Best Dogs for College Students: Finding the Perfect Companion

Going off to college can be exciting and scary at the same time. After all, this is the first time most students are out on their own. 

Your college years are ideal for self-discovery. Being on your own, making new friends – you will experience a lot of ups and downs during these years. 

A pet, especially a dog, can be your constant through your college years. 

But you have to be a little careful about the dog you select. You wouldn’t want a dog that clings to you, always seeking your attention. That will be an added responsibility that you might not be able to manage. 

This is why I have created a list of the best dogs for college students. I picked breeds that not only complement a college student’s lifestyle, but will make it a lot more fun! 

Disclaimer: The Can My Dog articles contain information based on the individual research and opinions of the author of the site – who just so happens to be a dog. How you utilize the information given is completely up to you. Proceed at your own risk.

Why You Should Consider Getting a Dog

Dogs are a lot of fun, but that’s not enough of a reason for you to get one, especially since they come with responsibilities. Below are reasons why college students should opt for a dog:

  • Companionship: University can be lonely, especially if you have trouble making friends. There is nothing worse than coming home to an empty apartment or room after a long day of class. Dogs can provide you with the companionship you need. They are playful and affectionate – the two traits we all look for in a friend. 
  • Keeps you active: Dogs promote a healthier lifestyle because they force you to be more active. Before you know it, your daily schedule will include walks and jogs. You will be in better shape all thanks to your dog. 
  • Boost mental health: The workload and pressure linked to university often result in students feeling stressed and depressed. A dog can lower anxiety because its companionship and playfulness result in an increase of oxytocin in your body. The hormone is linked to lowering blood pressure and reducing anxiety. 
  • Help make friends: Whether you are out for a walk or just sitting at a party, dogs are a great topic for conversation. It will help break the ice with people because, well, who doesn’t love dogs?

The Traits College Students Should Look For in a Dog

Like humans, every dog is different. However, dogs within a breed share similar traits and personalities. So, it isn’t too hard to predict how they will behave. 

Some breeds are hyper-active and clingy while others are calm and relaxed. I understand that you want to pick a dog that is suited to your college lifestyle. 

The dog you pick should have the following traits: 


Partying or getting involved in social groups is a part of the college experience and you want a dog that is social and enjoys being around people. 

You will have tons of people coming to your place and will be going out a lot, yourself. The last thing you want is for your dog to hide and get anxious every time you have a bunch of friends over. 

Easy to Train

It doesn’t matter if you are on your own or living with roommates, you will have to train the dog you get. Otherwise, it will make your life miserable. So, why not get one that is easier to train?

Untrained dogs are a lot to take care of. Imagine having to clean up poop from your room after coming home from a 3-hour class. A trained dog will make your life a whole lot easier and reduce the chances of you losing your security deposit. 

Laid Back

Let’s face it: between classes, a part-time job, and going out, there will be days you won’t have time to take your dog out. 

Dogs that enjoy an active lifestyle will likely become depressed if they go days without an outing. They tend to adopt destructive behavior like chewing on furniture or knocking things over until they get what they want. 

You want to avoid rambunctious, destructive dogs and pick a breed that generally has low-energy and is overall laid back. 

While they still need to go to the park and for walks, they don’t need to as often. They also are less likely to develop destructive behavior as a form to let out all the built-up energy they have from the lack of physical activity. 

What You Need to Consider Before You Get a Dog

Yes, the thought of owning a dog is exciting. However, it is a huge responsibility and there are some things you must consider before you head out to the nearest pet store. 

In the next few sections, I’ll be going over a few key things to consider.

Dogs Can Be Expensive 

Getting a dog can be expensive. Taking care of a dog comes with a lot of responsibility outside of food and water. There are numerous additional expenses you need to account for before you get one. 

The added expenses might be difficult for some college students to bear. After all, college isn’t cheap. You need to consider expenses from dog food, dog medical expenses, to repairing damages around the house caused by your dog. 

It all adds up fast. On average, you can expect to spend around $153 per month on your dog. And that number is only if you limit your spending. Otherwise, you can easily spend upwards of $500. 

So, make sure you can handle the additional expenses before you decide to get a dog. You don’t want to get a dog if you can’t properly provide for it.

You’ll Need to Take Time Out Daily for the Dog

Dogs have certain needs and you can’t completely ignore them. For example, they will need to go out a few times a day for bathroom purposes or require some form of exercise. These are daily responsibilities you will have to take care of, there is no way around them, no matter how laid back your dog may be. 

Your schedule doesn’t particularly need to revolve around your dog, since you have classes and other things to work around, but the responsibilities of owning a dog will take up a chunk of your time. 

Your Roommate’s Consent

If you share a place, then you need to make sure that your roommates are on board. Some people are afraid of dogs or just don’t want them roaming around their homes. 

Make sure to consult with your roommates beforehand to see if they approve of you getting a dog or not. If they agree, you can even discuss sharing costs and responsibilities with them. Which would help if you are reconsidering getting a dog because of the added expenses. 

The 7 Best Dogs for College Students

In no particular order, I’ll list the 7 best dogs for college students. Any one of these dogs will make your college life more fun and memorable. 

  1. Labrador Retriever

A Labrador Retriever, or Lab, is a loyal dog that quickly bonds with its owner. It will waste no time falling in love with you. The best part about a Lab is that it will adapt to its owner’s lifestyle.

This dog is typically active and you will need to take it out daily. However, once a day is good enough, which is something a college student can manage. You won’t have to go out of your way to give it attention, just feed it and ensure it gets daily exercise, and the dog will be happy. 

Labs do grow to be big, so if you prefer a smaller dog then you may want to consider another breed. This breed may not be your best bet if you’re living in a cramped dorm.

