Big Dogs In Small Spaces: The Best Large Breed Dogs for Apartment Living

Big Dogs In Small Spaces: The Best Large Breed Dogs for Apartment Living

large dog breeds for apartmentlarge dog breeds for apartment
large dog breeds for apartmentlarge dog breeds for apartment

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Apartments. They’re a great alternative from traditional single family homes, they usually offer attractive amenities and luxuries, and are, in many cases, pet-friendly. However, being pet-friendly doesn’t mean that every pet will do well in an apartment setting. The ASPCA estimates that there are 78 million dogs in households around the United States. That factors out to around four in ten households owning a dog, and with 43% of Americans living in a building comprised of 5 units or more, that means that a lot of dog owners are making living with a dog in an apartment work.

Some Factors To Consider Before Bring A Dog To Your Apartment

Is your apartment dog-friendly?

This may seem like a silly question, but you’d be surprised by the number of apartment buildings and communities that don’t allow dogs. Never assume that your building is dog-friendly – when apartment hunting, make sure that you inquire about the building’s dog policy before you visit. This will keep you from falling in love with a place only to realize that it won’t take in your furry family member.

Does your apartment require a pet deposit?

Not to be confused with pet rent, which we will cover next, a dog deposit could be required by your landlord prior to moving in to cover any damages that your dog may inflict upon the residence. As with any deposit, make sure that you take photos of your apartment before moving in so that you have photographic evidence of what the actual condition of your apartment was prior to moving in. This step will protect you from any made-up charges by your landlord after you have moved out.

Does your apartment require pet rent?

Oh yes, this is a real thing. Pet rent is becoming more and more popular among landlords. Pet rent can range anywhere from $15-$40 a month.

Will your building have any pet facilities?

Some apartment buildings and communities offer facilities just for your pet! These facilities can include dog runs, pet parks, waste disposal stands, pet water fountains, and more! When looking at places to live ask if there are any pet facilities on the grounds.

If there are no pet specific facilities is there enough green space on the property for your pooch?

Dogs need lots of exercise. Depending on their age, weight, and breed, your dog needs anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours of activity per day. Suffice to say, a small strip of grass along a highway won’t cut it. While the entire area available for your pet doesn’t need to be made of grass, at least a small section of it should be for potty time. Gravel or dirt areas could also work, but be wary, because when the rains come that nice gravel area is going to turn into a massive mud pit. Some might think that asphalt would be a good alternative, but that isn’t so. First, asphalt isn’t permeable, meaning that when your dog does his or her business that water won’t have anywhere to go. Secondly, asphalt can become dangerously hot in the summer months. When temperatures soar, you won’t be able to let your pet walk on the asphalt without booties. Lastly, if you live in a colder area that is prone to freezes or snow, then the asphalt will probably be salted to keep ice from forming. While there are a few pet-friendly salt alternatives, they might not be the first choice of the people salting the roads. Again, booties will be needed in the winter to keep the road salt from getting in your pupper’s paws.

Is your apartment or prospective apartment close to any dog-friendly areas?

If there’s no green space at your apartment at all, you’ll need to find some dog-friendly areas elsewhere. These spaces can be big or small. If your apartment facility is next to a single home neighborhood then walking those streets will work well for you and your dog. If your apartment is in a downtown area, then you’ll want to find a city park or dog park nearby where you can walk your dog. In some bigger cities, apartments are adopting green roofs where your pet may be able to play. Always check with your landlord or building supervisor before bringing your dog into any new spaces.


Does your apartment ban any breeds?

Banning breeds is becoming more and more popular. Check with your apartment to see if they have any banned breeds and check your city ordinances to see if your town has banned any breeds. The most common banned breeds include:

  • Pit Bulls

  • Staffordshire Terriers

  • Rottweilers

  • German Shepherds

  • Presa Canarios (Canary Mastiff)

  • Chows Chows

  • Doberman Pinschers

  • Akitas

  • Wolf-hybrids

  • Mastiffs

  • Cane Corsos

  • Great Danes

  • Alaskan Malamutes

  • Siberian Huskies

Large Breeds For Small Spaces

In no particular order, here are our top choices for the best large breeds to have in your apartment. It should be noted that each individual dog will be different and that a dog’s age should be considered. For example, a five-month puppy is going to be energetic no matter what breed it is. Every dog on this list needs to be exercised daily. Just because these pups will do well in an apartment setting doesn’t mean that owners can skip the long walks and runs. Balance is key, work with your dog to find the balance that works best for your individual situation. Without further adieu, here are our top three big dogs for small spaces.


