Golden Retrievers and Apartment Living: Is It Doable?


Golden Retrievers make exceptional family dogs and do equally well with first-time dog owners. In North America, they’re the third most popular dog, and for a good reason. Considering this dog breed is so popular, many apartment owners often wonder if the Golden Retriever is a good match for apartment living.

As a whole, Golden Retrievers can live in apartments provided their physical, mental, and social needs are met. However, certain limitations of apartment living need to be considered. Possible issues include apartments not allowing dogs, weight restrictions, size, noise, bathroom breaks, and property damage.

Although Golden Retrievers can live in apartments, some issues need to be considered beforehand to ensure your Golden Retriever adapts appropriately. 

Can Golden Retrievers Live in Apartments: Factors To Consider and Potential Limitations

While Golden Retrievers are a very adaptable dog breed overall, apartment living does offer some unique challenges versus other living situations such as single-family homes, acreages, and farms.

All dog breeds, including the Golden Retriever, possess pros and cons. So what are those pros and cons? If you’re curious, then I suggest you take a few minutes and check out this post: Golden Retriever Pros and Cons: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The most important consideration for any dog owner is not the type of dog as much as the “fit” of the dog with a person’s particular lifestyle. Not all dog breeds are well-suited to apartment living.

In terms of apartment living, the lifestyle factors that need to be considered most are summarized below.

Factors to ConsiderPotential Limitations of ApartmentsGolden Retriever Traits 
Are Dogs AllowedDoes the apartment allow for dogs? Yes, Golden Retrievers are dogs, so make sure they’re allowed.
SizeAre there weight restrictions on dogs? Smaller area – less room for the dog to move around. No backyard.Medium to large dog, and range from 55 to 75 pounds and up to 24 inches. High activity dog, do better with more space to play and roam.
NoiseShared walls and floor. Are you surrounded by people, and what will they tolerate for noise? Lots of foot traffic in hallways. Golden Retrievers bark, albeit usually for a reason. A larger dog, so neighbors below may hear the dog walking or running. If the dog is lonely, will it whine?
ScheduleWill you be gone most of the day? How much time for training, exercise, play, and socialization do you have?Golden Retrievers bond closely with owners and do not do well if alone for long periods. Physical, mental, and socialization needs are high and must be met. 
Activity Level How will your dog be exercised? Limited space to run and play indoors. No backyard.Highly energy dog. Need lots of physical activity and mental stimulation. Neighbors below make playing indoors problematic.
DamageConsider your damage deposit if your apartment is damaged, soiled, or full of hair.  Shed regularly and heavily during the semi-annual blowing of their coats. Can be mischievous and chew if bored. Dogs can have accidents if left too long.
Bathroom IssuesHow will the dog relieve itself? Will soiled carpet or floors cost you a damage deposit? Upper floors make bathroom breaks more tedious.Adult Goldens should not be confined for more than 4 hours, puppies far less.

As you can see, a Golden Retriever in an apartment has many more issues and potential limitations than a single-family dwelling, acreage, or farm.

If you happen to be a first-time dog owner, then hold up. I wrote an article on if Golden Retrievers are a good match for first-time dog owners and what to expect. I encourage you to read it if this is your first dog, and you can find that article here: Golden Retrievers: A Good Dog For First-Time Owners?

Now let’s consider each potential limitation in more detail. 

Are Dogs Allowed

Whether an apartment complex allows for dogs is the first thing that should be considered and checked with the apartment management. Not all apartments allow for pets, especially dogs. 

And consider this. 

What happens if the apartment changes its rules or management and you can no longer have a dog? Are you able to adjust accordingly? What will you do with your Golden Retriever if this happens? 

To demonstrate the potential difficulties in finding an apartment that accepts dogs, I searched for available two-bedroom apartments in Calgary, AB – the 4th largest city in Canada.

Why Calgary? Calgary is young and likes dogs.

