Do Big Dogs Need a Big Yard?

We’re going to clear up some things about large breed dogs and yards in this article because there are a lot of myths out there about what size yard a big dog actually needs.

Some people think that all big dogs need big yards, which is not necessarily always true. Some big breeds do very well in apartments or homes with small yards.

Of course, all large breeds, giant breeds, and large mixed breeds need at least a moderate amount of exercise. You should always research the needs of your particular dog breed before bringing your dog home. That way you can get the best match possible for your living space and activity level.

Large Dog Breeds That Need a Lot of Space

Several large dog breeds do better when they have plenty of space to run. Often these breeds will also do better with another dog to run with. Dogs are pack animals and like companionship.


This sleek and powerful dog is great with kids and makes a wonderful family pet, but they need room to run around, preferably with their people. Vizslas bond strongly with their families and don’t love to be left alone.

If you have a farm or large property where you are working outside a lot then a Vizsla can be a good choice for you.

German Shepherd:

German Shepherds are smart dogs that do well in families. They also need a lot of interaction, and a lot of exercise, and they prefer the room to roam. German Shepherds don’t like to be left alone for long periods.

If you are committed to making sure your German Shepherd has plenty of stimulation and space then they can make a great fit for your family. If you don’t give a German Shepherd enough stimulation it can get destructive.


Boxers are strong hunters, but they are happiest when they are with their families and they love children.

If you have a large yard and want a family dog that is a bit silly and loves to play, a Boxer might be a great fit for you. These are loving but powerful animals that need a lot of exercise.

Border Collie:

This breed is extremely smart and needs work to do to be happy. They excel at agility courses and make great search and rescue dogs.

Don’t get a Border Collie unless you are 100% committed to making sure that your dog has plenty of room to run and work to do while running.

Large Dog Breeds That Do Well in Small Yards and Apartments

Some large breed dogs do much better with plenty of room to run, while others do equally well in apartments or in small back yards provided that they get regular walks and exercise.

Here are some large breed dogs that don’t need a big yard to thrive.

Standard Poodle:

These regal animals are one of the smartest dog breeds around. They also need a lot of exercise but are happy to get that on multiple daily walks and do well in urban environments.

Poodles make wonderful family pets, but you have to be dedicated to them because they are high maintenance.

Great Dane:

Great Danes are physically huge, but think that they are lap dogs. There is almost no better dog to cuddle with on the couch than a Great Dane.

Their coats are easy to care for and while they don’t need a great deal of exercise, they do need regular walks to stay happy and out of trouble.


A Mastiff is an ideal dog for a small yard or apartment. They are huge but gentle dogs that love their family.

They are also happy to nap all day long while you are at work as long as you walk them regularly and give them plenty of attention when you are home.


Despite their intimidating size, Newfoundlands are outstanding family dogs and love little kids. They are also calm and gentle.

They do need to be walked but are very happy to laze around in a small house or apartment.


Greyhounds are known as racing dogs, but you may be surprised to learn that for the rest of their lives they are couch potatoes.

Greyhounds, like all dogs, need to be walked regularly. But as long as you are committed to getting them out for walks then they make wonderful apartment or small yard pets.

A Note About Exercise

Whether you have a big dog that needs a big yard or a big dog that will do well in an apartment you must make sure that your large breed dog gets enough exercise. Surprisingly, giant dogs often need less exercise than large dogs, and even large dogs’ exercise needs can vary greatly.

Generally speaking, you want to make sure that your dog gets 30 minutes to 2 hours of exercise every day. High energy breeds need more exercise than lower energy breeds.

Do your research and check with your vet for your dog’s specific needs.

For exercise, walking is probably the most common activity, but some dogs love to play fetch and others love to swim. Tailor your exercise to what you enjoy and what type of exercise your dog enjoys.

It’s important to have fun so that you keep doing it!

A Note About Socializing and Stimulation

Even if your big dog has a big backyard and the freedom to roam around in it, it will still need socialization.

Dogs are pack animals and like to spend time with their pack. That might be their people or other dogs or both.

Spending time interacting with your dog daily can cut down on behavior problems and keep them mentally stimulated.

Making sure that your dog meets other dogs and other people when they are young and throughout their lives can help them behave well in new situations.

How much stimulation a dog needs depends a great deal on the breed. Border Collies need a lot of stimulation, but a Newfoundland will be very happy with a leisurely walk and a cuddle.

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