  1. Poodle

The Poodle ticks most of the boxes when it comes to traits a college student should look for in a dog. They are smart, making them easy to train, affectionate and loving, making them amazing companions, and just the perfect furry friend. Oh, I forgot to mention that they are also very social and quite the wing-dog. 

Your poodle will certainly be a conversation starter, every time you take it out for a walk. They are just adorable and attract a lot of attention. 

But, at the same time, poodles can be high-maintenance. Their hair grows pretty fast and requires regular grooming, about every 6-8 weeks, and the dog is super active. It will constantly roam around your home, especially if you don’t take it out daily. 

There are a variety of poodles and they come in different sizes: Teacup, Toy, and Miniature Poodles are quite popular because they are small and adorable.

  1. Shih Tzu

Shih Tzus are another breed of small dogs. Like the poodle, they are high maintenance, but you quickly fall in love with them. This would prompt you to ignore their need for regular grooming and attention. 

You won’t find a better breed of dog if you live in an apartment, since this dog doesn’t require a lot of room. Shih Tzu’s are also laidback and do not mind alone time. So, you won’t have to worry too much about it becoming destructive on days you have back-to-back classes. 

You do have to be a bit careful of what you feed the Shih Tzu. These dogs tend to gain weight fast, so don’t overfeed them. 

  1. Golden Retriever

The Golden Retriever is one of the more popular breeds of dogs around the world. They are loving and playful, two things everyone looks for in a dog. They are also fast learners which makes them easier to train. 

The Golden Retriever is highly intelligent and picks up on your cues. It won’t be long before they are trained to go outside for the bathroom and understand commands such as “No,” “Stay,” and “Sit”. Making them the ideal choice for college students. 

However, owning a Golden Retriever isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. They are an active breed and are at a higher risk of developing separation anxiety than other breeds. The fact that they easily attach to their owner is a drawback in this regard because they tend to depend on them for attention and companionship. 

  1. Pug

Pugs are ideal for first-time dog owners because they are friendly, playful, and affectionate. But so are most of the other dogs on our list, what makes the pug different? Well, their shortened face will have you melt in seconds, their cuteness is just too hard to overlook. The dog is the epitome of the sad puppy face. 

While Pugs are adorable, they can be a bit stubborn which makes them harder to train. You will need to dedicate more time to training them than you would a Golden Retriever. Its facial structure also puts it more at risk of developing breathing problems. So, it may require a little extra medical attention. 

Pugs are another small breed of dogs, making them perfect for a student living in an apartment. They are also active, which means daily walks are a must. 

  1. Lhasa Apso

Who would have thought that this adorable breed of dogs once served as guard dogs? The royal family used to use the Lhasa Apso as guard dogs, which is puzzling due to the small size of the dogs

These dogs might not be big and bulky, but they do pack a punch. It is always on alert and will notify you if something is amiss. It will surely bark enough to scare intruders away. 

As adorable as the Lhasa Apso might be, it does require more attention than other dogs I have on the list. Regular grooming is also required, which can run up expenses for an average college student. 

Despite the grooming responsibilities, these dogs are apartment-friendly and will be a conversation starter when you take it out for walks. Plus, it is easy to train so it won’t be too much of a problem around the house. 

  1. Boston Terrier 

The Boston terrier is one of the smartest breeds of dogs. They tend to pick up on your habits and commands quickly, which makes them easier to maintain than other dogs.

Boston Terriers are also easy when it comes to grooming, and they don’t drool too much. Once housetrained, you won’t have to pick up too much after it. 

One thing you need to consider, though, is their high energy levels. While they won’t jump around in your home and tear things up, they do need to go for walks often. Make sure you have enough time in your schedule for walks, otherwise you risk it acting up. 

Dog Breeds That College Students Should Stay Away From

With the best dogs for college students covered, let’s look at some dog breeds you should steer away from. 


Rottweilers typically have a bad reputation due to their aggressiveness. You wouldn’t want to cause any problems with your roommate or friends who come over. While you can train a Rottweiler to be gentle, you probably shouldn’t risk it.


The Weimaraner is a breed that will constantly want your attention. It is a hyperactive dog that will get aggressive if you don’t take it out for it to release its pent-up energy. They are also highly dependent on their owner and will cling to you, making it difficult for you to go out. 

German Shepherds

German shepherds make wonderful pets, but only if you give them plenty of room to roam around and be themselves. You can’t confine it to an apartment or small space because it needs to be able to move freely. Letting it out in the hallway is also not an option because it will disrupt other tenants.

So don’t get a German Shepherd unless you have a decent size house with a yard. 


Don’t let their sweet, fluffy look fool you, the Chow-chow is one of the most aggressive dogs you will come across. It may seem adorable at first, but it is stubborn and will attack the moment it senses its space being invaded.  

Final Thoughts

There isn’t one particular breed of dog that is perfect for a college student. You need to determine what particular traits you want in a dog and pick accordingly. 

Our guide of the best dogs for college students will help you pick from the top 7 breeds based on energy-level, companionship, playfulness, expenses, and level of maintenance linked to the dog. You can go with any of the 7 and you will more than likely be satisfied with your choice. 

All of the dogs that I have selected are ideal for the average college student, no matter if you live in a house or an apartment. These dogs will not trouble you too much and will give you all the affection that you want. 

This is a serious commitment, humans! Choose wisely.

Love you guys,


P.S. If you’re new to this world, you may want to check out my Ultimate Guide for First Time Dog Parents. It’s a great reference to get you started on this journey.

This article has been reviewed by our Editorial Board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our Editorial Policies.

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