When you look at dogs playing together in a dog park, the feistiest of the lot are usually the smaller ones. Chihuahuas have a reputation for snarling at strangers. Some small dogs may even bite if they feel threatened. But, are small dogs more aggressive than big dogs? Here’s what we think.
Are Small Dogs More Aggressive Than Big Dogs?
There have been many journals, studies and behaviourists, who have proven time and again that smaller dogs are a little more aggressive, or at least louder than big dogs. Why is it so? Let’s find out.
Why Are Small Dogs More Aggressive?
Small dogs maybe a little more feisty and nippy because of these following reasons:
1. Everything Seems So Big
Try to see the world from their height and perspective. Aren’t things so much scarier? For a little Chihuahua, everything is 100 times their size, making them feel a little inclined to attack.
Many small dogs snarl or turn to bite because they feel it’s the only way to establish that they are stronger.
2. A Variation Of The Napoleon Complex
We’re sure you have heard of the Napoleon Complex – where physically smaller people compensate for their tiny physique by dominating others. It may be similar with dogs too.
In fact, studies show that other animals also behave in a similar way. Researchers conducted studies on a fish called Desert Gobies. Male Desert Gobies often fight intruder male Desert Gobies to protect their territory.
Researchers introduced intruders in territories of small and large Desert Gobies and found that the smaller ones were quicker to attack and defend their homes.
When we look at birds, sparrows are also more likely to harras crows. If we can see similar patterns in other species, it is quite possible that our little dogs feel inclined to exert dominance over others to compensate for their little size.
3. Small Dog Syndrome
Have you ever noticed that little dogs get away with a lot more and a lot worse than big dogs do. Why is it so?
Well naturally if a Rottweiler or a German Shepherd snarls at us or shows their teeth, we are far more likely to take it seriously and address the problem. But if a Pomeranian or a Chihuahua does the same thing, we may laugh it off and find it cute.
Small dogs that get away with a lot of things, because of their size, are said to have small dog syndrome or little dog syndrome. But why do they get away? It’s because we enable that behaviour.
Instead of addressing their bad behaviour, we ignore it, sometimes even encourage it and that is why small dogs are more likely to have small dog syndrome.
4. We Don’t Treat Small Dogs Like Dogs
It’s true that many pet parents with small dogs don’t treat them like dogs at all. We dress them up, keep them on our laps and coddle them. A dog is a dog, and we need to let them be dogs. If we force them to fight their natural instincts, they are far more likely to show aggression.
Why Are Small Dogs Likely To Bite?
Statistics published in the U.S. shows that 66% of all reported dog bites were from Pitbulls, followed by German Shepherds. In India, we don’t have published stats of this sort because maximum reported dog bite cases are from stray dogs.
The thing is, these stats are misleading because they only account for cases that have been reported. Experts suggest that bites from small dogs may be much more but they often go unreported because the dogs are small and therefore not taken seriously.
Dogs communicate with their entire body. But when it comes to small dogs, people tend to ignore the first signs of apprehension or aggression. When a big dog fixates at you, licks their lips or looks away, you may not come near them, but when a small dog does the same, you may ignore it.
The first sign of apprehension that catches our eye with small dogs is when they snarl and that’s when they are ten times more likely to bite.
How Do We Address Their Aggression?
We strongly believe that all dogs – big or small – need basic obedience training. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t carry your small dogs, of course, you can carry them! But remember to be assertive and not accepting of bad behaviour.
On the other hand, small dogs often get habituated to biting or snarling if they have been hurt before. Since they are tinier it is possible that we accidentally hurt them. If you have children in the house, it is very important to teach them to be gentle with small dogs and to respect their boundaries.
Lastly, work on ways to build their confidence. When small dogs feel relaxed and confident in their surroundings, they are far less likely to bite.
Small dogs won’t be mean if we help them. All dogs have the potential to be model dogs, we just need to guide them in the right direction.
Does your dog have small dog syndrome? What have you done so far to address it? Let us know in the comment section below.