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The BEST Big Dogs For Apartments (by Rottweiler Owner)

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People often want to know if there are large dog breeds that fit into their apartment life.

There are a couple of important factors when it comes to choosing the right dog breed for you personally besides renting versus owning.

A lot of shelters make it mandatory that you have yard space available and some even demand you own a house instead of just renting an apartment which is an incredibly limited view in my opinion.

However, that doesn’t mean that you’re good to bring every large dog into your apartment, it just means that you’re not good to bring large dog breeds home just because you’re living in a house with a yard.

Do Large Dog Breeds For Apartments Exist?

There definitely are large breeds that can fit into apartments but only if you fulfill certain criteria and can provide your dog with all the exercise and stimulation he needs.

Consider this before buying a large dog while living in an apartment:

  1. City vs. rural
  2. Outdoor exercise opportunities
  3. Actual living space & accessibility
  4. Neighbors

If you’re living in a busy city with little or no available green space nearby, you should definitely not get any large dog breed.

Some dog breeds tend to do very poorly around many distractions, noises, and people but generally speaking, every large dog needs long walks and most dogs aren’t made to deal with the busy life of humans.

Similarly, if you have all that available but it takes endless flights of stairs and there’s no elevator, you shouldn’t get any of these dog breeds since joint problems will occur almost certainly if you plan on living there for quite some time.

This affects the Mastiff breeds the most, of course.

Another eliminating criteria is the actual living space. If you just don’t have the square footage (or meters for our metric friends) to justify owning a large dog, then don’t get one in the first place.

Big dogs don’t need as much space as many people might think but they definitely do need space to turn around comfortably without having anything in their faces.

Furthermore, they need to have a safe haven, although that applies to some dog breeds more than others (my Rottie is almost never in another room).

If your neighbors just hate Pit Bull type dogs (I know, sad we still need to have this discussion), don’t get one if the landlord doesn’t give his okay.

Sadly, conflicts are bound to happen if the neighbors are afraid of your friendly giant while most people will happily accept a Golden Retriever (although even that can lead to problems).

You’ll probably have to do with this doormat instead for the time being (kidding, it might rile up the old grumpy man who just hates dogs in your complex).

Searching for a perfect guard dog for your apartment? Check the linked article after going over the breeds here.

Best Large Indoor Dog Breeds

Here’s the list of the best big dogs for living in an apartment.

1. Saint Bernard

Saint Bernard on a snowy mountain with a barrel around the neck.
Photo by Fedor Selivanov on Shutterstock

Although these dogs are known as cuddly giants, they can be quite fit. Remember that these dogs roam through the snow for endless hours to find and rescue humans.

These dogs don’t need a ton of space but they do need to have their dedicated space and you may have to live with owning one-third of the couch.

Due to their massive jowls, you may also need to follow them in order to clean up their drool (even though not all of them drool so much, you should be prepared).

2. English Mastiff

Three English Mastiffs cuddling up to each other.
Photo by Jagodka on Shutterstock

The English Mastiff is one of the heaviest dog breeds out there and due to that fact, their exercise needs are manageable.

However, you still need to provide exercise through extensive walks and provide them with mental stimulation.

They’re perfect family dogs and can manage living in an apartment if you can spare the space.

3. Bullmastiff

Bullmastiff looking up.
Photo by Inna Astakhova on Shutterstock

The Bullmastiff looks astonishing and is in fact a very gentle and loving dog breed.

Similar to other Mastiffs, these dogs are not suitable for the sportsmen among us, but rather for those who enjoy calm and peaceful walks twice or three times a day.

4. Dogue de Bordeaux

Dogue de Bordeaux in sunlight with liver-colored nose.
Photo by RugliG on Shutterstock

The Dogue de Bordeaux is among the dog breeds that are prone to having joint problems and shouldn’t be owned if you live in a high-rise without an elevator.

With the right socialization, they’re very even-tempered and loyal to their owner.

