Living with Pets in an Apartment – Tips for Making Pets Work in a Small Space

Living with Pets in an Apartment – Tips for Making Pets Work in a Small Space

This is going to be a fun reveal and hopefully some of the best pets for small spaces will surprise you! Of course some apartments can be as big as free standing homes but for our purposes we will be looking at the small one or two bedroom apartment and living area and what type of pet would be best for you.

As you begin your search you will want to look at your lifestyle and work schedule. How many hours are you away from home, do you work five days a week and have weekends off? Perhaps you have a varied schedule like those who do gig work. Some people work three or four days a week for 10 to 12 hours daily. Many people in the energy sector work 7 days on and 7 days off. Do you work from home?

Maybe you are someone who is busy in the evenings with volunteer opportunities or perhaps you enjoy time out with friends. Evaluating how you spend your time will certainly benefit you when looking for the perfect pet to share your space.

First, let’s look at the type of pet that would do well in the home of a busy working person with equally busy free time.


An aquarium is a great choice when you are someone who may not have a lot of time or has a varied schedule for work. A “nano” tank is one that is under 10 gallons for fresh water and 35 gallons or less for salt water. These small tanks take up a smaller space and offer a soothing and relaxing atmosphere to the home. Shrimp, snails, frogs, and colorful fish all contribute to the lowering of blood pressure and overall stress as you watch them float around serenely. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Many aquariums are low maintenance although size and types of fish can affect the cost
  • Buy from knowledgeable stores that will guide you through the care and feeding of your chosen fish
  • Check with your leasing office as to size requirements before purchasing

Some aquatic animals that do well in 10 gallon tanks include:

  • Dwarf or Pygmy Corydoras: These small catfish species are suitable for a 10-gallon tank. They are peaceful, social, and do well in small groups. Provide a sandy substrate and hiding spots for them.
  • White Cloud Mountain Minnow: These small, active, and hardy fish can thrive in a 10-gallon tank. They are peaceful and do well in small groups. Ensure the tank is well-cycled and provide plants and open swimming space for them.
  • Endler’s Livebearer: Similar to guppies, Endler’s livebearers are small, colorful fish that can thrive in a 10-gallon tank. They are active and peaceful, and you can keep a small group of them.
  • Freshwater Shrimp: Species like Cherry Shrimp or Amano Shrimp are small, peaceful, and add an interesting element to the tank. They are also beneficial for keeping the tank clean.

Remember to properly cycle the tank, maintain water quality, and provide appropriate filtration and heating as needed for the specific species you choose. Always research the specific care requirements of any aquatic animal you plan to keep and make sure their needs can be met in the 10-gallon tank.

Pocket Pets

Hamsters, gerbils, and guinea pigs make fantastic pets for small areas! Gerbils are social and like being handled but like the hamster they need frequent cage cleaning and proper nutrition to thrive. These little pocket pets are nocturnal though so you may want to consider where they will be when you are sleeping. The guinea pig is larger and needs about 4 square feet of cage space per pig. They do better with a companion so consider getting two of them. Providing them with a “tiered” cage allows them more room to roam and it takes up vertical not horizontal space in your living areas.

Rabbits are a favorite for those living in an apartment. They are easily trained and love interacting with their pet parents. These little furries need interaction with you on a daily basis so they may not be best for those of you who don’t have the time to commit to their physical and psychological needs.

There are so many of these wonderful little fur friends. Sugar gliders, ferrets, and hedgehogs are all delightful additions to any family. Always research their dietary requirements along with daily handling and the amount of space that they need to live a happy life!


Many people today enjoy their birds. Parakeets, Conurs, Macaws and the list goes on and on. Most birds live anywhere from 10 to 60 plus years! Be sure to consider this when deciding if a bird is the best pet for you. They can be loud with talking and screeching so check your apartment lease requirements before bringing one home. If you decide on a bird you will have a companion that will entertain you and keep you laughing.


Cats are a very good choice for small living spaces. While purebreds are indeed wonderful the initial cost of buying one can be a consideration as well as understanding that particular breeds characteristics. In other words do they require a lot of stimulation, or are they quiet and more laid back.

With so many cats in shelters and rescues the choice to adopt one of these lovable kitty’s is sure to bring you many years of love and happiness. Neutering male cats reduces the likelihood of them spraying and if you adopt two cats together they will keep each other company while you are away.


Dogs are a solid go to for companionship and if you have decided that you can commit to the financial cost as well as the training (immediate and on-going), along with the time required to care for these wonderful angels with fur, then let’s dive into some great apartment dogs!

Boston and Yorkshire terriers are not big barkers, like all dogs they need daily mental stimulation and exercise but overall they are a solid yes for small space living.

Miniature Pinschers, Miniature Poodles, King Charles Cavaliers, Chihuahua, and Brussels Griffon are some of the smaller dogs that do well in apartments.

Many people think that because they live in an apartment that they cannot have a larger dog. But that just isn’t true. Getting the right dog for apartment living is important, so you may want to avoid the following breeds for several reasons. Some may be prone to barking, others have strong herding instincts and these types of dogs need large spaces to move around in along with the need for plenty of exercise, consistent training, and guidance. Here are some breeds that are not suited for small apartment living:

  • Australian Cattle Dog
  • Beagle
  • Belgian Malinois
  • Border Collie
  • Dalmatian
  • English Springer Spaniel
  • Hunting Breeds
  • German Shepherd
  • Malamute
  • Siberian Husky
  • Vizsla

Now that we see what doesn’t do well in small spaces, follow along to see what large breed dogs do very well in an apartment. Mastiff’s are big, BIG dogs but they require very little in the way of exercise. Their size can be a consideration as their weight can vary from 160-230 pounds! Consider the cost of food as well as veterinary care when deciding if this pup is right for you.

The Great Dane is great in size so you’ll need to allow for the space where he will be sleeping. Hint: Your king size bed will be his chosen spot! These lovable giants’ requirements for exercise are minimal and remember they don’t think they’re big, usually they prefer to lay in your lap!

The loveable long eared Basset Hound is the one hound that does very well in a small space. They top out around 60 pounds but their short legs and easy going personalities are sure to please and entertain you. They are very social dogs so fulfilling their need to meet people and other dogs will be an important part of their day.

Standard Poodles are great as they shed very little or not at all. Grooming on a monthly basis is an added expense and they require at the very least two walks a day. Scheduling a professional dog sitter to take them out mid-day should help you in keeping her happy and content until you return home.

The regal Greyhound is a clear choice for small areas and there are so many waiting for adoption as they are retired from the racing circuit. These quiet loving dogs want nothing more than to relax and smell the roses. A couple of short walks and lots of affection from you is all they really desire.

Of course, if you live in a tiny or micro apartment (150sqft for example) then a large dog is probably not the right pet for you.


As you can see, having a pet in your apartment is not an impossibility. By understanding your lifestyle, needs and wants along with information of the different pets reviewed here, you can find the right pet for you and your apartment!

Remember to check out your local shelter or rescues and adopt a wonderful mutt. You can also look into pure breed rescues if what you desire is a specific breed characteristic. All in all getting a pet while living in a small place can be successfully accomplished when you gather all the information necessary to make an informed decision.