Whether your landlord has a weight restriction on canine residents or you aren't keen on controlling a large dog, there are plenty of dogs that won't grow more than 50 pounds. Do your research if you're getting a puppy so you know how big he'll get; choosing a full grown dog takes away the guesswork.
Categorizing the Choices
The American Kennel Club, or AKC, recognizes 178 breeds of dogs, all belonging to one of eight groups: sporting, hound, working, terrier, toy, nonsporting, herding and miscellaneous. It also provides an additional group, foundation stock service, comprised of unrecognized breeds. If you aren't all that interested in a specific type of dog, you can look for a pup based on size. When categorized by size, dogs are very small, small, medium, large and giant.
The Little Guys
Going by size, a dog who is "very small" is less than 8 pounds, and one who's considered "small" will range between 9 and 22 pounds. Any dog in the AKC's toy group will work for you if you want a dog that won't grow more than 50 pounds. If you go with a toy dog, don't necessarily expect a small personality -- many of these guys give meaning to the phrase "dynamite comes in small packages." The miniature pinscher and toy rat terrier have gregarious personalities, while the cavalier King Charles spaniel and Italian greyhound are more reserved. Other popular toys include pugs and Pomeranians. Small dogs aren't confined to the toy group in the AKC. For example, the dachshund is in the hound group; the Lhasa apso is in the nonsporting group; and the miniature schnauzer is in the terrier group.
The Middle Ground
Medium dogs weigh between 23 and 55 pounds, so you'll need to be careful when you're making your choice if you want to keep your pup to 50 pounds or less. If you like a larger dog than a toy, you can check out the AKC's other groups to see what breeds work within your limitations. The terrier group is a good place to start, with a number of dogs meeting that medium-sized criteria, such as the miniature bull terrier or a Kerry blue terrier. However, do your homework, because some in this group may get too large, such as the American staffordshire terrier. The herding group offers the Australian cattle dog and the Pembroke Welsh corgi; the beagle and the whippet are safe choices from the hound group; the keeshond and the bulldog represent the nonsporting group; and the Brittany comes from the sporting group.
Making A Choice
Even with a weight limitation, there's no shortage of dogs to choose from. When you pick your pup, first consider how he's going to fit into your lifestyle. If he's living in an apartment, choose a dog that will be OK with a long walk or two every day and won't miss having a yard. Consider the other family members -- if he'll need to co-exist with children or other pets, for example -- and how much time you'll have to devote to him. The AKC breed groups are a good starting point for making a choice based on size and personality, but don't count out your local shelter. A trip to the shelter will present you with a variety of full-grown dogs, so there will be no surprises about what your new friend grows into.