Wednesday, December 23, 2009
By Ruthie Bently
I have been in the retail pet industry for over twenty-five years now, and have seen many different dog breeds living with their owners in apartments. I have also seen many lists of dogs that are “suitable” for apartment living, and they included sizes from toys to giants. Then I realized one simple fact (at least for me); the best dog is the one that is right for you! In other words, if you love a dog, then you will do what you can to make it work. I lived with my first American Staffordshire Terrier in a small home with a postage stamp sized yard.
Whatever kind of dog you choose, there are a few things you should consider if you live in an apartment. Are dogs allowed in your building? Is there a limit to the size or weight of dog you can have? Do you need to put down a deposit? Do you need to supply references to the building owner? If you live in an apartment, are you willing to take the dog out at 3:00 AM to go potty? I actually had clients that lived with three Great Danes in a third floor walk up and they were very happy, but that isn’t for everyone. You should consider the dog’s daily exercise needs and energy level. How will they interact with others (pets, people and kids) in a small space? What is their temperament like? Are they hard to groom, and how trainable are they? What is their excitability level? Are they a barker and will they go off like a firecracker if they hear a noise in the hall?
Everything I have read agrees that any dog in an apartment needs exercise every day. This can help curtail boredom and the problem of having an over exuberant dog racing around the apartment when you get home. You don’t need a yard to own a dog, but the dog still needs daily exercise. A bored dog can do a lot of damage to your belongings and the apartment. There are several alternatives to a yard, including dog parks, public parks, hiking paths and dog walkers or exercisers. You could join a flyball or Disc Dog team and practice every day.
So which dog breeds are the best for apartment living? Small to medium breeds usually do better, as they need less exercise and may be less rambunctious. Some of the smaller breeds that may work for you are: Basset Hound, Bichon Frise, Bulldog (French or English), Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Chihuahua, Chinese Crested, Cockapoo, Corgi, Dachshund, English Toy Spaniel, Italian Greyhound, Lhasa Apso, Maltese, Miniature Pinscher, Papillion, Pekingese, Pomeranian, Poodle (Miniature, Toy, or Standard), Pug, Shih Tzu, Schnauzer, Poodle, and Terriers such as Australian, Boston, Bull, Manchester, Scottish, West Highland White and Yorkshire.
As to a list of larger dogs suitable for apartment living, I hesitate to suggest too many (other than the Greyhound, which is a great couch potato). Here are some larger size dogs that, with the proper amount of daily exercise, might do okay in an apartment: Akita, Chow Chow, Collie, Boxer, Bullmastiff or Mastiff, Doberman Pinscher, German Shepherd, Great Dane, Newfoundland, Old English Sheepdog, Rottweiler, Saint Bernard, Samoyed, Shar Pei and Springer Spaniel.
Regardless of size, dog breeds with higher energy levels should be considered carefully. If not properly exercised and well-trained, these dogs can be unpredictable and can do unbelievable damage in a short amount of time. Smaller breeds can sometimes be trained to a litter box or pheromone scented papers, which can be helpful late at night. Some breeds are more prone to barking or making mischief than others. My best advice to you is to research breed characteristics before you adopt a dog. These are only my guidelines and you should pick the dog that is best for you and your lifestyle. You might also wish to check your local shelter to see if anyone has recently given up a dog that lived in an apartment. This way you not only get a dog used to living in an apartment, you are also saving a life.
Read more articles by Ruthie Bently