5 Large Breeds That Make Good Apartment Dogs

A Bullmastiff sizes up against a young girl.
A Bullmastiff sizes up against a young girl. Photography by Eduard Ly Senko/Thinkstock.

Which big dog breeds — or mixes of large dog breeds — make good apartment dogs? Size is but one factor*. Energy level, intensity, barking and adaptability are likewise important. After all, an apartment dog must live quietly and comfortably in the individual apartment, but also peacefully co-exist with other people and animals in the common areas, too. These large dog breeds may surprise you with their apartment suitability.

*Some apartments have rules limiting dog sizes or prohibiting certain breeds. Check your building or landlord’s regulations before adopting or buying a breed and see if your renter’s insurance will cover large dogs, too. 


Mastiffs are among the big dog breeds that make good apartment dogs. Photography courtesy Giselle Nevada.

I was developed to work in ancient militaries, guarding and fighting alongside my humans. These days, I’m a diplomatic, rather quiet family dog. I’m naturally a watchdog (and a heckuva deterrent with my size!), but I’m not disposed to needless barking. Although I weigh some 150 pounds, I don’t need a huge yard or living space. In fact, my exercise requirements are generally satisfied with daily walks. I’m inclined to snooze much of the day; either a large or small living space will do. And since I don’t ruffle easily around other people or animals, we’ll certainly meet new friends in the apartment complex. Perhaps keep some slobber towels handy; we’ll make more friends if you keep my drool mopped up!

Clumber Spaniel

A Clumber Spaniel.
Clumber Spaniels do well in apartment settings. Photography via Philip Watts, flickr.com/photos/funnyhatphotos. Some modifications made to fit specifications of the site.

We’re a rather large spaniel, weighing some 70 pounds or so. Developed in England as a gundog, I was named for the Duke of Newcastle’s estate, Clumber Park, in Nottinghamshire. Gentle and affectionate, I’m purposeful when I’m working (fetch or field work!?) but calm indoors. I’ll thrive with outings, but I’m also confident with some solo-snoozing hours while you’re at work. I’m also relatively quiet, unless you’re bothered by snores. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll confess I’m an enthusiastic shedder. Keep your full-size vacuum if and when you move to smaller quarters.

Shiloh Shepherd

Shiloh Shepherd
Shiloh Shepherds are larger, gentler versions of German Shepherd Dogs and make for good apartment dogs. Photography by iStock.

Sometimes weighing in at 100 pounds, we’re a new breed, developed in a New York kennel by Tina Barber in the 1990s. Barber wanted a larger, gentler variety of the more intense German Shepherd Dog. Our temperaments are often softer than the GSDs, and we’re not employed in serious protection work. While we use up space in small apartments, we won’t use up your patience nagging you for constant play. In fact, indoors, we’re rather calm and low maintenance. Outdoors, my coat protects me in just about any weather, so let’s keep walks on the schedule. Naps are on the schedule, too. While I have a working background, I sure don’t want to work all day!


Bullmastiffs may be big — but they make the best apartment dogs. Photography courtesy Shari and Tom Lowell.

We were bred from Bulldogs and Mastiffs to protect game on estates from poachers. My forefathers needed the strong temperament to threaten thieves, but the kind temperaments to live with their families. We’re generally quiet, since silence was a virtue when guarding estates. Today, we’re calm companions in the home, whether large or small. We relax most of the day, so although we take up space (I’m about 100 pounds!), we aren’t demanding. We require daily exercise, but not all-day workouts. And while we look tough, we’re not tough about warm weather. We may overheat exercising on hot days, so crank the air-conditioning up in the morning, and wait until sunset for our walks.

Standard Poodle

Bill Wright.
Standard Poodle. Photography courtesy Bill Wright, wrightworld.com.

Originally bred in Germany as working water retrievers, I’m smart, sporty and not nearly as stylish as you may imagine. In fact, my popular coat trim was designed for function, not flair. My trim allows me to move easily through water; the longer patches guard my vital organs and joints. Today, I’m a wonderful, adaptable companion. I also won’t shed all over your apartment! As long as you exercise my mind and body, I’ll comfortably reside in any size apartment. In fact, I’d rather live in a small home and have adventures with you than have alone time in a big house or yard. I’ll take you up on walks or park time, but I also excel in formal dog sports such as obedience, agility and rally. If we live near a dog park, you’ll find I’m generally social with both new dogs and people.

