Why Dobermans Can Make Great Apartment Dogs

Doberman Planet editors pick the products and services we write about. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission.

Doberman on His Bed in an Apartment

There are so many potential loving homes out there for Dobermans, but some people find themselves hesitant to own one of these amazing dogs because they live in an apartment or small home. In fact, it’s been a myth for a long time that Dobermans are not good apartment dogs because of their size. Well, a lot more goes into whether or not a dog can thrive in an apartment than just size.

Can a Doberman live in an apartment? Doberman Pinschers can thrive in an apartment setting as long as their high exercise, socialization, and training requirements are met. Dobermans are often comfortable in apartments because they love being close to their owners.

For years the answer to this question was “no way, they need far too much exercise!” While it’s true these dogs do need to stay active, it isn’t something that can’t be accomplished in an apartment setting. What really makes them work well in smaller living conditions is their desire to be close to their masters. There are just a few things you need to be careful of.

Why Dobermans Can Be Great Apartment Dogs

I don’t know you, and I’m not going to assume I know everything about you because of where you live. That’s the problem I’ve seen with those who say Doberman’s can’t be apartment dogs. They think that just because the dog lives in an apartment it means they are not going to get the level of activity they need.

This is pretty narrow-minded in my view since so much more goes into whether a dog can thrive in an apartment than just the level of activity they need. There are actually many characteristics of a Doberman Pinscher that makes them work great in an apartment including:

  • They love close human interaction. Be ready for your 80 pound Doberman to try and climb up into your lap while you’re watching TV or wake you up in the morning by shoving their wet nose against your cheek.
  • They’re highly intelligent. Which means they are also highly trainable. They will learn quickly what is expected of them which is great in an apartment setting.
  • They’re great guard dogs. A burglar who decides to break into an apartment is not going to expect an 80 pound Doberman to be waiting inside. The shock factor alone will send a crook running. Just make sure they’re penned up if a maintenance man is stopping by.
  • They have a strong desire to be “part of the pack.” These dogs are pack animals but they can and do develop that pack mentality with their family. Living in a smaller environment can actually help make these dogs feel more secure and like they’re one of the pack.
  • They’re generally very clean dogs. These dogs love to stay clean and lucky for you, Dobermans also don’t shed very much.

Too many people seem to focus on the size of the dog when they say Dobermans don’t make good apartment dogs. The fact is that they have so many other traits that make them great apartment dogs that really, their size becomes less of a factor.

Video: Raising a Doberman in an Apartment

The video below is of an interview I did with a young couple raising a Doberman in a very small apartment (under 750 square feet). They are doing great raising their Doberman “Romeo” despite the small area.

Keeping them Happy While Living in a Small Space

Dobermans do need a lot of exercise and a lot of attention from their owners. They’re a highly intelligent working breed of dog that loves to be active. If you live in an apartment, you can still make sure your dog stays active, but it may take a little extra work on your part.

Here are a few ways you can ensure your dog is active, healthy, and happy living in an apartment setting:

  • Frequent Trips to the Dog Park: Is there a dog park near your apartment? This is perfect because not only will it help to exercise your pup but will help to socialize them as well. Also, because these dogs are able to run for hours at a time without tiring, it’s a whole lot easier for other dogs to tire your Dobie out than you trying to do it by running alongside him! Trust me.
  • Trips to a Field or Open Wooded Area: Large open spaces within a reasonable distance to your apartment is great. An open area like this gives them a great chance to really stretch their legs. Bring a tennis ball!
  • Go on Runs with Your Dog: Many people get a Doberman and use it as a great excuse to stay in shape. Keep in mind though that Dobermans are incredibly fast dogs. They can run up to 40 mph for an extended period of time. So you aren’t going to really tire them out easily by going for a jog, but it’s still good for them.
  • Socialize with Friends, Family, and Kids: Get your dog around friends and family from a very young age. The more socialized your dog is, the easier he or she will be to live with in small space such as an apartment. This will also help ensure they don’t grow up to be an overly aggressive dog. It’s also important to get them used to children from a young age. This will make them very gentle dogs as adults.
  • Socialize with Neighbors: For people wanting to live with one of these dogs in an apartment, this is the best piece of advice I can give you. Let your neighbors play with your dog when he or she is a pup. That way when your dog grows to be almost 100 pounds, they aren’t frightened of him, but friends with him. It’ll also just make life so much easier if your dog gets out or barks a bit while you are away at work.

In general, it’s ideal to exercise your Doberman at least three times a day. Now every dog is different and you will soon be able to gauge what your dog needs. If your dog starts getting restless throughout the day and walking around in circles crying, he probably needs more exercise (or to go to the bathroom).

