10 Best Medium-Sized Dogs for Apartment Living

best dogs for apartment living

NotABully.org is reader-supported. We may earn a small commission through products purchased using links on this page.

Although most people dream of living in a single-family home with a large yard and white-picket-fence, the majority of us will find ourselves in an apartment at some point in our lives. Even if your landlord allows you to own dogs, not having a yard sadly limits the types of furry friends that will happily cohabitate with you. In fact, many breeds are outright banned in some complexes.

Thankfully, there are certain breeds that thrive with an apartment lifestyle. While most consider toy breeds for apartment pets, those of us who love medium-sized dogs still have quite a few choices.

The best medium-sized dogs for apartment living are typically non-sporting dogs such as bulldogs and poodles. Although breeds from all groups may do well in an apartment, those that are able to get enough exercise without needing a yard, are relatively quiet, and are even-tempered are the best fit.

This article will outline what traits make a good apartment dog as well as 10 great choices for your future apartment companion.

Important Traits of A Good Apartment Breed

Whether or not a dog is happy in an apartment comes down to the individual dog and how it is cared for. That said, certain breeds tend to outshine others in terms of thriving in an apartment lifestyle. Several key traits should be taken into account while picking the breed of your apartment pup.

Low Exercise Needs

Some dogs like to run marathons and others prefer chasing sheep in their sleep. When it comes to picking a good apartment dog, exercise needs are a major consideration.

Many energetic small breeds may be able to sufficiently get their energy out with a few play sessions around your apartment.  On the other hand, putting a big pup like a Rottweiler with big exercise requirements in a tiny space can be a recipe for a ruined apartment and miserable dog.

Without a large yard to play in, medium breeds appropriate for apartment living are sadly uncommon. Thankfully, there are plenty of exceptions to be found as long as you can do some careful research.

Low Noise Level

You might not mind your dog’s barking, but your neighbors sure will! Many apartment dwellers can relate to being kept up late at night by their neighbor’s yapping dog, or pulling out their hair every time they pass by a certain neighbor’s door.

An annoyed neighbor could easily issue a noise complaint on you and your pup. This could not only lead to fines and fights, but your landlord may request that you or your furry friend find a new home. Rather than trying to constantly quiet a louder breed, it makes more sense to seek out breeds that are less prone to excessive barking in the first place.

Sweet Temperament

No matter how small or lazy they may be, every dog has some exercise requirements. Even if you’ve managed to train your dog to use an indoor pee pad, all apartment dogs still require being let out on a leash at some point during the day.

During your daily walks, you and your dog will likely become acquainted with all sorts of human and canine neighbors. Ideally, this will go over with as little growling and biting as possible!

While breed alone does not determine aggression, you may have a harder time socializing some dogs over others. Certain breeds are more prone to being wary of strangers, and some are more excitable and difficult to handle.

In the matter of apartment dogs, naturally obedient and even-tempered breeds are typically the best choice.

Top 10 Best Medium-Sized Dogs For Apartment Living

Although a handful of medium-sized breeds fit the above criteria, these 10 breeds are especially recommended for those of us in apartments.

1. English Bulldog

Who wouldn’t want an English Bulldog? Their muscular body, goofy nature, and famously smooshed face are impossible not to adore.

But for as lovable as the breed is, Bulldogs are prone to a variety of health issues that make air-conditioned indoor living a requirement. Thankfully, this friendly breed shines as an apartment companion.

Bulldogs are calm dogs with relatively low exercise requirements. A brisk daily walk (or in the case of a Bulldog, waddle) is enough to wear out this pup, and as long as they receive moderate exercise, English Bulldogs are happy to lounge around for the rest of the day.

Bulldogs are a gregarious breed who are known for their laid-back, silly temperament, so your neighbors are sure to enjoy seeing your dog from time to time. Plus, that big mouth of theirs is more likely to be snoring than barking.

Though they may look intimidating with their large jaws and stocky frame, Bulldogs are bred to be natural pacifists and don’t make the best guard dogs for a reason. With an English Bulldog, you should be more concerned about drooling than upsetting your neighbors!