  • Greyhounds can be deceiving they seem like the ultimate athletes but they’re actually huge couch potatoes. They can be up to 30 inches tall and can reach speeds of up to 45 miles per hours. Greyhounds are top class athletes that are bred for speed, that is until they see a couch. Greyhounds have a mild, sweet nature and are perfect for apartment living. Greyhounds are very loyal, but should never be left off leash in an area that is not fenced in. Their strong prey drive partnered with their breakneck speed means that if your greyhound spots a rabbit while off leash he or she will be gone in the blink of an eye.

  • Greyhounds should be socialized from an early age, or they tend to become shy and scared of any new environments or animals. “World class nappers” is one title that this unique breed can boast. Will a very low indoor energy your Greyhound will probably spend its days sleeping on your couch.

These unique dogs don’t shed much and may get the shivers in the winter. Proper winter attire is necessary for a Greyhound to thrive in a colder climate. Are you ready for a Greyhound?

Great Dane

  • Another gentle giant, the Great Dane is probably one breed you hadn’t considered when thinking of apartment friendly. If you’re a sculptor or glass figurines collector, this dog may not be the best, but for everyone else, a Great Dane can be a wonderful apartment dog. We say that Great Danes might not be the best for sculptors and figurines collectors due to their tendency to knock things over. Male Great Danes can reach up to 32 inches tall and can weigh up to 120 pounds. Great Dane owners affectionately “dane-proof” their apartments to keep breakable items out of the way of wagging tails.

  • A Great Dane is an incredibly social animal and will always crave the companionship of people. Another interesting quirk, Great Danes tend to believe that they are lap dogs. Despite their large size, Great Danes will usually try to sit in your lap.

  • Great Danes need at least one good long walk per day as well as plenty of food. And by plenty, we mean anywhere from 8-15 cups of food per day. These gentle giants grow very quickly and will need a lot of energy to power their massive bodies.

Basset Hound (weight)

  • Did this name throw you a bit? That’s probably because most people don’t consider Basset Hounds to be large breed dogs, but in reality, Basset Hounds can weigh up to 60 pounds! That’s comparable to a small female golden retriever. These pups might be short in stature, but they make up for it in bulkiness.

  • Basset hounds are notoriously great with children. These loveable rolls of joy love to lay around and snuggle while watching the world pass them by. But watch out – if they pick up on a scent while out walking it will be tough to pull their focus back to you. Food is the ultimate motivator for Basset Hounds, but be careful, the breed tends to struggle with obesity. Talk to your vet to find the right diet for your Basset Hound.

  • An odd quirk about the Basset Hound is its tendency to drool. There’s no doubt about it; the Basset Hound is a drooler. This trait will make meal time and trips to the water bowl even messier. Another odd quirk – their ears! Basset Hound ears are silky and soft and need to be cleaned regularly.

The rest of our top 10 large breed dogs for apartment living include:

  • Standard Poodles

  • Shar-Peis

  • Mastiffs

  • Irish Wolfhounds

  • American Staffordshire Terriers

  • Portuguese Water Dogs

  • Lowland Sheepdogs

Home Is Where The Dog Is

We hope that this blog has helped you decide on which big dog is best for your small space. If you have questions about a breed that wasn’t on our list check out our Choosing a Breed category for further tips and tricks. As mentioned before, each individual dog is different. While breed tendencies will always play a role in a dog’s behavior, the level of those tendencies can vary. If you’re still deciding on whether a house or an apartment is right for you, check out what our experts had to say about the home vs. apartment debate in regard to your pet.

We wish you all the best of luck with either welcoming a new furry member into the family or finding a new apartment!


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