8 Things to Know When Living With a Small Breed Dog

Reviewed By Tom •  Updated: 02/06/23 •  6 min read
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Dogs have long been considered “man’s best friend,” and any dog owner will know that this description rings true. Pups of all sizes make great pets that will provide you with love and companionship. However, there are some specific things that small dog breed owners should keep in mind.

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8 Things to Know When Living With a Small Breed Dog

Read on to learn some things you should consider before adopting an adorably happy little yapper!

1.   They Make for Good Solo Pets

In the animal kingdom, most animals are either predators or prey. Cats are natural predators, and big dogs take on after their wolf and coyote cousins as well. Small dogs, on the other hand, are not predatory and will struggle to fight back against other family pets.

If you plan to add a small dog to your family, understand that other pets may view her as a target for bullying. Either plan to have a solo small dog to pet and play with or get two tiny dogs at once. You also might be able to adopt one alongside a gentle cat or an older, calmer dog.

2.   They Think They’re Bigger Than They Are

Small dogs may be tiny, but they have a lot of spirit. Many of them are just as adventurous as large dogs. A tea cup chihuahua may boldly greet a German Shepard or golden retriever on the street by placing her paws around the other dog’s neck. She also may try to play with these larger breeds. This can be dangerous if the play becomes too rough or the other dog doesn’t respond graciously.

Just make sure to keep an eye on your small pup, and you should be fine.

3.   You’ll Have to Protect Them

Big dogs are resilient and aren’t very susceptible to injury. It’s easy to avoid accidentally kicking them because they’re an obvious sizable obstacle.

Small dogs are more at risk of accidents because they’re harder to see. If you’re wandering around in the dark, exercise caution to ensure that you don’t hurt your tiny dog. This is especially important because some small dog breeds have more fragile bones than bigger dogs do.

You also need to be careful when sleeping with your small dog. Chihuahuas, Mini Poodles, and Papillons can suffocate in bed if you roll over in your sleep onto them. Train them to only lie down where it’s safe to do so.

4.   They’ll Want to Protect You Back

Don’t let their size fool you – small dogs are super protective of their owners! All dogs are instinctively wired to protect those they love. An Arizona State University study found that dogs of all sizes would try to help their owners if they were in distress. All dogs that were involved in the study rescued their owners as they pretended to be in trouble. ⅓ of them were successful because they figured out how to do it. That protective love you have for your small-breed dog goes both ways. Don’t take it for granted.

5.   A Small Breed Dog Has Unmatched Energy

All dogs need a lot of exercise, but little ones need even more. They’re extremely energetic, earning them the title of “yappers.” They can run around a lot, move quickly, and make a lot of little movements and sounds.

This is why it’s important to make sure your pet gets enough exercise. Take them for 2-3 walks each day instead of carrying them everywhere. Set up a DIY dog playground in your yard so your furbaby can play and get exercise.

Training is really important when it comes to small dogs, and you’ll need to research the exact needs of your pup’s breed. Go through training routes specific to her breed. You don’t want a super territorial yappy dog biting a visitor in an effort to protect you or your home.

6.   You’ll Need to Feed Them the Right Way

Small dog breeds have fast metabolisms when compared to their larger counterparts. This means they need more food (in proportion to their body mass). You’re going to need to feed them more frequently than you would a big dog, so do your research and talk to your veterinarian about what you should do.

Many smaller breeds also have problems digesting ingredients in cheap dog foods that you might get in the store. If they eat certain grains in these foods, they could get upset stomachs or even worse health problems. The food also needs to be smaller because they have small mouths.

Look up what food brands are specific to your dog’s breed. Make sure to get something made especially for them. It’s probably going to cost a little more, but the high quality is worth it.

Their quick metabolism also means that small dogs get dehydrated pretty fast, so check their water bowl every few hours and fill it whenever it’s empty. You don’t want your pup to suffer because they don’t have sufficient water!

7.   You’ll Have a Long Time to Love Them

Size matters when it comes to canine lifespan. If you want a pet that’s going to love you for a long time, a small dog is a safe bet. They have a longer median lifespan than medium or large dogs by over a year.

Small dogs also are less likely to get cancer. This may be because large breeds grow faster, making the cancer cells grow faster. It also may be because bigger dogs age faster and might deal with old-age-related illnesses earlier in life.

So, when you get a small dog, you’re getting a lifelong companion!

8.   You’re in for a Lot of Joy

One thing’s for sure: when you adopt and live with a small breed dog, you’re in for a lot of happiness. Dogs of all sizes are loving. They want to take care of you, play with you, and cuddle up to you.

Remember that you will always have each other, and that’s what ultimately matters most.

Now that you know the basics of living with a small breed dog, it’s time to learn how to be the best pet parent out there.

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Tom has always loved to write since he was little - he wanted to be either a writer or a veterinary doctor, but he ended up being a professional writer while most of his works are based on animals. He was born in San Francisco but later moved to Texas to continue his job as a writer. He graduated from the University of San Francisco where he studied biotechnology. He is happily married and a soon to be father!