Living in an apartment alongside large dog breeds can be pretty challenging.
In addition to the physical space your pet takes up, you’ll have to figure out a way to ensure he gets to get outside and stretch his legs enough. Also, you’ll need to find places to store his bed, kennel, and other belongings.
However, it can be done, and having an apartment doesn’t mean you are restricted to owning only small breeds.
But you aren’t the first owner to share a small space with a big dog, and many have learned a few tips and tricks for making such situations easier.
We’ll talk about some of these below, but first thing’s first: Start on the right foot by selecting some of the best big dogs for apartments and avoiding some of the worst.
By picking good apartment dogs for your situation, you can ensure that your dog is happy and healthy!
Best Large Dog Breeds for Apartments
If you love big dogs but live in the confined small spaces of an apartment, you’ll want to ensure you pick a large dog breed that can thrive in such a setting.
The size of your home is one of the most important factors when selecting a dog breed, so it is imperative you do your research first.
Although this list is far from exhaustive, the following 10 large dog breeds are among the best big dogs for apartment living:
Hailing from China, Shar-Peis have been bred to perform a variety of tasks throughout the history of the breed, from protection work to herding duties.
Modern Shar-Peis are pretty laid back and calm large dogs, and they need relatively little space or exercise. These wrinkled pups are often a bit bristly with strangers and other dogs, so they require proper training and socialization from an early age.
So although Shar-Peis aren’t necessarily the easiest dogs to train, their calm temperament can make them good large dog breeds for apartment dwellers.
2. Irish Wolfhound
Irish Wolfhounds will require a pretty lengthy walk or three to obtain their exercise needs, but they are quiet large dog breeds, do not bark very often, and are usually well-mannered in apartments.
Plus, while the size of an Irish Wolfhound can make them intimidating to many people, their playful expression helps soften their otherwise imposing impression.
An Irish Wolfhound is an extra-large dog breed, but they are quite calm and friendly as well, which might make them good large dog breeds for small spaces.
3. English Bulldog
English bulldogs (or simply bulldogs, as they are now officially named) may not be very tall, but they often reach 50 pounds, which certainly qualifies as a moderately big dog.
Bulldogs are one of the very best large breeds for apartment dwellers, as they require very little exercise and spend most of their time lounging about.
This is a calm dog that doesn’t always enjoy long walks anyways, so you can feel fine about letting them relax and do their thing.
Despite their gargantuan size, Mastiffs are some of the best large dog breeds for apartment life, as they’re essentially couch potatoes.
Of course, they’ll still need to get out and get some exercise on a regular basis, but you won’t have to take them running or biking every day to keep them healthy.
5. Great Dane
Great Danes are gigantic but are easily one of the great apartment dogs for those who love really big dogs. They have relatively low energy levels and are usually content to hang out with you on the couch for lengthy periods of time.
While the Great Dane is generally gentle, they take up a lot of space and will likely crash into stuff from time to time, so they’ll fare better in apartments decorated with a minimalist approach.
Pet owners love Great Danes because they are big, calm, and easygoing, which makes them great large apartment dogs!
6. Standard Poodle
Standard Poodles are one of the smartest dog breeds, second only to the Border Collie in terms of intelligence. That makes it easy to teach them where they are and aren’t allowed if you don’t want your dog on your furniture.
Additionally, they don’t shed much and often don’t bother people’s allergies like other dog breeds.
They do have a lot of energy and need plenty of exercise. The Standard Poodle is also prone to anxiety. If you work a lot, doggie daycare can help burn off some of your Poodle’s energy and prevent separation anxiety.
Even though they stand pretty tall, a healthy Standard Poodle doesn’t weigh much because they’re a skinny breed. Males max out around 70 pounds and females around50 pounds. That comes in handy if your apartment complex has a 75-pound weight limit.
You might think the fastest dog breed would need a backyard to run around in. However, the Greyhound can make a perfect apartment dog as long as they get the opportunity for a daily run.
If you have access to a dog park where your greyhound can run off-leash, a Greyhound will be perfectly happy being a lapdog in your apartment for the rest of the day.
Greyhounds are sensitive dogs who may not tolerate the noise and chaos that tends to come with small kids. They’re great family dogs with kids over the age of eight, though.
The Newfoundland dog tends to be lazy, so you don’t need to worry about them running around your apartment. You do need to make it a point to walk them every day because they are prone to obesity.
Newfies aren’t the cleanest dog breed, though – they drool and shed a lot. Don’t get a Newfoundland if you like to keep your apartment sparkling clean.
