11 Best Dog Breeds For Nurses Who’ve Always Wanted Pet Dogs

We’ve been visiting nurse forums and message boards sometimes and one thing we’ve seen a lot of are questions about dogs for nurses. Apparently, there are a lot of nurses out there who want to have pet dogs but are not sure just how it’ll work out due to long hours at work, changing shifts, and night duty.

We’ve left out the obvious advantages and disadvantages of keeping a pet dog, but here is a quick roundup of some factors nurses will need to consider.


  • Dogs give unconditional love. At the end of a difficult day at work (or after the loss of a patient), it’s wonderful to come home to a warm ball of fur who loves you to bits and will not be mad at you no matter what.
  • Because a pet will have to be walked, your dog can help you get out of doors and get some healthy exercise. (Note that we said healthy. We’ve said before how all the walking we do at work doesn’t really qualify as an exercise regimen.)
  • Studies have shown that just stroking a dog can help reduce cortisol (1) and improve our mood and our health.
  • A pet dog will give your otherwise lonely social life added flavor and color. Aside from the adventure that comes with being a pet owner, you’ll also most likely make friends with fellow dog lovers in your neighborhood or hospital.
  • You can help rescue a dog from the animal shelter (if you get your dog from there instead of buying from a pet store).


  • Assuming that you live alone, dogs that are left on their own for long periods of time can become lonely and destructive.
  • Some breeds have particular demands that a busy person in the city would be hard-pressed to give. Some dogs are particularly active and need boisterous exercise. Some types of dogs need a LOT of room to play in.
  • Dogs have distinct personalities and quirks. Some are diggers. Some are howlers. Some are attention hounds. Some are even escape artists like Houdini.

The long and short of it is, you’ll need to do two basic things especially if you live alone in your flat.

The first is to find out if you can get a sub who’ll be willing to come in at least once a day to take out your pet on walks, change water, or provide some socialization. It can be a family member who lives nearby, a trusted neighbor, or a walker.

If you’re lucky, you might even come upon a pet lover who for some reason can’t keep a pet at home. They’d surely love to help out.

The second thing you need to do is to do your research. Even if we said that there are breeds that need a huge dose of daily exercise and tracks of open space, there are actually certain types of dogs who would love nothing more than to snooze on your favorite chair.

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Here is a list of dogs that are ideal for busy people like nurses:

1. Chihuahua


Known as the world’s smallest dog, the Chihuahua has the world’s biggest personality inside of his little body.

The Chihuahua loves people and usually bonds with a single person. If you’re at home, he’ll follow you around from room to room and will even enjoy being brought around in a tote bag when you’re out running errands.

Despite their size, chihuahuas need more exercise than some of the dogs on this list. He’ll be willing to play so long as you have the energy.

If you’re having a walker visit during the day, make sure to introduce the walker properly as chihuahuas tend to be reserved and timid around strangers.

2. Basset hound


The Basset Hound is popular as the face of Hush Puppy. These dogs though are hunters of small game like badgers and rabbits.

So long as he’s not on the trail of a  frisky bunny, a Basset Hound is a laid back companion who can be calm and rather lazy around the house. He is as happy to lounge at home as he is to be out hunting game.

Bassets can tolerate being left alone but not TOO long. If you are considering a basset, make sure that there are periods where he will have a companion.

3. French bulldog

French bulldog

Do you love relaxing on the sofa? Then you’ve already got something in common with the adorable Frenchie.

French Bulldogs were originally developed to be companion dogs. Today, they’re known as affectionate lap warmers and family-friendly pets.

Frenchies are active and alert without being too energetic. A couple of 15- minute walks around the block keep them from becoming overweight.

They also do well in small homes and do not need a lot of room. They have a short coat that is easy to take care of.

One of the best things about French Bulldogs is their endearing gentle nature. When you get home from work, they’ll be happy to follow you around from room to room or lie at your feet when you’re sitting down (if he’s not hogging the most comfortable chair in the room).

Also Read: Best Pets for Busy Nurses

4. Maltese


Do you want a lovely-looking dog with a glamorous white coat? If you do, check out the Maltese.

The Maltese is gentle, friendly with everyone, and loves to be with his human. He makes for a great therapy dog, companion, and even sports dog.

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He is one of the smallest of the toy breeds which makes him suited for small space living. He can be active indoors and doesn’t need a ton of exercise.

