Dog size does matter, but it might not matter as much as you think. For example, Great Danes are one of the largest dog breeds out there, but they make surprisingly good apartment dogs because of their mellow temperament and aversion to long-distance running. On the flip side, a high-energy Cairn Terriers may look ideal for your small condo in terms of stature, but they are high energy, so if you can’t walk your terrier regularly, beware the torn-up carpets and chewed up everything.
Before determining whether size matters most, we recommend reading our post, What to Expect When You’re Expecting: A New Dog or Puppy, where we go through some recommendations on dog selection.
There are several things to think about when choosing your future dog, and size is undoubtedly a factor. Here are things that you’ll want to consider when deciding between small, medium, and large-breed dogs.
Smaller breeds don’t always fare well with small children because toddlers and younglings aren’t as discerning about picking a dog up or how hard they squeeze, pull, or tug. Medium to large dogs may be a better fit, particularly one known to do well with small children, to keep everyone safe, happy, and uninjured.
Everyone says they’re going to exercise their dog regularly, but life can get in the way of those plans. Energy level matters, particularly when paired with size. For example, a large breed with high energy is far more cumbersome and potentially damaging while running through the house or playing with toys than a smaller dog. Then again, that high-energy toy breed might run about so much it’s a safety hazard, while your calm and grateful rescue Greyhound will calmly nap the day away until you give the signal it’s time for a walk or a cuddle.
We can’t emphasize enough how important energy levels are and how they have nothing to do with a dog’s size. Use the AKC’s guide, or consult with a professional dog trainer, to ensure you get a dog that is suited to your household in every way.
It’s essential to potty train your dog, but the how and where depends on where you live. One of the most basic rules to keep in mind is, “small dog, small poop; big dog, big poop; huge dog, huge poop.” If your dog is apartment or indoor-bound during the day and will be using potty pads or a small deck patch to eliminate waste, smaller- to medium-breeds may be more ideal. Less waste is typically better if you’re dealing with it on a daily (and cumulative) basis.
If you have minimal outdoor space, you may not want a significant portion taken up by a large breeds’ quite substantial poo and pee spots, and it may be harder for small hands to pick larger poo piles up on walks or at the park.
Dog training goes a long way towards supporting safe dog walking and playtime. That said, a big, young, or strong dog may not be the best fit if your children are doing the bulk of the walking and playing. Smaller to medium-sized dogs are easier to hold back and control on a leash.
While seniors tend to gravitate towards small dogs, I am more of a fan of smaller-medium to medium-sized dogs for seniors. First and foremost, small dogs can be trip hazards. According to a CDC study researching the cause for trip and fall accidents:
“...an estimated 86,629 fall injuries each year were associated with cats and dogs, for an injury rate of 29.7. There were 7.5 times as many injuries involving dogs as cats and females were 2.1 times more likely to be injured than males. Injury rates were highest among people aged ≥ 75, but pets were a fall hazard for all ages. Fractures and contusions or abrasions were the most common injuries; the highest rates were for injuries to the extremities. About 66.4% of falls associated with cats and 31.3 % of falls associated with dogs were caused by falling or tripping over the pet. An additional 21.2% of falls related to dogs were caused by being pushed or pulled.”
This is essential information. Choosing the right-sized and tempered dog, and ensuring pet companions and pets are well-trained, are essential for keeping everyone safe.
Do you plan to take your dog everywhere you go? Choose a dog that will fit comfortably in your seat or the rear of your car. Remember that sometimes, you’ll have luggage, groceries, donation items, etc., in the car as well. Imagine what your weekly errand rotation looks like, and then search for dog breeds that are the right size and proportions for the space.
If your pet will be traveling with you in the car regularly, read this AKC post about traveling with your dog. Essential tips include:
Would you like assistance choosing a dog that “fits” right into your family and household? Contact: Alternative Canine Training. I’m happy to help you choose the right dog, get the house ready, and to begin learning essential training techniques to support a smooth transition into your home or apartment.