10 top dog breeds for apartment living

10 top dog breeds for apartment living

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Aussies love their canine companions! Dogs are our nation’s most popular pets, with devoted owners praising the benefits of good companionship, and improved physical and mental health. You might think dogs aren’t suitable pets for apartment living, but that’s not always the case.

The key is knowing your property’s by-laws and building rules and choosing the right type of dog for a smaller space. Size isn’t everything. Breed, nature and training are much better indicators of which dogs are most likely to create a harmonious household.

Here are some tips for choosing a suitable dog for your apartment, and 10 breeds to consider.

Challenges of apartment living with pets

While sharing your home with a furry friend can be rewarding, apartment life is not suitable for all dogs.


1. Your property rules: what regulations and by-laws apply?

Strata residents (also known as body corporate and owners corporation) must comply with their property’s by-laws and building rules, as well as any state legislation. In many states, owners’ corporations can’t set blanket by-laws banning pet ownership. Residents must seek approval, but can only be refused if the animal unreasonably interferes with another resident’s use and enjoyment of their lot or common property. Examples include persistent barking or noise, damaging property, or chasing residents, visitors and other animals.

  • Are pets allowed in your building or do you need to seek approval?
  • Are there regulations related to the number of pets or weight limits?


2. Your apartment: is the environment suitable for a dog?

  • Does your apartment have adequate space, or lots of furniture that limits roaming room and treasures that can be damaged?
  • Do you have a courtyard or safely enclosed balcony for outdoor time?
  • Are there any escape routes?
  • Do you have suitable toileting options? Property’s may have building rules around where your puppy can relieve themselves.
  • How thick are your walls? If you can sing along to your neighbour’s music, chances are they can hear what’s going on in your apartment too. Will they be pleased or alarmed to hear you’re considering a new flatmate?


3. Your pooch: which dog is best for your lifestyle?

As social creatures, many dogs don’t like being left alone for too long. Do you work from home or are you gone for much of the day? Do you go away for work or social events regularly?

An active, excitable or easily bored dog can be a recipe for disaster. While barking is normal, bored or lonely dogs may bark loudly and excessively. They may be destructive, chew shoes and furniture, toilet in the wrong place, or make a break for freedom.

Choosing the right dog for apartment living

When considering if a dog is suitable, ask:

  • How energetic is this breed? Are they happy in confined spaces with limited outdoor access? Do they have lower activity levels and enjoy lounging around?
  • What is your lifestyle? Can you keep up with their exercise and attention needs or are you away from home a lot?
  • How old is the dog? Puppies need more time and attention than older dogs.
  • Is the breed known to be calm, noise sensitive, vocal or a “barker”?
  • Is the breed good with strangers, relaxed about the comings and goings of an apartment block environment? Can they manage stairs, elevators and public areas politely?
  • Do they shed a lot and will that trigger allergies in their humans?

Top breeds for apartment living

  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
    These calm and adaptable small to medium-sized pets are well suited to apartment living. Known to be friendly, loving and gentle, they’re great with children, adults and animals. They’ll win the affection of your neighbours in no time! They shed very little, have low exercise needs and are happy to spend lots of time indoors.
  • Bichon Frise
    These cuddly balls of fluff don’t take up much space but have plenty of personality. They’re easy to train and adapt well. They’re friendly with children, adults and other dogs. Keep them content with exercise at least once a day, then they’ll be content to snuggle up on your lap or couch. Their hypoallergenic coat doesn’t shed much hair so can be a good choice if you have allergies.
  • Yorkshire Terrier
    These pint-sized pooches weigh only a couple of kilograms, making them a great choice for studios or very small spaces. Yorkies are happy to entertain themselves when you’re away but make sure you train them early not to bark. They’re friendly with other people and pets, and adapt well to new experiences.
  • Maltese
    Looking for a quiet dog that’s content with their human’s company or alone? This small, furry bundle is ideal for apartment living. It has low exercise needs, is friendly with humans and animals. Their silky coat has no undercoat so it’s low shedding. This breed tends to bark at unfamiliar sounds so may not be suitable for noisy complexes.
  • English Bulldog
    If you need a dog that’s content to be alone and doesn’t need much space, consider an English Bulldog. Give them plenty of love and attention, a moderate amount of exercise and a cosy spot to sleep… these calm, slow-moving dogs will be happy for the rest of the day.
  • Boston Terrier
    This easy-going, independent dog thrives on the attention of their human companion, although they’re happy to entertain themselves too. While they’re energetic, they don’t need a lot of exercise – just one walk a day is fine. Friendly with strangers, they hardly bark and are easy to train.
  • Pug
    Playful and affectionate, pugs make good companions, getting along well with children and other dogs. As a toy breed, pugs have moderate exercise needs. They are generally easy to train, although they can be stubborn!
  • Shih Tzu
    Thanks to their small size, Shih Tzus are popular dogs for apartment living. They are generally bold and friendly, happy to play then curl up on the couch! Shih Tzus are fast learners, but can be slow to obey.
  • French Bulldog
    These low maintenance doggies are popular in inner-city neighbourhoods. They’re calm, quiet and adjust well to indoor living. They’re likely to be snuggled up in a comfy spot when you’re out and will be happy with low levels of exercise. Be aware that Frenchies struggle with steps so you’ll need to take the elevator or carry them up to your apartment.
  • Poodle
    Make your choice – standard, miniature or toy poodles are all suited to apartment living. They’re friendly, well-mannered and obedient. Poodles can easily be trained to adapt to this lifestyle but make sure you focus on toileting and behaviour in common areas.

Etiquette for apartment living with pets

Living in a strata property requires you to be considerate of others and their needs. To do this:

  • Undertake basic dog obedience training.
  • Let your pet expend some energy with morning and evening walks.
  • Before you leave the house, meet their physical and mental needs, including food, water, toileting options, and toys or boredom busters.
  • If you’re away all day and are concerned about your dog’s welfare, ask an understanding neighbour or pet sitter check on them.


Remember, it’s your responsibility to train, exercise and socialise your furry friend, and ensure that you follow your property’s by-laws and building rules. A healthy and happy dog is more likely to be settled, even when you’re not there. And that’s good for you and your neighbours!

To discuss your property’s strata management needs or receive a FREE management proposal contact our friendly team. We also offer more helpful resources and community living news in our FREE newsletter.

The information provided is a general guide only and is not intended as a substitute for legal advice. The company disclaims all responsibility and liability for any expenses, losses, damages, and costs which might be incurred as a result of the information provided by the company.

Sources: https://kb.rspca.org.au/knowledge-base/how-many-pets-are-there-in-australia/, https://www.realestate.com.au/advice/best-apartment-dogs-in-australia/, https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/best-dogs-for-apartments-dwellers/

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