All dog owners have a certain experience in common. The happiness of bringing the new family member home, the huge expense of that first vet visit, and the pride in seeing your new friend thrive in their new environment. Dogs are one species of mammal that differs so greatly in appearance that it’s amazing that they all came from the same hereditary source, Canis lupus. Sure all dogs have four legs and most breeds bark but that is where the similarity ends.
One most common division of dogs is that of small dogs vs. large dogs. We choose to select one or the other as pets for a reason. Some dogs are employed as shepherds, police dogs, army dogs, hunting dogs and some are just selected as they are just so darn cute. Not that larger dogs don’t have their appeal but there is a vast difference, however, between large breed and small breed dogs. Large dog owners develop their treasure trove of knowledge like how to keep your Labrador from sniffing folks at crotch level to how to get that sweet monster into a bathtub.
Small dog owners also learn the ins and outs of owning a diminutive member of the canine variety, some so small that a newborn human baby at birth weighs more than they do in adult years. To really understand your friends, relatives, and neighbors who own the smaller canine variety, you need to get some tips about what is special about small breed dogs to them and what they know about them that they wish you did too.
Here are twenty things that small dog owners know that you should consider.
Don’t Call My Dog a Rat, Even As A Joke
Oh so funny folks who meet a toy breed for the first time may make a dumb remark about the dog is more of a ‘rat” than a dog. Many small dog owners handle this by telling that person that they are cut off from the party bar and to get out. Unless it’s your father in law. In that case, the small dog owner will just grin and bear it and make a note not to spend too much on him next Father’s Day.
Yes, He Needs A Sweater!
Isn’t he hot with that thing on? “Oooohh poor baby! “Perfect strangers will croon. Just because a 150-pound human is sweating on a fine spring day doesn’t mean that a small dog doesn’t need their sweater or little vest. Pet parents know when to put on that extra layer as small breed dogs weigh less, often have thinner fat padding and get chilly easier. With the panic over dogs left in hot cars (which is horrid and should be reported immediately) some folks go overboard think that they have the right to challenge anything they see that denotes that your pet might be “too warm”. It’s a pain to have to educate perfect strangers on the body temperature differences in small dogs but it’s part of owning a little one apparently.
The Taco Bell Joke Impression Was Funny (Once)
Yeah, there is always that guy, that guy who does the horrible “”Yo Quiero Taco Bell”, impression that he finds so amusing time after time while your sweet little brown chihuahua looks at you like “Not this guy again! ” Why some people never get tired of doing that is a mystery. They say the phrase with a poor imitation of a Mexican accent like they are trying to get your chihuahua to repeat it like a parrot.
Be Careful Kids
It’s never a great idea to let your kids roughhouse with a dog (bites often happen that way) but some kids are used to rolling around and wrestling with the family Siberian Husky may think that your little dog will enjoy being molested too. Small breed owners have to explain again and again that little dogs have little bones and are easily injured. Small dogs are easily startled and may be literally terrorized by even a toddler’s heavy handed attention. The small dog parent is not being mean or spoiling the fun, they would just like their dog to be still alive after your visit.
You Spend So Much Time/Money on His Hair
Yeah, well some dogs like the Bichon Frise need to have their hair professionally groomed or their fur becomes a matted mess. Unless they are paying the bill, they shouldn’t worry about it. Not everyone can fill up a washtub, plunk the dog in and be done with it.
You Are Washing Her In The Sink
Yeah, the bathtub is a way too large and considering some of the other ugly stuff that gets put in the sink having the dog in there while cleaning it thoroughly before and after use is no big deal. Some folks wash dead chicken in the sink, so why not soak little Oscar’s paws if he’s dirty?
What a Cute Puppy
No, all small dogs are not “puppies.” Remarks like “Where’s his mama?” or “How big will she be when she’s full grown?” just serve to irritate small pet owners. While the comments aren’t meant to be harmful, when you’ve owned a small dog for long enough it tends to get under your skin.
Not Everyone Obeys The Dog Park Rules
At most dog parks the areas are separated by small dogs and big dogs. Small breed owners still have to have one eye on the gate at all times, as there is always one Rottweiler owner who decides to socialize Brutus for the first time and pays no attention to the signs.
Small Dogs Have Thinner Paw Padding
Next time you wonder why that man is carrying his little terrier, don’t ask why. If the pavement is too hot or cold little dogs will feel it more. They also tire more easily as their little legs have to output lots of energy to keep up.
Best Thing Next To the Invention of Midol
Historically small dogs were bred to be lap dogs for good reason. Before the advent of painkillers, women used to sit with little dogs on their lap to help ease their cramps. Try it sometime and see. Even if you are a guy, try understanding what cramps are like. Having a little dog in your lap is like a loving, furry, heating pad.
