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In Universal Pictures’ “The Secret Life of Pets,” a cast of dogs — including a terrier mix, pomeranian, basset hound, pug and dachshund — live large in their New York City apartments.

The setting of the comedy poses an interesting question: When it comes to dogs living happily ever after in apartments, is it a tall tail (we couldn’t help it) or practical? And, which breeds do the best?

As it turns out, dogs — even some of the larger breeds — can do great in apartments so long as they get enough exercise, experts say.

That’s good news given the number of people renting their homes is the highest it’s been in at least 50 years, according to U.S. Census Bureau data that was analyzed by the Pew Research Center. In fact, the number of households renting increased from 31.2 percent in 2006 to 36.6 percent in 2016, the most recent figures show.

Also, many families are living in apartments in the short-term while waiting for housing inventory to catch up. Short on space and need a place to stash your belongings (along with Fido’s Halloween costume, doggles and summer hiking paw pads)? Let Closetbox help. We’ll pick up your items for free, and, just like a good game of fetch, bring them right back to you when you need them.

Here’s what dogs do great in apartments.


Mastiffs are great dogs for apartments and condominiums, says Nicole Ellis, pet expert and certified dog trainer with, a dog-walking and home dog boarding service. “While puppies can be active, Mastiffs do mellow out quickly and with a nice walk each day will be very content snoozing in your smaller living place,” she says. Fair warning, Ellis says: Be ready to clean up some drool!



These friendly, outgoing pups love playtime, but have no special exercise needs and only bark when necessary, according to the American Kennel Club. Combined, those traits make this breed one of the best dogs for apartment dwellers, according to the AKC.

dog house, havanese

Basset Hounds

They usually weigh between 50 to 70 pounds, Ellis says, but they’re compact and known to be “loafers,” says Ellis. They are content sitting on the couch and watching television with their humans.

Basset hound

Irish Wolfhounds

“These are one of my favorite breeds,” Ellis says. “They’re extremely sweet and calm dogs, making them ideal for an apartment.” One caveat: They tend to be leggy and long, so always be sure to watch where you’re stepping in case your wolfhound is sleeping underfoot, Ellis says.

Irish Wolfhound

Bichon Frise

These dogs are bred to be hypoallergenic, and their curly white coats hardly ever shed. They get short bursts of energy, which are balanced out by their cuddly nature, according to the AKC. Bichon Frise dogs are bundles of energy, so they’ll need daily walks and playtime whether they live in an apartment or house.
bichon frise

Great Danes

Believe it or not, these dogs can make great apartment pets, Ellis says. “While they may physically take up more space than most breeds, they’re known for being gentle giants,” she says. “Their loving, calm demeanor makes them perfect for small-space living.”


Both French and English bulldogs tend to be relaxed, low-energy pooches that don’t need much space to be content, says Meg Marrs, who runs the dog care website K9 of Mine. “Of course, just because your dog isn’t itching to run five miles every day, doesn’t mean that he or she doesn’t need exercise,” says “Even low-energy dogs should get at least two 10 to 15 minute walks around the neighborhood each day.”


Shih Tzu

These lively and alert dogs aren’t big barkers, and enjoy human companionship. They also landed on the AKC’s list of best “apartment dogs.” Daily walks and indoor playtime will satisfy this short-legged dog, according to the AKC.

Shih tzu



While many breeds were bred for specific tasks, like hunting, pugs have had a different kind of task throughout the years. They were bred to offer companionship to humans. They also fall in the low-energy category, Marrs says, making them good candidates for apartment living. If you have a dog park nearby, a few games of fetch are great to tire your pooch out. “If you have a dog park nearby, a few games of fetch are great to tire your pooch out,” she says.


These toy dogs are classic lap dogs, but they do like to play and going for brisk walks, too. They also tend to bark only when necessary, according to the AKC, which considers the Maltese to be among the most apartment-friendly dogs.