If you don’t mind the drooling and shedding, they make wonderful family pets and love kids. Nala from “Peter Pan” was a Newfoundland, if you need an example of how good they are with children.
9. Rhodesian Ridgeback
Looking for a less-common dog breed? The dignified Rhodesian Ridgeback can be a great apartment dog as long they get enough exercise.
Bred to hunt lions and other big game in Africa, the Rhodesian Ridgeback needs plenty of exercise and training from somebody who has experience working with stubborn dog breeds.
They play a little too roughly to be good with small kids. However, they are fiercely loyal and will defend their human pack when necessary.
10. Saint Bernard
The Saint Bernard does quite well with a couple of walks each day and is mellow enough to be a great large dog breed for an apartment.
They are prone to joint problems when they get older, so they may not be a good choice if your apartment is not on the ground floor unless your building has an elevator.
A Saint Bernard is very gentle with children and make a great family pet. They come in short- and long-haired varieties (both of which can shed quite a bit).
5 Worst Big Dogs for Apartments
On the other side of the coin, some dogs are absolutely terrible choices for apartment life, and cohabiting with them inside a tiny apartment will quickly drive you crazy.
Choosing certain dog breeds is not only bad for you but very bad for the dog!
So once again, it is vital that you research what your dog needs and see if you are prepared to offer them that with your living situation.
Here is a list of five of the worst big breeds for living in a small space:
1. German Shorthair Pointers
As their name implies, German Shorthair Pointers were bred to sniff out concealed game birds and point out their location. Accordingly, they have the energy and stamina to walk all day.
It is hard to get them sufficient exercise while living in small dwellings unless you go running every day, and they’re also a bit rambunctious, which can lead to additional headaches.
2. Great Pyrenees
A sheep-guarding breed, Great Pyrenees are not built to live inside an apartment all day – they have a lot of energy, they need a lot of exercise and they want to be outside, hanging out with their family or flock. These are not low-energy dogs!
Additionally, while they do reach larger sizes, they look even bigger than they really are, thanks to their long coat.
This coat also sheds by the fistful, and hair will coat everything you own within a few weeks as if you needed another reason not to have them in your confined dwelling.
3. Siberian Husky
Pity the poor apartment-dwelling husky, who is unable to travel widely and wander at will.
Huskies are undeniably beautiful and their luxurious coats are matched by only a few other breeds, but they are simply poorly suited for life in an apartment.
Huskies need a whole lot of exercise and play-time, and apartment living just won’t provide them with that. They will likely become very anxious and sad.
Goofy, loving and full of energy, Weimaraners are one of the worst large dog breeds to confine in small spaces. Weimaraners were bred to be hunting dogs, that would chase large game for miles at a time.
Obviously, life in an apartment will leave them feeling cramped and anxious.
Rottweilers need plenty of territory to patrol and you’ll need to wear them out on a daily basis to avoid behavioral problems.
Additionally, while they are extremely loving and gentle with their families, Rotties can be quite territorial, which will lead to a lot of barking at people and pets passing by the window.
They can be great dogs under ideal circumstances, but living in a small place is certainly not one of those circumstances.
Dealing with an Apartment’s Breed Size Restrictions
In many cases, it can be difficult to find an apartment that is willing to rent to owners of large dogs.
While many landlords welcome small breeds with open arms, it is getting more and more difficult to find a place willing to accept a large dog breed.
Most complexes set weight limits for dogs in the 20 to 40-pound range, and hardly any will accept really big dogs that weigh more than 75 pounds or so.
However, apartments that will accept your big dog do exist! You’ll just have to accept that you will need to look harder and sacrifice in other areas.
For example, you may be able to find a place willing to take your Saint Bernard, but it may not be as affordable as you’d like or in an ideal location.
Some complexes even embrace big-dog owners, but such places rarely exist outside of large urban centers.
Remember to Negotiate
Don’t forget that you can negotiate with some apartment managers. This isn’t often possible when dealing with nation-wide apartment chains, as they often implement hard-and-fast rules forbidding such dogs.
On the other hand, smaller management firms are often willing to accept your pet if you offer to put down a second deposit or agree to pay slightly more money – essentially, you’ll be paying “pet rent.”
It’s also worth seeing if you can introduce your pup to your potential landlord so that you can show him or her how well trained and sweet your pooch is.
But you’ll need to be positive your dog will be on his best behavior before doing so, otherwise, you may find your attempts to allay the building manager’s fears will backfire.
