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the search for a dog

The 5 best large breeds for apartment living

Size, breed, and lifestyle are key. Learn how to find the right dog for you and your apartment.

Updated March 28, 2020

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The essentials

  • It’s a tradeoff. Large apartment dogs take up a lot of room and require extra grooming and clean-up, but they can also be mild-mannered and need fewer trips outside.
  • The right dog depends on your lifestyle. How often will you be able to walk your dog? How quiet does your apartment need to be? Answers to these and other questions will help you make the right choice.

The 5 best large dog breeds for apartment dwellers

woman hugging a mastiff

English Mastiff,

English Mastiffs

Adult weight: 120-230 lbs.
Energy level: Low to Moderate

These large dogs are gentle, infrequent barkers with a relaxed demeanor. This easygoing temperament can be a big plus when introducing a new animal to an apartment building. On the other hand, English Mastiffs will make some noise when visitors come to the door, and their heaviness might be loud for a downstairs neighbor.

How much you like the outdoors is another thing to consider with English Mastiffs. They need long walks every day, but they’re more than happy to slumber around the apartment for the rest of the time.

Last but not least, no conversation about English Mastiffs is complete without mentioning their prodigious drooling habit. Get ready to spend a fair amount of time cleaning drool off her face — and your floors.

dog laying in grass

Bullmastiff, 📷 by Marcell Végh

Bullmastiffs

Adult weight: 100-130 lbs.
Energy level: Moderate

The answer to this drooling problem is our friend, the Bullmastiff. Originally bred from English Mastiffs and English Bulldogs, only some Bullmastiffs have drooling issues. You can ask the breeder, current owner, or shelter what to expect.

Like English Mastiffs, Bullmastiffs are laid-back creatures as long as they receive exercise each day. On the flip side, many Bullmastiffs need firm obedience training and command reminders, and they may pull a lot when they’re on a leash. Daily walks might take more energy than you want to spend, but it could become a unique form of strength training. 💪

dog standing

Great Dane, 📷 by Martin Tajmr

Great Danes

Adult weight: 110-175 lbs.
Energy level: Moderate to High

If obedience training isn’t your thing, don’t worry. You can check out some other large breeds, like the friendly and well-behaved Great Dane. They’re known for their intelligence, loving companionship, and the intimate connections they form with their owners.

The most striking thing about a Great Dane has to be its tail. These dogs get so excited when you come home or when friends visit, that it can knock over anything in its path with just its tail. Keep in mind that you’ll have to keep fragile items out of reach!

dog looking

Greyhound, 📷 by Akiko Campbell

Greyhounds

Adult weight: 60-70 lbs.
Energy level: High

Greyhounds also have tails, of course, but they’re less likely to use theirs as a tool for demolition. Greyhounds are so calm, in fact, when they’re at home that they regularly sleep for hours on end.

Their calmness, however, can quickly change to anxiety. Many Greyhounds weren’t socialized at a young age because they were bred to race. That said, it’s not uncommon for them to become nervous and fearful outside of the apartment or when visitors come over, making them the right choice for a patient and sensitive owner.

Another Greyhound trait to think about is their short coat. They won’t shed a lot or require much grooming or brushing, but you’ll need a dog sweater or coat for your Greyhound if you live in a cold-weather city or town.

afghan hound

Afghan Hound, 📷 by VirtualWolf

Afghan Hound

Adult weight: 50-60 lbs.
Energy level: High

Afghan Hounds need a lot of exercise, so this breed is for people who love the outdoors or who have access to a fenced-in backyard. Without regular exercise, Afghan Hounds can become overexcited or even destructive inside a small apartment. On the other hand, a happy Afghan Hound will act just like a Greyhound when it’s at home, lounging around and sleeping for hours on end.

Originally bred in Afghanistan, Afghan Hounds have beautiful long hair that protected their faces from mountain winds. This makes them quite a sight to look at but also a handful in the grooming and brushing department. Without regular brushing — daily, for some — their coat can become matted and require a trip to the groomer.

Aage is as important as the breed

A dog’s age plays a major role in how they act. Puppies and younger dogs usually require more attention and more bathroom trips outside. You’ll also need to enroll your puppy in socialization class within the first 14 weeks of its life. Without it, they can become fearful and aggressive later in life.

Most older dogs have already been trained, but that doesn’t mean they won’t need command reminders, and some will also benefit from obedience training if they exhibit bad habits. You probably won’t need to work as hard to care for an older dog, but they may be more susceptible to injuries and ailments.

Two must-dos

Talk to your landlord — Ask your landlord or property manager if your apartment building allows dogs, and what the rules and regulations are. (You’d be surprised how many people neglect this step.) Even if you see other dogs around, your building may not allow certain sizes or breeds, and you may need to pay extra rent or an additional security deposit.

Check with your roommates if you have any — Are they comfortable having a dog? Will they help you out in a pinch if you can’t make it home in time for the evening walk? You’ll want to gauge their interest and set expectations.