If you’re a small-dog owner, then you probably have a small-dog-sized chip on your shoulder — just like your little yapper with its Napoleon complex. Yes, small-dog owners are often defensive and for good reason. We hardly ever get the respect we deserve.
I am the proud owner of two tiny Chihuahuas. While everyone I know is quick to gush over their cuteness (and widdle paws and widdle eyes), my dogs are almost always left out of the “big dog” topics — think exercise, security and companionship. Even the most tenderhearted dog lovers among us don’t see small dogs as man’s best friend. The general consensus is that small dogs, while adorable, are decorative. They’re merely glorified cats.
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But as a lifelong small-dog owner, I’m here to tell you this couldn’t be further from the truth. Sure, my small dogs would happily sleep 22 hours of the day curled up on my lap if I’d let them, but there’s got to be a reason why more pet owners are downsizing than ever before. Blame it on Jessica Simpson and Paris Hilton, but today, almost 48 percent of U.S. households own a small dog under 25 pounds, compared to large-dog households at only 36 percent. The Kennel Club UK calls small breeds one of the “top 10 risers” in the last five years.
Here’s all the proof you need that small dogs beat big dogs any day of the week.
1. They’re better with kids
Most small-dog owners agree that when you train ’em well, small dogs are great to have around small children. “Small dogs hardly scare a kiddo with their size or ferocious bark,” says Adam Wendt, vice president of marketing at Best Friends Total Pet Care.
2. They’re cheaper
Think of how much food you’d buy for a giant dog each week, and then think of how much your tiny terrier eats in a month. I rest my case. Pomeranian owner Adelaida Diaz-Roa adds that grooming is much cheaper, too.
3. They make great lap dogs
For those huggable types who get their thrills from physical affection, a small dog fits the bill nicely. According to Wendt, a small pooch makes the perfect lap dog “should you want a dog that wants to cuddle up next to you while you read or watch TV.”
4. There’s less mess
When it comes to cleaning up poop, size matters most of all. Amy Yu, the big-dog and small-dog owner behind Wagdrobe, explains, “Small dogs poop less — especially having to pick up in the busy streets of New York!”
5. There’s more room
It’s finally possible to sleep with your furry friend when it doesn’t take up half the bed, though Yu qualifies, “Small dogs take less space on the bed, but I still let my small dog take a third of the bed.”
6. They don’t know their own (lack of) strength
Speaking of Napoleon complex, small dogs are at their cutest when they don’t know how small they really are, says Dana Fedman, CPDT-KA, of Pupstart Family Dog Training.
7. The costumes are cuter
8. The gear is cuter
Just because you have a small dog doesn’t mean you have to give up on your big trail hiking dreams. Diaz-Roa recommends the Ruffit carrier for any small-dog outdoor excursions, saying, “I can take him mountain climbing, bicycling, to graduation — pretty much anywhere.”
9. The kisses are sweeter
Like that inevitable mess that comes with owning a big dog, extra slobber is part of the big-dog package. But with a small dog, you get small, sweet kisses that you can savor in the morning without messing up your makeup. “Tiny dog kisses don’t leave your face all slimy,” says Trish Loehr, toy poodle owner and dog trainer at Loehr Animal Behavior.
10. The travel is friendlier
If you’ve ever tried to transport a big dog anywhere farther than the grocery store, you have my sympathies. Small dogs are easy to stow on a plane, says Wendt. “Many small dogs can be taken with you while you fly without paying extra. Larger dogs are forced to go into the hold of a plane, while smaller dogs can fit comfortably under your seat.”
11. They live longer
Here’s the biggest small-dog benefit of all if you can’t imagine a life without your furry little sidekick. Loehr says, “Small dogs have a longer lifespan than big dogs.” Small dogs may live for 12 to 14 years on average, compared to larger breeds at only eight to 10 years.