8 Large Dog Breeds Suited to Apartment Living

You love big dogs, but you live in an apartment or condo. You might think your choice of canine companion is restricted to purse-size pups, but many people are surprised to learn that living large is often the way to go when choosing a dog for a small space.

Big dogs get a bad rap as apartment dwellers, but it’s one that’s undeserved. Many large dog breeds can be more laid-back than their small and medium-size counterparts. They are active as puppies, no doubt about it, but when they reach maturity, they are generally content to snooze on the sofa between walks. Often they are quieter than smaller dogs, too. Their size gives them an intimidating appearance, but only you and your closest friends need to know that your dog is a lover, not a fighter.

Big dogs can be fantastic condo companions, but before you bring one home, make sure you’ve covered all the bases as far as caring for him. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Can I get him outdoors quickly when he needs to go potty, especially during house-training?
  • Does my building have an elevator for when he gets too big for me to carry or if he’s sick or injured and can’t walk on his own?
  • Do I have time to walk him several times each day?
  • Can I afford a dog walker, pet sitter or doggy day care for midday potty walks or those times when I have to work late?

If you can answer yes to all these questions, here are eight breeds to consider.

8 Big Dogs for Small Living Spaces

Mastiff dog breed

Karin Newstrom, Animal Photography


Believe it or not, this massive canine can be an ideal condo or apartment companion. Puppies are active, of course, but as the Mastiff matures, he tends to slow down to a stately pace. On walks, he often graciously accepts attention from people stunned by his size. With adequate exercise, such as short walks and a visit to the park, Mastiff breeder Dee Dee Andersson says, the dogs can do very well in condos or apartments (just be careful not to trip over him).

Black Great Dane Laying in Grass

Karin Newstrom, Animal Photography

Great Dane

The Great Dane is another surprise contender for a condo or apartment companion. But according to writer Susan Orlean, “They were bred basically to sit next to a king’s throne and look big and intimidating. They’re actually very, very mellow dogs.” Just be aware that a swipe of that tail can clear your coffee table in a New York minute. A regular walk will satisfy the activity needs of most Danes, who will then be content to lounge on your sofa and hang with you when you’re home — even if only his head fits in your lap.

Basset Hound looking up at camera

David Jensen, Animal Photography

Basset Hound

Because they have short legs, Bassets seem smaller than they actually are, but these heavy-bodied scenthounds usually weigh in between 50 and 65 pounds. The easygoing Basset loves to sniff, so rather than a fast-paced walk, take him for a play date in the park, so he can use his nose to its fullest, or go for a long stroll on the streets. Bassets tend to be social dogs who enjoy meeting people. If you work away from home all day, hire a dog walker to make sure he gets the interaction and activity he needs.

Poodle Laying on Carpet

Leesia Teh, Animal Photography

Standard Poodle

Nicknamed the Spoo by his friends, the Standard Poodle can be an elegant addition to your high-rise or apartment complex. Give him a long walk in the morning before you head off to work, make sure he has a midday break with you or a dog walker, and then take him out on the town when you get home. When they receive an appropriate amount of attention and exercise, Standard Poodles are generally satisfied to lounge during the day while you’re gone and are unlikely to bark for attention. Be sure you have a good groomer on speed dial to keep his coat styled.

Rhodesian Ridgeback

Nick Ridley, Animal Photography

Rhodesian Ridgeback

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a hound, which means he can be more laid-back than many Herding or Sporting breeds. Given a good walk or play session, a mature Ridgeback is usually happy to loll around an apartment or condo all day, breeder Denise Flaim says, but count on hijinks from a puppy. With his razor-sharp teeth and appetite for antics, a Ridgeback pup will need plenty of supervision and training to make sure he doesn’t damage anything.

Chinese Shar-Pei

Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography

Chinese Shar-Pei

This typically aloof and dignified dog was seemingly designed for apartment or condo living. He tends to be a one-person dog, often has a calm nature and generally house-trains easily. While he benefits from a couple of short walks daily, he typically doesn’t have a high activity level. However, the Shar-Pei is sensitive to heat, so air conditioning is a must.


Judy Zatonski, Animal Photography


If you think a Greyhound must need a lot of exercise because he’s a fast runner, think again. This elegant sighthound is rightly nicknamed “the 40-mph couch potato.” Life with a Greyhound has been likened to living with a giant cat. His favorite place is often on the sofa, and as a general rule, he rarely barks. He can enjoy a long walk, and if you like to jog or run, he typically is happy to join you. But he’s usually equally satisfied with a couple of short daily walks or maybe a chance to run off leash in a safely fenced area. After a couple of spins around the park, he’s typically done.

Irish Wolfhound running

Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography

Irish Wolfhound

Choose an Irish Wolfhound only if you won’t mind being stopped every few steps by people wanting to know how much your dog eats, asking if their kids can ride him (the answer should always be no) or jovially joking about how you’re walking a pony. This typically sensitive, sweet and calm dog will take up a lot of space in a tiny apartment or condo, but as long as you remember to step over him, he’s generally a gentle and quiet companion. Puppies typically house-train easily and need slow walks on leash to protect their growing musculoskeletal system (no jumping or stairs, please). Adult dogs usually enjoy walks, but they typically won’t become agitated if they have to miss one because of the weather or a late workday.

More on Vetstreet:


Join the Conversation

Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!