Dogs | March 28, 2018

Living with a Small Breed Dog

small breed dog

My husband and I have always been ‘big dog’ people, never imagining during our combined 94 years in purebred dogs that a small dog would fit into our lifestyle and household.  But we have aged, our lives have changed and through our dog-sitting activities we are fast discovering the delights of having small dogs in our home. Here are some wonderful reasons why living with a small breed dog may be for you.

Longer Life Expectancy

One of the biggest advantages of small dogs is that with good nutrition and general care they live much longer than their larger counterparts. It’s not unusual to see smaller dogs thriving into their late teen years.  Most larger breeds only live into their early teens and the giant breeds are lucky to make it to 10 years. So, over the course of a human life, that means less heartbreak.

Small Size Means Less Food

Little dogs eat less which, of course, means that your feed costs will be minimized compared to a larger breed.  Overfeeding can be a hazard, however – that’s an easy mistake to make when those big, sad eyes sit at your feet hoping for a special treat or some leftovers.  A well-balanced diet formulated for small breeds will offer the correct combination of nutrition and caloric intake – a crucial component in keeping your small canine companion healthy and long-lived.

Cuddles & Affection

Because we are more inclined to allow small dogs on household furniture they tend to become great cuddlers.  This advantage can be enjoyed without the dog taking over the entire sofa or chair, as a larger one would.  And if you are inclined to share your bed with your dog, the same applies – more room for you because of less space occupied by him or her.  Your little dog can be a great bed warmer without being a bed hog. Most small dogs seem to take it for granted that they are welcome on your furniture (or stretched out along the top of it).  They are very good at leaping up and making themselves at home, so potential small dog owners need to be prepared for that eventuality.

City Living & Smaller Spaces

If you use a crate for your dog, either at home or while travelling, the one required by a small dog will take up much less space in your home and your vehicle.  It could well mean the difference between having to drive a van or SUV and a much smaller, more fuel-efficient passenger vehicle. Generally, small dogs are much better suited to tighter living spaces.  They will happily exist in an apartment or cottage that would be overwhelmed by a larger dog, so this is definitely a factor worth considering when choosing a dog.

Bathing and grooming are generally simpler with smaller dogs due to their size.  Where many larger dogs require a full-sized tub for a good clean-up, many of the little guys will fit in a laundry tub or a kitchen sink. This makes for less mess, and it’s much easier on your back.

Some ‘Small’ but Minor Details

While small dogs definitely have their charms, there are some minor issues that need to be taken into consideration if you are thinking about bringing a small dog into your life:

  • Having less body mass, small dogs tend to feel the cold more and are sometimes reluctant to set foot out the door when the temperature plummets.  Warm coats and sweaters can help alleviate the problem – there are many fashionable styles on the market that will help keep your canine buddy cozy in the cold.
  • Small dogs tend to be a bit of a tripping hazard simply because they aren’t as visible as the large dogs we have been used to over the years.  Generally, though, they seem to be pretty adept at staying out from underfoot.
  • As some small dogs age they may develop health issues unique to their size.  Slipping patellas and poor dental health are not unusual in small dogs.
  • Exercise is integral to the longevity of your small dog, but realize that those short legs may not be up to a four-hour hike the way a larger dog would be. There is no doubt that little dogs enjoy daily outings, either on or off-leash, which will be a motivation for owners to get out there too.
  • Fencing a containment area for a small dog is easier in some respects – the fencing material doesn’t generally need to be as high, therefore less expensive.  Keep in mind that little dogs can also squeeze through the tiniest openings at ground level.  Particular attention should be paid to this aspect of keeping your pup safe.
  • Small dogs often have a reputation for being yappy.  We prefer to think of this habit as being ‘vocal’ and find that the little guys are quiet unless they are incited by things like the prospect of an outing, another dog or someone at the front door.  With good training, the barking can be minimized.

Overall, little dogs can be a genuine delight.  They are small and gentle enough to be companions to the elderly, energetic enough to be wonderful playmates for children and an all-around great addition to a household.