Many of us originally selected our breeds based on general appearance, compatible temperament, and acceptable grooming and exercise requirements. While we each remain staunchly faithful to our breeds of choice, the time may come when downsizing, for whatever reason, becomes a desired option. Perhaps it’s a move to smaller living space or the inability to continue hoisting a large breed into the bathtub. Finding the right fit in a smaller package that still pleases us emotionally and aesthetically is an important decision.
Downsizing Your Desired Dog Breed
For those of us whose breeds come in a range of size varieties, such as Poodles, Xolos, and American Eskimo Dogs, it’s relatively easy to go from a standard to a miniature or toy, while retaining the same appearance and temperament that attracted us in the first place.
Many Akita people easily make the switch by downsizing to the Shiba Inu. Lovers of the Giant and Standard Schnauzers appreciate the alert, fearless nature of the Miniature Schnauzer. The latter boasts some essential family traits in a more portable package.
Sighthound owners love the mellow nature of their dogs. If they need to downsize to a smaller breed or one that requires less grooming, the Whippet is the perfect answer. Lure coursing can continue to be your weekend recreation. Whippets are also great in agility if you want to give that sport a try. But at the end of the day, in the house, you have a clean, affectionate little Sighthound.
Afghan Hound people have always gravitated toward Chinese Cresteds. The hairless variety offers an exotic look, the Powderpuff comes with a coat to groom, and both are eyecatching dogs in the show ring.
A few Irish Wolfhound folks have fallen for the charms of another rough-coated, tousled breed from the Emerald Isle, the Glen of Imaal Terrier. This is a solid, stoic dog in the same way that the Wolfhound is solid, rather than refined and glamorous, with a working heritage. The Glen even comes in the same colors as the Wolfhound, wheaten and blue-gray brindle.
Many owners of Golden and Labrador Retrievers have discovered the jaunty Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, the largest of the Toy breeds. Historically the Cavalier is described as a “sporting toy.” Indeed, there was a faction of breed supporters that wanted to see the Cavalier enter the Sporting Group rather than the Toy Group. The idea was to retain its gundog instincts and discourage over-grooming for the show ring. Cavaliers are every bit as soft and sweet as Goldens and Labs, making an easy transition for those who come from the larger Sporting breeds.
Boxer and Mastiff people want a robust, boisterous breed in a muscular little package. Many have found their ideal smaller dog in the Pug. The Pug’s facial expression is similar, as is the coat and the black mask. You even get the snoring!
Some Chow Chow breeders have downsized to the Japanese Chin, with happy results. No one who appreciates the Chow’s dignified, cat-like nature would want a yappy dog that’s always underfoot. The Chin is another inscrutable, stubborn oriental, content to hold court in your home and be treated like royalty. Those who love the temperament of the one typically enjoy the other. Both breeds have lush coats that are not particularly difficult to maintain.
If cords are your thing but you’re no longer able to house a Komondor, Bergamasco, or Puli, consider downsizing to the Havanese, a charming Toy breed whose coat can be corded for the show ring. You get to keep that similar look you’re used to but in a much smaller package. Havanese also come in a variety of solid colors as well as parti-colors.
Downsizing to a compatible new breed that shares many of the same traits you admire in your larger breed doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Know the traits you can’t part with, then begin your research, first online then at dog shows. There, you can find opportunities to meet them in person and chat with their enthusiastic owners.
Allan Reznik has been an Afghan Hound fancier since the early 1970s and also owns and exhibits Tibetan Spaniels. He is an award-winning journalist and broadcaster, who has served as editor-in-chief of several national dog publications. He appears regularly on radio and TV discussing all aspects of responsible animal ownership. Reznik is an AKC-approved judge of Afghan Hounds, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, and Tibetan Spaniels. He is on permit to judge several other Hound breeds.