There is this debate among the dog community. Are large or small dogs better? There is no right answer! Dogs are amazing companions and they’re all wonderful. However, your living situation and personal wants may mean that a small or large dog breed is better for you.
Small dogs and large dogs are very different! Why? Different breeds come with different personalities and different purposes. Many dogs were bred for hunting, hard work, or were bred to fit in smaller living spaces.
So, let’s figure it out. Which dog size is best for you?
Let’s Address Myths About Dog Sizes
Starting with the obvious differences, size definitely plays a role in behavior, training, activity, and lifestyle issues. Think of a chihuahua and a Mastiff. One is going to be a lot jumpier than the other because it’s a lot smaller.
There are some stereotypical myths that come from different sizes too. We need to address those first.
Large does not always mean they’re more loveable and small does not mean they’re more snobbish. Plenty of small dogs are lap dogs, and plenty of larger dogs are better at guarding than cuddling.
Small dogs also need a lot of exercise and stimulation too. Just because they’re under 30 pounds, doesn’t mean they don’t love to run!
The final myth is that small dogs bark more. This is true for some breeds, but not all! All dogs bark to communicate and to protect their home — size plays no role in this.
So which dog size is better for you?
Learning About Small Dogs
Small dogs are wonderful. They’re usually under 50 pounds, but the smallest can weigh less than 15!
A number of small dogs are members of the terrier family. They tend to be more headstrong and vocal, which is where the “small dogs bark a lot” myth comes from. These traits can be a nuisance, or worse, can turn into destructive behavior if not channeled properly through mental stimulation and frequent, vigorous exercise. Just give them plenty of attention and play time and that will help break those habits.
However, breeds like Toy Poodles, French Bulldogs, and Boston Terriers are quiet, laid-back companions who would be perfectly happy to hang out between walks.
Small Dogs Require Attention!
Small dogs require just as much attention as large dog breeds. They can’t handle the same level of exercise, but they still want to play and run around just as much as their larger friends. Some love to retrieve and play fetch, others love to swim and be chased. It just depends on their personality and breed.
Small Dog Health Problems
Small dogs have longer lifespans than larger breeds, but they can still be susceptible to health problems.
A collapsed trachea often caused by the pressure that occurs when they jump while their collar is attached to a leash. A harness can help prevent this.
Kneecap injuries are a huge problem too. Small dogs aren’t built to jump up and down from furniture. You can use a ramp or a dog leg brace to help!
Hypoglycemia, a rapid drop in blood sugar, is very common in smaller dogs too.
Small Dog Breeds Are More Popular
According to the American Kennel Club, small breeds are more popular than large breeds because most of the breeds registered each year are small breeds. Why?
- They cost less
- They’re cheaper to travel with
- They can live in the city easily
The Cons of Raising a Small Dog
- Often bullied by larger dogs
- They don’t relax as easily as larger dogs
- They’re always under your foot
- They have strong personalities
Learning about Large Dog Breeds
Large dog breeds can seem harder to handle because of their size, but this isn’t always the case. Some large breeds are surprisingly mellow and are happy snoozing the day away. Greyhounds, for instance, were built to run, but they often are happy to spend their days snuggling and napping.
Large Dog Health Problems
Large breed dogs are at a higher risk for:
- Hip dysplasia
- Ligament tears
Large Dog Breeds Are Still Popular Too
Larger dogs make great watchdogs, family dogs, and everything in between depending on the breed. Big breeds are often laid back and more accepting of children than smaller dogs and have more patience. This isn’t always the case, but is a good generalization.
Great endurance. Love to walk? Then large dogs are the pals for you. Getting plenty of outdoor time and exercise makes them happy-go-lucky companions who are able to get along with everyone.
Larger dogs are generally easier to train than smaller dogs too. We don’t exactly know why, but it might be due to the fact that smaller dogs are typically more stubborn/strong-headed than larger dogs.
Large Breed Disadvantages
Large dogs tend to cost more due to food costs and vet visits. They also tend to shed more, so keep that in mind if you like having a clean home.
Large dog breeds are also harder to travel with and can seem more intimidating to strangers than smaller dogs. Think of it this way, which dog would you likely let your kid approach: a fluffy Bichon Frise or a massive Great Dane?
The Bottom Line?
No matter the size, you should choose what dog will fit best with your lifestyle. All dogs have a lot of heart and love to give, and there are plenty in shelters that would love to find a home with you. Large or small, they will love you all the same.