A stroll past city dog runs makes it clear that New Yorkers adopt pups of all sizes and dispositions. But given the unique constraints of NYC living, we wondered whether certain breeds were better suited to New York residency than others. Do large breeds, like Great Danes, suffer in the narrow confines of a tiny apartment? Is taking in an excitable dog, like a Chihuahua, an invitation for noise complaints from neighbors?
Clearly we’re not the only New Yorkers caught up in Westminster fever; we've also been speaking to experts who gave us some great recommendations on how to find the best pooch for you, and your NYC home.
What to consider before you adopt
Victoria Wells, senior manager of behavior and training at New York’s ASPCA Adoption Center, points out that the city is a noisy and distracting environment: “It’s not always easy for a dog who has never been around crowds, traffic, or the city in general.”
To that end, in addition to mulling over what dog is right for you, it’s also worth considering how a pet would cope with your particular living situation. Remember that some dogs may struggle to scale multiple flights of stairs, while others might be alarmed by elevators. “If you live in a five-floor walkup, a dog with orthopedic issues may not be your best choice,” Wells says.
It also pays to reflect on how much time you’re willing to spend outdoors. If you’re active, you might be interested in terriers, whose “owners need to commit to getting outside and exercising with their dogs,” Wells says. “Other dogs, like hounds, can be really social,” so they’ll benefit from visits to parks where they can romp around with their fellow canines. More sedentary types should research dogs that are content to lounge around most of the time.
Wells also explains that while most adopters are drawn to puppies, adult dogs are much easier to train, and also likely to be housebroken. Ultimately, she says, “a confident, easy-going dog, who can handle the stress of big city living is the right match.”
So what are some breeds that fit that description? Read on.
Cara Tallarida, manager at Brooklyn’s Pooch Purrfect, says that the diminutive Chihuahua is a solid choice for the close confines of a New York apartment, not to mention purse-ready. “They’re a small, convenient pet,” she says, “and you can take them with you anywhere.”
The American Kennel Club’s website notes that Chihuahuas tend to be mostly indoor pets with a moderate amount of energy, desirable traits for the NYC lifestyle. Wells adds that energy level should be an important consideration for prospective dog owners. “If a person works hard all day and doesn’t want to have to go jogging with their dog when they get home, they need to choose a dog who has a low to moderate energy level,” she advises. Chihuahuas fit this bill, yes, but Tallarida warns of their potentially "vocal" nature, and says the longhaired variety will require a bit of regular grooming. Though still great for little apartments, longhaired Chihuahuas have thick coats, and will benefit from regular brushing to prevent knots and minimize shedding.
English and French bulldogs are among the quietest of breeds, Tallarida says, which makes them ideal if you have neighbors prone to complaining about noise. French bulldogs—the most popular dog in New York City for the second year running—may appeal to busy locals because they’re laid-back and don’t need a lot of exercise; according to the AKC, brisk walks will keep them in good shape. On the other hand, Frenchies can be stubborn when it comes to training, Tallarida notes.
You might not expect that this largest of breeds would be well-suited to an NYC home, but Wells points out that the belief that smaller dogs are best for apartments is a misconception. “It’s really the personality of the dog,” she says, and to that end, she recommends adopting dogs from shelters that conduct behavior assessments, which will list all their traits (and can vary regardless of breed.)
Great Danes, Tallarida says, are generally very relaxed animals, happy to just hang out on their own doggy bed or your couch: “They’re one of the breeds that get into your heart, but don’t need too much.” The AKC concurs, noting that given a couple of good walks a day, Danes are placid pups.
Though famous racers, Greyhounds tend to make for good apartment dogs, Tallarida says. According to the AKC site, shorthaired Greyhounds won’t shed much or require a lot of grooming—which can get expensive and time-consuming. (A basic shampooing will run you between $30 and $90, according to Angie's List, with services like teeth-brushing and nail-clipping costing additional fees.) Plus, the long, lean dogs are on the quiet side—as long as they get in a long-distance walk every day to expend their considerable energy and desire for movement. Tallarida points out that for all breeds whose owners work full-time, it’s important to have a dog walker or doggy day care staff member on hand to provide pets with a much-needed outlet.
If you want a buddy to keep you company during Netflix binges, the Mastiff is for you. Though quite large, they don’t need a lot of room: Tallarida says that their energy level is low, and they “sputter out after a long walk and just hang out on couches.”
Wells agrees, noting that when a Mastiff’s family is away at work, “chances are they will be asleep on the sofa.” That said, this is an enormous breed, and the AKC advises thorough training so that by the time your Mastiff reaches its full size, it’s obedient. Though some Mastiffs resemble pit bulls, the breed is distinct; however, some buildings are put off by its size and may limit dogs to more petite breeds. Many real estate search engines allow you to hunt by pet-friendliness, but even then, check with management about weight restrictions.
Shih Tzus can be like friendly cats in that they love to cuddle. They’re the "stereotypical lap dog," Tallarida says. She characterizes the small breed as compassionate, excellent buddies for apartment dwellers. The downside to this toy dog is that they are high-maintenance when it comes to grooming and brushing, and their long coat will mat up and get knots if it isn’t groomed every six to eight weeks--which may require some extra labor on your end, or the services of a professional groomer.