When it comes to a canine companion, size matters. If a small dog is your choice, there are even more specific factors to consider. Whether your concerns are about biting, barking, interacting with kids or other pets—or just how high they rate on the snuggle-ometer—make sure to find the right breed for you. Here are six factors to consider.
These Small Dog Breeds Really Bite
All dogs can bite if provoked, or if they lack sufficient training. Biting doesn’t always result in serious injury, and some dogs are prone to nip without causing harm. Still, if you have children or frequent strangers in the house, dogs that snap may not be the right breed.
The Chihuahua tops our list of biters, with a recent study where veterinarians reported they were chomped the most by these small dogs.
The dachshund is almost its equal: evidence suggests it’s prone to aggression with people and other animals. One study rated them the highest for aggression, and Chihuahuas second.
Bred for centuries to be a protector, the Lhasa Apso may be naturally standoffish and snappy.
Papillons can often be high-strung and sensitive; they could respond with a defensive chomp.
Likewise, Pekingese can be possessive and get nippy in defense of what they consider theirs.
“Their Bark Is Worse…”
If you’re worried about complaints from the neighbors, a dog with less bark may be what you’re looking for. Which breeds are best?
Well, despite the quiet nature of their collie cousins, the Shetland sheepdog may not be the breed for you. These natural herders have a tendency to audibly make their presence known.
The Yorkshire terrier‘s watchdog background also makes it a big talker. Similarly, the miniature schnauzer is inherently curious, and those inquiries are typically vocal.
Even with a ton of training, the bark of a Pomeranian—while not excessively loud—is extremely difficult to curb.
The beagle is a big barker, even singing along with sirens passing by. If you have a lot of emergency vehicle traffic in the area, expect a sing-a-long. (For more ruff ratings, check out barkingdogs.net.)
Are there small dog breeds that don’t bark? Never say never…but there are some that rank much higher on the silent scale.
A pug is a safe bet against barking, though nasal problems may mean some snoring at night. It might not wake the neighbors, but if you’re a light sleeper, be prepared to deal with the wheezing.
The Cavalier King Charles spaniel is also as gentlemanly as the name suggests, with very reserved and only occasional barking.
The cat-like Japanese chin is also known for its relative quiet and might be the small dog for you.
Thanks Fur the Memories
Which small dogs shed, and which don’t?
The aforementioned dachshund and miniature schnauzer win points for less fur flying. Pomeranians, on the other hand, are known to shed a lot.
Would it surprise you to know the long-haired Shih Tzu barely sheds? The same goes for the Maltese. Many terrier breeds are in the low-shed category as well.
Suitable For All Ages
The Skye terrier is good with kids and typically exhibits a lot of patience (source). The Boston terrier is also considered a great family dog and can operate well in a large group.
Family size is important to bear in mind, as the Boston stands in stark contrast with the dachshund: their mindset is that of a one-person dog (source).
Similarly, the Pekingese can be aloof and standoffish with others, including guests (source).
Plays Well with Others
Do you have other pets in the house? Knowing your breed’s temperament with other dogs or animals is also important.
The snappy Chihuahua is known for being okay with a cat in the house (after an appropriate adjustment period) (source). The adorable Shiba Inu is friendly with felines as well (and turtles, apparently) (source).
Manchester and bull terriers have strong prey drives, and it’s hard for them to make the shift from viewing food as friends. Cats are a dicey prospect, and if you have smaller animals like hamsters its probably not going to be one big happy family.
Will Snuggle For Food
What do we want to know most of all? The cuddle factor!
The snuggle-loving Skye terrier mentioned above may just be the breed for you.
That reserved barker, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, also resurfaces in this category as quite the snuggler.
Bulldogs enjoy cuddling too, particularly the miniature English and French bulldog.
Curling up on your lap with a smile might be a Tibetan spaniel, or a happy Havanese.
The delicate looking Chinese crested is also a contender for the snuggle king title (source).
Like any relationship, looks aren’t everything: the breed that first catches your eye might not be the right fit. Understanding what you want will set both of you up for a beautiful, healthy relationship.