Advice on Choosing a Small Dog

 5 Great Small Dog Breeds to Consider When Getting Your First Pet

If you’re looking for your first dog, or even just an “easy” breed to get along with in your home, here is some simple advice.

Many people have never owned a dog (it’s true!). Maybe you or a friend are among this group. It’s totally okay, welcome to a whole new way of life! The first question you should be asking yourself is: ARE YOU READY FOR A DOG? Dogs are a commitment, they are much more work than a cat and require you to be home and available to love your fur baby. Many dog lovers do NOT HAVE dogs because they love them and are aware that they live a lifestyle that just does not work for a dog. You need to be able to walk, train and spend time with your dog. You also need to be prepared for some of the inconvenience a dog brings, they cannot be forgotten like a plant, will likely chew and wreck some things in your home, vomit, poop, get sick, cost money and more. Think about the time, love commitment and expense before you commit to a dog. Please. And no, you cannot just give them to a shelter when you’re tired of them, a dog should be a permanent commitment that you are willing to make room in your life and extend yourself for. Treating them as disposable is simply awful behavior.

 Now, you’ve thought about it and you’re ready! Great!

First of all please ADOPT. Pure-breads are not the absolute-must of dog ownership, there are shelters full of dogs and finding a mixed breed with a portion of certain breeds in them leads to a great temperament very much like the pure bread described that you might be partial to.

THIS for example, is a Pug / Bichon Frise mix breed dog:

Secondly, there are no “bad dog” breeds. If you’ve found a pet you want, go for it. Read up on your breed so that you can know what to expect, as many breeds have typical temperaments and personalities. This is a list of 5 breeds of small dogs that we recommend.

#1 – Bichon Frise

Bichons are a very popular breed as they are easy going and fun.  This cheerful, pleasant house dog enjoys games, snuggling into laps and pillows, and perching on the back of the sofa so they can peer out the window.

Exercise needs are easy to meet: a daily walk or two, plus a small yard or deck in which to trot around and stretch his legs.

Bichons are very easy going with everyone, including other pets.

It’s important to socialize them early so they don’t become shy.

Though independent, the Bichon Frise is not a dominant dog. They respond well to training, though prefer learning tricks to formal obedience and are very receptive to treats and rewards. Scolding or harshness will only make them spiteful.

They are low to no shed and only require plenty of LOVE!

Things to be wary of:

  • Separation anxiety

  • Difficulty in housebreaking (you need puppy pads and lots of patience!)

  • Barking

#2 – Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavaliers are adorable little couch potatoes that enjoy curling up and relaxing with you at any time of the day. the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is sweet-tempered, playful, and gentle.

This comfort-loving breed adores cuddling in laps and snuggling on soft pillows, but does also have more athletic instincts than you might think and are often runners and chasers. This adorable breed is VERY dependent on human companionship, needing it most of the day. They may become stressed when left alone too long. They are great for bringing with you wherever you go, as they are generally calm and well behaved.

A very calm and sweet social dog when socialized and trained kindly.

As per many social small dogs, they need early socialization so as to not become shy or timid.

Things to be wary of:

  • Separation anxiety is a real problem with Cavaliers.

  • Shorter life span

  • Chasing cars

  • Shedding

#3 – Poodle

No matter the size, Poodles are great dogs for beginners or people looking for ease in a pet. They have incredible temperaments and are probably one of the easiest dog breeds to train. They love being with their people and make excellent exercise partners, as well as snuggle buddies.

This is an intelligent thinking dog that pays spellbound attention to you, learns quickly, and responds well to training.

Miniature Poodles NEED mental stimulation in order to be happy, such as challenging games or fetching a variety of named toys.

Most Miniature Poodles make great watchdogs, as they will bark when they hear someone at the door. They can be trained to quieten quickly.

Despite the regular grooming needed for these guys, Poodles are actually one of the few minimally shedding and most hypo-allergenic dog breeds!

Things to be wary of:

  • They require clipping of their curly coat every six weeks, without fail

  • They become timid when not socialized enough

  • Some may have motional sensitivity to stress, tension, and loud voices

  • Potential barking

#4 – Papillon

These cute little guys are great for someone looking for a low maintenance, easy going furry companion. They love being with their people and are known for their great temperaments. The Papillon shares top billing with the Toy Poodle as the most intelligent and trainable of the toy or small breeds. The feisty, athletic Papillon is often chosen by obedience or agility trainers looking for a top-notch competition dog of the small variety. 

The Papillon learns very quickly and responds well to training methods that emphasize praise and food. These sensitive dogs wilt if you jerk them around on the leash or scold them. They can be possessive and bossy with other dogs, yes these cuties have attitude! Watch out for them trying to manipulate them when they don’t want to do as told, although it is cute.

Things to be wary of:

  • They're not the best choice if you want a calm, cuddly lapdog. Generally Papillons are active, inquisitive dogs, especially when they're young. They don't like to sit still for very long.

  • High energy

  • Can be timid with strangers

#5 – Pug

Who doesn’t love these adorable squishy faces? Pugs are great dogs for the novice owner, as they are very low maintenance but still active enough to keep you moving. As is the case with most short-faced dogs, their large expressive eyes, cocked head, wrinkled forehead, innocent expression, and odd sounds bring out mushy and parental feelings in many people.

A Pug is very much like a kid and always needs / wants to be with you. 

Pugs are fine with other animals but can be jealous of them.

Though stubborn, Pugs seldom get into real mischief. Adults spend much of the day sleeping.

Things to be wary of:

  • Snorting, snuffling, wheezing, snoring, some slobbering

  • Gassiness (flatulence)

  • Slowness to housebreak – especially in rain which they hate

  • Constant shedding – every day!

  • Lots of potential health problems due to his deformed build – while the do look cute, they are badly deformed

 Choose your dog carefully and enjoy!!