No, My Dog Does Not Want to Meet Yours Like This
Imagine being trapped with a large person looming over you sniffing you all over and invading your space. That is what it is like for a small dog when a larger dog comes over to “meet” her. The best way to introduce dogs is to walk them a safe distance side by side and a small dog should never ever be at the mercy of a larger dogs whims or temperament for their safety. It is okay to say “no, I’d rather not” or “No, strange dogs startle my dog” or “Back off Loser!” depending on the persistence of the other dog owner. Small dog owners get used to dealing with people who don’t give them and their dog enough respect. Small dogs too, will bite if provoked. Like other dogs, some are “snappier” than others so be warned. The owner knows their dog and he or she is not a plaything.
Let’s Dress Her Up?
No, a small dog is not an animal version of a Barbie Doll. It’s fine if she likes wearing “outfits” but let the pet parents decide this. Also, let them put the clothes on as it can be tricky. One wrong push can dislocate a shoulder. Maybe the little poodle is as pretty as a princess, but she may not want to wear that type of costume. Same goes for suggesting that that chubby little pug wants to be a “Pumpkin” for Halloween. Imagine if you said that to your neighbor about their overweight child? Not so cute.
Some Small Dogs Have Big Gas
Some small dogs, particularly those of the Brachycephalic variety (pug nose) expel lots of gas from the other end. Don’t blame the big dog or your husband until you check out where the smell is coming from. Living with the gas discharge is something that dog owners of this variety just get used to. If you want the owner to be in your life, you will get used to it too.
Small Breeds Live Longer
Science has proven that every five pounds or so of canine weight reduce life expectancy by about a month. Yes, small dogs hearts beat faster but it’s proven that on the whole, those big dogs do not live as long. Great Danes have a relatively short dog lifespan of 6-8 years and many Chihuahuas live to be 20-25. So if you get two dogs, one large and one small as puppies, odds are they will not live to grow old together. Of course, diet, exercise and a good home help, but genetically large dogs organs work harder and they are more prone to some diseases.
The Reason for Small Kibble
Dog food made for little dogs is made smaller because they have smaller teeth, throats, and stomachs. It should seem elementary but some dog owners grouse when they have to pick through the bags of small kibble to get to the “Big Boy” chunky variety. If all you have on hand are large treats, don’t think to break it is a good idea. It could break into unmanaged slivers for a dog to digest. What your large dog can crunch up is hard for little ones.
Small Dogs are Royal
Many small breeds were bred to be ladies dogs. It is said that Mary Queen of Scots had two little dogs who hid under her skirt and went with her to her execution. Once she was beheaded they had to dive under the body and forcibly remove her little companions from her lifeless body, they loved her so much. Elizabeth II raises Corgis and throughout history, small dogs were royally treasured. Yes, they have the greatest purpose in the world–as companion dogs.
Degenerated in Literature
Ah Middlemarch! Anyone who has read George Eliot’s Middlemarch knows that Dorothea refused Sir James’ present of a little Maltese. She said she despised “toy breeds” and called them parasitic. Her sister Celia loved the dog and won the man’s heart to boot. Well, what does Dorothea know– she married old crusty Edward Casaubon! Yes, she said she feared she would tread on the little thing but her eyesight was good enough to be her husband’s unpaid secretary–so small dog owners aren’t buying that nonsense. There was a prejudice during utilitarian times against any animal that was not used for labor or food. Seeing how her first marriage turned out, Dorothea should have spent her affections on the dog.
You Learn To Look
Yes, you can step on a small dog, or smother it or crush it accidentally, but that is where a modicum of care comes in. Instead of throwing yourself down on the couch or blundering around, a small dog makes you walk a little lighter, care a little more and have some awareness of yourself. If a small dog is in the house anytime, these rules apply. Parents should teach children to be gentle and careful around small beings without having to be told to please do so.
For those of us who faithfully watched “The Sopranos’ a turning point for small dog owners is when Christopher got high and accidentally killed Adriana’s little dog, Cosette. He was not upset about it either. That shows you a lot about a guy. If a man does not care for your small dog, run now, as he won’t care about you too much either. Small dogs might not be his favorite thing, but if it’s part of your life, he must show respect.
Many Small Dogs are Rescues
Don’t assume that pretty little dog was bought from a pet dealer. Many breeds have rescue organizations where these dogs who come from deplorable conditions are rehabilitated and given new loving homes. Some small dogs have received a second life as therapy dogs, assisting at nursing homes or being traveling companions for those with social anxiety and panic disorders.