2. Whippet

With a sporty build and astonishing running speeds, a whippet might seem like a bizarre pick for an apartment dog. But as any whippet owner can tell you, this sighthound breed is surprisingly calm and gentle-natured. Whippets were bred to chase small animals like hares in open fields, relying on sheer speed and agility to catch their prey.

Accordingly, whippets do require regular exercise, but like greyhounds, they prefer to exercise in intense spurts. In other words, a brief sprint or vigorous game of fetch (the ChuckIt toy is perfect for this breed) is more fitting for a whippet than a long jog.

As long as they are exercised properly, whippets are rarely the sort to wreak havoc when you leave the house. Instead, they tend to prefer napping or relaxing for most of the day, making them perfect for apartment living.

Additionally, whippets are known to be a very quiet breed. Because they have an affectionate and gentle nature, socialized whippets are excellent with children and other dogs. Although they may be shy with strangers, they are not known for any aggressive tendencies.

Without much of a bark or a bite, whippets make an excellent addition to any apartment.

3. Basset Hound

It’s hard to mistake this remarkable pup for any other breed. Even at an average 40-65 pound weight, basset hounds are incredibly short and low to the ground. In fact, the word “basset” roughly translates to “rather low set” in French! In addition to their short legs, basset hounds are recognizable by their droopy ears and almost clown-like appearance.

Every strange trait of this dog is useful to this smelling machine. A basset hound’s long ears stir up air to its nose as it walks around, and the folds of its face help hold them in. The only dog that can beat a basset hound in terms of raw sniffing ability is a bloodhound!

This hound isn’t necessarily confined to rural hunting grounds– they actually are excellent apartment dogs.

Unless they’re on the trail of some elusive prey or on their daily walk, basset hounds tend to be about as relaxed as they look. Though they are stubborn at times, basset hounds are typically a laid-back breed with a charming disposition.

Like any other hound, this breed can have impressive and commanding bark. That said, Basset hounds often bay and howl more than they bark, typically in response to prey. Without too many critters running around, an indoor Basset hound is likely to be relatively quiet.

Basset hounds have relatively low exercise requirements, but they will always appreciate a nice, steady walk to use their powerful nose.

4. French Bulldog

With a goofy smile, amusing “bat ears” and a loving personality, bulldogs soared up to become America’s second most popular breed.

At 20-24 pounds, French Bulldogs may be smaller than English bulldogs, but they’re equally clownish and fun-loving.

Unlike most breeds, French Bulldogs adore the great indoors, so short walks are enough to keep this breed satisfied. Although a bit of rough-housing every now and then is plenty of fun for a French Bulldog, it enjoys lounging around and cuddling more than going on jogs.

Furthermore, French Bulldogs make all sorts of strange and expressive noises, but barking is not a common one. As a naturally affectionate and social breed, neighbors are sure to receive more licks than barks from a Frenchie. Unfortunately, this strong desire to be around humans means they are prone to separation anxiety.

With a set of jaws about as powerful as they look, a freaked-out Frenchie can do a lot of damage. While their jaws may not be as strong as Rottweiler’s or a Pittie’s, it’s still important to keep your Frenchie preoccupied when you are out of the house, as is addressing any signs of anxiety. Other than that, French Bulldogs are prime examples of a great apartment breed.

5. Poodle

A toy poodle is an obvious pick for an apartment dog, but don’t discount their standard variant. Even standard poodles can do well in an apartment due to their adaptable and obedient nature. As an intelligent and athletic breed, poodles require plenty of exercise to be happy. If not properly exercised, destructive behaviors and excessive barking are a strong possibility.

Thankfully, your poodle will happily take any form of exercise or play and will especially enjoy a swim. As long as their energy needs are met, the poodle is a relatively calm and inactive apartment dweller.

Obedient and eager to please, a poodle is not typically an aggressive breed or apt guard dog. Instead, the loving breed prefers to be a family companion and is excellent with young children. Shedding is a non-existent problem with poodles, though their famously curly coats do require frequent grooming in exchange.

Unfortunately, poodles typically bark more than other dogs on this list, so mental stimulation such as puzzle toys (this is one of my favorite options) is a must to keep this dog happy and at a reasonable volume level while you are out.

