Karla has always had medium-sized dogs, but she now shares her home with a lovely little Dachshund.
I Used to Prefer Bigger Dogs, but Not Anymore
After Lola (my last medium-sized dog) died, I told myself that I really shouldn't have another dog. With my own health issues, I couldn't guarantee that I could give her (I've always had female dogs) enough of the activity and exercise she needs. I had always believed that a medium dog, at about 60 pounds, was a good size. I made sure that my dog had a walk most days, but I always felt so guilty, because I knew she needed more movement than just a walk.
So I was living without a dog, and not happy about it at all.
Then a friend's mother died, and a lovely little Dachshund named Lulu Penney needed a home. I had always liked Lulu, but I hadn't thought of myself as a small dog person at all. I also had never been particularly attracted to Dachshunds. I considered them little yappers. Lulu did yap a lot in her old home, along with her little friend, Ebbie, who was also a Dachshund.
But I realized that Lulu's need for a home and my need for a dog that didn't need a lot of exercising matched nicely. She came to live with me, on condition that I could give her back to my friend if it didn't work. I was sure that she could be trained not to bark so much, and I knew that she wasn't a problem as far as being house broken. But I wasn't sure that I would be that crazy about having a dog so small.
Silly me! Lulu stole my heart within the first hour. I could tell by looking at her that she was very sad and missing both her dead master and her little friend. All I wanted to do was hold her and make her feel better. Even feeling so sad, she appreciated the comfort. She licked my hand while I was petting her, and she cuddled into my lap, needing the touch.
She's been here a little over a month now, and I'm completely sold on small dogs! I'd still love to have a bigger dog, too, but I wouldn't be as good for a bigger dog as I am for a small dog.
So here's my top ten list of the benefits of living with a small dog.
The Top Ten Benefits of Having a Small Dog
1. They're very easy to cuddle with.
At least Lulu is. All dogs can be very sweet and cuddly. Where I notice the difference is when she gets up on the couch, or is able to sit in my favorite chair with me. If my larger dogs wanted to sit with me, I moved to the couch so they could. Lulu just pops up on the chair, and cuddles down.
2. They're very easy to walk.
I used to take my bigger dogs for 14-24 block walks. Lulu is fine with, at most, a four-block walk. That allows me to get on the treadmill and walk in the warmth of the house, or to not walk farther than works for me if that day isn't a good health day.
3. Your can take them to more places than large dogs.
Taking a dog with me has always been fun. However, I can take Lulu to places I couldn't take my bigger dogs. She's more often welcome, because she's not threatening to people.
4. They're a great way to meet people.
My bigger dogs also stimulated conversation with people, so I wasn't surprised. However, I was surprised at the number of people who respond to a smaller dog in comparison to a larger dog. I don't have to say, "She's friendly." to them. They automatically assume that a smaller dog is. Thankfully, Lulu doesn't disappoint them.
5. They're easy to bathe.
When I wanted to bathe one of my larger dogs, I had to take them to a groomer. They were too big for me to get them into the tub by myself. I had considered getting a grooming setup for a larger dog, but it was expensive. Lulu weighs just over 12 pounds, so I can just pop her in the tub. It takes less than 5 minutes to bathe her. She has short hair, so I don't need to be concerned about cutting or shaping her coat.
6. They're easy to feed.
I was determined that my next dog would have less commercial dog food in her diet. I feed Lulu a combination of dog food and what I'm eating. As long as I make sure she gets the proper protein amount for dogs, doesn't eat foods that dogs shouldn't eat and has good general nutrition, she's fine. She likes to eat what I am eating and I'm finding that she'll eat a wider variety of fruits and vegetables if we're sharing.
7. You can dress them.
I know, it's weird. I never thought I'd be a person who dressed my dog. And I don't go for the silly stuff that I see some people dressing their dogs in. I think that's kind of disrespectful to the natural dignity of the animal. But a little dog needs some extra help in the wintertime, and it's fun to put a coat on her.
8. They can sleep with you.
While I had allowed my bigger dogs to get up on the bed if I was reading or watching a late night movie, I hadn't allowed them to sleep with me, because they took up so much of the bed and were almost impossible to move when they got into a position that took up too much room. A little dog also wants to take her half out of the middle, too, but that's easily remedied by picking her up and moving her. She and I both like her sleeping with me.
9. They can also act as a deterrent to intruders.
When Lulu is on guard, she doesn't have a toy or puppy bark. She sounds bigger than she is, and she's definitely giving a warning. (If intent was everything, any intruder would be handcuffed and have a huge bite out of his behind the minute Lulu suspected him.)
10. Small dogs tend to live longer than larger dogs.
Some small dogs can have a lifespan of 15-20 years. That makes me very happy. Before adopting Lulu, I had two other dogs in the last five years. Both were larger, 60-70 pounds. Both came to live with me after they were 5 years old. One died at 8 years old, and one at 9 years old. While cancer is a common cause of death for older dogs, having them both die that soon was very hard to bear.
Small Dogs Are a Little Bit Easier
As you've seen by now, a major keyword here is "easy". I hadn't realized how much more effort a larger dog is than a smaller dog. It's not because the larger dog is more difficult, but only because it has more mass. If a larger dog needs to be moved, you'd better have done your weight training. If you want to go one way and a larger dog sees something of interest in the other direction, you need to plant your feet and have good command control. While you want your small dog to also be well trained, you don't need to worry about the weight of powerfulness of the smaller dog.
I have no doubt that if circumstances hadn't required that I have a more manageable size of dog, I would still have larger dogs. I love their advantages, too. But any person who chooses to live with a pet needs to be sure that, not only should the pet be good for the person, but the person should be good for the pet. I'm glad that, if I can't give a bigger dog the exercise and other activity she needs, small dogs are there to be cuddled and loved.
Comments About Ten Benefits of Having a Small Dog
Karla Iverson (author) from Oregon on January 15, 2012:
Thank you, Donna and Rebecca. While I felt that those were good reasons for having a small dog, I was wondering if anyone else would feel the same way. It was odd to say "easy", "easy", "easy". But I've been amazed at how,um, easy it's been!
Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on January 15, 2012:
Congratulations to LuLu! She has a great mom. My sister has a dog named LuLu and my dog's name is Penny! You listed great reasons for having a small dog!
Donna Cosmato from USA on January 15, 2012:
Excellent point of view and reasoning on the benefits of small dogs! Average life span is a big consideration that many individuals do not consider in advance but it is crucial. Congratulations on acquiring such an agreeable and lovable new companion!