Small Dogs As Pets

This is a Maltese I groomed in a puppy trim. They do not  grow like this .naturally. they need haircuts.

This is a Maltese I groomed in a puppy trim. They do not grow like this .naturally. they need haircuts.

I  am writing this because I often notice that people post on Craigslist looking for a small dog  that is good with kids.  Frankly, as a group, most  small dogs are NOT good with kids unless they are raised with kids and  even then, we are lucky that domestic dogs have been bred with bite inhibition.

I love small dogs.  They are  cute.  Stephen Jay Gould has said we  are  attracted to them because they look like infants, and it is part of evolutionary biology to be attracted to them.  So, what we are actually attracted to is the idea, or, really—the fantasy—of what we  want these little dogs to be.  Lots of people are lucky, they get small Poodles, Pugs, Bostons, and Frenchies, Beagles, Miniature Schnauzers, Maltese, Shih Tzu and Cairn Terriers, and  in spite of how their kids behave around the dogs, the dogs are very patient and put up with a lot of abuse.  However, we also see many Chihuahuas, Yorkies, Scotties, Cocker Spaniels,  Corgis, Dachshunds,Lhasa Apsos,and Jack Russell terriers looking for new homes because they are  not child tolerant. That’s really the norm.  At least these owners are honest.  Most are not.

Many of the breed specific rescues will not adopt  out a dog of this size to families with children under a certain age.  Often, it’s because they don’t know the history of the dog.  Just as often, they know why dogs get returned:  frightened dogs  defending themselves against a well-meaning but poorly supervised child.

The trim is a 'Town and Country'.  I wanted to do a classic 'Dutch', but the owner was a retired groomer , herself, and this was what she wanted.  Note the balance, that her pants are not 'falling off'.


We still have too many people who think dogs are dogs,and they are going to get Lassie. That’s just not how it is.  There are over 400 known breeds that have bred true (predictably) for  over 10 generations. We are not talking about designer dogs that people breed as cash crops. We are talking about breeds with personality profiles that people know and understand.  Very few of these small dogs have been bred with bite inhibition: they’ve been bred to be feisty.  It’s  generally the larger breeds, which have nothing to be afraid of (whom people are afraid of due to their size or their head shapes) that are the gentler ones.

Plus, because most people breeding dogs don’t think of themselves as breeders, so  ignore the negatives, they are breeding dogs with genetic health defects:  luxated patellas, congenital juvenile cataracts,and liver shunt.  These defects can be corrected so the dogs ar not in pain…but why would you buy a dog that you need to spend several thousand dollars on just so he can live a normal life?  that’s what you ar risking when  yu don’t go to either a hobby breeder who breeds for the betterment of the breed, or a breed specific rescue.  You’re gambling that  the cute puppy will be genetically sound and a good pet.

Finally,I  have to say that if you are not very diligent, they can be difficult to housebreak—especially the very small purse dogs. My blog on housebreaking difficult dogs gets a lot of hits every week.  These small dogs have very small bladders. they can only hold urine for several hours.  that’s something to keep in mind.


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One Response to “Small Dogs As Pets”

  1. Abloggingprimate Says:

    I have a frenchie who is 6 and two kids under the age of four. While my dog is not great with other dogs she is a dream with the kids, however I set a lot of rules for how the kids treat her and I think that’s key for people wanting small dogs with kids. It’s often the kids who need the most training!

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