What kind of dog would suit this lifestyle?
December 23, 2010 9:20 PM   Subscribe

Asking for a friend: What kind of dog would suit this lifestyle?

They live in a good-sized apartment in Toronto (800 - 1000 square feet) in a neighbourhood with lots of parks, and they can walk the dog twice a day. They both work full time, so the dog would be alone from about 8am until 5pm most weekdays.

She's thinking of a beagle cross, and definitely wants to adopt from a rescue or the humane society but is finding that most of the dogs at the humane society are too big for her living space. Can anyone advise? What breed is fairly mellow and would be happy with two walks and possibly some off-leash time?

P.S. Severe cat allergy, so that's not an option
posted by torisaur to Pets & Animals (29 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I love my Italian greyhounds, perfect for apartment living. Most beagles I've known have been, ummmm, very vocal. This could be a problem in an apartment.
posted by Allee Katze at 9:34 PM on December 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Beagles aren't, imho, good candidates for being left unsupervised a lot. They tend to get lonely and are often mischevious by nature.
posted by fshgrl at 9:43 PM on December 23, 2010 [4 favorites]

Agreed that beagles can be very active and very vocal. Have they considered a toy breed? 800-100 sq ft. isn't really that big, especially with two other people in the apartment. Toy poodles are occasionally assholes, but can often be quite sweet. The same goes for shih tzu's.

I recently adopted a dachshund mix and, while he's a pretty nice kid, and is usually pretty mellow, he is sometimes inordinately stubborn for no good reason (as I've learned is a trait of the breed).

Finally, I'll mention a corgi mix. Smart, fairly well behaved. Keep them away from kids, though, as they will try to herd them.
posted by Gilbert at 9:51 PM on December 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Some big dogs are fine in small living spaces, because they can channel their inner couch potato-ness. If the dog will be getting regular exercise, I wouldn't worry too much about its size. (Except of course, if the dog is so big that it physically doesn't fit in the space, like a St. Bernard or a mastiff.)

That said, my Pomeranian is generally pretty good alone, and doesn't require a lot in terms of exercise. He's pretty content to just hang around and sit nearby.

My beagle, when he isn't sleeping upside down under the comforter on my bed, can be a howler and he sometimes gets into trouble when left alone.

Most laid-back breed, IMO, is a lab. You can usually find labs or lab crosses that are smaller in size (especially if you're ok with a female.) If you get one that's a little older, you might be able to avoid the bouncy, mouthy Tigger-like stage that a lot of labs seem to go through as older pups/teenagers.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 10:06 PM on December 23, 2010

They should keep in mind that if it's going to be alone that long a puppy might not be the best option, unless they live in a neighborhood with lots of children and teenagers, they are cheap dog walkers.
As far as size, again if it's not a puppy it all comes down to the individual dog. I have a pit bull and a german shepard that hang out in my tiny, tiny, tiny house for hours without a problem. And really large dogs actually require much less exercise than you'd expect.
Since they're in an apartment, for the sake of the neighbors, I would avoid a beagle. Very few things are louder than a bored beagle. Except possibly a not bored beagle.
posted by gally99 at 10:19 PM on December 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

My fiancee brought her dog with her when she moved to Seattle. He's a Glen of Imaal Terrier, a breed you have likely never heard of, as there are only a few hundred in the U.S. They are named for their place of origin, a valley in County Wicklow, Ireland, south of Dublin. Owners call them "Glens" and get used to questions like "what did you say your dog is again? A 'mall terrier'?"

They are a compact but beefy dog: 35-40 pounds but only 13" high at the shoulder. By comparison, the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier (which is thought to be related to the Glen) is about the same weight but 17-20" high. Think "big dog on short legs," sort of a terrier take on the Basset Hound. Glens' heads look positively huge on their shoulders.

In general, dogs of this breed are extremely laid-back for terriers, not at all yappy and sharp-tempered. They love to get out but they are also content to curl up by your feet and doze. They were bred to be solitary vermin hunters, so they need less contact with their pack and are less vocal than a lot of other breeds, though when they do bark, their voice is deep and authoritative and sounds like a much larger dog. That makes them good watchdogs (as they will bark when their territory is invaded by a stranger). However, they are not aggressive and will not attack people, even strangers.

We lived with our Glen, Stanley, in an apartment about two blocks from a nice big park for a year, and he did great. We live in a house now and he still prefers to walk a couple blocks than to use the back yard. He is extremely reliable off-leash and handles encounters with dogs and humans very well. He is also very smart and almost seems to understand English at times. He handles being alone all day pretty well.

Another bonus: Glens don't shed. You have to manually "strip" the old hair from them every few months because it doesn't fall out on its own. They are very good for people with dog allergies.

I was never a dog person before I met Stanley. He really won me over. I highly recommend the breed. We recently got a female Glen puppy (from a litter Stanley sired, in fact) and it is very interesting to watch her grow up and get smarter. She can be more frenetic and destructive than her father, but all puppies are like that. And she seems to be mellowing out pretty quickly.

