It is often said in Cleveland that you are an east sider or a west sider, and you stay that way for life. The same could be said of dog owners with their preference for small or large dogs. Those with small dogs couldn’t imagine owning a large one: large dog owners would not even consider getting a small dog. Is there a difference in behavior, just based on size?
In a broad sense, yes. A visit to the daycare areas at All About Dogs reveals a very consistent difference in overall behavior. While smaller dogs often have the reputation of being high-energy, the small-dog area tends to be pretty laid-back overall. The large-dog area is nearly always more raucous.
“The small dogs tend to come in hyper, and wear out quickly,” said daycare supervisor Brendan Brannigan. They socialize, but are not as rough and tumble as their larger counterparts. With the hose or kiddie pools, they are typically much more hesitant to be part of the action.
Brannigan does add that they tend to be “more vocal” than larger dogs. The large dog area has a mixed bag of participants. Some supervise the action, while others throw themselves into play with vigor and enthusiasm. “The large dogs are like energizer bunnies,” he said. “They just keep going and going.”
While there is a pattern of behavior unique to the large and small dog areas, both Brannigan and fellow daycare supervisor Adam Kirsh said potential dog owners should evaluate each dog on a case-by-case basis, since there are always exceptions. Trainer Pam Ginther Perry agrees, stating that “it is a very individual thing.”
“I think it is more breed than size,” she said. Just because a dog is small doesn’t mean it is a lap dog. Some small dogs are working breeds, such as rat and Jack Russell terriers. “They’re small, but they’re active,” she said.
Ginther Perry said potential dog owners should consider what role they want the dog to play in their life, such as a companion or someone to take long walks with, and go from there. Golden retrievers and Labradors tend to be the most active, while dogs like wolfhounds, St. Bernards, Bernese Mountain dogs and basset hounds are more calm, according to Brannigan and Kirsh. In the small dog area, Jack Russell terriers are “a mile a minute,” said Kirsh. King Charles spaniels, Pekingnese and lhasa apsos are the quieter dogs in the small dog area.
The bottom line? Don’t pick a dog and expect it to act a certain way based on its size…breed and personality are far more important factors.
Tell us about your favorite dog.