Big & Little Dog Pals - Making Sure Both Sizes are Happy & Safe!

Big and Little Dog Pals – Making Sure Both Sizes are Happy & Safe!

By AKC GoodDog! Helpline Trainer Hilarie Erb

Is it a good idea to have a very big dog and a very tiny one living in the same household?

The internet is full of delightful stories and adorable pictures of huge dogs loving it up with their tiny buddies. But there are also some sad stories that remind us that extra precautions are necessary if you are planning to get dogs that are on the opposite ends of the size spectrum.

Many small breeds are very calm, but many are very feisty. Sometimes this is because their small size makes training less important to their owners. For some, it’s genetic. Yorkshire Terriers, Australian Terriers, Norwich Terriers, Dachshunds – practically all terriers and many other small dogs – were bred to hunt and kill rats, mice, and badgers. The strong personality needed for their jobs can get them into trouble.

On the other hand, not all large dogs are calm and confident because of their size. If you already have a large dog, its individual personality should be considered before you add a little dog to the family.

Some tips to ensure that your Titan and Tinkerbell pair gets along well:

  1. Opposite genders nearly always get along best. Usually the female is boss so it might be best if the toy dog is female. Your big male dog will probably be a gentleman.
  2. Don’t cause jealousy by babying the little dog at the expense of less attention for the big dog. Dogs don’t think of themselves in terms of size; they all want loving attention from their people.
  3. If the new dog is the little puppy, don’t let it annoy the big dog. Be sure he has plenty of time with you, without the pesky pup climbing all over him.
  4. Supervise carefully when they play. Even if the big guy means no harm, his play can be much too rough and small dogs can be easily injured. Many big dogs know how to be careful, but if the small one is really egging him on he might get carried away. Some dogs see little ones as prey so discourage any chasing.
  5. Feed them in separate areas. Do not allow the small dog to help herself to the big dog’s food. You should probably do this for their lifetimes. Meals are very important to all dogs; if a tiny dog goes after a big dog’s dinner, a mere warning snap can be tragic.
  6. Do not leave them alone together. Supervision is important to prevent accidents.

The AKC GoodDog! Helpline is a seven-day-a-week telephone service staffed by experienced dog trainers who answer clients’ training questions:

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