I am a big dog person. I have never lived with a dog that weighed less than 50 pounds. I like my dogs to be substantial. Although Tucker, our 70-pound lab, doesn’t agree, my kind of dog doesn’t fit on my lap. I like a dog that barks, not yips. I can’t imagine carrying a dog around after about ten weeks of age. Period. End of story.
Of course, that’s not the end of the story.
As I wrote in my last blog, we recently adopted Hobo, who weighs five pounds. Really. I have to admit that I had a lot of ideas about small dogs that contained more than a touch of snobbery about the superiority of owning big dogs, but I have discovered over the last couple of months that there are some serious advantages to little dogs.
- Exercise – Getting enough exercise to wear out an adolescent Labrador is not an easy task. I speak from experience. It takes time and commitment and lots and lots of tennis balls. Getting a five-pound dog to run until he pants is easily accomplished inside with a quick game of chase around the bedroom.
- Walks – Good leash walking equipment and teaching leash manners is a must for pleasant walks with a large dog. We do have a front hook harness for Hobo, but really, how hard can he pull?
- Food – It is much, much less expensive to feed a dog that only eats about a half-cup a day. Tucker eats six times that much every day. It adds up.
- Snuggling – I will never, ever love any aspect of dog ownership more than spooning in bed with a big, soft, warm Lab on a cold night, but small dogs have their cuddling advantages. They actually do fit comfortably in your lap and aren’t big enough to steal the covers at night. You also don’t need to invest in a king size bed if you want them to sleep with you.
- Behavior – This is the dirty little secret of small dogs. They can get away with so much more than large dogs. Jumping up on people? Major problem when Tucker does it, but adorable when Hobo does. Even biting is taken far less seriously when a small dog is involved. For example, Hobo came from a neglectful home and can get pretty intense when he has an object that he values, like a bone. By intense, I mean there can be growling and snapping involved, mostly at Tucker, but occasionally at us too. This behavior would have me seriously concerned in a large dog, but it is so much less scary and more manageable when I can easily pick the offender up and put him in a crate to enjoy his bone. None of this means that you shouldn’t train your small dog, but I now understand why the sense of urgency can be lower for owners of these dogs.
I will admit that I have come around and can now say that I am madly in love with my little dog. Having lived with him for a few months and experienced the advantages, I get why so many people choose small dogs. What are the pros and cons in your experience?