Small dogs are friendly, loyal, easier to carry around, owner-oriented and require less maintenance when compared to their bigger counterparts. Choosing the right one for your family can be a bit overwhelming considering the many different breeds available. That is why it is very important that you don’t pick a pet based solely on its appearance, or else you might end up with one whose behavior you can’t stand. To help you out, here are some of the key points to bear in mind when picking small dogs.
Size of the Breed
Generally, small dog breeds are shorter than 16 inches, and weigh less than 23 pounds. For instance, the Chihuahua is considered the smallest breed, weighing between 6 and 8 pounds and standing at 6 to 10 inches tall. However, you will also find others that are a bit taller and heavier, but they are still considered small dogs nonetheless. For example, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier that stands at 14 to 16 inches tall and weighs between 24 and 36 pounds. Depending on your preference, you may want to go for the extremely small breeds like the Chihuahua, or larger ones like the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
Are They Good With Children?
We all love our kids and would do anything to protect them against harm. With that in mind, you may want to consider buying a dog that’s gentle with your kids. The good news is that nearly all small dog breeds are good with small children, especially when they grow up with them as puppies.
But, one thing you should know is that dogs of all sizes have a natural instinct to defend themselves when provoked. That means that children who are excessively rough on them, constantly pulling their ears or poking their eyes are at risk of being bitten.
Therefore, if have very young kids at home and plans to buy a small dog, consider supervising them when they play with the little pet. In addition, teach them to respect him and treat him gently. This way, they will develop a close bond over time and nobody will get hurt.
Rate of Shedding Hair
There are some small dogs that shed very minimal hair. These low-shedders are perfect for people who dislike dog’s hair or are have no time for vacuuming. If you fall in this group, then it’s advisable to choose a breed whose shedding rating is 2 out of 10 or less.
Then there are those that shed hair moderately. With this breed, you will find some hair stuck to your couch, carpet or clothes. If you don’t mind some hair in your home, then choose this group of small dog breeds. They have a shedding rating of up to 7 out of 10.
Lastly, there are those breeds that shed large amounts of hair. With these, you should be ready to clean your house every day as there will be hair in almost every corner of the house.
Ability to Learn Commands
Just like large dogs, small dog breeds also require training in order to learn essential commands. While some are fast-learners, there are those that are a little bit slow and require more patience and time to enable them to learn properly.
With that in mind, consider your level of patience and the amount of time you can spend with a dog before buying one. If you who would like to have an obedient dog but you aren’t very patient, then go for a breed with a higher trainability rating (7 out of 10 and above).
Amount of Maintenance Required
The two most important things when it comes to small dog maintenance are vacuuming and brushing. There are breeds that shed almost no hair, and therefore, don’t require vacuuming the house. Occasional brushing of their hair is enough to maintain them. This breed is perfect for people who lack the time to vacuum or brush dog hair daily.
On the other hand, there are long-haired breeds that will require you to brush their coat daily so as to avoid tangling. You can opt to clip the fur short every few months to make your dog easier to maintain if you have no time for regular brushing and vacuuming.
Many people believe that allergies such as itchy eyes, running nose or sneezing are caused by dog hair. This is actually not true. It is the pet’s dead skin flakes (dander) that cause allergic reactions. When these microscopic skin flakes come off the pet, they float through the air and get into your nose or eyes triggering an allergic reaction.
All dogs have skin and therefore, they all produce dander. So, there’s no breed that is totally safe for people who have allergies. However, because small dog breeds have a smaller surface area than larger ones, they tend to produce relatively less dander. The less hair they shed, they less dander they produce.
If you are allergic to dander, you may want to consider a breed such as Maltese or Poodle which shed minimal hair. But before that, consider spending some time with dogs of the same breed as the one you would like to buy (at your relatives or neighbors’ home), to be sure that they don’t trigger your allergy.
With all the barking and growling they do when a stranger gets into their turf, you can be sure that all small dogs can make good little guard dogs. However, it’s very unlikely that they will scare off a burglar or any unwelcome visitor in your home.
However, there are some breeds that are highly alert and will bark persistently at strangers than others. If you want a dog that will alert you of any presence of intruders, go for breeds with a rating of between 8 and 10 stars for guard dogs. But, even if you don’t base your safety on the little fellow, I’m sure that no matter the breed you pick, you’ll be happy with his lively personality.
All in all, choosing the right small dog breed for your family doesn’t have to be difficult when you know exactly what you’re looking for. Take time to select wisely bearing in mind the above important points. You should be able to find your perfect little companion in no time.