Best dog breeds for apartments and flats

25 April 2024 - 5 min read
illustrations of four white dogs in circles on a green background

Flats and apartments are all over Britain. Living in a rented flat is popular, whether it's London or York. Many of us happily live in a small, comfy home without a garden.

But dogs can struggle, especially if they're on the larger side. This is even more true if you don't have a dog park nearby.

Common reasons why people return adopted dogs are symptoms of poor exercise and stimulation. Some of the most popular dog breeds, like Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds, need as much as two hours of exercise daily. As you can see, this is where a cramped living space can cause issues.

So, if you live in a small space and bring a high-energy breed into your home, you must commit to daily outdoor exercise. 

It's not all bad news, though. Many breeds adapt well to apartments and small homes. Some want nothing more than to lie around and bask in the proximity of their pet parents.

Knowing which breeds are right for your living situation will help you avoid a whole lot of stress. We're here to help you with just that.

Here are some of the best dog breeds for apartments, flats and small living spaces.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Black-and-brown Cavalier King Charles Spaniel  looking into the camera on a beige background

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a gentle and affectionate breed ideal for apartment living. They’re small in stature (12–14 inches and 9–22 pounds), easy to train, and don't require a lot of exercise. Cavaliers are also known for their love of human companionship, which makes them an excellent choice for city dwellers who want a loyal and loving roommate.

Shih Tzu

White-and-grey shih tzu looking into the camera on a beige background

The Shih Tzu is a small breed (8–12 inches and 9–18 pounds) well-suited for smaller dwellings. Not only are they affectionate, loyal, and fairly easy to train, but their exercise needs are on the low end. The only potential challenge for a busy city dweller? Hair.

Shih Tzus are prized for their beautiful flowing coats, but their hair grows quickly and needs frequent grooming.

Bichon Frise

White Bichon Frise looking into the camera on a beige background

The Bichon Frise is a small (8–12 inches and 4–13 pounds) and friendly breed well-suited to apartment living. They’re intelligent, eager to please and quick to learn, making them a perfect choice for first-time owners. Bichon Frises are also hypoallergenic, so they’re great for people with allergies or folks who prefer to avoid breeds that constantly send their owners scurrying for the vacuum cleaner.


Portrait of an overweight Pug crossed with a Pekingese posing against a pale pink background.

Pugs are champions of city living. Their exercise needs are fairly minimal, and they make excellent lapdogs. What they lack in size (10–16 inches and 13–22 pounds), they make up for with their playful personalities—many Pug owners affectionately refer to them as “clowns.” But do be aware: for such small dogs, pugs are surprisingly heavy shedders, and they’ll need regular grooming and bathing.


Dachshund sitting with head tilted

Dachshunds, also known as "wiener dogs," have long bodies and come in two sizes: standard and miniature, ranging from 8 to 10 inches and 13 to 35 pounds. They’re friendly, outgoing, intelligent, sweet, and loyal—and fortunately for apartment-bound humans, their exercise needs are minimal.

The one notable challenge for apartment dwellers is that Dachshunds love barking, which can be an issue when sharing walls with neighbours. You can nip this problem in the bud with consistent training starting from puppydom.


Chihuahua running across the grass

You knew this one would be on the list, right? The Chihuahua is a teeny-tiny breed whose style won’t be cramped by a handbag, let alone a studio. They don’t need too much exercise. And, while not hypoallergenic, Chihuahuas are fairly low-maintenance when it comes to grooming (especially short-haired Chihuahuas).

Now for the hard part: Chihuahuas are notorious for their barking. Like Dachshunds, they require patience and consistent training to ensure they don’t earn your neighbours’ wrath. On the plus side, Chihuahuas are also known for their loyalty. These loyal doggos can become so attached to their family members that they’ll become aggressive and defensive toward outsiders. But properly socialising them as puppies should help.

Yorkshire Terrier (Yorkie)

yorkie on tan background

The Yorkshire Terrier, AKA the  "Yorkie," is a small breed with lots of personality. Yorkies are a popular pick for apartment and condo dwellers, and for good reason. Not only are they small dogs with manageable exercise needs, they’re also hypoallergenic.

Yorkies are best for owners who plan to be around to train and interact with their dog. Bored Yorkies can be destructive, chewing on cords, wooden furniture, and even sheetrock. Overall, they’re very devoted to their humans.


greyhound sitting on gray background

…And a surprise option emerges! Seven pint-sized pups with modest energy levels — and now suddenly a mid-sized breed that can keep pace with a galloping racehorse. Believe it or not, Greyhounds can thrive as apartment-dwellers under the right conditions. They’re fairly calm, with low to moderate energy, most of the time.

Many Greyhound owners refer to them as “couch potatoes.” (Hitting a 45-mile-per-hour stride requires a lot of energy conservation, apparently.) Another plus: thanks to their extremely thin coats, Greyhounds don’t shed very much and are easy to groom. But do keep in mind that Greyhounds were built to move; it would be a shame not to let them stretch their legs at a park or dog-friendly beach regularly. 

Adult or senior mutts

adult senior black mutt dog

If you’re not looking to spend a fortune on a purebred dog, or you’re looking to do a good deed and rescue a pup from a rough situation, it shouldn’t be too hard to find an apartment-friendly crossbreed dog at a local shelter. Try to find a lower-maintenance pup with a manageable energy level. Maybe you’ll even find one that counts one or more of the breeds on this list amongst their parentage. 

Adopting a senior dog is another option. Older dogs — even those breeds that tend to be bundles of energy in their youth — may be calmer and more apartment-tolerant in their golden years.  

While you’ll notice this list is dominated by smaller dog breeds, keep two things in mind:

  • Even larger, high-energy dog breeds can thrive in apartments IF (and this is a big if) you still have the time, energy and means to meet their needs. So if you have a high-energy Australian Shepherd or Labrador Retriever and can provide them with two hours of vigorous outdoor exercise daily, there’s a solid chance they’ll be calm at home — even in a small space. 

  • Smaller breeds still need some exercise and stimulation. Do your research and learn your dog’s needs — our dog breed guides are a great place to start.

By the way, if you and your furry roommate live in a big city, you'll likely need good insurance. Dog insurance can help you afford unexpected expenses that come with the hustle and bustle of city life.

A person high fiving a dog

Get £15,000 lifetime vet fee cover with our Complete policy.

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Leanna Zeibak
Content Manager

Leanna Zeibak is a Content Manager at ManyPets. In her spare time, she paints pet portraits and bakes far too many chocolate chip cookies.