How to Choose a Small Dog
You shouldn’t pick a dog based solely on the way it looks, or you could end up with a dog that doesn’t behave how you expected and does things you don’t like!
So here’s a quick and helpful guide highlighting the main points you should consider when choosing a small dog:
Generally a small dog is considered to weigh less than 22lbs or be shorter than 16 inches. Some of the small dog breeds on this site are much lighter or shorter than this and some are a little heavier or taller than this–but they are all small dogs nevertheless (even though a few are borderline between small and medium sized).
Some breeds, such as the Chihuahua, are the smallest of the small… weighing in at only 6 to 8 pounds and standing only 6 to 10 inches tall. While the larger of the small breeds like the Staffordshire Bull Terrier weigh 24 to 36 pounds and stand at 14 to 16 inches tall.
So, your first choice is to decide if you want a really small dog like a Chihuahua or if you don’t mind a larger small dog like a Staffordshire Bull Terrier. It might not bother you either way. The really small guys are really easier to pick-up, transport, and carry around!
Every small breed can be trained to learn commands, however some learn commands a lot faster than others. A fast learning breed is much easier to train and will know more commands in a shorter period of time. While a slower learning breed requires more patience and time to train.
If you want an obedient dog but don’t have much patience or time to train him you will want to pick an easier to train breed. (Choose a breed with a trainability rating of 7/10, or more.)
Some small dogs shed virtually no hair. These low-shedders shed so little that you’ll struggle to find one hair inyour home. If you hate dog hair and don’t have time for extra vacuuming, then one of these breeds is right for you (choose a breed with a shedding rating of 2/10 or less).
Some other breeds shed a moderate amount of hair: you’ll find some stuck to your carpet, clothes and couch. If you don’t mind a little hair in your home like this, then you have a wider variety of small dog breeds to choose from (choose a breed with a shedding rating of up to 7/10).
Then there are the shed-like-there’s-no-tomorrow breeds! These breeds shed enormous amounts of hair! If you own one, you’ll find hair on everything in your home. You’ll find lots of hair on your carpet, sofa, and clothes. Probably even on your kitchen table and in the fridge. It gets everywhere! But if hair doesn’t bother you, then you can choose a dog with any shedding level and you have the widest selection of small breeds to choose from. (The super-high shedders are the ones rated 8 to 10 stars for shedding. Definitely avoid these if you hate hair.)
Small dog maintenance comes down to two things: brushing and vacuuming. Some breeds are almost maintenance-free and only require an occasional brushing and don’t drop virtually any hair so you don’t have to vacuum.
You need to brush a long-haired dog daily so the dog’s coat doesn’t become a matted and tangled mess! However, you can avoid this if you keep his coat clipped short (just clip it short every few months–it only takes about 30 minutes to do) and then you only have to brush it occasionally (problem solved!). So you aren’t limited to just the short-haired breeds if you don’t have time for regular brushing. You still can choose a longhaired breed; you just have to clip his coat short to make it easy to maintain.
If you don’t have time to be vacuuming up hair, either, then you will want a low-shedding breed.
Most all small dog breeds are great with children when they grow up with the children as puppies.
The fact is: any child who is excessively rough or unintentionally teases a dog is at risk of being bitten. If your dog is being poked in the eyes, having his ears pulled, and being smothered then his natural instinct is to defend himself and he will probably give a few warning nips and growls and if it continues he may bite.
So, if you have very young children and decide to bring a dog into your home it’s your responsibility to supervise your children around the dog and teach them to respect him and be gentle with him. Then the chances of your child being bitten are virtually none.
Virtually all small dog breeds make good little watchdogs–they will all make some sort of commotion (growling or barking)–when a stranger enters their turf. But some breeds are better at this job than others. A few are highly alert and will bark unrelentingly if a stranger is on “their” property. (Choose a breed rated 8 to 10 stars for “Watchdog if you want one the top watchdog breeds.)
Allergies — Hypoallergenic Small Dogs?
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not dog hair that causes allergies (sneezing, itchy eyes, runny nose) it’s dog dander (or dead skin flakes) that does. This microscopic dander floats through the air and when inhaled or when it lands in the eyes it triggers the allergic-reaction.
All dogs with skin (which is all of them) produce dander. So there is no such thing as dog, big or small, that doesn’t produce it and is therefore totally safe for allergy-sufferers. However, because small dogs have less skin, they produce less dander. It is also thought that breeds who are low hair shedders also shed less dander.
So if you have allergies to dander, first consider a small dog breed (you’re at the right web site) and secondly consider a low shedding small breed, like a Poodle or Maltese, or one of the many other low shedding breeds. (Choose a breed who is rated 1 or 2 out of 10 for shedding).
And, to be safe, if you do have allergies arrange to spend some time around some dogs of the breed you are interested in (maybe at a breeders home)–to make certain that they don’t trigger your allergies… before you get one.