Small Breeds Vs Large Breeds – Which Is Better?

We all have our preferences. Some like small breed dogs and others like large breed dogs. But is one inherently better than the other? Can we even have small breeds vs large breeds? Let’s find out.

Small Breeds Vs Large Breeds – The Difference Between The Two

Though they are all dogs, some things are a little different between keeping a small dog and a large dog. In case if you are wondering which is more suitable for you, this article may help you figure it out.


While both large and small breeds are prone to health issues, larger breeds are usually prone to size-related issues like hip dysplasia, bloat etc.

Smaller dogs are prone to obesity mostly because pet parents struggle to control portions especially when it comes to their little friend. But on average if we take good care of both breeds, smaller breeds tend to have a longer lifespan.

The Great Dane is the tallest dog breed but they are also known to have the shortest lifespan. An average Great Dane becomes a senior dog at 6 years. They live for around 6-8 years. On the other hand, Chihuahuas are the smallest dog breed and they live for about 17-20 years. So, that’s something to think about.

Safety At Home

With safety, both big dogs and small dogs have different things to watch out for. For instance, it’s not difficult for big dogs to lean on the kitchen counter and get their nose into something really harmful.

A Great Dane doesn’t even have to stand on their front paws to drink from most sinks! So when you have a bigger dog in the house, you will have to find ways to keep all toxic things away from their reach.

Keeping things away from their reach won’t be so difficult when it comes to a smaller dog but then again, it takes very little to poison a small dog, which is why you need to be extra careful with them.


On average large dogs are more intelligent when compared to smaller dogs. There is a reason for that.

Large dogs have always been bred for a specific work purpose while most small dogs have been bred for companionship. In fact, early Pomeranians were, about 3 feet tall, hunting dogs but, when Queen Victoria took a liking for this breed, she started her own kennel and bred the Pomeranians to be smaller. 

Hence the modern Pom is around 14 inches tall and is bred solely as companion pets.

Most large dogs are bred for particular jobs. Like the Border Collie is bred to herd farm animals, the Doberman is bred to guard and protect, the Golden Retriever is bred to retrieve and so on. All these jobs require different sets of skills and a thinking mind. This is why, all these breeds are ranked within the top 10 most intelligent dogs in the world.

However, there are exceptions everywhere. The Poodle, for instance, is ranked as the third most intelligent breed and though they come in three different sizes, this does not exclude the toy variety. 

Other smart small dogs include the Indian Spitz. Since they are not recognised by the AKC, they aren’t given a ranking for their intelligence.

On the other hand, while Boxers have many appreciable qualities, they are not known for their intelligence.


Training is very important and all dogs, both big and small, need training. We feel that every dog needs basic training to become modal canine citizens but, while for small dogs it is easier to control them by picking them up, you can’t really do that with a big dog.

So, for big dogs, training is absolutely mandatory. On the plus side, since they are quite smart, training is usually easier if you are consistent.

On the other hand, we often overlook a lot of bad behaviour in small dogs and give them inadequate training, it may lead to small dog syndrome.

By training all dogs, you not only teach them how to behave but you also create a strong bond with them and you also get to discover how smart they really are.

This is Derpy the smart Shih Tzu. Shih Tzu’s are ranked as the 128th smartest dog (out of 130) but Derpy proves us wrong every day. He can do tricks that many smart dogs can’t.

Every dog has a potential and you can only find that out by training them. So while it is mandatory to train big dogs, give the small ones a chance too!


Keeping a large dog is going to be more expensive in the long run. They will eat more, need a bigger bed, a bigger harness etc. But having a bigger dog may also cost you more in other ways – it will take you more time to train them. You may have to spend money on obedience training.

Bigger dogs are also capable of worse property damages so be prepared to spend more on furniture, painting and general maintenance.

Small dogs on average don’t require as much expense as bigger dogs unless they have an expensive condition like diabetes, Cushing’s Disease etc. With age, they may also require surgeries and care which may prove expensive.

There are always going to be exceptions, but, on average, keeping a large dog will prove more expensive over time.


Now when it comes to personalities, we can say that all dogs are unique and you will find so many personalities within the same breed. But because of the way they were bred, we can have a few predictions.

Since most small breeds were created for companionship, they are far more likely to follow you around and have separation anxiety. Bigger dogs that were bred to guard, may be able to stay alone for long hours.

That being said you can find very diverse personalities in breeds and usually their size is a poor determinant of their personality.


A larger dog will, on average, need more exercise than a smaller dog. This does not mean that small dogs are not active. It’s just that since smaller dogs have to take more steps to travel the same distance, even the most energetic small dog can be exercised at home.

Large dogs, on the other hand, need at least 2-3 walks a day – and this is only for moderately active dogs. High energy medium to large dogs may need at least an hour of rigorous training every day.

Which One Is Ideal For A First Time Pet Parent?

If you are dedicated, you can pretty much bring any dog home but as a general rule, first-time pet parents fare better with smaller breeds than with larger breed. Smaller breeds require lesser time and management and are not as heavily dependent on training as bigger dogs.

Many people in Indian metropolitan cities prefer smaller breeds because they are easier to keep in the apartment.

If you are planning to get a dog, we can understand how their size will impact your decision. However, don’t limit your decision to their size. Explore their personalities and find a dog that best suits your family dynamic and you lifestyle.

We hope this article was helpful. Do you have a big breed or a small breed? Or is your dog medium-sized? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Dheepakh Rajaram

Dheepakh Rajaram

A dog food enthusiast & Co-founder @Goodness Pet Food

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