5. Great Dane

Black Great Dane on a grassy field in front of water.
Photo by RugliG on Shutterstock

Famous for being one of the largest dogs, the Great Dane can definitely live in an apartment.

To lengthen their lifespan, you should provide them with lots of mental stimulation and a healthy diet.

6. New Foundland

Newfoundland lying on grass.
Photo by Utekhina Anna on Shutterstock

Truly a gentle giant that is used for therapy work with kids, the Newfoundland can be quite the goofy dog.

Known to be quite the trainable breed among the bigger dogs, it’s a great fit for families that are looking to get a well-balanced dog.

7. Bernese Mountain Dog

Bernese Mountain Dog on leaf-covered grass.
Photo by PHOTOCREO on Shutterstock

The Bernese Mountain Dog is among the four Sennenhund breeds that were brought to the Swiss Alps by the Romans over 2,000 years ago.

Since this dog is bred from Mastiff and guard-type dog crosses, Bernese Mountain Dogs can be the perfect fit for families looking for a large guard dog for their apartment while not missing out on an affectionate dog.

8. Shar Pei

Shar-Pei with a very wrinkled face indoors.
Photo by djile on Shutterstock

The deep wrinkles and blue-black tongue is the first thing people think about if they’re somewhat familiar with the Shar Pei.

This dog breed can be very independent and due to the lack of a wide variety of breeding programs, your Shar-Pei can turn out to be from a quite independent and reserved line and should thus not necessarily be owned if you’re living in a city or with lots of neighbors.

Lovers of the breed stand by their side and hopefully steer future breedings in the right direction.

Nowadays, this dog breed is often bred for looks instead of further developing their loving character.

9. Rhodesian Ridgeback

Rhodesian Ridgeback standing alert.

People often falsely assumed that the title “lion hunter” meant that these dogs were actually hunting lions when the only thing they did was track them as a pack and trap them if possible.

However, this is a sign of how determined and fearless this breed can be.

The Rhodesian Ridgeback just loves to move and explore and if you plan on owning this breed in an apartment, make sure you have enough exercise opportunities in foot walking distance.

Whether it’s beaches, forests, or just big parks, these dogs love to exercise.

A great opportunity for people who are searching for a hiking companion who is satisfied with living in an apartment for the rest of the time.

10. American Staffordshire Terrier

American Staffordshire Terrier in the forest.
Photo by Emre Ceylan on Shutterstock

Known as an extremely loyal and loving dog breed, the Amstaff is perfect for living in an apartment. They’re not huge but do need lots of exercise.

Fortunately, they’re suited for lots of sports and if you take care of their mental exercise needs too, you will have a great companion that’s very satisfied with living in smaller spaces.

11. Boxer

Boxer dog playfully lying on her back.
Photo by cynoclub on Depositphotos

The Boxer can range from quite calm in certain situations to very energetic in others but if you’re searching for a short-coated companion that’s a good compromise between size and weight, you could be quite happy with the Boxer.

They’re quite the intelligent dog breed and can sometimes have issues with adapting to new environments.

12. Golden Retriever

Golden Retriever standing in front of a rustic-looking home.
Photo by Maria Bell on Shutterstock

A very popular choice for families in the U.S. and all around the world. Make no mistake, the Golden Retriever has exercise needs too, and shouldn’t be left alone all day in an apartment.

However, if you’re ready to train your dog, and invest time in exercising him, the Goldie is a very solid choice if you’re living in one of the busier areas.

13. Irish Wolfhound

Irish Wolfhound in front of white background.
Photo by Jagodka on Shutterstock

The Irish Wolfhound is characterized as “dignified, thoughtful, and generous” by the breed standard and was used for several purposes over time.

They were sighthounds and used to pursue the game at high speeds and you should be ready to handle them in everyday life if you plan on getting this dog for your apartment.