According to Calgary Economic Development, Calgary is a city with approximately 1.6 million people as of 2020. Calgary is the youngest city in Canada, with a median age of 37.6 years. Young people are more inclined to live in apartments due to affordability.

As of 2016, one in 10 Calgarians had a dog or 10% of the population, according to an article in the Calgary Herald. That is potentially a lot of dog owners who are young and live in apartments.

I searched Rentfaster.ca (a rental website) for available two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartments. No other filters were applied, and the site returned 286 available units.

When I used the filter to include units allowing for dogs, the site returned 166 units or almost 42% less. Of those remaining 166, a large number noted “pets negotiable,” so those may exclude large-sized dogs or even dogs outright.

The point is, don’t assume all apartments will allow for dogs. A lot don’t – 42% in the example above do not, and possibly far less if size restrictions are an issue with some apartment complexes.

I also searched Toronto – Canada’s largest city – and the results were similar for apartment units (240 units available, 157 allow for dogs), which is far worse considering the population size. The greater Toronto area has just over 6 million people, so I suspect the trends are similar in many US cities.

Regardless of where you live, the key takeaway is to make sure you check to ensure that the apartment complex allows for dogs.

If your apartment complex does allow dogs, then the first hurdle is cleared.  But, size can be the next big obstacle.

Size

The next most significant obstacle is the size of the Golden Retriever.

So, even if your apartment allows for dogs, have they imposed a size or weight limitation? Many apartments do allow dogs, but many restrict the dog’s size, e.g., no dogs over 45 pounds. 

As you can see by the table below, even a female Golden Retriever can be well over 55 pounds.

GenderHeightWeight
Male23 to 24 inches (58 to 61 centimeters)65 to 75 pounds (29 to 34 kilograms)
Female21.5 to 22.5 inches (55 to 57 centimeters)55 to 65 pounds (25 to 29 kilograms)

Check first with the apartment management company if there are size limitations on getting a dog and if this will be an issue with getting a Golden Retriever. 

If you’re interested in a little more detail on why the Golden Retriever is classified as a medium to large dog and some issues to consider due to their size, then check this article out: Is a Golden Retriever a Medium or Large Dog Breed?

Another size issue is how big (or small) your apartment is. Golden Retrievers require lots of activity. While they are highly adaptable, they need a lot more space than you would imagine to thrive and be comfortable.  Activity level is discussed later – and it’s an important consideration – so keep reading.

Noise

The bad news is that Golden Retrievers do bark. The good news is they are not constant barkers. They usually don’t bark without reason.

However, apartments might offer the Golden Retriever ample reasons to bark. There are just many people congested in an apartment complex, which means many more distractions. Neighbors, other dogs, and children could all be reasons for a Golden Retriever to bark.

Consider as well that there is a lot of foot traffic all around the apartment. This can get your Golden excited, and they may bark or get agitated in the process. Your Golden might struggle with being quiet if there will be many people walking by its apartment door. 

Goldens, like any dog, can also be prone to barking if bored. Also, consider the noise if you have a large dog running around on floors. What will neighbors below hear?

It’s one thing to have a dog that barks, but it’s another thing when you have to listen to a neighbor’s dog bark, especially if you have a newborn or work nights. Consider your neighbor’s circumstances and realize what you hear may not be the same as what they hear.

Your Schedule

What’s your schedule? Do you work all day and won’t be around. Do you work shifts or part-time, or is someone home most of the time? What tools will you have in place to ensure your Golden physical, mental, and socialization needs are met, as well as adequate bathroom breaks. 

Golden Retrievers are extremely intelligent and highly active dogs, which means they need adequate physical exercise and mental stimulation. Dogs need socialization with other people and dogs as well.

Balancing physical, mental, and social needs ensure your Golden Retriever is healthy of body, mind, and spirit. 

Also, keep in mind that Golden Retrievers are highly social dogs and bond closely with their owners or family. They prefer to be where their people are. They can be prone to separation anxiety if left alone for long durations.