If this kind of dog sounds interesting to you, feel free to drop me a MeMail. We are friendly with several U.S. breeders and can probably put you in touch with someone who will have puppies available in the near future.
posted by kindall at 10:25 PM on December 23, 2010 [6 favorites]

Hard to beat a Corgi.
posted by rougy at 10:59 PM on December 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Beagle should be code for difficult. They don't like to be left alone and if they are left to their own devices they will either be destructive or howl loudly. They need an insane amount of exercise, and they will follow their nose anywhere. You absolutely *cannot* let a Beagle off it's leash. EVER. We had a Beagle and had to find her a new family when I was put on bed rest with my last pregnancy. I was no longer able to take her for her daily 45 minute walk and if she didn't get her walk she was destructive.

Bulldogs are expensive and can have breathing problems, but they are giant couch potatoes and do well in apartments. I've always wanted a Bulldog but I just couldn't afford it. I have a Pug now, and he is a huge couch potato. He's an idiot though, and I'm having a tough time training him. He sleeps most of the day, and I think he'd be great for an apartment life.

A good friend has Greyhounds. They are also couch potatoes and big ol' sweethearts.

I'm partial to herding dogs. My best dogs were my Border Collie mix (I still miss her) and my current German Shepherd Dog. I can't recommend them for your friend though. They need a lot of space and a lot of exercise.

Toy breeds are great for apartments. A Poodle/ Cocker Spaniel (Cock-a-poo) is a nice little dog. They can be neurotic, but if they're properly trained and socialized they can be very good dogs.
posted by TooFewShoes at 11:26 PM on December 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

I will definitely agree with the above commenters, a beagle is a bad choice. If left alone from 8 to 5, it will howl all the time and drive the neighbors crazy. Our beagle mix is crated during the day because if she's not, she rips everything in the house apart, but she has a tendency to whine all the time when she's in the crate, and she gets very bored if we don't leave Kongs and other toys for her.

I would second TwoFewShoes greyhound suggestions. They like to exercise when they are taken outside and exercised (walking, games of chase, etc) but the rest of the time they are giant couch potatoes, and just about the sweetest dogs in the world. They take up a lot less space than you would think.
posted by kro at 12:12 AM on December 24, 2010

Only two walks a day? Does that mean your friend would only let them out to go to the bathroom twice a day? Because if that's the case, they either shouldn't get a dog or they shouldn't get a dog.

Leaving a dog completely alone for 10 hours is a sure way to get crap and piss everywhere.
posted by XhaustedProphet at 2:07 AM on December 24, 2010 [4 favorites]

8 - 5 is a very long stretch for a lot of dogs without a potty break. They might be well advised to consider a dog walking service. Additionally, a beagle left alone for that amount of time seems likely to sing his displeasure and seems like a bad idea.

Having said that I have raised both a standard poodle and an enormous German Shepard in a NYC apartment, and a 42-lb boxer in a Cork apartment before we bought a house. It really isn't a size issue; there are perfectly happy Great Danes in cities all over.

On paper a pure-bred boxer is a bad dog for us. Traditionally they bark (or sing) a lot and require a lot of exercise. Ours doesn't bark at all*, even when the doorbell rings, and requires 3 dog beds so she can sleep wherever we are. She's entirely happy with one off-leash park romp a day, and two other pee walks.

In practice, any dog or no dog at your local shelter on a given day may be a good match. It's extremely individual. The dogs she's interested in should be taken out of the enclosure, walked if possible, and generally evaluated for behaviour traits that match it's new family's requirements.

She does know how, she's just a quiet, traumatised shelter dog.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:03 AM on December 24, 2010 [2 favorites]

I walk my dog 2x a day, for an hour each time, with a very quickie at bedtime -- he's alone from 8 to 6ish. He's a 90lb standard poodle and the vet says, generally, the bigger they are, the longer they can handle waiting patiently for you to get home. I leave the radio on, and he gets a big crunchy frozen bone to help the time pass.
posted by thinkpiece at 5:07 AM on December 24, 2010

No Beagles. A Corgi would do well, though. Also consider getting more than one to keep each other company during the day. People don't realize just how depressed a lonely dog can get.
posted by InsanePenguin at 5:25 AM on December 24, 2010

I had a Boston Terrier for an apartment dog. She didn't bark for you to notice, and she was active but would exercise herself by running around the apartment. A wonderful breed altogether.
posted by BibiRose at 5:49 AM on December 24, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks all, you've been very helpful as always! :)
posted by torisaur at 6:59 AM on December 24, 2010

Not a Beagle for sure, they are loud!

A rescued Greyhound is a perfect apartment dog.
posted by biscotti at 7:44 AM on December 24, 2010

I wouldn't make this decision based on breed alone, especially since your friend is adopting. What your friend needs to do is find a reliable rescue organization that gets to know their animals, whether it's the SPCA, humane society, or a breed specific rescue. One she's found a trustworthy rescue, tell them the personality and traits she's looking for: low energy, house broken, on the small side, fairly independent. Let the rescue suggest a few dogs to consider, and then spend some time evaluating each one. We found this article on Petfinder about choosing the right shelter dog a valuable resource.

