Category Archives: small dogs

Why Do Small Dogs Pick Fights with Big Dogs?

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.

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The 10 Most Popular Small Breed Dogs

Bichon Frise puppy

By Linda Cole

Small dogs may come in small packages, but many have a confident and tenacious attitude. These dogs don’t think of themselves as “small,” and some of the jobs they were bred to do required a dog with attitude. A small dog is defined as a breed under 22 pounds, and dog owners have made 10 the most popular.

Bichon Frise

No dog is completely hypoallergenic, but the Bichon Frise is a good choice for people with allergies. A smart, independent, courageous, affectionate, confident and playful cotton ball of a dog, the Bichon Frise weighs 7-16 pounds and has a life span of 12-16 years or longer. With an easy, sensitive and happy personality, this is a good family dog that gets along well with other pets.

Boston Terrier

The largest of this group, the Boston Terrier is an American made breed that weighs 10-25 pounds. This easy going, muscular, compact and well mannered canine is often referred to as the “American gentleman.” The Boston Terrier is smart, good with the entire family, easy to train and sensitive to our tone of voice. This breed is susceptible to heatstroke because of their pushed in nose, but can live 15 years or longer.


The smallest breed at 2-6 pounds, this dog definitely thinks he’s a “big dog.” Intelligent, graceful, loyal, lovable, brave, adventurous, agile and strong willed, the Chihuahua makes a good family pet as long as he understands you are his leader. They can be short tempered with children and wary around strangers. This alert breed is a good watchdog, and can be extremely protective of his home and family. Many Chihuahuas are fond of cats, and can live up to 15 years or longer.

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Original Jobs Small Dogs Were Bred to Do

By Linda Cole

Over the centuries, humans and dogs have traveled down the same road, side by side. When you think about it, our relationship with canines is a unique and mutual one that serves us both. Today, small dogs are more likely to be just a household pet instead of doing the jobs they were originally bred to do. Like our ancestors, we appreciate the warmth of a snuggling dog curled up next to us on a cold winter night. Some breeds were bred only for companionship, and some are mighty hunters, in a small body.


Even small dogs can hit the trail as a scenthound or sighthound. A newly recognized AKC breed, the Russell Terrier, was originally left behind on hunts because his small size wasn’t thought to be useful for hunters. His first role was as a companion dog around the home, and as a ratter to keep vermin at bay around sheds and barns. That was, until it was discovered the Russell’s smaller size made him ideal for hunting prey that went underground. The dog was easy to carry over rough terrain in a “terrier” bag or across the saddle of a horse, and he had the desired temperament and drive to handle himself against a red fox and other small prey.

Small dogs were often used to seek out, track, follow and find small prey as a pack. Dachshunds were used to hunt badgers, while Yorkshire Terriers were used by miners to help get rid of rat infestations in the mines. They were also used to hunt fox, badgers and other small prey, and follow them into their holes. Italian Greyhounds chased down rabbits. Dogs bred to work as a pack generally get along well with other canines in the home.


Small dogs are not good guard dogs, but they make great watchdogs. If they see someone who isn’t suppose to be in their territory, these alert little dogs will let you know in no uncertain terms. In the old days, small dogs were put up on the top of walls where they would patrol during the night and warn their owners if someone was around. Small breeds like the Brussels Griffon, Pomeranian, Miniature Pinscher, Shih Tzu and Lhasa Apso were used as watchdogs to guard the palace chamber of the lady, or guard their owner when they traveled.

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Small Dog Breeds for Active Lifestyles

By Linda Cole

People who love to run and enjoy the companionship of a dog by their side have a tendency to pick larger dogs as a running partner. Small dog breeds aren’t usually thought of as being able to keep up the pace over the long haul. However, the cool thing about all dog breeds, large and small, is their unique and varied energy levels.

Small dogs can have as much energy packed into their little bodies as a Border Collie or Labrador, and are ready to show you what they’ve got. If you have an active lifestyle, you don’t have to look far to find a small dog breed that will relish a stimulating hike or run. After all, many small breeds were bred as working dogs, and have the tenacity, energy and loyalty to fit into most lifestyles.

High Energy Small Working Dogs

A small dog is usually considered to be less than 22 pounds. Not surprisingly, terrier breeds dominate in the group of small dogs with the highest activity level. Dogs who run on high octane were bred to hunt small prey like rabbits, foxes and rats. These little dogs had to be brave, fearless and tenacious to follow whatever they were chasing underground to root them out. Many times, their prey turned out to be bigger than they were. Today’s terriers haven’t lost their desire to chase prey. A rabbit bursting out from under a bush can quickly find a terrier hot on his heels.

With boundless energy, these dogs are always ready for a good run, whether it’s jogging with his owner or chasing a neighborhood cat. Some examples of small dogs with lots of energy include the Parson Terrier, West Highland White Terrier, Bull Terrier, Cairn Terrier, Norfolk Terrier, Jack Russell Terrier, Wire Fox Terrier, Border Terrier, Australian Terrier, Miniature Schnauzer, Basenji and Petit Basset Griffon. These breeds can learn to live with cats in the home, and they are great with children and other dogs in the home.

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Six Small Dogs with Big Jobs


By Linda Cole

Small dogs aren’t usually the ones who take on herding jobs, and they generally aren’t considered good search and rescue dogs. However, small dogs are proving they have the tenacity and ability to take on big jobs. There’s even one small dog who has the right stuff for searching out and finding ghosts.

Jack is a Cairn terrier and a personal trainer. With his owner and certified personal trainer, Dawn Celapino, owner of Leash Your Fitness in San Diego, CA, Jack is helping other dog owners and their dogs get into a healthy lifestyle through exercise. Dawn’s unique exercise class teaches clients to use their dogs as their exercise partner. She started her business after she discovered Jack was the perfect workout partner and it was a good a way to spend more time with him. Dawn has developed a fun exercise program that helps dog owners stay in shape and allows even the most hyper dogs a good way of using up excess energy. She encourages her clients to bring their dogs, even ones with behavior problems, and has enlisted the help of dog trainers who help owners with their dogs. Agility and obedience training are incorporated into the class.

Bevy, a Corgi, is owned by Scott Wiley from Musselshell, Montana. When she was born, her mom didn’t have enough milk to feed Bevy and her siblings so they had to be bottle fed. Bevy, the runt of the litter, only weighs around 22 pounds, but she has the desire and heart of any good herding dog. Corgis were bred to herd, and Scott depends on Bevy and his three other Corgis to help him round up and manage 300 herd of cattle.

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