A whining and howling dog could pose issues with neighbors. Never mind the duress it puts on the dog. 

The welfare of the dog, and respect for your neighbors, need to be first and second on the list when considering a dog for apartment living. Make sure your schedule allows for meeting the physical, mental and social needs of your Golden Retriever.

Activity Level

Golden Retrievers are a highly active dog. And so apartment owners need to ask how they will exercise their Golden Retriever. All Golden Retriever’s not only need adequate physical stimulation but mental stimulation as well. 

Apartments are limited in space and do not offer the convenience of a home, where playing fetch or tug in the backyard is more easily doable, and an owner does not have to worry about disturbing neighbors underfoot. 

A bored, under-exercised, and under-stimulated Golden Retriever is not only an unhealthy dog but much more prone to undesirable behaviors like barking and chewing. Making sure your Golden Retriever has adequate exercise and mental stimulation is a must. 

Yes, physical exercise is required for all Golden Retrievers, regardless of where it lives. Still, it can be a bit more challenging with apartment living due to a lack of space, the floor you live on, and no easily accessible outdoor area, i.e., a backyard.

The type of dog is not as important as the dog’s fit to an owner’s lifestyle. For example, if long-term apartment living is in your future and you’re a low activity person with little time, then ask yourself if a Golden Retriever is the best fit for your lifestyle at this time. 

Property Damage

Golden Retrievers shed a lot. If you are a renter, this could require a lot of extra cleaning for you to get the deposit back. So, proper grooming is a must.

And that means brushing weekly during regular sheds and daily during the semi-annual big sheds when Goldens blow their coats. 

Understanding the maintenance requirements of a Golden Retriever and any potential issues is important.

I wrote an article on the maintenance requirements for Golden Retrievers and what to expect from shedding, health issues, exercise needs, and much more. If you’re interested, you can find that article here: Golden Retrievers: High or Low Maintenance? (Here’s the Verdict).

Golden Retrievers are mouthy, and it’s instinctual for them to carry things in their mouth—some of those things they will chew on. Chewing helps relieve anxiety and boredom. If they don’t have adequate exercise and mental stimulation, they will find something to chew on to preoccupy themselves. 

Or, if they’re puppies, then they’ll chew as part of teething and just well…being a puppy.

That could be your slippers, a TV remote, or it might be the corner of a wall or some cupboards. This could affect your damage deposit if your renting. 

Bailey liked to chew anything and everything as a puppy. Baseboards were one of his prime targets.

You’re gone all day, so what plan is in place for your Golden Retriever to relieve itself? Will someone come in to take the dog outside, or will you use other tools such as pee pads? What about your damage deposit if carpets or floors get stained or if odors have permeated rugs or wood. 

Bathroom Breaks

Using pee pads is not ideal. It teaches the dog to go inside the house. It also doesn’t offer the dog landmarks and odors that training it outside will. If outside is not an option, consider a potting container with some sod or fake grass instead of a pee pad. Dogs naturally prefer going on a grassy area.

Puppies can hold their bladder one hour per month of age + 1. So, a one-month-old puppy can hold its bladder for 1-2 hours, a two-month-old 2-3, and so forth. However, bladder hold time should never exceed 4 hours, meaning even an adult dog should be allowed to go every 4 hours.

Consider getting an apartment as close to the ground floor as possible. The higher your apartment is, the more tedious the bathroom issue becomes.

Taking a dog down 15 flights of stairs or the elevator when it’s been holding its bladder for hours is a recipe for disaster. If it’s a puppy, then you’re most likely not going to make it in time if you’re high up.

How Can I Help My Golden Retriever Adjust To Apartment Living?

Golden Retrievers are amazing dogs but make no mistake, they require a lot of work. All dogs need your attention and companionship, although how much varies with breed. Golden Retrievers are a breed that falls on the higher end of the scale for attention and thrives with constant companionship. 