Smaller poodles (like the toy variety) are also a great choice and even made the list of the best breeds for flying with toy poodles being small enough to fly in the cabin with you!

6. Keeshond

Few dogs are as people-oriented as the delightful Smiling Dutchman. Keeshonden (yes, that’s actually the plural form of Keeshond) are known to issue the occasional bark when someone enters their territories. Even then, they will quickly fall head over tail for even a stranger!

Their gentle, empathetic natures have made Keeshonden famous as comfort dogs, such as Tikva, who comforted hundreds of victims and rescue workers at ground zero.

Despite their loving nature, Keeshonden are excellent watchdogs, so keeping your pooch trained and preoccupied is key to avoiding noise complaints.

Keeshonden are active dogs who thrive when given a job. They excel with obedience training and require plenty of mental stimulation. Chances are, if you don’t give your Keeshond a job, it will invent its own, often in the form of chewing or digging.

But as long as you provide them with daily exercise, Keeshonden will happily lounge around with their family.

For as handsome as their double coats make Keeshonden, they shed immense amounts at least twice a year and should never be shaved. If weekly brushing isn’t your preference, it would be best to look for another breed.

7. Chow Chow

Blue-tongued and maned like a lion, Chow Chows are quite an eye-catching breed.

Despite their size, chow chows are good apartment dogs. Chow Chows may look the part when it comes to their regal and reserved personalities, but their muscular, heavy-boned body betrays a surprisingly low energy level.

Chow Chows were historically bred as an all-purpose working dog, but modern Chow Chow breeders emphasize their loyal nature and dignified appearance. The average Chow Chow nowadays is considered an excellent apartment dog due to its quiet, clean nature and low exercise requirements.

As regal as their massive coats make Chow Chows, they are highly prone to overheating. This means Chow Chows prefer staying indoors, and short morning or evening walks are best for this noble breed.

Despite being a basal breed, Chow Chows are distinctively not dog-like in temperament. Instead, Chow Chows are known to be cat-like and independent, so tearing up your apartment due to separation anxiety isn’t likely with this breed.

One important thing to keep in mind is that Chow Chows are naturally reserved towards strangers and can become aggressive if socialization is neglected. It is important to give your dog socialization early on, but also be aware that this process is long and ongoing for owning a Chow Chow.

8. American Eskimo Dog

Like Poodles, this German Spitz comes in three sizes. But at a maximum of 35 pounds, even the standard American Eskimo Dog is petite enough to be happy in a small home.

Aside from being downright adorable, American Eskimo Dogs have a lot to offer as an apartment breed and family dog.

The average Eskie will drown family and neighbors alike with seemingly endless affection. The playful but gentle breed is excellent with children and other dogs alike.

To call this dog obedient and people-pleasing would be an understatement– this breed has a long history as a circus performer, among other things!

American Eskimo dogs are beloved for their energetic, happy nature and require plenty of daily exercise. An unexercised Eskie is prone to excessive barking, so plenty of walks and playtime should be added to the agenda.

While the cons of having an American Eskimo dog for an apartment pet are few and far between, it is worth noting that Eskies can shed. A lot. Your apartment may be easily manageable for most of the year, but American Eskimo dogs shed heavily twice a year during the transition from summer to winter and vice versa. In other words, a nice vacuum that can handle a bit of fur is a mandatory purchase for any owner of this breed.

9. Corgi

Corgis are on the short end of the medium-dog spectrum, literally. With Pembroke Corgis maxing out at 12″ at the shoulders and Cardigan Corgis at 12.5″, Corgis earn their Welsh title as “dwarf dog.”

But whether they are of the Cardigan or Pembroke variety, Corgis have something of a cult following for a reason. These adorable, iconic-looking dogs are fun-loving and incredibly playful.

Corgis might look as cuddly as a toy, but they are actually a herding breed with excellent speed, agility, and intelligence. This means they require high amounts of exercise, so only an active owner should consider picking up this pooch.

