Does size matter? Apartment living with dogs

Is it ok to have a dog in an apartment?

It is very common to think that if you live in an apartment you simply can’t have a dog because “it’s not fair for your dog since you are not providing her with enough space to roam and be a dog”. Living in a block of apartments is quite common in many places around the world where owning a house with some garden is not easily affordable.

Do you really think that unless you live in a house with some sort of garden, you can’t welcome a puppy in your life? In my opinion, backyards are overrated. Do you know what most dogs do when left alone in huge backyards? They sit by the door and wait for their people to come back!

I live in the outskirts of Valencia (Spain) in a house with plenty of outdoor space, and while walking my dog (something I aim to do twice a day, every day!) I walk past many barking dogs “protecting” their houses from strangers. Most of these dogs are unfortunately never (or very rarely) walked “because they already have a huge garden to run around”, or so their owners say.

These “lucky” dogs living in huge houses with huge gardens are extremely bored, understimulated, many showing stereotypical behaviours (repetitive and pointless behaviours) such as: pacing, circling, or spinning. It seems clear that their needs are not met and therefore their welfare compromised, and yet they have “plenty of garden to run around”!

My point, irrespective of your apartment’s size you should be well able to provide your dog with the right dose of mental and physical stimulation.

Dog’s size is also not that relevant

The size of the dog has very little to do with how well she/he will adapt to apartment living. Of course your apartment building may have restrictions on how large a dog you can keep, but if no such restrictions are in place, then don’t worry about the size of your fully grown puppy. I would be more worried about paper-thin apartment walls in terms of potential noisy dogs.

Please keep in mind that all breed standards are just guidelines and that even purebreds may act outside their breed description. Dogs are first and foremost INDIVIDUALS! Just like us!

Some small breeds come quick to mind as “delightful apartment companions” ONLY because of their SIZE such as: Chihuahuas, Jack Russells, Dachshund and Yorkshires. The last three are Terriers (aka terrorists!), well known to be noisy barkers when bored as well as very energetic. They are definitely not a “couch potato” type of dog.

Big dogs are an option too

Speaking of “couch potatoes” and despite their size, Greyhounds make excellent apartment dogs. As long as they go for a good run on a daily basis, they can spend dozing on the sofa for pretty much the rest of the day. As a general rule, the larger the breed, the less active. Think of Great Danes, Chow Chows, St Bernards, etc. Although bear in mind these dogs’ giant paws and long legs may not mix well with tiny living spaces.

Providing enough stimulation is key

Of course, the above doesn’t mean you can’t have a smart, high-energy dog in you apartment. As long as you can provide them with plenty of exercise and mental stimulation it shouldn’t be a big deal. But if you are the couch-potato type or you are away from home most of the time, then for the sake of the neighbours (and the dog OF COURSE!) you may want to consider a lower energy or older dog. So nope, size may not be as relevant as you may have thought!