One downside to the Maltese is that it cannot be left alone for long hours as it may bark too much and become destructive. This is not the ideal dog for nurses who live on their own with nobody to depend on for help with a pet.

5. Shar-Pei

Shar Pei

The Shar-Pei derives its name from “sand skin” because of its bristle-like coat. His mass of loose wrinkles gives him his distinctly unique and adorable look.

Though the Shar-Pei looks and sounds like a high-maintenance dog (or maybe we’re just thinking about that character in High School Musical tee hee…), this dog is actually calm enough to live in an apartment, tolerates being alone well, is naturally clean, and is happy hanging out with his human.

To give your Shar-Pei the best socialization exercise is to take him with you everywhere. Not to the hospital! But you can take him with you when you run your errands.

6. Boston Terrier

Boston Terrier

Boston Terriers are dubbed the “American Gentleman” because of its gentle and affectionate nature and tuxedo-like markings.

Originally bred to be a pit-fighter, the Boston Terrier is now a lover, not a fighter. They’ll look up at you with their huge round eyes and melt with the unspoken “I love you”.

Boston Terriers are indoor dogs and adapt very well to apartment living. They can also be left alone. They’re quiet and gentle and are not noisy and yappy.

While this dog doesn’t need an excessive exercise regimen, he’ll enjoy taking a walk with you and playing.

Also Read: 15 Stress Relieving Hobbies for Nurses (#13 is Unusual!)

7. Greyhound


While the greyhound looks like a hyperactive and demanding canine, this dog is actually a couch potato by nature.  This breed of dog is quiet and relaxed at home. It is a family dog and will enjoy your company.

Surprisingly, a greyhound’s typical favorite pastime is sleeping. He’s been called a world-class napper! For exercise, this dog is satisfied with a daily walk. If you’re a runner or jogger though, a greyhound would make a good partner who’ll keep up with you.

Greyhounds can adapt well to apartments and homes with small yards. They are very loyal pets and once you gain their affection, you’ll have a friend for life.

Trivia: Did you know that Greyhounds whose racing days are over usually get euthanized or sold off to laboratories? So heartbreaking.

8. Whippet


Once a poacher’s best friend, the Whippet is now a loving therapy dog.

At home, a whippet is undemanding and gentle. He loves your company and will snuggle with you on the couch and lie at your feet when you get home.

For exercise, he needs a couple of 20 minute walks on a leash daily. A whippet might run off-leash but his burst of energy will only last a few short minutes.

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There are some conditions to keeping a whippet though. For one, he can live in an apartment if it has a safely fenced area where it can run. Another is that it cannot be with cats or other small animals it might chase. If socialized at a young age though, it can live happily with a pet cat.

9. English Bulldog

English Bulldog

Bulldogs have a ferocious history and appearance but this dog has the sweetest and most loving disposition. Bulldogs are easily identified by their sad mugs and blocky builds.

It might surprise you but bulldogs don’t need as much exercise as other dogs and spend much of the day snoring on the sofa. He’ll love languishing next to you and maybe even sleeping with his head on your lap.

He seldom barks too and adapts well to living in apartments. He can be left alone but not for too long as he is a very sociable dog.

10. Dachshunds


Dachshunds are one of the most popular dogs because of their adorable appearance and lively disposition. They are very intelligent and “helpful” and will try to do things for you like tie your shoes.

If you live in an apartment or don’t have a backyard, the dachshund is ideal for you. Just be warned that it has a good strong bark so it might annoy your neighbors if they are sensitive to such sounds.

11. Pug


Pugs are the clowns of the canine world. If you can appreciate a dog with a sense of humor, you’ll enjoy pugs.

The Pug was originally bred to be a lap dog. It thrives on human companionship and makes an excellent companion. It loves to please and make its owner happy.

Unlike some breeds, this dog can live comfortably in the city and needs minimal exercise.

Did this list give you a bit more idea on ideal dogs for nurses? You can bring it to the next level by doing our own research so you can decide whether or not to get a dog.

Just remember that dog ownership is a two-way street. It should be beneficial to both parties – dog and hooman.

Check out our infographic!

dogs for nurses infographic

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  1. Petersson, M., Uvnäs-Moberg, K., Nilsson, A., Gustafson, L. L., Hydbring-Sandberg, E., & Handlin, L. (2017). Oxytocin and cortisol levels in dog owners and their dogs are associated with behavioral patterns: an exploratory study. Frontiers in psychology8, 1796.

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