Ace (A498265), a Dogo Argentino mix, seems like a laid back and calm guy. Once he knows you, he’s a friendly, calm dog. It would be a wonderful addition to a home that would give it time to get used to a new environment. (Courtesy photo of Pasadena Humane)
Back at my farm in Wisconsin, I had a beautiful Anatolian Sheepdog named Rhett.
Rhett was a working dog. Weighing in at over 120 pounds, he was a huge animal that could easily be mistaken for a fluffy pony from a distance. Its size made it very intimidating, but it was all smoke and mirrors.
He was the kindest and gentlest soul one could ever meet. His job was to protect my sheep and goats, and he took that role very seriously. He spent most of the time lounging in the pasture, always from the point of view that he could see all the animals in his shelter. Predators kept a safe distance, because his roaring bark made it clear that he was not to be trifled with.
In the spring, when babies were born, it was often used as a climbing frame for baby goats, who liked to frolic and climb over him, chewing on his ears and playing head butts with him. He was patient and caring with each and every one of them.
Up until Rhett, I had only had small to medium-sized dogs. I’m not sure why, really. It’s not that I have a preference for her. My pets have always picked me rather than picked them.
Rhett really opened my eyes to the joys of having a big dog. He had such a different, relaxed atmosphere for him, even when he was energetically playful. In a way, he was a lot easier to work with than my little dogs. Even stroking it was easier because I didn’t have to bend down.
Well, I know this can be a touchy subject as people who own small dogs (myself included) are sometimes passionate about defending why their particular breed is the best. But if you look at science and yes, studies have been done on it, according to research by the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, large dogs are statistically better in three key categories.
The research team was led by Christine Arhant from the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna. It was a large, ambitious study with a 237-question survey questionnaire that was mailed to registered dog owners in Vienna, Austria. The final analysis was based on 1,276 completed surveys.
Of the three categories that the study examined, the first was first obedience, which examined how reliably dogs followed the commands “sit”, “down”, “stay” and “come” without a leash.
The second category, Aggression and excitability, examined the frequency of behaviors such as growling, snapping, or barking from other dogs or visitors in the house. They also determined whether dogs would fight other dogs or chase after joggers and cyclists, whether it is aroused when the doorbell rings, etc.
The third behavioral component they looked at was called Fear and anxiety. This included the owners’ assessments of whether their dogs exhibited behaviors such as fear in unfamiliar situations, fearfulness at loud noises such as traffic or fireworks, fear of unknown people, dogs or crowds, appear restless and unable to relax, or frequently show different physical signs anxiety such as lowered posture, wheezing, drooling, and tremors.
The results showed that small dogs (classified as weighing less than 44 pounds) performed worse in all three categories. Sure, small dogs are, on average, slightly less obedient, aggressive / excited, and fearful than larger dogs – but they make up for it with their undeniable “cute and cuddly factor”.
When I speak to two small dogs as the guy it may sound strange to me – but if you’re thinking about adopting a pet, check out the vertically gifted dogs that are often overlooked in animal shelters. Large dogs can be seen as intimidating in a shelter, so adoptive parents’ eyes seem to wander the quickest to our more petite characters.
In fact, we could really use more volunteer foster homes for large dogs too. We are entering our busy summer season, which means we will see a lot more animals coming through our doors in need of loving homes. And whenever possible, we prefer to keep our adopted dogs in foster care while they wait for permanent housing. It has been shown to improve their overall mental health, reduce anxiety, and give us “real” knowledge of what this dog really is like in a home setting – all of which helps us find great adoptive couples faster.
For us it is more and more difficult to find a foster home for larger dogs – and don’t they deserve a cozy dog bed in the living room corner as the little ones do? Yes i think So, if you’ve never had a large dog before, grooming is a wonderful option to test the water and see if a large dog is a good fit for your home.
Do you need more persuasiveness? Challenge accepted. Here are three great reasons to consider adopting or caring for a large dog:
- They need exercise, and so do you
Dogs are great exercise motivators. They require you to go with them and keep them physically active, which in turn keeps you active. But large dogs may be a little better at keeping you moving.
Of course, it depends on the individual dog, but if you want to get away from screens and video games, a big dog can really help with that.
While all dogs are equally trainable when it comes to size, there may be more things to consider when training a small dog versus a larger puppy, according to Animal Planet.
When training a Maltese or Chihuahua you need to be careful not to waste even a dry dog food as some of these tiny dogs only eat a quarter cup of food a day. Therefore, training and maintaining a healthy weight can sometimes conflict with smaller dogs.
In addition, when training a small dog, you need to be careful that your larger stature does not intimidate it and prevent it from learning.
- You don’t have to worry about Small Dog Syndrome
Small breeds have been known to develop what trainers call Small Dog Syndrome. Small dogs are often allowed to exhibit undesirable behavior because it is considered less disruptive and less dangerous than if exhibited by their larger canine cousins.
Because smaller dogs are often allowed to “show more dominant behavior” than a larger dog, a small dog is more likely to yap, growl, and jump.
So, if you’re not sure whether a small or large dog is the best fit for your family, these insights may help. Or maybe it just confused you more!
Let me finish with this: I had small dogs. I had medium sized dogs. I had big dogs. They are all amazing and unique in their own way. They are all individual and funny in a fun and enjoyable way. In any case, they chose me – not the other way around. So be open and the dog that best suits you and your family will pick you at the right time!