Owning a Small Dog: Common Myths and Misconceptions

One of the major factors that people consider when they buy a dog is their size. Smaller dogs tend to be preferred for several reasons – they are more acceptable for apartment living, food and grooming cost significantly less, and the misconception that smaller dogs are easier to take care of. When I rescued my dog shelter, I made the decision to rescue a smaller dog based on the research I had done about the specific breed I was looking for and made the mistake of assuming a smaller dog would be easier to take care of.

There are several myths that surround small dog ownership. I admit that when I adopted my dog that I fell into this trap. So before you make your decision, take a look at these myths and keep them in mind while selecting a small dog.

Myth 1: Small dogs need shorter walks
I knew that when I got a dog, I would have to take him or her for a walk at least on a daily basis. Do not assume that smaller dogs need shorter walks. The dog I choose to adopt was a Rat Terrier, Jack Russell, and Whippet mix. I knew going in this was going to be a higher energy dog, but I really had no idea what I was getting into. My small dog has as much, if not more, energy than a large dog. My daily walks are not walks – I go for daily run for about 20 minutes twice a day.

Myth 2: Small dogs are better around children
It is a common misconception that smaller dogs are less prone to bite or harm small children, and if they do bite they will do less harm. This is completely false. Any dog that becomes aggressive can do serious harm. When choosing a dog to have around a child do not make this decision based on size, make it based on temperament.

Myth 3: Small dogs are better around smaller pets
This is completely untrue. In fact, most small dogs have an extremely high prey drive and are more prone to harm your small pet. My particular dog is mixed with three breeds that are associated with dogs that have an extremely high prey drive, and are known to be “cat killers.” I am very lucky in the fact that my dog is not cat aggressive, but is aggressive to other small animals such as birds, rabbits, and squirrels to name a few. If you have small pets it is better to choose your dog based on temperament rather than size.

Myth 4: Small dogs are less maintenance
Yes, small dogs will typically cost less for grooming and food expenses. But they require just as much maintenance and care as a large dog. You will have to take them out for “potty breaks” more frequently because they have smaller bladders. Also, chances are you’ll have to invest more money in training a small dog because others are more excepting of small dogs bad habits such as jumping, and they will promptly undo all the training you’ve put into your small dog. Keep in mind to, that smaller dogs can be equally destructive if not more than a large dog. This is because many small dogs have a high prey drive and tend to be destructive chewers. Finally, small dogs do not shed less. My dog sheds more fur than large, long haired dogs, and I am constantly cleaning.

Myth 4: Smaller dogs will not protect you or your home as well as a big dog
Most people believe that when an intruder hears a small dog, they will not perceive this dog as a threat. Smaller dogs are actually a greater deterrent to intruders because they are there smaller and harder to catch than a big dog. When a small dog becomes aggressive, they are more likely to run and bounce around the intruder and snap at them before the intruder can you can catch them. (I have personally witnessed this, my dog has kept unwanted guests out of my home and has actively guarded me from people on several occasions.) Also, barking is barking – any noise made by your dog is bound to alert your neighbors.

The most important thing to do when selecting a dog, is to do the research. A small dog may be for you but there are specific breeds that may not fit well with your daily lifestyle. Before you make your decision go to the library and do your research, talk to dog owners of the same breed your interested in, talk to your vet, and talk to the person or shelter you are getting your dog from. The most important thing you can do for your dog before you purchase or adopt them is to make an informed decision and be dedicated to the care they need.

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