If you ask most people to name the best pets for apartment living, cats will be at the top of most lists. But as small-space and city living has grown in appeal, not only millennials but also downsizing seniors are looking to expand their possibilities when it comes to animal companionship. And while a cat – quiet, playful, and relatively easy to care for – is still going to be the best apartment pet for many people, there are dog breeds and mixes that can be great apartment pets, along with some other animals many people don’t even consider.
Not all popular pets are well suited to living in an apartment, and your situation may offer additional challenges. Here are five things to consider before picking a pet if you live in an apartment or condo:
What is allowed?
It’s pretty basic to check with property management or the condo board before you start your search, but you’d be surprised how many newly adopted pets end up in shelters because they aren’t allowed by the rules of the development. Typical restrictions may be for size (under a certain weight, typically) or breed/breed type (some large breeds may not be allowed).
What is your situation?
Do you work at home or are long office hours away your thing? Do you like to binge-watch or read most evenings, or do you have an active social life and spend most evenings out? Do you like long walks, or are you a runner? Are you willing to spend the time and money to raise and train a puppy, or are you better off with an adult pet who may need little more than a manners tune-up.
Are you considering all the options?
While most people will adopt a dog or a cat (or both!), there are a few other pets that make great apartment pets. Small birds such as finches, budgies or cockatiels are good for small space living, even if their larger, much noisier large parrot relatives may not be. The most often overlooked animal who’s a great apartment pet is a rabbit. They can be litter-trained, and many can be allowed to roam all or part of the house when you’re home.
Is size an issue?
Small pets are easier to exercise, easier to transport (especially if you don’t have a car), and less expensive to feed. There have always been people dedicated and determined enough to have a Great Dane as their apartment pet, but most people consider the best dogs for apartments to be smaller pets. In dogs that means 25 pounds and under, which is also often the size limit set down in many complexes.
Many terriers or terrier mixes, dachshunds, poodles, Chihuahuas, toy spaniels and schnauzers (and all of their mixes, too) are lively, but their legs are short enough that regular, brisk walks and inside games of fetch or food puzzles while probably be enough. If you’re determined to have a larger dog, consider adopting a retired racing greyhound, dogs who are mostly content to snooze the day away if given the opportunity to blow some steam in a safe place now and then. That border collie or Weimaraner you always wanted? Unless you’re a dedicated runner willing to take your dog on your training runs (or pay someone else to), it’s unlikely you’ll be able to provide the exercise these active herding or sporting dogs need in an apartment setting.
The immense popularity of French bulldogs, pugs and similar breeds comes with a veterinary caution: Their short faces and pinched nostrils mean many of them struggle to breathe and overheat easily. Less extreme examples of these breeds are a better choice for health, as are their mixes, while retaining the low-energy traits and the sweet charm for which the breeds are known.
Barking dogs are probably the most-common point of conflict among neighbors. Problem is, many of the small breeds and mixes are prone to bark at almost anything, all day long. While you might be able to adopt an adult dog who isn’t much interested in barking, you need to be prepared to deal with any barking, day or night. This might mean leaving your dog in “doggy daycare” while you’re at work, hiring a trainer to help minimize barking, or both.
The bottom line: The best pet for your apartment is largely dependent on the situation of the pet’s owner. If you’re willing to put in the time and effort, almost any pet your apartment or condo management allows will work out. So don’t be charmed by the begging eyes of the first pet you see: make sure you’re considering all potential issues before choosing the best pet for your apartment lifestyle.