Big Dog vs. Little Dog: Important Questions to Ask Yourself
Before you bring a new dog into your home, it helps to do some research. Many people make the mistake of romanticizing the ideal of a certain type of dog, based on a movie or hearsay. Some end up oohing over a cute little doggie without looking past the big puppy eyes and into the breed’s characteristics.
Breed and temperament are key components when you’re weighing which type of dog to bring into your family. Know what you’re getting — and what to expect — when you choose a dog. Don’t let the reality of a larger dog overwhelm you or the needs and temperament of a small dog surprise you.
Honest self-assessment makes introducing a new furry family member easier and more realistic. When you’ve answered a few questions, you can better decide whether your lifestyle and tastes warrant a big dog vs. little dog.
Home Sweet Home
Take a frank look at your living situation, your income and your preferred activities before making a decision. For example, some larger dogs, such as Greyhounds, prefer primarily sedentary lifestyles. Others, like Austrian Shepherds, need suitable high-energy jobs.
If your home situation doesn’t match your pup’s needs, you may find him using his talents in a more disruptive way, stirring up more trouble than you bargained for. For example, small children may need supervision, but they don’t need to be nipped on the ankles to be herded into place. If your Belgian Malinois thinks that’s his job, it takes more than discipline to get him to stop.
Assessing the Big Dog vs. Little Dog Dilemma
Some of the best questions to ask when considering the big dog vs. little dog debate include:
- How much indoor space do you have? Do you live in a large house or condo, or do you live in a small house or apartment? Large, high-energy dogs may find smaller living quarters confining. They need a few hours of intense activity every day. Leaving them alone for several hours at a stretch may result in destructive behaviors. Behavioral problems such as continuous barking or self-soothing tics arise without proper stimulation. Smaller dogs, on the other hand, have room to maneuver and play, even in smaller spaces.
- Do you have a fenced yard, or do you live close to a well-maintained dog park? Although your apartment or house may be small, many apartment or condo complexes now incorporate a sizable fenced area to give your larger dog some running space. These areas work great for smaller dogs as well. Alternatively, living in a neighborhood that’s safe and amendable for long walks gives your pooch the exercise he needs, regardless of his size.
- Are you an avid runner, biker or hiker, or are you more of a couch-surfer? Your health and energy level make a big difference for both you and your dog. A high-energy person usually pairs best with a high-energy, often larger dog. Runs, walks, biking and water sports all benefit energetic, young individuals and their eager furry friends. If you have health or physical limitations, you may find that a cozy, little companion that loves to cuddle more suitable. Unless your larger dog is a trained service dog, you may find a smaller dog more appropriate.
- Do you need a guard dog or just a companion animal? If you live alone or in an area that experiences more crime concerns, you may need a watchdog to give potential intruders a reason to pass by your home. Most people find a larger dog intimidating, thus providing a more useful deterrent. Canines that make friends easily and accommodate strangers well may not be the best choice to serve as your alarm system and scary protector.
- What is your family makeup? Do you have small children in the home? Do these children have fears regarding larger dogs? Does anyone in your family have special needs? Consider the rest of your household and their comfort level with dogs. Remember that cute, adorable, roly-poly little puppies grow up. Think of the adult size of the dog you adopt and the comfort of your family before you choose.
- Who’s going to be responsible for the day-to-day care of your dog? Grooming, cleaning teeth and clipping nails require a certain amount of size, strength and agility. Although large dogs may be docile and compliant, even a gentle giant requires strength to groom and feed. Think about big dog vs. little dog bath time, which requires considerably different amounts of space and effort. And remember that long-haired dogs require much more grooming.
- What is your budget for care and feeding your pet? Large dogs obviously eat more. That cute little puppy enjoying a small handful of food is going to need a whole lot more food as it grows up. Adding vet bills to the mix and proper pet care requirements may stretch an already tight budget. Honestly assessing your finances helps avoid sticker shock as your pet grows. Big dog vs. little dog care comes with sometimes drastically different costs.
- Does your job take you away from home often? Who’s responsible for pet care when you’re unavailable? If you rely on a family member, have an honest discussion to make sure they understand what your pet requires for proper care. Are they capable and willing to commit to that responsibility? Is hiring a professional pet-sitter an additional cost that you can handle?
- Who’s involved in training your dog? Dogs want to please, but excitement can lead a large dog to overwhelm a smaller person even when the dog is leashed. Smaller individuals and children can train and care for a larger dog. It just takes more time and focused energy. Dog trainers do excellent work, but it’s another added expense.
The Big Dog vs. Little Dog Decision
When you learn about your furry companion before you adopt, you’re better prepared to take responsibility for their proper care. It’s an important decision to include a new pet in your home with your family. Research, question and discuss with your family before choosing between a big dog vs. little dog to get the best fit for everyone.
You may have the perfect home for a new pet, but consider the consequences and ramifications before making your final decision. You want to be happy — and so does your pooch. Consider all aspects of your life, as well as your pet’s best interests, before letting a furry ball of fluff pull at your heart strings.