive.

And that’s our list of the best apartment dogs! Up Next: Top 8 Dogs that Look Like Wolves!

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