When It Comes to Your Dog, Size Matters

You may like to supersize your coffee and get extra toppings on your pizza, but when it comes to choosing a dog, bigger doesn’t always mean better. Dog breeds differ by heritage in what they require.

Some breeds, like hunters, are genetically programmed to crave the open spaces and outdoor exercise. Other breeds (like toy dogs) make ideal “lap dogs,” enjoying the casual lifestyle without needing much space or time to run and play outdoors.

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The size of your dog has to match the size of your living space. A German Shepherd is a wonderful watch dog for your city apartment, but you must give that dog time in the park to run and be active every day.

If you’re too tired or lazy to give this beautiful dog the exercise it needs, then buy an alarm system, not a guard dog. A toy dog like a poodle or Chihuahua is content in your apartment and requires less outdoor time.

If you have a secured balcony with solid, high railing, that may be enough outdoor time for a small dog, supplemented with at least one daily outdoor walk. Don’t let the dog’s appearance or temperament fool you.

A greyhound is a gentle dog that’s also very quiet, which is good for attached living spaces. But that gentle greyhound must have daily exercise in enough area to run and play. Greyhounds can run up to 45 mph, so you don’t want them turning your family room into a track for running. Neither you nor the dog will be pleased with the result.

Size has everything to do with dog maintenance. That cute, furry puppy that you fell in love with at the pet store that barely nibbles puppy chow, grows up to be a 120-pound St Bernard that will eat you out of house and home.

To keep him in 8-10 scoops of high quality dog food daily, you’ll be spending the price of a daily steak dinner – only you don’t get to eat the steak. Your huge dog also pushes around furniture like feathers. When there’s nothing to do and you’re running late, the large dog may decide to deconstruct the living room just for fun.

On the flip side, plenty of toy dogs take up their own closet in little designer costumes, knit sweaters and clever playthings. They also have chic beds, including those that are canopied or French provincial. The doggie stuff can take up far more space in your home than the dog does.

If you have more than one dog, regardless of breed, you need to provide sleeping space for each dog. Don’t expect them to crowd together. They need space just like you do. They also need personal territory for sleeping, relaxing and hiding their toys or bones.

Dogs that remain outdoors need their own doghouses to protect them while sleeping or in bad weather. You aren’t sharing your bedroom with the neighbors, so why would you expect your dog to share his doghouse with the new dog? Consider the space and care needs of each dog when you bring a second or third dog into the family.