Small Dog VS Big Dog: Equal Responsibility!

Oftentimes I hear people say they want a dog and they are planning to get a small dog because it requires less responsibility, in other words – less attention.
Nothing can be further from the truth! If that is your mindset, you are about to set yourself for a long hard life, unless you change your approach towards the dog.

There are differences between small and big dogs, yet the level of responsibility is not one of them.

Let’s have a look at pros and cons of different sizes.

Extra large dogs.

In this category, you can mostly find mastiff dog types, which were mainly created to serve as guard dogs (this does not mean they cannot be great family pets).


  • On average, these dogs have a mellow character. They do not seem to look for trouble with other dogs and have a slow pace during the walk. Extra large dogs tend to get tired quickly during the walk. Because of that, they do not need long walks to satisfy their daily needs.
  • Although these dogs have a calm character, it does not mean they will not stand up for themselves if provoked or if something is threatening their family or the property.
  • Extra large dogs tend to have an intimidating look. That will make any burglar think twice before entering your property, and in case of intruders, they will generally defend the property and their owners without a second thought.


  • A big issue with giant breeds is their short lifespan, most of these dogs live for around 10 years, while some breeds may have an even shorter lifespan. Generally, the bigger the dog is the shorter its life is.
  • Hip and elbow dysplasia combined with joints problems are common among these dogs due to their very large size.
  • Financially, big dogs are not cheap. They need much more food compared to small dogs and anything you may need is more expensive, from veterinary bills to beds and collars.
  • Giant breeds can do well in medium apartments as long as they receive their daily amount of exercise, but a large house would be better. If the apartment is too small, the dog may hit things around due to its size.
  • Serious training is not an option; you do not want a 50+ kg dog to mess around completely out of control.

Large dogs.

These dogs can have different purposes: some are designed for guarding, some for tracking, some for retrieving and other different jobs. Their behaviour and temperament can vary from breed to breed, but their pros and cons are similar to the extra large dogs.


  • Many of these dogs are good burglars and bad intentions deterrents.
  • In general, they are active dogs but rarely hyperactive, so they are good at playing games like fetch and are better suited for owners with an active lifestyle.
  • Their lifespan is on the average for dogs, it can reach up to 12-14 years.


  • The downsides of large breeds are pretty much similar to the ones of the giant sizes. In other words, they are financial and space-related and, even in this case, serious training is not an option.

Medium dogs.

They are called ‘medium’ for a reason. It is also the most confusing categories because a small dog owner may refer to a medium sized dog as ‘large’, while a large dog owner may refer to the dog as ‘small’.

Medium dogs are a good solution if you’re looking for something ‘in between’. If you have children, a medium dog is less likely to knock them down accidentally but big enough to not become a pocket toy. Still, these dogs can be very strong and weight more than they look like. Think about a Staffy or a Bull Terrier: they look compact but their strength can make some large breeds jealous!

Medium dogs are budget friendly and take less physical space if that’s your concern.

Small dogs.

Small dogs are more budget-friendly than big dogs and are the first choice for the elderly or anyone that gets intimidated by the strength of bigger dogs (if they get out of control).

However, many small breeds fall in the Terrier group which are dogs that have been created to catch and kill little rodents. Even though these dogs can be great pets, they have a tendency of displaying aggression more than other dogs. In general, their aggression gets excused by the public much more than when bigger dogs are behaving the same.

  • Pros:
    As we have already mentioned, these dogs are cheaper to maintain. They need less food and their veterinary bills are cheaper.
  • They can do well in small apartments, but it doesn’t mean they do not need regular walks and exercise. Small dogs have less strength than bigger dogs. They are easier to control if they misbehave and this makes them easy to handle for people with less physical strength. I’m sure you have seen people simply picking their tiny dogs up to remove them from trouble.
  • Small dogs below 10 kg may also be accepted on a flight as long as they are kept in little crates.
  • Some restaurants (or places in which dogs are not welcome) tend to close an eye on small dogs as if they are not dogs. Discrimination towards larger dogs is not uncommon, no matter the behaviour.
  • Small dogs can live a long life; reaching 16-17 years is not unusual for them.


  • Even though they can bark at people trying to invade their territory, they are not a good deterrent for burglars or any other bad intentioned person.
  • Little dogs quite often provoke bigger dogs and, in case of a fight, the small dog can risk its life.
  • In general, many small size dogs have a high energy level and can be overwhelming to owners low on energy. If their excessive energy level is not exhausted, behavioural problems may arise, especially if combined with a lack of rules and correction from the owner.
  • This last point, however, applies to any other dog regardless of their size. In general, owners of big dogs tend to pay attention to their dog’s behaviour as they will not get excused as owners of a little Yorkshire Terrier.

The Truth About Small Dogs (They Are Just Dogs!)

In conclusion:
If you ever decide to get a dog, make your decisions based on your financial and accommodation situation. Before you get a dog, make sure you are well informed about the nature of dogs (here is a good read) and the dog you are choosing is compatible with your lifestyle. Never ever assume that having a small dog will be easier than a big dog! Care, rules and discipline apply to them too.

Small Dog = Easy, Big = Trouble.  All dogs require dedication and need a responsible owner!

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