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I have spent a crazy amount of time trying to figure out the breed of dog I'd like to get and haven't found exactly what I'm looking for, so I figured I would ask the question and see what ideas other people have. To get it out of the way, I'm not asking anyone to tell me what to get. I'm simply asking for ideas I can research because I'm not familiar with every single breed out there. Since the day I was born, my family has always had an American Labrador and they are my absolute favorite dogs. I'm finally at a point where I have the time for a dog of my own and I would love to get a black lab, just like I've always had around, but the problem I have is space. I live in an apartment and I don't plan on buying a house anytime soon. I don't want to subject a full-size lab to the space of an apartment. I have a friend with a petite golden who is a fantastic dog (to my amazement is just like any of the full-size goldens I've been around), so I started researching if a similar sized labrador existed. To my disappointment, I found they really didn't exist and the few sites where someone talked about them didn't have very good things to say (believe everything you read on the Internet, right?). My question, is if anyone has any suggestions as to some breeds I should look into that might satisfy my desire to both have a labrador and a smaller-sized apartment friendly dog? One of my biggest reservations about, say, a petite golden is the hair. I prefer short hair and I'd rather have black, since I find it less visible on clothing and furniture. Also, to clarify, I'm not looking for a low-energy couch potato dog. I am a very active person and I want it to be able to accompany me on backpacking trips, go for a run or even just playing at the park. I realize how much I am asking, so for anyone who has suggestions, I very much appreciate it in advance!
 

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A whippet might work well for you - though I am very biased when it comes to sight hounds! they are medium sized dogs and though they tend to be couch potatoes inside they are up for doing whatever you want. They are short haired, come in many different colours, and tend to be quiet.

another option might be a Cardigan Welsh Corgi - they have a higher energy level than a whippet but I know quiet a few people who keep them in apartments. They generally enjoy playing games and fetch. They do not come in pure black but they do come in black and white and tri-colour.
 

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poodles?
they're waterdogs like the retrievers.
they come in all different sizes, you can keep the fur short and then it is actually pretty easy to care for.
Active but able to adapt well to all kind of owners.
relatively easy to keep when you exercise them enough mentally and physically,but you've got to do that with every active intelligent breed.
poodles are awesome dogs and I think they can work well in appartments when exercised and trained enough.
a Kleinpudel would pehaps be a good size for you. Zwerg and Toy sized could be too small for what you plan to do.
 

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You can easily find a small, black Lab mix in a shelter. I've seen some Lab mixes that are around 30-35 lbs. You might also be interested in a Pit/Lab mix. Again, loads in shelters (especially black ones!) and usually smaller than Labs. Shelters are also always eager to find homes with active owners.I think these sorts of mixes will probably suit you better than a whole different breed if you enjoy that type of personality so much. Just take a peek on petfinder or similar websites and you can probably find some dogs that will fit what you want.
 

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Going off of what traciek88 said about shelter dogs and lab mixes, I've seen a lot of beagle lab mixes that look like mini labs although they can have beagle traits too (floppier ears, bay, independent personality, etc).

Another suggestion is a spaniel. They have a similar temperament to retrievers (happy go lucky, friendly, playful) but they're smaller. Some lines can have temperament or health issues but that's true for any breed- you just have to be careful about researching the breeder and that particular line.

Whippets are also awesome as k9chaos said but their temperaments are a little different from retrievers.

Lastly, I know a lot of lab people that also love pugs (I've seen a lot of lab pug sibling pairs). Pugs are great companion dogs and good apartment dogs from what I've heard, but again, like with any purebred, research good breeders. Pugs can have a lot of health issues.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you all for the responses!

A whippet might work well for you - though I am very biased when it comes to sight hounds! they are medium sized dogs and though they tend to be couch potatoes inside they are up for doing whatever you want. They are short haired, come in many different colours, and tend to be quiet.

another option might be a Cardigan Welsh Corgi - they have a higher energy level than a whippet but I know quiet a few people who keep them in apartments. They generally enjoy playing games and fetch. They do not come in pure black but they do come in black and white and tri-colour.
I can't do a Whippet. They look like they are starving and it bothers me. On the other hand, I've had the Pembroke Welsh Corgi on my short list for a while.

