New York City is filled with dog lovers. I’ve wanted a dog for years (I grew up with three Yorkies in Hawaii), and seeing so many adorable pooches walking the streets of Manhattan didn’t help my “doggy fever.” Of course, owning a dog in NYC isn’t always easy, and it can be expensive, especially if you’re already scrambling to pay rent. If you’re fortunate enough to be able to adopt a pup, there are some things to consider first, such as the best dog breeds for New York apartments.
Not all buildings allow pets, and many that do will have size or breed restrictions – especially with stereotypically “risky” breeds like Pit Bulls or Rottweilers. You also want to be realistic with what type of dog would best suit your lifestyle. Are you active enough to provide adequate exercise for a high-energy pooch? Can you dedicate enough time to training particularly intelligent and independent breeds? Whatever type of dog you’re looking for, we’ve compiled a list of the best dog breeds for New York apartments, and those most likely to thrive in a small space and big city environment.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
As one of the happiest, most loving dogs, it’s no wonder the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is popular with apartment-dwellers (remember Charlotte’s dog, Elizabeth Taylor, from Sex and the City?). Cavaliers love to please, making them easy to train, and they need lots of affection – perfect for those post-workday cuddles.
Bred in Tibet to be a lapdog and foot warmer for royalty, Shih Tzus are fantastic little companions for New Yorkers. They’re a bit difficult to train, however, and need lots of repetition to learn commands (we’re talking 40-50 times).
My first roommate in NYC had a senior Havanese, and she was wonderful. The Havanese was favored by historic figures like Queen Victoria and Charles Dickens, and their signature stature – legs that are shorter in the front than in the back – is adorable. Since they’re incredibly easy to house train, these pups are ideal for apartment living.
Yorkshire Terriers are perfect for anyone with allergies, as they have humanlike hair rather than fur. These little dogs don’t like to be alone, so they’re great for anyone who works from home. Maintain their coat with a puppy cut for easy upkeep, and you’ll love life with a Yorkie. There’s even a Yorkie meetup in Manhattan with monthly playgroups.
For experienced dog owners who prefer a medium-sized dog, the foxy-looking Shiba Inu could be for you. They’re relatively quiet (your neighbors will thank you), as well as independent. Just keep in mind that their independence and high intelligence level can make them stubborn during training, and they won’t listen to commands if they feel you don’t really mean it.
As one of the top three most popular breeds in NYC, Frenchies have developed a cult following over the years. They love companionship, so you can take your Frenchie with you while running errands. And since they don’t require much exercise, going about your day with your doggy in tow is enough to keep a French Bulldog happy.
Just because New York apartments don’t come with sprawling lawns and tons of space doesn’t mean you can’t have a big dog. (There was even a Saint Bernard living in my neighboring building, and I’d always see him during his nighttime walks.) It’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t love Labs, and this athletic breed is a phenomenal companion for runners. As long as you’re diligent with training, these family-friendly dogs fare well in a city setting. One of my favorite Labrador-related memories was going to Tracy’s apartment for “Friendsgiving,” and watching her dog Bogey walk back and forth with a happily swishing tail that could clear a coffee table within seconds.
No matter which dog breed you choose, be sure to source your pup responsibly. As a current dog behavior and socialization volunteer at Seattle Humane, I’m a huge fan of “Adopt, don’t shop.” But if you do go through a breeder, always choose one who is AKC registered with a solid reputation.
Top photo of Bogey and his friend Gypsy by Heather Harrison Moran.