The Best Dogs for Small Fenced Backyards

"Hey, don't leave me out here alone."
i Jupiterimages/ Images

Plenty of dogs can deal with a postage stamp for a yard—as long as they're just visiting. But surprisingly, if your space is more studio than castle, it's not always the size of your companion that matters.

The Backyard Life

Most pups enjoy a little outdoor territory to call their own. In fact, your furry pal would probably put a satisfying sniff-fest of his yard's perimeter on his "10 best things to do every day" list. However, dogs are social creatures who crave human companionship—more than you can offer by a quick visit to his yard a couple of times daily. He also needs your direction through training to learn how to act around other dogs and people. Dogs left outdoors often become barking, digging, aggressive delinquents in their attempts to relieve boredom and gain some respect.

Measuring Your Compatibility

If you're looking for a pup to call your own, your first step should be an examination of your expectations. If you spend your backyard time snoozing in a lawn chair or flipping through the latest fashion mag, you'd probably have some issues sharing your garden with the never-ending battery life of a 10-inch-tall Jack Russell terrier. A 30-pound border collie will find a sunny patch to nap in for 20 minutes—after you've taken him through his paces at a local agility course where he can weave between poles and jump through hoops for an hour or so. A 200-pound bullmastiff will happily settle in for a backyard snoring contest after just a brisk walk.

Small Yard Lovers

Weighing between 70 and 80 pounds, the Clumber spaniel is a slow-moving gentleman who takes well to city living. A small backyard will give him enough space to explore during his daily toilet, but he'll need a couple of daily walks. A diminutive Pomeranian, Maltese, Yorkshire terrier or shih tzu will find a tiny yard suits his daily exercise needs if you're willing to toss a ball or come up with another activity to keep him moving and entertained—but that long coat will likely need refreshing after a romp outdoors. The lower-energy bulldog, French bulldog and Pembroke Welsh corgi also find plenty of canine joy in small yards.

The Details

Your neighbors will enjoy your backyard-loving pal as much as you if you make sure the fence is sturdy enough to hold him, teach him barking manners and clean up after he's done his daily business. All dogs, even tiny toys, need socialization and obedience training—and the best way to ensure Rover is well-behaved outside is to teach him how to live indoors. Regardless of your pup's size or energy level, he'll need water and a sheltered place to plop if he's planning to spend more than a few minutes in his backyard haven. Also, time spent in the backyard can never replace those daily walks your friend needs to stay balanced and happy.

the nest