City folks who live in apartments and love dogs often face a daunting problem -- what breed of dog should I choose? What's the best size? What about barking, shedding and the need for regular exercise?

The would-be dog owner soon realizes that this is a problem worthy of much serious thougBeagle(126822)Credit: iStockPhotoht. So, instead of impulsively running out to the pet store, take some time to think this through.

House Rules
First, check your lease. Your building owner or co-op board may have already decided what kind of dog you can have. Some buildings have weight limits for dogs. Others ban certain breeds. Some don't allow any pets except, maybe, goldfish.

If you have health concerns, you might need to limit your search to dogs for people with allergies. You'll be interested in a so-called hypoallergenic breed -- one that's relatively low-shedding, doesn't produce a lot of dander -- those tiny flakes of dead skin that float in the air like dust -- and doesn't slobber. Dander and saliva are big no-no's for anyone with pet allergies. Urine can be another allergy trigger, so you'll need to choose a pooch that's easy to apartment-break.

Does Size Matter?
At first, many people think, small space = small dog. That's not necessarily so. You want your new four-legged roommate to have low to moderate exercise needs, to be easy to train, easy to housebreak, low-shedding, mostly quiet and low-energy while indoors. You'll see below that good apartment dogs come in all sizes.

Some Good Apartment Dogs
Here's a "starter" list of breeds that are popular with apartment dwellers. As you delve further into your search for a city dog, you'll discover others -- and some might surprise you.

Yorkshire Terrier -- "Yorkies" are members of the toy group, but they are natural terriers -- inquisitive, energetic and brave. They are among the most popular breeds of dogs. The breed was developed in 19th century England as a ratter in the textile mills. They weigh four to seven pounds and are adaptable to all surroundings.

Maltese -- This is a gentle, well-mannered and affectionate toy dog. They are known as intelligent fast learners. Today's dog owners favor the Maltese for its refinement and cleanliness. Full of energy, playful and brave -- the Maltese is an excellent family dog weighing four to six pounds.

Dachshund -- This is a lively breed with a friendly personality and a keen sense of smell. The "wiener dog" is easily recognizable by its long, low body. They come with three different coats -- smooth, wire-haired and long-haired and in two sizes -- miniature and standard. Dachshunds are lovable, playful companions. With appropriate supervision, they can be good with children.

Beagle -- This "merry hound" is a medium-sized, sturdy hunting dog. It's one of the favorite dogs in the United States -- popularized by Snoopy of the Peanuts cartoons. Beagles come in two heights -- 13 and 15 inches. This hound, with its happy-go-lucky personality, makes a wonderful family pet.

German Shepherd -- This breed is consistently among the most popular in the U.S. and is hailed as one of the world's leading police and military dogs. They have an excellent reputation as loving companions. Energetic and fun-loving, these dogs are loyal family pets and good guard dogs.

Boxer -- This is a powerful dog with an alert and intelligent expression. They are instinctive guardians that love to be with people and desire human affection, especially from children. Popular with families, they are patient, spirited and protective.

Greyhound -- The fastest breed of dog is also a dedicated couch potato. They make sweet and personable family companions. Greyhounds are one of the most ancient of breeds -- going back nearly 3,000 years, according to some sources. They need daily exercise, but no more than most other breeds. Retired racers are successfully transitioning to the role of family pet.

Great Dane -- This "gentle giant" is truly majestic. Strong and elegant, Great Danes grow to  100 to 130 pounds. Many are members of urban families and thrive as apartment dwellers. Oddly, there is no connection with Denmark. The breed was developed in Germany as a boar hound. Friendly and energetic, they are excellent companions, but should be supervised around young children. Inside, these are couch potatoes too -- and they're likely to occupy the entire couch.

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