Tell us: In your experience, what large breeds make good apartment dogs?

Plus, get tips on living in a city with dogs of any size >>

Thumbnail: Photography by Eduard Ly Senko/Thinkstock. 

Why read breed profiles?
Dog breed profiles help everyone, whether you have a mixed breed or purebred dog, to better understand and improve the quality of your dog’s life. If you have a mixed breed dog, read up on all of the breed profiles that make up your dog. Not sure what breed your dog is? There are a number of easy DNA tests out there to help your find out.

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13 thoughts on “5 Large Breeds That Make Good Apartment Dogs”

  1. I live in a small three bedroom home and my six English Mastiffs have been wonderful to share it with. Honestly, even if I lived in a mansion it wouldn’t matter to them because they are never far enough away to be out of sight. I don’t think I’ve used the bathroom alone in over 15 years, lol. You’d be amazed at how many will actually fit in a room that small!!

  2. But don’t you take them out for excersise?

    People say dogs need a yard, a dog in a yard is as board as a dog onna deck
    I take my mal mutt jogging 3-4 times a week and for like my walks on non run days

  3. I have a bull mastiff malamute mix and live in an apartment
    She’s a hella shedder and has all the malamute silliness but is stealthy quiet
    Until they meet her in the hall most people don’t know I have a dog at all
    Pizza guy or neighbor knocking on the door gets a scramble of nails on the floor as the only sound and big waggy dog waiting by the door
    Neighbours chastise her as a “terrible” guard dog 🙂
    Except that one time someone was trying to open my door one morning- that got some woofs

  4. did you forget retired Greyhounds?? They are low energy, low maintenance, easy to train, clean and often are happy as single pets but are terrific in pairs.
    They require daily walks and stimulation but are generally known as couch potatoes and are wonderful companions!

  5. Lynn Hayner, author

    Thanks for reading, Debbie. Reader comments are my favorite, whether they agree or not. Just trying to bust open some myths (that only small dogs “fit” in apartments). I profiled the Shiloh some time ago, and interviewed the heroic S&R dog, Gandalf,’s owner. Interesting new breed indeed.

  6. Pingback: Dogs Who Howl: 5 Dog Breeds Known for Howling – Dogchimp

  7. I have had Shiloh Shepherds for the last 18 years and I would never consider apartment living an ideal arrangement. These beautiful creatures need space and exercise. Sorry. I totally disagree with this article.

  8. I was fortunate enough to have a BoerBoel as my constant companion for 9. And a half years. He was my shadow and he was a dream to have around. His enormity never was an issue in our tiny house, he simply just fitted in. He slept in my room at the foot of my bed on a very comfy flatbed, he had x3 others strategically placed around the house and one in the garage for when I groomed him or where he dried off after a walk.
    He adored me,cats,other dogs, anybody who genuinely liked him, he loved!.
    He adored children so much he would go and sit, stand, lay beside them and look at them so lovingly and played with them until they were exhausted, being so careful with their toys!. My grandchildren adored him and him them!. If they fell or stumbled, he’d pick em back up and dust em off!.
    I will miss him until I’m no longer here, quite simply, he’s irreplaceable, totally.
    The BoerBoel is the most trustworthy of dogs and children and his unit are the love of his life and he needs to be with his unit at all times possible. Definitely not a kennel dog as they need to be with their family!.

  9. Judith O’Callaghan

    Greyhounds are known as couch potatoes but they are also quiet, intuitive, and appreciative. Most get along with most other dogs too. They do need one or two good runs a week, but their sprinters only.

  10. English mastiffs are wonderful low energy house pets , only want out to potty ! Sleep all day and ready to go to bed for the night what ever time their family goes to bed ! So loving and gentle with children and devoted to their family ! We live with four under our feet every minute of the day and night ❤️

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