Make sure your Doberman has a place to go to the bathroom or you will have to take him out quite frequently for potty breaks. If you have even a small back patio, you can make life easier if you’re able to set up a doggie door and some fake grass for your pup to do their business on. If this isn’t an option where you live, you’ll just need to get used to frequent trips outside for bathroom breaks.

Doberman puppy sitting on the counter.
Just because your Doberman pup is a compact size now doesn’t mean he’ll stay that way! Don’t worry, if he’s well trained he’ll be no problem in an apartment environment as an adult.

Training for Apartment Life

Since these are highly intelligent dogs who want nothing more than to please their masters, they are considered highly trainable. Training is even more important while living in a small space like an apartment. It will make life easier on you and your dog.

Dobermans love to look you in the eyes and try to figure out what you are saying to them. Talk to your dog often and try to make it clear what you expect of them. It is also important that you are the alpha in the relationship. Reward your dog when he does something good and be firm when they do something bad. Above all, remember positive reinforcement. These dogs love to be told they did something well and be praised.

If you get a puppy, potty training can take a bit of work and you won’t be able to leave your puppy alone while you are at work for 8 hours. At least not initially. Your puppy may not be able to hold their bladder through a full 8 hour work day until they are 8 months of age or older. So during the potty training phase, you’ll need to have someone come by during the day and take your dog out to go to the bathroom.

Barking, Whining, and Chewing on Furniture

These are some of the more important factors to consider when deciding what kind of dog to share your apartment with. Here’s the scoop on Dobermans.


As puppies, Dobermans have an adorable bark and it might be tempting to play with them while encouraging them to bark (well as a pup it’s more of a “yelp”). But if you live in an apartment, you just can’t afford to let your dog get used to barking, no matter how cute it is when they’re young.

An adult Doberman has a very loud, strong bark that will no only annoy anyone you share a wall with but might just make them wet themselves too. If you don’t work to stop the barking when they’re young, your apartment manager will be knocking on your door when they’re grown up.

These are very intelligent dogs and even if your Doberman never barks when you are home, he may be waiting for you to leave to unleash. I know that was the case with my Doberman Cooper. I almost didn’t believe my neighbors when they told me “Yeah, he seems to know when you aren’t home because that’s the only time he starts barking.”


Since Doberman’s have a natural instinct to be incredibly close to their masters, you may get a lot of whining from your dog when you aren’t around. Luckily for Dobermans, this is usually only the case when they are a puppy and they tend to grow out of it.

You can help keep the whining to a minimum by making sure they get plenty of exercise and are tired before you leave them home alone. You may also want someone to come by for a short time and play with your puppy during the day to tire them out. When they’re young you’ll probably need someone to come by and give them a bathroom break anyway, so make sure they play with your pup and tire them out!

Chewing on Furniture

Here’s some really great news: Dobermans are just not big furniture chewers. Of course every dog is different, but in general, you have nothing to worry about in this department.

You might want to be a little extra cautious of this when your Dobie is in his or her teething stage as a puppy because even Dobermans have been known to destroy a few household items during this stage. Just make sure they have plenty of things around that they are allowed to chew on (plenty of chew toys).

Leaving Your Doberman in Your Apartment While at Work

As long as you have taken some of the suggestions I’ve outlined in this article, there is no reason your Dobie can’t be fine while you’re away when they’re an adult. By the age of 1 year old, they should be trained well enough and able to hold their bladder long enough for you to leave them alone for an 8 hour work day.

Just make sure you’re friends with your neighbors and have them tell you if your dog is barking, whining, or making any other noise while you’re gone. It’s good to have your neighbors as friends, you want them calling you and not the apartment manager!

When in doubt, try exercising your Doberman a little more than you think is necessary. Some dogs really thrive on the extra exercise and it just might get them to sleep the day away while you’re at work.

Dobermans Sleeping on the Bed
A well-trained Doberman who gets plenty of excercise and knows what’s expected of him will likely just sleep the day away while you’re at work.

Final Thoughts

Overall, just remember to give your Dobie plenty of love, attention, and exercise. Make sure they feel like they are really “part of the pack” and they will do just fine in a small apartment. In fact, they just might prefer it. I know with Cooper, he’d be a happy dog living in a closet with me as long as he could be sitting in my lap all day long.

I hope you’re ready for a wonderful dog who will love you more than anything, protect you with his life, and climb up in your lap every chance he gets!

Related Questions

Do apartments allow Dobermans? Most apartments that have breed restrictions will list the Doberman Pinscher as a restricted type of dog. However, this isn’t always the case and some apartments don’t have any breed restrictions at all. Contact your apartment manager for their specific rules regarding dogs.

