best big dogs for apartments

5 Best Big Dogs for Apartments (and 5 Worst Apartment Dog Breeds!)

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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, and 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 apartment 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 large 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 Dogs for Apartment Living

If you love big dogs but live in the confined spaces of an apartment, you’ll want to ensure you pick a dog breed that can thrive in such a setting. The size of your home is one of the most important factors when selecting a breed, so it is imperative you do your research first.

Although this list is far from exhaustive, the following five dog breeds are among the best big dogs for apartment living:

best large dogs for apartments

1. Shar-Pei

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 quite an ideal large dog breed for apartment dwellers.

best big apartment dogs

2. Irish Wolfhound

Irish Wolfhounds will require a pretty lengthy walk or three to obtain their exercise needs, but they are quiet dog breeds, do not bark very often, and are usually well-mannered in apartments. Plus, while their size can make them intimidating to many people, their playful expression helps soften their otherwise imposing impression.

These are very big dogs, but they are quite calm and friendly as well, which might make them ideal for small spaces.

best breeds for apartment living

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 large dog.

Bulldogs are one of the very best large breeds for apartment life, 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.

best apartment dogs large

4. Mastiff

Despite their gargantuan size, Mastiffs are some of the best big dogs 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.

big dogs for apartment

5. Great Dane

Great Danes are gigantic but are easily one of the top 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 Danes are 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!

best big dog for an apartment

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 large breeds for apartment living:

large apartment dogs

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 an apartment unless you go running every day, and they’re also a bit rambunctious, which can lead to additional headaches.

Great Pyrenees

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 large 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 apartment.

Siberian Husky

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.


4. Weimaraner

Goofy, loving and full of energy, Weimaraners are one of the worst breeds to confine to an apartment. 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.


5. Rottweiler

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 apartment living is certainly not one of those circumstances.

worst large dogs for apartments

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 apartment 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 large 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 an apartment 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.

big breeds best for apartment living

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 dog a mixed breed 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.

big apartment dog

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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