14. Greyhound

Greyhound running mid-air.
Photo by Liliya Kulianionak on Shutterstock

A racing dog for apartment living?

There are actually quite a few retired racing dogs that search for new homes in a tranquil environment.

If you have the space available for them to run and you’ve got the steps for proper recall training memorized, you can opt for the Greyhound.

15. Afghan Hound

Afghan Hound with silky hair.

A popular choice for people interested in their silky coat and stylish looks.

This dog breed is known to be pretty aloof so take that into consideration when thinking about the right dog for your apartment.

16. Poodle

White Poodle walking on grass.
Photo by ddisq on Shutterstock

A very popular choice for owners all around the world is the Poodle in various sizes (and hairstyles).

The Poodle is definitely among the light dogs on this list and there’s nearly zero drool which means this breed fits well into an apartment with people who are ready to invest time but are not yet ready for a truly large boy.

They’re well-suited for dog dancing or other sports that utilize their intelligence.

17. Clumber Spaniel

Clumber Spaniel with a very shiny silver coat.
Photo by Radomir Rezny on Shutterstock

The largest Spaniel-type dog is the Clumber Spaniel. They’re stockier than you would think for their relatively small height (20 inches and up to 85 lbs for males).

Clumber Spaniels are among the rare dog breeds on this list as there are only 175 dogs registered for 2019 in their home country, the UK. The AKC reports about 200 new registered puppies every year.

Worst Dogs For Apartments

The worst large dogs for apartments are livestock guardian dogs which include the following dog breeds:

  • Caucasian Shepherd
  • Anatolian Shepherd
  • Tibetan Mastiff
  • Spanish Mastiff
  • Great Pyrenees
  • Kuvasz

These dog breeds are trained to be very independent and learn to make their own decisions when guarding livestock.

The main thing with these dogs is not just that they’re working dogs, but that they’re very territorial and used to walking up and down their perimeter.

Other common choices for medium-sized apartment dogs are the following:

  • Border Collie
  • Malinois
  • Husky

These choices only work if the right type of stimulation is provided.

If you’re living in a crowded city without any great spots in nature to exercise your dog, don’t bother getting any of these dogs as they have very high levels of energy and intelligence.

My Rottweiler Happily Lives the Apartment Life

Personally, I own a female Rottweiler at nearly 100 pounds and 24.5 inches (45kg & 62cm) while living in a normal-sized apartment in an urban/rural area with access to many parks, forests, and lakes where she can run free and get exercised.

My Rottweiler Amalia at the Opera House in Oslo.
Photo by Pawleaks

She has absolutely zero problems with living in an apartment, she almost never barks either so all neighbors are pretty happy with that too.

That being said, I wouldn’t recommend getting a Rottweiler if you’re living in an apartment and are not completely informed about the different breeding lines and purposes.

Some lines of German Rottweilers were used for herding, protection work, and advanced tracking and it’s very important to find the right breeder.

An overly suspicious Rottweiler with many neighbors in the elevator just won’t work.

Similarly, one that’s used for herding and is generally more independent just isn’t suitable for apartments if they have no safe haven where they can be on their own (which my Rottie definitely does not want. Ever).

Oh, and definitely don’t forget to check out our indestructible dog bed review, as your big boy will probably need that.

Let me know if you were able to find the right dog for you. Personally, I love large and giant breeds and will probably never own other breeds.

Don’t be discouraged by shelters telling you that they won’t give you a larger dog just because you’re living in an apartment – it’s definitely possible with the right exercise!

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Disclaimer: This blog post does not substitute veterinary attention and does not intend to do so. I am not a veterinarian or pet nutritionist. If your dog shows any sign of illness, call your vet.

About Danielle

Equipped with 5+ years of expertise as a Rottweiler owner, I partner with licensed veterinarians and trainers to share research-backed and actionable advice for you and your furry friend.


Thursday 10th of August 2023

Hi, thank you for sharing. May I know why Doberman Pinscher and German Shepherd are not in the list?