So while it may be difficult to find a building that is willing to accept these dog breeds, try not to give up hope. It is a fact that you may have to search harder to find a willing renter, but just know that it is possible, and there are apartments out there.
At the end of the day, you will be happy that you spent the extra effort to find a place that is happy to have your dog.
Apartment Dog Breed Restrictions
Unfortunately, a lot of apartment complexes have started implementing breed restrictions. Even worse, many of the breed bans target some of the dogs most appropriate for apartment living.
As anyone familiar with dogs knows, breed-specific restrictions are usually ill-conceived and based on reputation and myth, rather than science or fact. It is an unfortunate reality, but one you will have to accept as an owner of a large dog.
But this doesn’t change the fact that it may be difficult for you to find a property willing to take in your Doberman, Rottweiler or pit bull. Some complexes even extend their breed restrictions to include everything from Cane Corsos to Shar-Peis.
If you don’t yet have a dog, it is probably wise to avoid selecting one of those breeds that frequently appear on these restricted lists; but if you’ve already introduced one of these “scary” dogs to your family, you’ll just have to look harder to find an apartment that accepts them.
This brings up an important point: Be careful when identifying your dog on paperwork as belonging to any breed unless you know for sure what he or she is.
For example, if you roll down to the local shelter and pick up a 60-pound dog that looks somewhat like a pit bull, you’re probably better off identifying it as a mixed breed dog and leaving out your assumptions.
It’s largely impossible to determine the breeds that combined to make most shelter dogs, and most have family trees populated by a variety of different breeds and mixtures thereof.
Accordingly, by simply calling your dog a mutt or mixed breed, you may be able to avoid some difficulties down the line. Therefore, calling your pet a mixed breed dog is probably actually quite accurate, even though it may seem like you are stretching the truth.
Regardless, you should know that it will still likely be difficult to find an apartment for these types of breeds. That is why it is such an important consideration to make before you choose your dog in the first place, if possible. It is an important factor that many people do not think about.
Adapting to Apartment Life With a Big Dog
Living in a small space with any dog – even one of the best large dogs for apartments – will often require you and your pooch to adjust your lifestyle.
Some of the things you’ll need to keep in mind while making the transition include:
If you live in a home with a large-sized yard, you can usually just open up the door to let your pup go in and out throughout the day (you could even install a doggie door to free yourself of this responsibility). However, you’ll need to start walking your dog three to four times each day when you move into a multi-family unit.
Fortunately, most of the best large dogs for apartments are well-behaved during walks. However, not having a yard where the dog can wander on their own will certainly make things more difficult for both you and your pet.
Repetitive barking will not only irritate you, but it will also irritate your neighbors as well. This can lead to complaints and general ill-will among the residents of your unit.
Some dogs are more prone to barking than others, so it makes sense to select a dog that is not a notoriously vocal breed (note that most of the best large dogs for apartments listed above are relatively quiet).
However, you can also use a bark-control collar to help quiet your dog; there are several styles available, including those that deliver a mild shock when your dog barks and those that spray a mist of citronella to distract your dog during a barking frenzy.
Even the best-trained dogs have an occasional accident. While this isn’t necessarily a problem if you can clean up the mess quickly, urine can soak into a carpet or wood floor if it occurs while you are away at work. This is problematic in your own home, but it is even worse in an apartment.
Not only can these problems lead to lingering odors, but they may also cause you to lose your security deposit. So be sure that your dog is very well-trained and able to get outside often enough, to help avoid these problems altogether.
From time to time, even the most well-suited large apartment dogs need to run around the apartment at full speed. This can lead to broken belongings and scratched floors, which will cost you money, and it can also irritate the residents living below you.
To help limit this phenomenon, be sure to get your pup plenty of exercise and stimulation throughout the day. If your dog is able to burn energy on a walk outside, it will be much less likely to act up inside, since it just won’t have the energy!
Final Words on the Best Large Dogs for Apartments
It can be challenging to live alongside a big dog in a relatively small apartment, but that doesn’t mean it is impossible. Just be sure to pick one of the large apartment dogs listed above, get your pup enough exercise to make up for his lack of space and provide him with plenty of stimulation.
A large dog in a small size apartment is a difficult task, not to mention finding one that will accept your large breed in the first place.
However, those that do it find the rewards worth the effort. So if you are a fan of large breeds, know that there is a way to make it work. Just be sure you pick one of the right large breeds, one that is able to be happy in that situation.
What kinds of things have you done to make puppy parenting easier in an apartment? We’d love to hear the strategies that have worked and which ones haven’t. Let us know all about them in the comments below.
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