You can help your Golden Retriever adjust to apartment living by ensuring all its basic needs are met. Don’t leave the dog alone for too long without bathroom breaks and social interaction. Consider enlisting help from dog walkers or sitters, neighbors, friends, or family, or use a doggie daycare.

Golden Retrievers can be very much like children in many ways. They require meals, bathroom breaks, playtime, toys, snacks, exercise, and taught things like obedience and manners.

Meeting all your Golden Retriever’s needs can be difficult if you work all day. It can be even more difficult if you work all day and live in an apartment. It becomes even more challenging if it’s a puppy. But, it can be done with adequate planning and preparation.

Gotta, a Golden puppy? I have you covered. If you’re interested in some guilt-free solutions while raising a Golden Retriever puppy while working, then you’ll find this post really handy: Raising a Golden Retriever Puppy While Working: Guilt-Free Solutions.

Now, suppose you have the flexibility to be home throughout the day or work from home. In that case, having a Golden Retriever in an apartment is not as big as an issue. You’re available to meet all its needs and watch over it. 

But what if you can’t be around? 

Enlist Some Help From Others

The best way to have a Golden Retriever in an apartment is to avail yourself of some assistance. Whether it’s a third-party service or family and friends, the cost is well worth the benefits for your dog, neighbors, and your peace of mind. 

Dog Sitter 

A dog sitter is essentially in-home babysitting for your dog. Most will do it at their home and have multiple dogs, but some will offer to come to your home privately (at a higher cost). Some dog walkers will also provide dog sitting as an added service. 

Doggie Day Care

With this option, you’ll be leaving your dog with a daycare, much like you would with a child. The doggie daycare will have multiple dogs and large areas for playing. They will also feed your dog snacks, so you’ll be asked to bring some food. 

Bailey enjoying a day at doggie daycare. His favorite time of the week.

Dog Walker

Dog walkers can be a great option depending on your budget. They provide potty relief for the pup, exercise, and much-needed socialization if the service includes walking with more than one dog.  

Friends, Family, or Neighbors

Friends, family, or neighbors can be a great resource if you have a good relationship and trust them. Like friends and family, make sure your neighbor is onboard with your training methods. Friends, family, or neighbors should also have a personable temperament, like dogs, and have some basic experience with handling them.

Teach Your Golden Retriever To Be Alone 

With neighbors so close by and such high foot traffic in the hallways, separation anxiety for your Golden Retriever is a genuine concern.

Consider that your dog will hear people in the hallway walking, talking and so forth. A lonely dog doesn’t understand why it is separated from those people, or it may think footsteps or voices are you are coming home.

It must be dealt with proactively. 

Golden Retriever will experience separation anxiety to varying degrees. If your Golden Retriever is a puppy, it’s important to initially take some time off work to prepare the puppy for the day you’ll leave it alone.

When teaching a Golden Retriever puppy or adult to be alone, an excellent way to begin is to place a high-value chew toy in the crate or confined area with your puppy. Then leave the room for 30 seconds to a minute (or less) and return. Reward your puppy and give him praise.

Gradually increase the time you are away and your distance. Start slowly. Maybe in a room for a minute, then two and so forth. 

After a while, leave the apartment but keep the first few times short. The first time can be about a minute or two before returning back. Then five, seven, ten minutes and so forth, before you return again.

The goal is to teach your Golden Retriever that when you leave that you will return again.

When leaving, always be as low-key as possible. Fawning over your Golden Retriever when leaving the apartment can increase its anxiety levels about your departure. Leave the hugs and kisses for when you come home. 

Final Thoughts

Apartment life can work if you are willing to put the time and effort into balancing the needs of your Golden Retriever with those of your neighbors. Determining what limitations or issues exist beforehand and implementing a plan to deal with those is critical. 

The great news is that if you consider all the issues discussed and plan accordingly, then a Golden Retriever can live in an apartment in relative comfort and with minimal issues. It may not be ideal, but it’s doable.

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