Trying to find your next furry friend?

You’re already thinking about the obvious questions: Do you want a pampered pooch that fits in your handbag or a mountain dog that’ll camp with you in the wilderness?

But beyond just thinking about which type of dog fits your personality, you’ll also need to weigh your living space. Whether you live in a high-rise condo or a sprawling single-family home, ask yourself the following five questions.

(Note: Cats are adaptable to almost any environment, so this article is geared toward dog owners.)

1. How Much Space Will My Dog Need?

You can have a big dog in a small apartment, but beware: Certain breeds are more active than others, and “energy level” is as big a consideration as size.

Lower-energy breeds like Greyhounds can be perfectly content lounging on the couch. As you walk these dogs daily, they’ll be fine—even in an apartment.


Some types of dogs are better suited for apartments than others.

Higher-energy breeds like Labradors, on the other hand, can make you start to feel crowded by being always underfoot. They’re best in a home with a large fenced-in yard so they can burn off some of that extra energy.

Smaller breeds, on the other hand, don’t need as much room to run. They can adapt well to any size of home. Just tossing a ball down the hallway can wear them out as quickly as a run in the park.

2. How Much Noise Will My Dog Make?

Certain breeds are known to be “yappy” by nature. Yorkies, Chihuahuas and toy poodles can quickly get on the neighbors’ nerves if you live in an apartment or condo building.


A Rottweiler’s barking may disturb your neighbors.

The small breeds aren’t the only vocal ones. Some larger breeds make for great watchdogs (German Shepherds, Rottweilers) but can result in complaints if they bark at everyone who walks by while you’re at work.

Proper training can curb some of these excessive-barking issues, but bear in mind that some breeds are more likely than others to trigger noise complaints.

3. Will Your Dog Be Destructive?


A Bernese Mountain Dog may be too big for tight living quarters.

Breeds with strong and waggy tails, like Bernese Mountain Dogs or Italian Mastiffs, may not work so well in tight spaces filled with breakable knickknacks. If you’re committed to adopting one of these breeds, hide your grandmother’s glass vase and fill your apartment with durables.

4. Where Will My Dog Do Its “Business”?

When it comes to defecation, cats are as fine in a studio apartment as they are in a mansion. They merely require a litter box, which can be tucked away wherever you choose. If you clean the litter box frequently, you won’t notice the smell.

Dogs, on the other hand, will require regular potty visits, and the type of home you live in can greatly affect the hassle associated with this.

Pet Waste Sign at the Park

Keep in mind where your dog will be relieving himself.

If you live in a high-rise apartment, do you have a private balcony where you could put a faux-grass pee pad (and are you prepared to clean it up regularly)? If the answer is “no,” are you prepared to take Spot downstairs several times a day so he can relieve himself?

If you live in a single-family house, it’s no big deal to install a doggie door or let your dog run in the backyard a few times a day. But if you need to ride in an elevator and escort your dog outside, the hassle factor ratchets up a notch.

5. How Much Attention Does My Dog Need?

Cats are pretty low-maintenance. Provide them with enough food, water, clean litter and some toys, and they’ll happily amuse themselves for hours on end.

puppy eating

A dog requires regular care and feeding.

Dogs, on the other hand, require more hands-on interaction. If you have a busy schedule where you’re rarely home or you can’t commit to a regular routine, a dog may not be the right fit for you.

And don’t overlook other (furry and non-furry) pet possibilities. Guinea pigs can be surprisingly interactive but are comparatively low-maintenance. Rabbits can be cuddly and loving without disturbing your neighbors. Fish and iguanas can be ideal if you’re not home terribly often but would like some extra company when you are.

Bottom Line

Getting a pet can add joy to your life, but they’re also a big responsibility. Resist the urge to fall in love with the first cute face you see. Instead, consider whether your new companion will be a good fit for your home and lifestyle.


Paula Pant