As herding dogs, Corgis are highly social and mischievous little dogs who live by the mantra of work hard, play harder. Despite their intelligent nature, Corgis can be a challenge to train due to their obstinance alone. But under a firm but gentle hand, Corgis excel in all sorts of sports and tricks.

Corgis are a talkative and watchful breed, and often bark to alert you of strangers or simply communicate. With an unexercised and unsupervised Corgi, this can quickly become excessive.

But if you can handle the challenge that this little troublemaker gives, you’ll find an affectionate and loyal breed that you and your neighbors are sure to love.

10. Shiba Inu

You may not guess by looking at them, but Shiba Ibus are hardy dogs who were historically used to hunt in the mountains of Japan. Shiba Inu roughly translates to “brushwood dog,” with one major theory being that this breed was named for the rough terrain it was used to flush prey from. Nowadays, this small breed has adapted to living in small spaces and has a considerably calmer temperament.

Shiba Inus have won a devoted fanbase across the internet and account for 80% of all dog breeds kept in Japan. But don’t be fooled by their cute face– this stubborn breed can wreak havoc if left unattended.

Shiba Inus are a talkative breed who have characteristic “shibe screams” when excited, but for the most part, they are quiet during the day. This independent Japanese breed can handle time alone and will happily lay around all day as a non-working breed.

Although your apartment will be covered in fur during their biannual shed, Shiba Inus are highly clean and groom themselves like cats. Outside of seasonal shedding, Shiba Inus are low maintenance in terms of grooming and won’t make your apartment smell like dogs.

Under the care of an experienced owner who provides them with plenty of training and exercise, Shiba Inus can make hilarious and adorable apartment dogs.

Other Things To Consider When Picking an Apartment Dog

Even after you decide what sort of breed you want, there are still plenty of things to work out before you get your new furry friend. While you figure out things such as diet or budget, there are several major things to remember.

You Should Provide A Daily Structure

Like us, dogs are creatures of habit. Many owners know to have designated times and locations to let their dogs out while potty training, but keeping up this habit once your dog has stopped dirtying your floor is not as common.

Consistency is great for a dog’s mental health. Knowing that they will be fed in the mornings and be let out three times a day can bring a lot of comfort to a dog in this scary world.

There is a delicate balance when it comes to routine, however.

Having too strict of a schedule can cause a dog to panic in the instance something breaks that routine. But even when an exact routine is adhered to, it can still cause anxiety by prolonging dread every time you get ready to go.

What’s more important than an exact schedule for your dog is having a rough and flexible structure that incorporates daily exercise, play, and naps!

Walks Are A Must

No matter the size or breed, dogs are not designed to sit around all day. Letting your dog on a walk isn’t just about giving them the chance for a bathroom break– walks have a massive impact on your dog’s health by reducing the likelihood of obesity and keeping your dog’s joints healthy.

Many owners can get away with shorter walks due to having large yards for their dogs to run around in, but apartment owners do not have this luxury. Some apartments do come equipped with doggy play areas, but taking your dog out on a leash is still necessary.

Wild wolves can easily walk up to 30 miles a day, so daily exploration is instinctual for your confined pup. It’s only natural that a confined dog would develop disruptive habits like barking or tearing things up!

Plus, walking can be a great bonding or training opportunity for you and your dog, and you can get in better shape too! 

Every Dog Is Unique

After reading through this list, you may be typing a certain breed into a pet adoption site or be preparing to send out an email to a breeder. Before you get too hasty, there’s something that is critical to remember when looking for a pet: every dog is unique.

Researching a potential breed is always an excellent idea to provide insight into potential health issues or care requirements, but no dog is guaranteed to act a certain way just because of its breed. There are many stubborn poodles and affectionate Chow Chows out there, even if they are considered the exception to the rule.

You should get to know your dog before bringing it home and take care to assess its individual personality before deciding to make it an apartment pet.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, this article has given you an idea of where to start for picking out your new best friend. While the above breeds are all great choices, any dog that you can properly exercise and keep at a low volume can do well in an apartment. Be sure to do plenty of research about whatever breed you are considering and meet your future pup in advance.

Let us know what you think: what medium-sized breed would you pick to live in an apartment?