Breed and personality are very important things to consider when adopting a dog, but even the most perfect choice may turn out to be problematic if the dog is the wrong size for your living situation. Here are some tips to help you decide between a large breed dog and a small one.
Home Size and Location
A large dog can live in a small place, but their temperament may be a determining factor in whether or not that will work for you. Some dogs are very high energy, and the confinement of a small home or apartment may find you tripping over each other and quickly losing patience.
If you don’t have a fenced yard where your dog can run freely, you will have to go on multiple walks every day. If you’re not willing to take a big dog out daily for a good exercise period, a large breed may not be the choice for you. A dog walker or exerciser might be an option, if your budget can accommodate the expense.
A small dog can find more running and playing space inside than a large breed can. A big dog also requires more space for sleeping arrangements, crate size, and just general moving around space in your home.
If you are located near parks, beaches, dog exercise areas or good walking places, this may help you determine what size of dog you want to get.
Energy Level and Health Issues
Both you and your dog’s energy levels are important in determining the right size dog. You may find it easier to keep up with a small dog, whereas a big dog requires more energy output. It is much easier to catch a small dog running away than a large one, to play chase and tag with a small dog, or even while reinforcing proper behavior while training
If you have health limitations or limited physical capabilities that might affect the quality of life for you and your dog, a smaller dog may be a better option. However, a well trained larger dog can help someone with limitations to be more mobile and functional in activities of daily living. They can do things a smaller dog can’t.
Most canines are natural watchdogs to some degree. Dogs instinctively protect their territory and their pack, which includes you. Small breed dogs can be good watchdogs as much as a big dog can, sounding off when strangers are nearby and alerting you to the presence of intruders.
If you want a dog that is more likely to fend off intruders who might scoff at a small dog, a large dog can be very intimidating and may be the better choice for you. The sight of a large barking dog with hackles raised is a deterrent for most people. Don’t discount small dogs for intimidation and protection factors, though. Some small dogs think and act big beyond their actual size, and can be plenty fierce.
Although you may do fine with either size of dog, you need to take into consideration the needs and comfort level of all family members. For example, small children may find a big dog intimidating, particularly if they have a fear of dogs, but a small dog may be something they can adapt to. Puppies are small and cute, but their eventual full grown size is what should determine which size of dog you choose.
Work and Relocation
If you have a job that requires moving to different locations on an ongoing basis, your living situation may vary drastically from place to place. In one location you may only have a small apartment, and in another a large house with a yard. Not all places will take a large dog if you are renting.
Depending on the individual dog, training may be easy or difficult. However, a larger dog is more of a physical challenge than a smaller one, particularly if you’re trying to stop inappropriate behavior such as jumping up on people or getting into things they shouldn’t.
Training and continually reinforcing the learned skills is more physically challenging with a larger dog and requires more output from you than a smaller dog does. You have to be able to work with each other productively.
Care and Feeding
Washing a large dog is a lot more work than a small one. Bathing a large dog requires more space and possibly the use of a tub or shower, whereas a small dog can often be bathed in a sink or small moveable wash basin. Drying the dog off afterward is also an issue.
Grooming their fur is more time consuming and challenging with a larger dog. Doing things such as trimming nails and cleaning teeth may be an issue with any dog, but it is easier to restrain a wiggling small dog than a larger one if they do not like having the needed grooming task done.
When it comes to feeding, a large breed dog is obviously going to eat more CANIDAE food than a smaller dog, and that may be an issue for a tight budget.
As a responsible pet owner, take both your needs and the needs of a dog into consideration when choosing the right size dog for your family. Be realistic in your final decision, no matter how much your heart is pulling you to one size over another. You want the dog to be a good fit for your lifestyle, household members, home size, individual capabilities and physical requirements.
Photos by Austin Kirk
Read more articles by Laurie Darroch