Big or Small? Choosing a Dog Breed Based on Size

When it comes to deciding what kind of puppy to add to the family, size is a factor that should be considered. The difference between big and small dog breeds is for some, the difference between two completely different dogs. They’re not only different physically, but many argue that big dogs and small dogs have different personalities, too. Below are some things to keep in mind in order to make an informed decision about which size dog is right for you.

Space
The size of your home should be a deciding factor in what size dog you should choose to live in it. While small dogs can do well in both apartments and houses, a large dog may not thrive as well in small living spaces due to its energy level and exercise needs. Some big dogs, like Great Danes and Greyhounds, can manage in an apartment because of their lower energy levels, but as you are probably already aware, some buildings do not allow tenants to have larger dogs, no matter the personality. And even if you have a house with a large yard, a big dog will still have to be taken out to get plenty of exercise to fulfill its physical needs. If you’re someone who loves the outdoors and lives an active lifestyle, then a big dog could be the right fit for you.

Training and Behavioral Issues
When it comes to training, bigger dog breeds are generally more open to taking to direction, while things like house-training tend to be harder to teach smaller dogs. Smaller dogs are also known to have more behavioral issues and excitable demeanors. There’s a name for it—small dog syndrome—which is characterized by a small dog that acts much bigger than its size, including yapping, barking, and intimidating dogs much larger than itself. According to Psychology Today, this might be due in part to the way owners treat their small dogs as compared to big dogs. However, while big dogs may be more obedient, the physical aspects of training a big dog, such as retraining the dog from getting into something he shouldn’t or catching him when he runs away, can be more difficult.

Cost
It takes more to maintain a big dog than it does a small one. While some fashionable small dogs such as Pomeranians carry a large price tag, big dogs can be more expensive in the long run because of their additional needs. Because they eat considerably more than small dogs with lower exercise needs, big dogs necessitate greater spending on food, which is one of the biggest dog-related expenses. In addition, groomers typically charge more to take bigger dogs, but the frequency of needed visits of course depends on your dog’s coat type.

Lifespan
Small dogs have a longer lifespan than big dogs. Since large dogs age faster though, they will also be more mature for the duration of time you have them. With a small dog, you might have a puppy-acting adult on your hands for quite a few years.

There are some exceptions to these generalizations. For example, toy and miniature Poodles are small dogs with calm, even temperaments and are highly trainable, while Siberian Huskies are often difficult for a pup-parent beginner to control. Despite these characterizations, personalities differ from one dog to another, so training is key to ensure you make the best out of whichever size dog you choose.