The reason I say to not let breed be the deciding factor is that we have an adorable and delightful beagle mix who fits all of your friend's requests. Others have mentioned some of the typical beagle traits, but every dog is different. Our beagle does not bark or howl - ever*. She's independent and does not mind being alone. She's not destructive. My husband and I both work, so she's home alone, uncrated, for most of the day. (They are absolutely right about the no off-leash time for beagles though. Beagles follow their noses everywhere and anywhere.)

* Like DarlingBri, our dog can bark she just chooses not to.

Best of luck to your friend. I hope she finds the perfect canine companion!
posted by geeky at 7:50 AM on December 24, 2010 [2 favorites]

A great dane (not a puppy) doesn't need too much exercise...but maybe they should get two dogs for company if the dog will be alone so much? Can they afford to hire a dog walker to come halfway through the day?
posted by whalebreath at 8:16 AM on December 24, 2010

Ditto rescued greyhounds. Sweet, clean, tractable, undemanding, catlike in all the best ways.
posted by fivesavagepalms at 8:17 AM on December 24, 2010

I could not agree more with geeky. I also have a beagle mix who would be great in your friend's situation - she never howls, hardly ever barks, and she sleeps on my bed for hours a day while I'm at work. I was not looking for a beagle (I actually wanted something more like a greyhound!), but I let the shelter staff guide me towards the dog I ended up with, and I could not be more pleased. So tell your friend to find a shelter she trusts, tell them what she wants, and hopefully she will find something that works for her!
posted by rosethorn at 8:24 AM on December 24, 2010

Another vote for working with shelters and rescue folks who can match the friend with the right dog.

Also, keep in mind that shelters and rescue usually just make guesses about breeds. I always want to say "mixed" or "mutt" or "100% Dog" but there seems to be a need to know what breed a dog might be so we label 'em.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 9:18 AM on December 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

1. Not a puppy. Look for something at least 14 months or so old. Seriously, it makes no difference if you have a dog from puppyhood.

2. If you really want a beagle, talk to the various beagle rescues in your area and tell them about your situation. They may have the perfect beagle for you. However, as others have said, many beagles are very, very vocal and will also chew/eat everything.

3. Greyhounds are very good apartment dogs. However, they do like to get out and run. If you have no suitable park/land nearby, it might be hard to do this. Huskies are also good. Give them a dark, cool closet to use as a den and give them a long walk twice a day.

4. I have an ex-stray Havanese who is the perfect apartment dog. (And I live on a farm.) Non-shedding, quiet, affectionate, needs to pee about every 12 hours, good with dogs and even kids, travels really well. Havanese are smallish but sturdy and very easy to have around. If you keep them in a puppy clip, they look like terriers and not like foofy dogs.
posted by grounded at 9:19 AM on December 24, 2010

Seconding Italian Greyhounds. Our two sleep about 15 hours a day, run around the house for another hour, and will take long naps after any walk further than 3 blocks. Too, obligatory puppy picture.
posted by nulledge at 9:49 AM on December 24, 2010

BibiRose: "I had a Boston Terrier for an apartment dog. She didn't bark for you to notice, and she was active but would exercise herself by running around the apartment. A wonderful breed altogether."

FWIW my sister also has a Boston Terrier in a NYC apartment. He's alone while she's at work and does fine uncrated. He's barky when there's something to bark about - a fine dog trait - which I tolerate much better than general yappiness. He came from a breed rescue and is cute and loving as can be.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:43 AM on December 24, 2010

Seconding everything grounded said about my ex-stray Havanese. She will sleep all day if we are gone, but we can take her almost everywhere when we travel because of her gentle disposition. She is non-shedding and hypoallergenic. She doesn't bark. She needs one good walk a day and a pee walk at night (we can just put her in the backyard for that now that we have a backyard). She's a really wonderful companion!
posted by kamikazegopher at 2:12 PM on December 24, 2010

Only going to "go" twice a day? Could a person do that? I don't think so.

Please tell them to at least leave a paper down during those 8 hrs. they are absent. I hate the idea of a dog being home alone all day and having to "hold it" til they come home. I think its animal cruelty.

Sounds like a prescription for future bladder/kidney problems to me or maybe a urinary tract infection. Ouch!
posted by Tullyogallaghan at 9:22 AM on December 25, 2010

A lot of the good stuff said above about Havaneses are also true of my Shih Tzu.
posted by troywestfield at 6:20 PM on December 25, 2010

Tullyogallaghan: "I hate the idea of a dog being home alone all day and having to "hold it" til they come home. I think its animal cruelty."

Surely this depends on the dog, and its current eating and drinking habits. There are days when I have to physically push my dog out the door to take care of business. Especially in the winter, he doesn't eat or drink as much, and just doesn't have to go as often.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 9:26 PM on December 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Only going to "go" twice a day? Could a person do that? I don't think so.

Of course a person can do it! You have pretty much described my habits, in fact. I hate "going" in bathrooms used by other people and will avoid it unless the need is urgent.

That said, we like to let our dogs out at least three times a day: first thing in the morning, just after work, and just before bed. For the first few months we had the puppy, one of us would go home at lunchtime and let them both out, but eventually she was able to hold it for the entire time we were at work.
posted by kindall at 2:06 PM on December 27, 2010

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