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  • Writer's pictureAmanda Anderson - K9 Hydrotherapist

Little or big dog?

Seems a simpler enough question doesn’t it?

Choosing a dog comes with many questions for the new dog guardian:

  • What breed of dog?

  • What age dog, am I looking for a puppy or an adult dog?

  • Do I want a short or a long-haired dog?

  • Male or female?

  • Adopted or bought?

  • Budget to care properly for a dog?

The above can easily be answered, most people know what type of dog they are looking for although most don't realise that the size of a dog can have an impact on how they live in the home and fit into their daily routines. Here are some considerations to ponder:

Getting a Small Dog:

The Pros:

Portability: Small dogs are easier to transport around, making them more convenient for travel or living in smaller spaces. Quite simply they take up less space!

Lower Maintenance: They generally require less food, smaller living spaces, and less exercise than larger breeds for example shorter walks around the block or to the park.

Cheaper Veterinary Care: Due to their size smaller dogs tend to have cheaper vet bills, medication is typically less per body weight and more complex care, for example, operations are often calculated by the weight of the dog.

Longer Lifespan: Small dogs tend to live longer on average compared to larger breeds.

Easier Grooming: Smaller dogs are often easier to bathe, groom, and manage overall, they can be picked up if necessary and easier to manage when wet and soapy. Due to their size, they will shed less hair, some often don't shed hair at all based on their breed.

Easier to manage as you get older: Smaller dogs are not as strong as their bigger counterparts. They can be easier to walk, manage and handle.

The Cons:

Fragility: Small dogs can be more fragile and susceptible to injuries, especially around small children or in rough play. Their little bodies are more prone to breaks and injuries if not cared for properly and their limbs are a lot less strong than bigger dogs.

Vocalization: Some small breeds tend to be more prone to barking and yapping excessively, training and correct management of this may be required.

Training Challenges: They might be more challenging to train due to their sometimes independent or stubborn nature.

Limited in Some Activities: They may not be suitable for activities like jogging or playing rough sports. Their little legs will struggle to keep up with a jogger and may get tired quicker due to having to keep up with their guardian or play partner.

Teething Problems: Small and teacup breeds tend to have more teething issues. This can be addressed and reduced by providing a proper dog-related diet (not human) and not giving too many treats to reduce the occurrence of tooth and gum decay as well as bad breath linked to this which is often associated with small breeds. Regular dental checkups are a must!

Getting a Big Dog:

The Pros:

Protection: Larger dogs can be excellent deterrents and provide a greater sense of security.

Versatility: Many large breeds excel in various roles, such as working dogs; search and rescue, military and police support as well as being excellent service and therapy dogs.

Exercise Partners: They can make great companions for more active lifestyles and are well-suited for activities like hiking or running.

Sturdiness: They tend to be more resilient and less prone to injuries during rough play and exercises. A bigger and stronger body means fewer breaks and serious injuries.

Easier to Train: Larger dogs can be more receptive to training and tend to be easier to manage due to their physical size. A smaller dog is lower down to the ground (obviously) which can make training more challenging.

The Cons:

Space Requirements: Big dogs need more space to move around comfortably and may not be suitable for smaller living spaces or apartment living.

Grooming Needs: Larger breeds can require more grooming and maintenance due to their size and coat type. Shedding of hair can occur in copious amounts depending on the breed leading to more regular coat care and not forgetting to clean the dropped hair afterwards can be challenging if the guardian is house-proud or does not have time to sweep up lots of dog hair.

Shorter Lifespan: On average, larger dogs have shorter lifespans compared to smaller breeds. Unfortunately the bigger the dog the shorter the life span is to be expected.

Potential Health Issues: Some large breeds are prone to specific health problems, like hip dysplasia, heart issues, and back problems, with more weight on a dog the joints and body are under more stress leading to potential common problems.

Ultimately, the best choice depends on anyone's preference, lifestyle and living situation as well as budget! Both small and large dogs can make wonderful companions. Consideration of their size to fit in comfortably with the lifestyle of their guardian is crucial in getting it right for both the dog and their guardian and with a little forethought and research it can be right for both.

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