It may be unfair to poodles, but the minute I told one of my friends I had a poodle, the jokes would never stop. So I can't go with a poodle.

You can easily find a small, black Lab mix in a shelter.
That is very true. I do prefer to go through a breeder this time around, though.
 

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It may be unfair to poodles, but the minute I told one of my friends I had a poodle, the jokes would never stop. So I can't go with a poodle.
Call him a curly-coated German retriever. lol

A spaniel might work well for you. I know someone with Welsh springer spaniels and from what she says about them, they're great little dogs.
 

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This is pure curiosity but why is it you don't like the body of sighthounds? They're not really starving.
 

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I'm biased, but a well-bred Boston Terrier is a surprisingly sturdy little dog who can keep up with just about anything you might want to do. The only down side is if you live somewhere extremely hot or extremely cold then you will need to either limit outdoor activity when it's hot and invest in some sort of dog-coat for the cold. They can also be very sensitive to tone of voice and your anxiety/stress levels.

My Boston has lots of energy and he's hardly a couch potato. He's friendly and has quite literally never met a stranger, but if you're planning on spending a lot of time around children, you'll need to cut off the jumping up on people pretty quick. I love that he doesn't bark in my apartment. He's also extremely smart and catches on to training quite quickly. I raised Merlin in a sixth floor apartment and it went surprisingly well, I just rigged up a place for him to go out on my balcony. As long as your consistent, potty training shouldn't be too difficult with a Boston. Oh, and he's around twenty pounds so not very big, but very strong for a dog his size.

Anyway, just something to consider.
 

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I third a lab-cross shelter pup, but if you're really dead set against adopting then here are the breeds I would recommend:


- Britanny: white and brown coat, but with regular grooming of 5-10 min brush a day the shedding is very manageable. Higher energy and active dog, loves to please the owner, medium build and sized (about 35 lbs full grown)
- Viszla: Short brown coat, doesn't shed a whole lot. Smaller build then a lab, VERY attached to owner. Very active and energetic but frequently lazy around the house (if exercised properly).
- Irish Terrier: This is a terrier breed, so will be quite a different personality to a lab. However they are medium sized, don't shed much, active outside but usually quiet inside.

Honestly, the apartment living really isn't the concern if you can give the proper exercise needed each day. I have a border collie cross in my apartment right now (about 1,000 sq. ft) with no yard. She's only about 40 pounds but height wise is the size of a lab (she's just really lean). She's SUPER high energy and requires a minimum of 1.5 hours off-leash walking a day. If she gets that, and a short training/mental session (20 min or so) then she's happy to kick back and relax the rest of the day.

American Labs are typically smaller in size to their English Lab counterparts, but require much more activity levels. The three breeds I suggested are actually going to require as much activity as a lab -- possibly more so (the Viszla is more active then a lab). So if you thinkyou can meet a lab's exercise requirements and it's only the apartment living that worries you....then just go for the lab. Give it proper exercise and mental stimulation in a constructive way, and the square footage of your apartment REALLY doesn't matter any more.

For all these retriever & spaniel/pointer bred dogs though, they need off-leash exercise each day to get their physical needs met. A 1 hour leashed walk is going to be pointless to them. So if you can meet that need, go for a labrador!

If you can only do leashed walks during the week and want a hiking/outdoors companion only on the weekends...none of these breeds are for you.

So we'd need more information on the time commitment you can give them.

one last thing -- Corgi's shed like nobody's business. If you don't want a lot of hair.....DON"T DO A CORGI!
 

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If you're active no reason you can't have a lab in an apartment. I had a lab/pointer mix, GSD and Basset Hound in a one bedroom apartment. They were very happy. We took walks and I let them run in the woods most days. Inside they were pretty well behaved.
 
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Basset Hound/Labrador Retriever Mixes are one of my favorite crosses of Labs

Beagle/Labrador Retriever Mix might be another good cross
 
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