Large Dogs vs. Small Dogs: Which is Better?

Large dogs are friendly and smart, but they need space to roam. Small dogs are easier to care for, but they can be more aggressive. So, which one is better?

Nov 2, 2023By Sara Payne
large dogs vs small dogs which is better

The debate is hot. There are people on both sides. So, which one really is better–large or small dogs?

Both large and small dogs have many pros and cons. The best-sized pet is the pet that fits your family’s lifestyle.

So, if you are thinking about adding a new dog to your family, read on to find out many of the positives and negatives of owning each size.

What are the Pros of Owning Larger Dogs?

large dogs lineup

More Intelligent and Easier to Train

According to Hillspet, larger dogs performed better on dog IQ tests than smaller dogs. Small dogs have smaller heads due to curated breeding that gives smaller dogs highly specialized skills. Whereas larger dogs have normal-sized skulls and less specific breeding, making them more adaptable. If you want a dog that behaves well, a large dog is for you.

Great Guard Dogs

Larger dogs, like German Shepherds, are much more intimidating, so they make better guard dogs. Many large dog breeds were bred for herding. Because of this, they are very protective and naturally good at being assertive when they need to be. Since they are also more obedient, it is easier to train larger dogs to protect the home. Families who need a good guard dog should consider larger dog breeds.

Great with kids

Many large dog breeds are noted for their friendliness, such as the Golden Retriever. Larger breeds are also laid back with kids. This makes them great pets for families. Since larger dogs are easier to train, their amiable nature is usually enhanced by their obedience.

What are the Cons of Owning Larger Dogs?

dog scared boy

Costs More

Larger dogs usually have a heftier price tag. They eat more dog food, which can become expensive. They also cost more at the veterinarian, according to Blue Buffalo, because of the larger doses of medication it takes to treat them. Large dog houses and accessories can also become costly.

Scares People

Although being a guard dog is on the pros list, a larger dog can also scare people unintentionally. Children are often afraid of larger dogs. People are sometimes anxious to visit a house that has a large dog. Several large breeds have reputations for biting and for being aggressive.

Needs More Space

Finally, a large dog also needs a lot of space to roam. Even though you can keep a large dog in an apartment, a large dog tends to have energy to spare. You will need to take your dog on walks frequently to get that energy out, or it will start to use that energy to be destructive in the home.

What are the Pros of Owning a Smaller Dog?

small dog lineup

Lives longer

Smaller dogs tend to live a little longer than large dogs. The University of Melbourne claims that the largest dog breeds have the shortest lifespans. The reason behind this is that evolutionarily, larger animals tend to use up more resources and take more energy to live. Smaller dogs age more slowly and consume fewer resources. If you are looking for a long-term companion, a smaller dog may be a better choice.

Easier to Travel With

Small dogs can be taken on vacation with you. They are easy to pack into the car and take into hotels, whereas larger dogs either need a sitter or to be boarded. This makes small dogs great for people who travel frequently. You don’t have to worry about who is caring for your pet.

Needs Less Space

Although small dogs still need to be exercised, they can use up a lot of their energy inside the home, so you don’t have to take them out as often as larger dogs. Their accessories are more compact, and they eat less. They are usually couch or bed buddies, so they easily fit into an urban lifestyle. If you live in an apartment or city, a smaller dog might be the better option.

What are the Cons of Owning a Smaller Dog?

dachshund ripped paper

More Skittish and Aggressive

The main complaint that people have about small dogs is that they are skittish and aggressive. Small dogs must compensate for their size by biting, barking, or growling. Since they are so small, they are easier to hurt. These dogs have adapted to make sure that they are seen and heard to protect themselves.

Less obedient

Smaller dogs are just as capable of being trained as large dogs, however, the AKC claims that owners of small dogs tend to be less consistent with training than those with large dogs. Small dog owners also tend to play with their dogs a little less than large dog owners. Play helps to manage negative behaviors. Small dogs are often more obstinate and less receptive to training.

How do I Pick the Best Size of Dog for my Family?

small dog large dog together

All this information can be overwhelming. There are good and bad things about both smaller and larger dogs, but consider these questions when making your decision:

  1. What kind of space do you have for a dog?
  2. What kind of personality do you need from a dog?
  3. How much time will you need to spend away from your dog?

Answering these questions will help you to decide which size is best for you. If you have only a small space, you probably need a smaller dog. If you have children or want a dog to be trained to guard your home, you may want a larger dog. If you spend a lot of time away from home, you may want a smaller dog that can travel with you.

In the end, whichever size you choose, you can be assured that you will find a great companion and addition to your family.

Sara Payne
By Sara Payne

Sara is a mother of two and a high school English teacher who rediscovered her love of writing during the pandemic. She has 5 rescue cats: Neville and Luna, who are white cats with black and grey spots, and Ginny, Blue, and Fairy, who are calicos. Besides taking care of humans and fur babies, Sara enjoys gardening, crafting, and spending time in nature.