Small Breed Dogs: Small Packages With Big Personalities
There is quite a range in size among small breed dogs. They are generally less than 22 pounds and are shorter than 16 inches, but can range from the very small, such as the Chihuahua, weighing only 6 to 8 pounds and standing only 6 to 10 inches tall, to the larger of the small breeds like the Staffordshire Bull Terrier which weighs between 24 to 36 pounds and stands 14 to 16 inches tall.
When considering a small breed dog are you thinking it would be a better match because of its size, temperament, its exercise requirements, grooming requirements, your living situation, whether or not you have children, or cost of care? These are all important.
Chihuahuas are the smallest of small breed dogs, more specifically, characterized as a toy breed. Picture is courtesy of Toronja Azul from Flickr.
Regarding size, it's definitely easier to care for a small dog when it comes to grooming and clean-up. My dog, Sydney, who is half Newfoundland, half Lab, is a big shedder. I could vacuum every day, several times a day. Her long hair needs to be brushed frequently in order not to tangle or become knotted. Bathing her is quite the chore. She's 70+ pounds and though easy going, isn't easily maneuvered! Also, her potty messes are much larger than a small dog's. So whether it's yard clean-up or picking up after her during a walk, it's no small matter.
Feeding her is much more expensive than feeding a small dog. If you live in an apartment, or a place with a small yard, a small breed dog might be a better fit. Small dogs may not need less exercise, but they sure need less space.
Small Dogs and Children
As far as children are concerned, temperament and size are important to think about. Most small breed dogs that grow up with children will do okay, but you have to remember that a child may hurt a small dog either while handling it, or just due to over-exuberance when playing with it.
Small dogs are generally easy to care for; however, some do not like young children and their size is a definite concern. Also, some tend to be a bit yappy. Small dog breeds are loyal, intelligent, and protective of their owner, but this too may be a concern as their protectiveness may lead to them biting a small child out of jealousy.
Obviously a large dog is much more sturdy and if you accidentally step on its paw, they may yelp, but you won't really hurt him. Most large dogs are gentle and tolerant of children.
Whether you have a big or small dog, if you have children, you must teach them how to treat the dog. Children need to learn that a dog is a living being and needs to be treated gently. With that said, it's going to be much more difficult to hurt a large dog.
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier seen below is another of the popular small breed dogs. Picture courtesy of flickr and Mark Hillary.
Although I take my dog just about everywhere, I'm sure it's much easier to travel with a small dog. Is your car large enough for a big dog? A small dog will fit just about anywhere. You can even put a small dog in a kennel and take him on a plane, something I certainly can't do. If you travel by air, you for sure will not bring a large dog with you. That means finding a place for your dog to stay or someone to care for her while you're gone.
Hotels are becoming more and more dog-friendly, however; they sometimes have a weight limit on the size of dog allowed. Also, be prepared to pay extra. Most hotels require a pet fee. I've paid as little as $10 a night, to as much as $50! Yes, I love my dog. I justify the extra money knowing that I'd have to pay someone to care for her if I left her home. She travels well, too. She'd much rather be with us than left at home.
As always, I think adopting a dog from a shelter or other type of animal agency is the way to go. If you choose a small breed dog, I hope you will consider small dog adoption; there are even shelters that strictly offer small breeds. And if you want a purebred, you can leave your name with the animal adoption agencies in your area or as far as you'd be willing to travel, to pick up your new dog. The agency will notify you if a purebred of your particular choice is brought in to them.
Syd taking it easy in bed in our hotel room.
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