Dog ownership certainly isn't for everyone, especially if you live in a cramped apartment; the hysterical barking booming through the thin walls at the mailman on an early weekend morning gets old with your neighbors real quick. Not to mention, Fido's vet bills can be expensive, clean-up can be a nightmare, and the trips to the dog park can be cringy.

It's true. Dog parenting isn't the right fit for everyone, whether it be because of space constraints, allergies, or they simply can't deal. Even though dogs aren't a good fit for your family, there are plenty of other unlikely critters to consider as an alternative to a dog. We've rounded up 9 alternative pets to consider when dogs just won't do.

1. Mini Pig

mini pig standing in hay

Miniature pigs, also called mini pig, micro pig, teacup pig, or Pygmy pig, are absolutely adorable and have exploded in popularity on social media. Surprisingly, these charming piglets don't stay teacup-sized forever. Although smaller than the average farm pig, miniature pigs can grow to be fairly large, about 50 to 150 pounds at full size. That's a lot of pig! But pet pigs are said to be smart, gentle, curious, and loving.

Those interested in owning a mini pig will need to be ready to offer up plenty of indoor and outdoor space, so apartment dwellers are a no-go. According to the American Mini Pig Association, mini pig owners will notice that pigs are more sensitive to change than dogs. 

Some pigs will even grow to become protective of the home and family after a considerable amount of time with their owners. Unlike dogs, pigs don't desire to please their owners, but they have an unrelenting passion for food so be ready to share those snacks.

2. Bearded Dragons

bearded dragon
blende12 / Pixabay

Fans of Disney's Raya and the Last Dragon on Disney+ will love having a bearded dragon as a pet; it's like having Sisu as your personal sidekick right at home! Easy to handle with a calm, easy-going demeanor, bearded dragons make a wonderful pet for kids. If bearded dragons could talk, they'd be echoing Sisu by declaring, "I... am... so hungry," staring you down for some chow when dinner time comes around.

3. Chinchillas


Chinchillas are irresistibly adorable, with incredibly silky fur considered the softest in the world. These small creatures resemble miniature rabbits with deep, black eyes and bushy tails. Chinchillas are considered crepuscular, meaning they're primarily active at dawn and dusk, making them a perfect fit for busy families. 

Chinchillas tend to be high-strung and a bit skittish but love being affectionate with their pet parents, given the time and patience when getting to know them.

4. Snail

snail on piece of wood

Although it may seem unusual, a snail is a low maintenance and cost-effective pet option that can enhance your child’s learning opportunities. While notoriously slow, watching them slither around their habitat is quite interesting and relaxing to see. 

Interacting, feeding, and handling your friendly snail. as well as cleaning up after them up couldn't be easier, but make sure to wash your hands every time.

5. Hedgehogs


Hedgehogs like porcupines have sharp-like quills that cover their backs that protect them from predators. If you have never held a hedgehog, you may be wondering if hedgehog quills can hurt you. There is a learning curve to handling these little roly-polys. Hedgehogs that are uncomfortable or nervous with their surroundings will be more challenging to hold. As they begin to become more familiar with their owners, handling will go more smoothly, and they'll start to loosen up.

Hedgehogs are nocturnal animals, making them perfect candidates for night owl pet owners. Provide your hedgehog with plenty of exercise opportunities like an exercise wheel, as captive hedgehogs are prone to being overweight.

6. Red Eye Tree Frog

red eye tree frog

Seeking an excellent beginner pet? Look no further than the Red Eye Tree Frog, one of the most popular pet frogs on the market. It's not difficult to see why this iconic tree frog is so popular amongst amphibian lovers. The Red Eye Tree Frog has a stunning appearance with a bright green, yellow and blue body paired with vivid red eyes. This brilliant colored frog will look striking in your home's terrarium while being cost and low maintenance.

7. Rat


Rats may not be the first furry animal that comes to mind when you think of a snuggle buddy. Yet, they're easily tamed, love to be held, making them a wonderful pet. These affectionate rodents are also clean, contrary to popular belief, and are relatively easy to care for. 

Although they aren't as high maintenance as dogs, pet rats appreciate companionship, whether with other rats or with their pet owners.

8. Emperor Scorpions

emperor scorpion

Okay, Emperor Scorpions may not be the ideal cuddle buddy, but they make for an amazingly unique pet. Emperor Scorpions have a terrifyingly awesome appearance, as they're impressively large. However, these scorpions are, for the most part, docile, making them ideal pets for those interested in creepy-crawlies but aren't ready for a Tarantula just yet.

Emperor Scorpions are not considered dangerous as they rarely pinch or sting unless they feel threatened. The sting of an Emperor Scorpion rarely requires medical attention. However, in some individuals, like bee stings, it can cause a severe allergic reaction (anaphylactic shock) to the venom requiring immediate medical attention.

9. Cockatiels


Don't let the small stature of this small parrot fool you. Cockatiels have larger-than-life personalities and an even bigger heart. When they're not busy whistling to their favorite tune, foraging for their preferred treats, or playing with toys, these affectionate birds are waiting to climb up on your shoulder for a snuggle fest. As with most of the pets on our list, cockatiels enjoy attention. But, they will need patient, gentle, loving pet owners that will allow them time to gain your trust. Cockatiels make great first pets, as well as wonderful first birds for those interested in adopting a feathered friend.

Related Reading

  1. Purrfect Pet Presents
  2. The Definitive Guide to Dog Ownership
  3. Which Dog Breed Is Right For You?
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