Do Dobermans like to cuddle? Although each dog has their own personality, in general Doberman Pinschers love to cuddle. They are often referred to as “velcro dogs” because they instinctively stick very close to their owners, even by climbing in their laps.

Is a Doberman a good family dog? While in the past, Dobermans were bred for aggressive traits, this is generally not the case anymore. The modern-day Doberman Pinscher is a loyal, gentle dog that is highly intelligent and easy to train. This makes them excellent family dogs.

John Walter and Cooper, his Doberman Pinscher.

About the author

John Walter is a Family Doberman Specialist, holds a CPD certification in Canine Communication, and is an active dog trainer specializing in the Doberman Pinscher breed. He's been quoted in Doberman Network Magazine, Bark Magazine, Doberman Dispatch, and he's the founder of Doberman Planet. Learn More

6 thoughts on “Why Dobermans Can Make Great Apartment Dogs”

  1. Hey, i have a 5month old male dobie puppy and now he is outside in a garden but it’s cold outside now in october and i live in a flat can i keep him inside??My parents don’t want him inside they say that he is a large dog and needs space and can’t be housetrained.

    • Yes, he should be inside. Dobermans are inside dogs. They have very short (single-layered) coats. Housetraining takes some work and consistency but is necessary for owning a Doberman.

    • Hi Jeff,
      They all kind of have their own personalities, but in general, if you tire your dog out before you leave, give them lots of safe toys to keep them busy, and you have someone come halfway through the day to give them a break and some attention, you should be fine. A puppy is a little more difficult though because they’ll need more than one visit throughout that long of a day (more like a visit every 4 hours at a minimum). After they’re one year old though, you can likely start extending that time and even trusting them enough to hopefully start to leave them outside the pen while you’re gone. A large pen that they can move and play around in is best, I wouldn’t use a tight crate by any means.

  2. Hi I’m considering adopting a red Debbie. I am a flight attendant. I work 10-12 days a month. I am single with a 2400 sq ft house & med sized fenced yard. I have a long term boyfriend
    Wh has hid own home, but will help & watch dog a couple times a week. She would go to a fun kennel about 2 -3 times a month for 3 days at a time. The kennel has med – large dog town where they are all out together (unless dog doesn’t play well w others) wnen weather is nice, they play outside. They go in their (rooms) at night. Every now & then on long work days she will go to doggie day care for fun. I also do day trips where I work reg 6-10 hr day. I plan to go to dog training. If she likes, I wouldn’t mind amateur fly ball, agility or obedience training. I am 47. Moderate exercise: walks & park .i would like her to have free reign of house when she can handle it. I plan to get the large patches of grass that dogs can potty on(potty patch) so she can go anytime when I’m not home. Ultimately I want her to go outside but don’t want her to suffer if 1) I leave her for 6-10 hrs. I have a few questions. In your opinion:
    2) Do you think this dog would do well with my lifestyle?
    3) Are they very destructive? I had a precious Rottie & it was hard keeping him entertained & he was randomly destructive. Loved him dearly anyway.
    4) would my lifestyle create too much separation anxiety for her? Not a lot of people around. I already spent times puppy & shes bonded to me already.
    5) would I be active enough for her with my age(47) and med activity level. I thought kennel & joining a group might help. I’m not super active and have some arthritis so no jogging & big hikes. Just casual hikes in the park. I’m worried that if I don’t provide her w enough exercise since Dobies are athletes, she will be frustrated, unhappy, & act out.
    I’m a very candid -direct person. So feel free to answer freely. No holds barred. Feel free to answer me via email
    Any input would be greatly appreciated.

    • Hi Leslie,
      Your house and yard sound plenty big enough. Leaving 6 to 10 hours at a time is fine for a trained adult Doberman, in my experience. As a puppy though, they do need to be checked on a bit more often. A good rule is that they can be left alone for about one hour for every month old they are. So a 4 month (16 week) old puppy can usually go about 4 hours alone. I worked 12 hour days for a long time and my adult Doberman was completely fine, although he had his own doggie door and could let himself in and out of the house at will. Dobermans aren’t really destructive, with the exception of the teething stage or times of very high anxiety. Just make sure they have plenty of chew toys around so she doesn’t pick something else in the house to munch on. That’ll also help with anxiety while you’re gone.

      From what you describe, the only thing I see as being a big issue is being in the kennel 2 to 3 times a month for three days at a time. That might be a bit much, especially for a puppy. If there is any way to make those stretches shorter with the help of your boyfriend, family, or trusted neighbor that would help quite a bit. For an adult Doberman, that would still be a long stretch but possibly workable if they were used to it. Dobermans are very adaptable dogs in general but do love to be around their owners as much as possible.


Leave a Comment