The Worst Dog Breeds for Apartment Living

  • German shepherd puppies need space.

  • Dachshund

  • Beagle (1999-2010 Peter Kirillov)

  • dog-apartment

  • Border collie

Apartment dwellers who pine for a pooch to greet them with big, sloppy kisses and unconditional adoration at every homecoming need not despair — there are plenty of dog breeds that thrive in small spaces. Don’t listen to the naysayers who say that man’s best friend is happy only when lazing about untamed forests or running wildly through rural fields. But choose wisely, apartment dwellers!

If you’re looking for that perfect canine match, there are also some breeds you should avoid as if they were greedy landlords. Whether because of major exercise needs, a tendency for frantic barking, or an aversion to housebreaking, these dogs usually aren’t suited to life in a confined home with neighbors on all sides.

To avoid ending up with a miserable pooch (and a miserable you by association), think twice before welcoming any of these breeds into your apartment for keeps.

German shepherd

Not only does this large, intelligent breed need more exercise and stimulation than apartment living can provide, its territorial nature can make it downright risky in apartment hallways and elevators.

“A dog doesn’t necessarily understand that the apartment is your turf but the rest of the building isn’t,” says Charlotte Reed, “pet trendologist” and author of ” Miss Fido Manners Complete Book of Dog Etiquette.” “That can be seriously dangerous when a big, territorial dog is in an elevator with a smaller dog.”

Also, German shepherds have acutely sensitive hearing, which can lead them to be upset by noises in adjacent apartments. “Your neighbor’s loud music could really wind the dog up and, at the very least, cause it to bark.” Loudly.


It seems logical that a small space calls for a small pooch, but many small breeds just can’t help yapping when somebody tromps down the hall or walks around in the apartment upstairs. Or for no reason at all. The Yorkshire terrier happens to top this high-decibel list (followed closely by Pomeranians).

“These dogs just inherently bark, especially if you are gone all day,” says Reed. This also means these little dogs can become a special slice of hell to your neighbors.


A Labrador is a high-energy dog that needs a lot of exercise and engagement. So unless you take the pooch out for regular walks and play sessions, your apartment and most of your belongings will suffer the consequences.

“They are likely to act out and damage the apartment through chewing or digging if you don’t exercise them enough,” says Reed. So how much is enough? Too much, city boy.


Because of its small size and moderate exercise needs, this German hound seems like a great apartment dog, but for one little fact: “They are nearly impossible to housebreak entirely,” says Reed. This means if your dachshund doesn’t have easy access to a backyard, your rugs and floors will have to do (at least for them).


A Chihuahua’s shaky little legs don’t require major exercise, but this breed fails the apartment test due to its frequent barking and propensity to do its business indoors. Unless you are home all day and able to give your Chihuahua lots of potty breaks (or can take the dog with you in a purse, la Paris Hilton), it isn’t the best choice.


This friendly and gregarious breed is hard-wired to bay, which is a distinctive howling noise that many hunting dogs make. The baying is certain to drive your neighbors completely nuts. If you work from home and can give your beagle long walks, you could possibly make it work; however, if you plan to leave the dog at home all day, you can probably count on frequent complaints from the stay-at-home residents.

Border collie

The ultimate working dog, the border collie is bred to herd, which means it’s alert to noises and needs lots of activity.

“A border collie might pace back and forth and go slightly insane when cooped up in an apartment,” says Reed. Plus its primal instinct to herd can cause problems if it’s used on young children or other dogs in your building.


Like the border collie, this French herding dog might nip at children or other dogs in your building’s public spaces. According to the American Kennel Club, “This breed needs more exercise than just walks on lead. If you don’t have a fenced yard, it’s imperative to find a safe place where he can run and exercise to promote his physical and mental well-being.”

A dog that doesn’t have huge exercise needs, doesn’t bark much, won’t nip in an elevator, and is easily housebroken might seem like a tall order, but great apartment dogs do exist.

If you like cute “toy” breeds, a Maltese is a better option than a Yorkie or Pomerian. The AKC calls it the most “gentle mannered” of little dogs, and while it’s playful, it doesn’t have major exercise requirements. Reed also recommends the English toy spaniel, French bulldog, and Cavalier King Charles spaniel for apartment dwellers.

If you’re a fan of big dogs, don’t despair. The Saint Bernard, Newfoundland, and even Great Dane can make good apartment dogs.

“These big dogs do need regular exercise, but they don’t need to run constantly and can be quite mellow when they’re in your apartment between walks,” says Reed.

For more suggestions read The Best Dog Breeds for Apartment Living.

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