Challenging beliefs – #2: Small dogs are easier/calmer than big dogs

Size does not matter.

When I had my hyper Egyptian mutt, people would often say how a smaller dog would be easier as they are calmer. Even though my dog was big and hyper, it does not mean that all big dogs are hyper – or that all small dogs are calm. I hated this stereotype and wished people would understand temperament and character better – and how it is unrelated to the dogs’ size or looks. (Same goes for humans by the way.)

Some dogs with the highest energy levels are Dalmatians, Pointers, Vizslas and Weimaraners, but also Miniature Pinschers, Jack and Parson Russell Terriers and Chihuahuas. Some dogs with the lowest energy levels are French Bulldogs, Pugs and Japanese Chins, but also Mastiffs, Bullmastiffs and Great Danes. When it comes to energy levels, there is no direct linkage between size and energy level.

While some people think Pit Bulls, Dobermans and Rottweilers are vicious dogs, people should first understand that these dogs are not aggressive by nature. It is human involvement – through training and/or selective breeding – that leads to aggressive dogs. This is not the dogs fault and I have met many sweet and adorable ‘vicious’ dogs. Some may be surprised to find out that, according to a study conducted in 2013, the top three most aggressive dog breeds are Jack Russell Terriers, Chihuahuas and Dachshunds. All are small dogs. The reason is that bites and attempted bites from small dogs often go unreported, yet they tend to lash out more often (sometimes even at their owners). I believe that this, again, has nothing to do with the actual dog and/or breed, but more with the owners who tend to ‘baby’ these small dogs and letting the dogs thereby develop the nasty ‘small dog syndrome’ and all negative behaviour associated with this. People think that small dogs do not need training and discipline – another misconception. In this 2013 aggression study, Pit Bulls and Rottweilers scored average and below average while Basset Hounds, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Siberian Huskies and Greyhounds scored low.

It is not a matter of size.

“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”


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