Puppy Hero

Blog archive

Big Dog vs. Small Dog: Which One is Right for You?

People often have strong opinions about the size of dog they want as a pet. Many people prefer big dogs because they have the reputation of being friendly and good with kids. Others prefer small dogs because they’re easier to manage. The truth is that many size-based biases are just that… biases and stigmas. They’re simply not true. Today, we’re going to get to the bottom of the big dog vs. small dog debate.

What sizes do dogs come in?

Dogs come in an astounding range of sizes. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the smallest dog in the world is a Chihuahua called Milly who stands a diminutive 4 inches tall and weighs 2 pounds. The largest dog in the world was an English Mastiff called Zorba who stood 27 inches tall and weighed over 300 pounds.

Here are some of the smallest dog breeds:

  • Chihuahuas
  • Affenpinschers
  • Biewer Terriers
  • Brussels Griffons
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
  • Chinese Crested

And now for some of the biggest dog breeds:

  • English Mastiffs
  • Bernese Mountain Dogs
  • Doberman Pinschers
  • Scottish Deerhounds
  • Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs
  • Bloodhounds

What are the main differences between a big dog vs. small dog?

Aside from the obvious difference, i.e., in size, there are several other ways in which big dogs are different from small dogs.


If your 7-pound Chihuahua refuses to get in the car, you can simply pick her up, put her in the car, and get going. A 175-pound Saint Bernard, not so much. Smaller dogs are usually easier to manage and more convenient in general. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider a large dog, just make sure you understand what it entails.


In addition to the upfront cost of purchasing a puppy (the most expensive dog breeds can cost thousands of dollars for a purebred puppy), there are ongoing costs of keeping a dog as a pet. Experts estimate that the cost of owning a dog is anywhere from $1,500 to $9,000 a year. Food and supplies are generally less expensive for small breeds vs. big breeds. So, that’s definitely something to consider when choosing a big dog vs. small dog.

Space Considerations

Small dog breeds are generally more suited to apartment living because they take up less space. However, large dogs can adapt to apartment living provided they have opportunities to exercise in nearby green spaces.


This is one of the biggest myths in the big dog vs. small dog debate. Generally, big breeds are considered lovable while small breeds are labeled snobbish. But the truth is that larger breeds like German Shepherd Dogs can be aloof and smaller breeds Boston Terriers can be friendly and cuddly.

Barking Tendency

Small dogs have a reputation as big barkers. Many believe it’s the Napoleon syndrome where small pooches try to make up for what they lack in size by barking loudly. Large dogs, on the other hand, let their size do the talking. Some of the small breeds most likely to bark when they’re not supposed to include Beagles, Yorkshire Terriers, and Miniature Schnauzers. Large dogs least likely to bark include Mastiffs, Saint Bernards, and Great Danes.

Exercise Needs

Another big misconception in the big dog vs. small dog debate is that small dogs don’t need much exercise. The truth is that all dogs need some exercise every day, regardless of size. Besides the necessary physical activity, walks and playtime are essential for a dog’s mental health. Dog breeds that need vigorous daily exercise include Retrievers, Collies, Spaniels, and German Shepherds. On the other hand, dog breeds that don’t need a lot of exercise include Mastiffs, Bulldogs, Shih Tzus, and Dachshunds. As you can see, exercise needs don’t always correlate to the dog’s size.

Health Issues

Small dogs are more susceptible to health problems like kneecap injuries, drops in blood sugar, and collapsed trachea due to collar use. Large dog breeds, in contrast, are prone to hip dysplasia, ligament tears, and bloat (a condition in which the stomach flips over).


Smaller breeds tend to live longer than larger ones. Some breeds that have long life expectancies include Jack Russell Terriers, Yorkshire Terriers, and Springer Spaniels. Some of the dog breeds with the shortest lifespans include Dogue de Bordeauxs (French Mastiffs), Great Danes, and Bernese Mountain Dogs.

Why choose a small dog?

Here are some key reasons why you should consider a small dog breed:

  • More popular and accepted
  • Lower cost of ownership
  • Convenient and cheaper to travel with
  • Less likely to scare visitors
  • May need less exercise
  • Ideal for apartment living and city life
  • Can be trained to use a litter box
  • Sheds less than big dogs

Why choose a big dog?

  • More likely to be available for adoption
  • Larger litters and more puppies available
  • Friendly and less attention seeking
  • Laidback and good with kids
  • Less likely to be bullied by other dogs
  • Makes a great watchdog
  • Higher energy levels and endurance
  • Easier to train
  • Less likely to bark
  • Less likely to be injured during play with children

Whatever you choose, big dog vs. small dog, make sure the breed is the right fit for your family and lifestyle. Another important thing to keep in mind is that you should purchase your puppy from a reputable and responsible breeder. Puppy Hero can help you find dedicated breeders in your area who follow ethical breeding practices. By choosing a Puppy Hero breeder, you can ensure a great life together with your dog, whether it is a big dog or a small one.

03 September, 2022