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When I think about the best dog breeds for my clients who live in a city, I have several criteria!

For someone living in a city, I tend to recommend a dog who is…

  • Small
  • Non-Aggressive
  • Quiet
  • Non-Shedding

That would be my dream list!

Based on hundreds of clients and seeing thousands of dogs over the past decade… here are some breeds I’ve seen work really well! (in no particular order)

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

My favorite! Small, yet sturdy, friendly with other dogs and people… I rarely meet a Cavalier who is difficult. The only thing to look out for are the health issues that are prevelant in the breed.

Breed club description here

Small Breed Shelter Dog

I have met so many super nice dogs who were rescued from an animal shelter! I think the key here is to get a smaller-sized dog. Without knowing the dogs background, a smaller size will help make any issues that arise more manageable!

(There are OF COURSE larger breed dogs from a shelter who work out GREAT in the city, so if you are set on a large bred, don’t let me deter you!)


If you want a little dog in a small package, you can’t go wrong with a Chihuahua. There are also often plenty of great Chihuahuas in rescue!

Challenges of this breed in the city would include snappy behaviors (these can stem from owner-specific issues to genetic predispositions), aggression, and barking.

Learn more from the AKC description

Doodles (this is a huge category!)

Labradoodles, Goldendoodles, Miniature Goldendoodles, Bernedoodles, Cockapoos…  This is a purposely, cross-bred dog, who is half Poodle.

I love doodles for my city dwellers, especially my city clients who want a larger dog.

It can be such a help to have a NON-SHEDDING dog when your dog is 80lbs and you live in an apartment (trust me! I have an 80lb shedding German Shepherd, it’s a LOT of work and EVERYthing is ALWAYS covered in dog hair). Though, to be fair, some of them will shed depending on which breed they take after…

The doodles I meet tend to be super friendly and enthusiastic, always up for some fun!

Challenges with this catergory are finding a reputable breeder (avoiding hyper, aggressive, and fearful lines, in addition to health issues) and grooming. These dogs generally need to be brushed out daily and professionally groomed every 6 weeks, that can really affect your budget, especially with the larger doodles that can cost upwards of $80 per grooming session.


Why dilute a good thing? Some of the BEST city dogs I’ve worked with are poodles! They are hypoallergenic, they DO NOT SHED, and are typically delightful, happy companions.

You can also often find great poodles in rescue.

They come in several sizes (toy, miniature, moyen, and standard).

Challenges are finding a reputable breeder to, hopefully, avoid genetic behavioral and health issues.

Learn more from the AKC description

French Bulldogs & Pugs

I grouped these two together because they are similar to me.

Both are generally happy-go-lucky, funny, and love to be the star of the show.

Challenges are finding a reputable breeder because of the health issues associated with brachycephalic dogs.

AKC description of French Bulldog

AKC description of the Pug

Bichons, Havanese, and Maltese

These are three other great dog breeds. If you are looking for a low-shedding, laid-back dog, one of these might be it!

I love all three of these breeds. I generally find them to be friendly and perfect for city life, including apartment living.

Sometimes, I do see issues with fear in these breeds, so getting your dog from a breeder who is breeder for confident dogs is a must! Also, these breeds have higher grooming needs, so you should be prepared for that as well.

AKC description of the Bichon 

AKC description of the Havanese

AKC description of the Maltese

All that being said…

I lived for several years in the heart of Washington, DC with an 80lb German Shepherd. So, if you are passionate about any specific breed, good for you!

If you really want it, you can do it!

Just read your breed descriptions carefully, talk with breeders and other owners, and make sure you are fully able to commit to the breed requirements before you jump in!