By Linda Cole
I wasn’t expecting to adopt another dog until one day my neighbor came over with a tiny puppy tucked under her arm. As she explained why she was there, the pup stared at me, her bright eyes sparkling with personality that would have melted any dog lover’s heart. Before I knew it, the pup was nestled in my arms, giving me kisses. Riley is a Rat Terrier/Chihuahua mix, and she’s the smallest one in my pack of much larger dogs, but her attitude is definitely “Don’t mess with me.” One would think a small dog would show a little respect to a dog towering over her, but that would be ignoring the tenacity of most little dogs. So why do some small dogs pick fights with larger dogs?
One theory posed by vets is that a lot of small dogs tend to spend more time in their owners arms, giving them a higher position where they can view a larger dog from above. We have a tendency to be more protective of a small dog, especially if there are larger dogs in the family. To prevent small dog syndrome, I treat Riley just like my other dogs, and I don’t let her get away with doing things I wouldn’t allow the bigger dogs to do. We don’t pick her up and carry her around, and we let the dogs resolve minor disagreements themselves. The alpha dog in a pack isn’t always the biggest dog; sometimes it is the smallest one.
Like larger dog breeds, small breeds were bred to do a specific job. Some were developed to be companion dogs, happy to lounge away their days in the lap of the one they love. But most small breeds were created to hunt vermin or prey. These little canines had to be feisty, tenacious, brave and independent. They needed a fierce attitude to stand up to sometimes larger prey, with an equal amount of attitude. As far as the little dog goes, his size has nothing to do with it. It’s his super sized willingness to fight that’s important.