Saturday 12th of August 2023

Hi John, this is just a selection of breeds. Not all individuals are suitable and some not on this list will be suitable. GSDs and Malinois are usually high-energy and may not do so well in an apartment. Dobermans: Similar to the Rottie, I've just seen too many of these kept without appropriate methods to exercise them and so I generally steer clear of recommending them.

Hope that clarifies it, Danielle


Monday 10th of January 2022

This is an eye-opening article. Most people would simply look past big dogs for apartment life. However, you just made the case perfectly that many big dogs can live the apartment life very happily. I have to admit that the Great Danes I've known have been huge pillow buddies. They kind of just melt into whatever you need them to do or be, at least the ones I've known. Thanks for this post.


Friday 21st of January 2022

Yep, under the right circumstances, a big dog can definitely be an incredible apartment companion. That being said, ticking all the boxes on a checklist is still a good idea to evaluate whether or not a big dog is perfect for somebody at all :).

Cheers, Danielle

Jackson Mills

Thursday 15th of April 2021

Thank you for this! But I am still unsure on which dog to get..I currently live near the heart of New York, and I know, it’s a very busy and noisy place, but I’ve always wanted a large dog (I’m interested in big black dogs, like Sirus Black’s animagus form). Right now I’m leaning towards a Great Dane or Retriever, but I’d like someone else’s opinion on this.


Thursday 15th of April 2021

Hey Jackson, it's great that you're reading up about this before getting a dog. While many large dogs are well suited for apartments (if exercised physically and mentally outside), many of these large breeds are not really suitable for busy city life.

So, I'm just giving my personal opinion here: There are lots of forests, fields, rivers and all of that around here and my Rottweiler loves it. Whenever we walk through the city (and she loves people) she's interested in playing with the occasional dog but not able to and she's pretty bored and walks like a senior dog - which she never does! The city dogs? They look like they've been beaten before going outside that's how bored they seem to be by their life, maybe it's just the excitement inside my little girl, even though she's 2 1/2 years old now.

Dogs get a lot satisfaction through their senses, most coming from their nostrils. There's nothing in a city for a dog to smell. Garbage, gas, man-made stuff and it's a sensory overload in terms of how many people there are anyway (some dogs learn to cope with this though). Dogs also hear everything amplified compared to us.

While Great Danes truly are gentle giants, they are quite big and you'd need to walk to a big park or something like that each and every day. Retrievers are smart and need work too. Both are certainly more suitable than breeds like the Rottweiler in my personal opinion, but ask yourself whether or not it's optimal and if you're moving in the next years. Is it possible? Certainly. But if there are other options on the horizon, I'd wait.

The freedom of letting my dog off-leash when I'm going outside in the evening cause nobody is around - I wouldn't want to miss that. So you're also putting stress on yourself. Issues with people are harder to manage, leash-pulling needs to be eradicated, otherwise walking is no fun in a city :).

Hope that helps, Danielle

Madison Finley

Saturday 24th of October 2020

Great post! I'm planning to get another dog and I'm leaning towards a golden retriever or a boxer. Thank you for sharing this!


Wednesday 7th of October 2020

Thank you for your great advise. I got my rottie from the RSPCA. She is mostly rottie with some bull mastiff. I love my girl but she sheds a lot. Is that because she's a mix breed or do rotweilers generally shed a lot.


Wednesday 7th of October 2020

Hey Anna,

my Rottweiler sheds very little throughout the year but be prepared for shedding seasons twice a year. The Bullmastiff is also a very moderately shedding dog breed, so this shouldn't be an issue. It may just be that your dog's changing coats right now.

Shedding could also be due to stress, diet changes, or even skin conditions. Would just keep an eye on it :). By the way: When I switched my Rottie from premium kibble to a raw diet, the shedding was much less, stool was harder and less often, etc. Switching might be worth a thought.

Cheers, Danielle