Small canine companions are an awesome addition to any family if you take the time to choose the right dog for you. There are many things you need to keep in mind when looking for the right small dog, including energy level, general health, grooming requirements, and the other members in your household.
When you carefully consider the various breed personalities and match them to your lifestyle, you and your small dog will be much happier with each other.
Consider All Members of the Household
What is your family like? Are you a single adult household and lead an active life? Do you have small children? These questions and those like them are very important when it comes to choosing the perfect small dog. If you are very active, you will want a dog that matches your energy level. The same rule applies if you are a more laid-back person.
Each breed will have its general energy level, driven by the original purpose for the breed. Hunting class dogs will tend to be agile and full of energy, whereas companion dogs are usually more easygoing. Terriers, spaniels, and hounds have a reputation for being more active breeds. There are the Lhasa Apsos that excel at agility courses and the Schipperkes that love nothing better than to sleep the day away.
How Much Time Will Your Small Dog Spend Outdoors?
Where will your new dog be spending most of its time? Seems like a no-brainer question right? Realistically some people must leave their pets outside during all types of weather because of work or other constraints.
However, small dogs, in general, do not fare well outside in cold temperatures. There are several breeds with heavy coats and thicker body mass, such as the Welsh Corgi. Heat can also be a major issue for some breeds, and Pugs and Pekingese suffer greatly if outside in really warm temperatures.
Consider the Hardwired Breed Traits
Each small dog breed will have specific character traits, attributes that the original breeders magnified to suit a defined purpose. The more true a dog’s bloodline to the original design, the stronger those traits will be.
Take, for example, the Dachshund; they were bred as vermin hunters and can be obsessed with digging. This could be a disaster if you cherish a beautifully landscaped yard. Moreover, if your children have pets of the rodent variety, this dog will cause trouble.
Matching Energy Levels
Perhaps the most important thing to consider is the energy level of a small dog and how it fits in with yours. For example, if you have a quiet, passive personality, a strong, high-energy dog will run over you and the entire house – a recipe for disaster.
Every dog, regardless of the breed, has an energy level ranging from low to very high. When a breed is referred to as “high energy,” such as Boston Terriers, it only means that a higher percentage of Boston’s will be at the upper level on energy. If you are set on a specific breed, with a little patience, you will be able to find the best energy match.
The General Health of a Breed
Just as with energy, each breed will have a “general” health profile that should be taken into account. Common illnesses include hip dysplasia, entropion, epilepsy, cataracts, and mitral valve disease, just to name a few.
If you are adopting an adult dog, a health check before accepting the dog will get you ready for any health issues that may arise. Many of the adoption agencies provide a health report as standard practice.
Absolutely DO NOT buy a puppy from a pet store unless they openly provide the name, phone number, and address of the breeder AND you pay them a visit. You want to choose a breeder that researches and tracks the bloodlines and their specific genetic defects when mating two adult dogs. You will most certainly pay more upfront for the puppy, but good genetics could save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in vet bills over the life of your small dog.
What Age Is Best For You?
Many people prefer to adopt puppies since they can better bond and train the dog to their specifications. However, puppies are not for everyone as they need a great deal more attention and training than an adult dog.
You might be better served by adopting an older pet if you prefer to skip the chewing, potty training, and other puppy-specific issues. Be careful with adult animals, especially if you have children. Unless you know the dog and previous owners, there could well be behavior problems that do not show up immediately.
Choosing the best small dog for you is not as easy as just getting the cute one. There are several things to consider to ensure the best fit possible; take your time, do the research, and include an experienced acquaintance or professional dog handler to help you find the perfect match. Trust us, it’s worth the effort!