11 Dog Breeds That Can Be Left Alone
Not all dogs are clingy. In fact, these pups are perfectly content to have a little time to themselves.
Alone, but not lonely
In a dream world, we would spend all day, every day snuggling our pets. But in reality, the demands of our professional and personal lives take us away from our beloved pups. If you want to welcome a new furry family member into your home but know you’ll often be gone for hours at a time, pet experts and veterinarians recommend certain breeds that can tolerate more alone time than others. Where should you begin your search? With this list, of course! From pint-sized pups to larger ones, these are the independent dogs that can be left alone—happily and without issue. But remember: All dogs have their limits.
Greyhounds don’t develop the kind of bond with people that makes separation painful, according to veterinarian Rolan Tripp, DVM, founder of the Pet Happiness Network. Does this mean they don’t love their owners? Not at all! It just means they find it easier to relax on their own, and they will likely spend most of the day napping. When they’re young, they require a long walk on a leash daily, but as they age, they don’t need as much activity. “Although large dogs, older adult Greyhounds no longer require a daily run,” Dr. Tripp adds.
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Sometimes, looking into the history of a breed can provide insight on the amount of alone time that a dog can tolerate, notes Jennifer Coates, DVM, a veterinarian who serves on the advisory board for Pet Life Today. One example is the Lhasa Apso, which was initially bred to guard Tibetan temples and monasteries; their ancestors’ former jobs might explain this breed’s independent nature and why these dogs can be left alone. “Lhasa Apsos are small but bold dogs that require only a moderate amount of exercise to stay healthy,” Dr. Coates adds. “These characteristics combine to make them a good option for owners who need to be out of the house for extended periods.”
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If you loved the animated classic The Fox and the Hound, you surely remember Cooper’s long, floppy ears. But these watchdogs aren’t just adorable; they’re also ideal for farm living, city dwelling, or life in the ‘burbs, according to Jesus Aramendi, DVM, the senior veterinarian for Chewy. They sleep for long periods during the day and are generally very mellow and inactive. “If you are someone who works long hours, a Basset Hound may be a dog breed that you can leave home by itself,” he notes.
However, Basset Hounds do require some specific attention. These dogs need to have their ears cleaned frequently, and they are prone to weight gain. This means you’ll need to ensure that they get some exercise to keep off the pounds. And one more important note: “Basset Hounds are best suited for colder climates and are a breed that should never be left outside, especially in warmer temperatures,” Dr. Aramendi adds.
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Cute, fluffy, and adorable, Maltese pups are sweet companions. And while they definitely have energy and will happily run around your home, Dr. Tripp says they don’t need as much exercise as other breeds and are among the dogs that can be left alone. They will often bark to alert you if they hear something unfamiliar, but it’s usually not for attention. To keep their chatting to a minimum when you’re away, he recommends leaving them in a room away from the front door and from windows with a view of outdoor activity.
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The Shiba Inu is one of the most popular dog breeds in Japan, according to Dr. Coates. Medium-sized and inherently loyal, these dogs make great companions, but they aren’t considered a needy type of pet. “They have a reputation for not being overly affectionate, but that is balanced by being happy in their own company,” she explains. Though they do well in many households—with or without children—they tend to be stubborn, so training may be a little more complicated than with other breeds.
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While poodles require intensive grooming and have specific nutrition requirements, they’re a highly intelligent breed and have a great character, says Dr. Aramendi. One of their best qualities is their calm nature, which allows them to be alone for extended periods. When it’s time to play, though, get ready! They are very active and will run, chase balls, and roughhouse. Though poodles are independent dogs that can be left alone, they do need snuggles with their owners, whom they become attached to quickly. “If you work from home but spend long hours working and have small breaks throughout the day, a standard poodle may be a good breed for you, as they like to cuddle and be with their owners,” Dr. Aramendi adds.
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Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The beloved pup of Charlotte on Sex and the City is one of the best dogs for apartment living. Compared to other spaniels, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels require less exercise and bark less. The key to keeping them happy is ensuring that they have walks and receive TLC when you are at home. Aside from their lap-dog status, there’s a lot to love about this breed. Just look at their floppy ears and freckled faces! They also get along with other dogs and children, says Dr. Tripp.
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Good news if you can’t get enough of these scrunchy-faced cuties: Pugs are generally adaptable and can accept a consistent routine of you coming and going, says Dr. Tripp. He suggests starting with small alone-time sessions during puppyhood to get them used to your schedule. But being dogs that can be left alone is just one of pugs’ selling points. “This lovable small dog does not require vigorous daily exercise,” Dr. Tripp continues. “And although a good watchdog, he tends to bark less than others his size.” Pugs are also usually comfortable with children, especially if they are raised together.
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When you aren’t nestled together at home with him, your Japanese Chin will likely be found cuddling and sleeping for hours on end on his own. Self-sufficient by nature, these dogs find ways to entertain themselves without much anxiety, but out of boredom, they could snack mindlessly. “If they are left alone for a long period, they will need food and water to be easily accessible to them the entire day,” says Dr. Aramendi. “Multi-meal programmable feeders and automatic water fountains can be helpful tools in keeping them fed and hydrated.” It’s also important to keep in mind that they are small-breed dogs with smaller bladders, so they need to be walked at least three times a day to eliminate.
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Bernese Mountain Dog
Dr. Aramendi says Bernese Mountain Dogs are not only one of the most beautiful and friendly giant breeds out there, but they’re also surprisingly calm. And contrary to what their enormous size may suggest, they don’t require as much activity as other dogs. “They are highly intelligent, and for this reason, they tend to be very easy to train and get into a routine,” he explains. “Because they are an oversized breed, they can hold elimination for long periods. If you live in a large home with lots of space and a big yard, this could be an excellent breed for you.”
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Technically speaking, senior dogs aren’t a breed. But Dr. Tripp says old dogs are generally better at spending time alone. They are already housebroken, don’t need as many active minutes exercising, and like to sleep more than puppies or young adults. Plus, adopting a senior pup from a shelter is a kind act, since they are often the least desirable to pet owners.
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