small dogs

Small dogs, breeds, characteristics and care


The dog is one of the pet species that has a greater variety of sizes among its specimens. When you are looking for a 4-legged friend, its size and nature are some of the characteristics that are immediately considered. In recent years, the increase in the number of dog owners even in urban areas has led to a greater spread of small dog breeds that can live easily even in an apartment.

The best known breeds of small dogs

All those that do not exceed 10 kg and have a height at the withers up to 40 cm are classified as small dogs. This parameter is calculated by placing the dog in the quadrupedal position and measuring the distance from the dog’s withers to the ground with a rigid meter or a special instrument, called a cyanometer.

Officially, no distinction is made between small dogs and very small dogs, although commonly called toy breeds are those which remain in a weight of 4 kg.

The small breeds that we know the most are:

  • Poodle
  • Dachshund
  • Bichon a poil frize
  • Meat sauce
  • Boston Terrier
  • French bulldog
  • Pug
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Chihuahua
  • Fox Terrier
  • Maltese
  • Jack Russell Terrier
  • Pekingese
  • Dwarf pinscher
  • Miniature Schnauzer
  • Volpino italiano and Volpino di Pomerania
  • Shih Tzu
  • Spitz
  • West Highland White Terrier
  • Yorkshire Terrier

Characteristics and behavior

When you choose to adopt a small dog you must keep in mind that this category includes dogs with very different characteristics, united by the fact that they can be a good choice for those who have little space available and have the desire for an easily transportable dog. to accompany him for many years of his life. They are in fact considered very long-lived dogs reaching even 16-18 years.

The amount of daily activity depends a lot on its physical characteristics and on the nature of the animal; in fact, in this category, we find both more active dogs with a very high energy level and more sedentary ones.

A mistake that can be made is to consider a small dog as unwilling to walk, especially when it is still a puppy. The solution that is often adopted is to use bags and carriers, which alter their vision of the world and normal interaction with other living beings or with the environment and which however lead to the development of some behavioral problems. In fact, even small dogs need to discover the world around them at their “height” to learn how to relate in the right ways.

The most frequent pathologies among small dogs

Analyzing the epidemiology of the most frequent diseases, some of these are associated with a high incidence in small dogs.

The conditions that must be considered for these types of dogs are:

  • Odontostomatological pathologies, given by their predisposition to accumulate more tartar, leading the veterinarian to propose dental specialist visits, specific treatments up to scaling or dental extractions.
  • Orthopedic pathologies. Among these we find the luxation of the patella, given by the incorrect positioning of the patella outside its natural location, and the necrosis of the femoral head, degeneration of this anatomical part detectable in the growth phase.
  • Cardiac disorders, in particular mitral valve dysfunction resulting in cardiac symptoms of valve insufficiency.
  • Respiratory disorders, first of all the predisposition to dorso-ventral tracheal collapse with consequent respiratory symptoms and exercise intolerance.
  • Gastrointestinal disorders, with symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea, with the particularity of being associated with emotional and environmental stressors.

It should be borne in mind that if some of these pathologies are more frequent in the large category of small breeds, there are specific predispositions for each breed that must be evaluated together with your veterinarian.

How to take care of a small dog

Small dogs need some precautions for proper management and care.

Their small size in relation to a high body surface exposes them more to climate change. If in summer their short stature exposes them to greater contact with very hot surfaces, such as asphalt, in winter they suffer a greater loss of heat, feeling the cold more. Especially for short-haired breeds in fact it is good to consider the use of a cover during walks.

  • In the winter period it would also be better to avoid baths and washing, if you are not sure of a correct drying of the coat, and it is good to avoid shearing that can further expose them to the cold.
  • Proper prevention also helps in the predispositions mentioned above. A good dental cleaning is advisable in these types of dogs in order to avoid the accumulation of tartar and gingivitis. There are numerous special products on the market, from toothbrushes for dogs with toothpaste to specific chews and croquettes.
  • Finally, even for these dogs, it is important to provide the right nutrients with proper nutrition. A balanced diet in the right quantity avoids the development of obesity, a predisposing condition to numerous dog diseases. For this reason, all the formulations on the market contain the information necessary for the dosage of the food based on the age and weight of the animal; we remind you that the quantity present on the packages, whether for a dry or mixed feed only, refers to a daily dose.

You may be interested to read the Dog Diet blog post/ Feeding the dog and the puppy blogpost/ Homemade dog food blogpost/ Recipes with zucchini / Ceara bruaca recipe.

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