A black and tan doggy is lying upside down on a sofa

Can you have a dog in a flat?

5 May 2023

Reviewed by Dr Jill McMaster BVM&S MBA MRCVS, Veterinary Surgeon and in-house expert at BorrowMyDoggy on 26 May 2023

Dogs bring untold happiness to our lives… in exchange for getting the best care an owner can possibly provide, of course! The big question is, is it fair for a dog to live in a flat? Kathleen Pohl, a veterinary surgeon from Zetland Vets and My Family Vets, takes a closer look…

Kathleen Pohl from Zetland Vets

Well… There’s really no definitive answer for this. In short, it depends on the dog (and the flat!) in question. If the dog is suited to the flat and vice versa, then it’s totally fine to keep a dog in a flat - providing your landlord is OK with it!

How to tell if the dog is suited to the flat?

First off, it’s generally safe to assume that small dogs will do better than larger dogs. The reason for this is simple: their modest size means they don’t take up as much space, and they get more exercise space out of a given area.

Willow, the Greyhound

This isn’t the be all and end all though – temperament is also really important. For example, Chihuahuas are very small dogs but they’re not best suited for life in a flat because they’re notorious for barking. Likewise, certain larger breeds (like Greyhounds) are very docile when they’re at home; so, providing they get their 2 lengthy walks per day, they could adapt perfectly fine to life in a flat.

Age and individual circumstances

If you’re adopting a rescue dog who’s reaching their retirement years and doesn’t need as much daily exercise, life in a flat could be well suited to them. However if they do have joint issues, a top floor flat with no lift, might not suit this dog. If you’re adopting a dog who lived in a flat previously though, and this is not an issue, they’re likely to be perfectly comfortable.

Of course, the opposite is also true. Younger, energetic dogs, and dogs used to spacious rooms and gardens may struggle to adapt to apartment life.

Freddie, the Yorkshire Terrier

Plus, it depends on the flat

Flats come in all shapes and sizes – they don’t always have less floor space than houses. If your flat is spacious enough and you’re getting a suitable breed, you should be absolutely fine. Some flats also have great shared, or individual garden space! Every scenario is different, so think about seeking the advice of a vet before making any decisions based on your personal circumstances.

Where is the flat? And what about your living situation?

Some other factors to consider include:

  • Does the flat have a communal garden?
  • Is there a park nearby?
  • Are you living in an urban area where there isn’t much green space?
  • Do you live alone and work long hours?

Individual circumstances play a big part in deciding which breed is best for you, or if you’d be better off with a cat or other pet.

Hippo, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi

Top tips for flat dwellers

If you’re already in the position of living in a flat with a dog and want to make sure you’re doing the best job possible, here are some helpful hints:

  • Keep the flat tidy, and free up as much floor space as you possibly can
  • Make sure your dog gets access to plenty of natural light
  • Walk and feed them at set times every day – this will make sure they use the toilet at consistent times
  • Keep your dog well trained and their mind occupied with puzzle toys/feeders

Best dogs for flats

Dogs that typically do well in apartments include Corgis and Dachshunds.

But once again, a dog’s suitability to apartment life should be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Dante, the Miniature Long-Haired Dachshund

If you need more assistance, your vet will be happy to advise further!

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