Big dog or small dog – what’s best for me?

Considering getting a new dog is an exciting time that comes with some big changes.
If you are a first-time pup parent or thinking of adding to the troop, read our pointers from big to small, and let us help guide which is right for you.



Size of your Home

Having a large home doesn’t mean you should have a large dog, and similarly having a small home shouldn’t restrict you to a small dog. Any space can hold any dog, but for it to be successful it relies on a good temperament and training. Some large dogs are couch potatoes but their size can make them clumsy. Some small dogs are very excitable and can jump great heights and occupy a lot of space.

If there is a lack of outside space, a large dog will need multiple walks a day which is more time consuming so if you can’t commit to that time, reconsider to homing a smaller breed which can find exercise space inside.

As well as exercise space, it is important to consider general living space available- for food, sleeping space, and floor space. A cluttered home with expensive ornaments, narrow corridors and frail family members won’t suit a large dog or an energetic small one.



Energy Levels & Walkies

It’s no secret that certain breeds of dogs have more energy than others. To have the best relationship with your furry friend, it’s important to realistically identify how much time and energy you are willing to put into exercising your dog.

When finding out whether you will be able to give your dog enough exercise, follow our guide to how much each breed type needs:

  • Gundog – Retriever, Spaniel, Pointers and Setters need more than two hours exercise daily
  • Terrier- Jack Russell, Border Terrier and Welsh Terrier need at least one hour daily
  • Toy- Chihuahua, Pug, Bichon Frise need up to 30 minutes daily
  • Utility- Dalmatian, Shih Tzu, Bulldog need up to one hour daily
  • Working- Doberman, Boxer, Siberian Husky need over two hours daily

For more about how much time your dog needs outside, read ‘Is my dog getting outside enough?’



Training & Behavior

Training is important whatever breed of dog you have, they will look to you as their constant and their leader so a consistent approach is essential.

Training a big dog is more of a physical challenge, especially when discouraging jumping behaviours, whereas small dogs are more likely to get away with a more jealous and yappy behaviour.

When training a small dog it is common that the owner will be more lenient with undesirable behaviour due to their size, many are over-protected and given less strict and less consistent guidelines as a result which can reduce effectiveness of training methods.



Food & Appearance

If there is a finance aspect which may sway your decision, keep in mind how much food you will need to provide your pet with. Always check with your vet how much food is suggested for your pet. Big dogs need more to eat and if they become ill they need more medication all of which makes them more expensive to keep.

Bigger dogs are generally a lot more effort to keep looking clean and tidy. It takes longer and more effort to wash and dry, and brush, a larger dog, whereas it is much easier and quicker to keep a small dog in one place whilst brushing and washing.

In order to be a responsible dog owner and do the best for your companion, take our tips into account when choosing your new dog, and even if you’ve had your heart set on one breed it may be that they a different breed is more suited to you and your lifestyle.

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How to read your dog’s body language

At PetSafe® we are committed to healthy pets and happy owners, and through educating owners about the common behavioural traits in their pets we hope we can build understanding and a more trusting and respectful relationship between you and your four-legged loves.

We will look at what you should be watching out for from your dog for signs of different emotions by working from head to tail…



If your canine is displaying intense eyes – don’t be alarmed! It is their way of showing they are interested in something. Half moon eyes are a sign of a dog which wants to be left alone, if you see this; it’s time to move away. Wide eyes and dilated pupils probably means your dog is ready to fight or run away.




A closed mouth on a dog is a sign that it is alert, whereas if it is pulled back showing some teeth or gum is a sign of fear which could lead to aggression. In a fearful mood, your dog will lick at a dominant dog or in the air. Licking lips and swallowing can be a sign of stress as can persistent yawning. When happy and relaxed, a dog’s mouth will hang open in a relaxed manner with the tongue out.




A relaxed dog will have ears which are up, but not forward. When the ears are facing forward that means they are searching for a noise and are very alert. A slight tilt downward in your dog’s ears is a sign they are becoming aggressive and dominant, and if your dog is displaying flattened ears, they are either feeling fearful or stressed.




A happy dog will have a loose stance, with its weight flat on its feet. If a dog has a stiff legged stance leaning forward it is feeling dominant and aggressive, whereas if the body is lowered they are feeling threatened or submissive. Submission can quickly turn to aggression if the dogs’ submissive posture is not recognised and respected.




If a dog has its tail down it is usually a bad sign, however it’s important to gauge how tightly coiled its tail is into the body. A relaxed down tail can be seen on a relaxed dog, but a fearful or stressed dog will tuck its tail under the body between the back legs. When a pup is playful watch out for the broad wagging of the tail, and a more enthusiastic wag when they’re excited.

Keeping an eye out for these behavioural traits can help you learn more about your dog and what it is trying to tell you in its movements, giving you the chance for a happier and more understanding relationship with your canine.

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The history of Guide Dogs

This week (7-13th August) is International Assistance Dog Week, which marks the celebration and recognition of the service dogs who are trained specially to provide care and assistance to those with physical or mental limitations.

The International Assistance Dog Week (IADW) organisation was born due to the unrelenting efforts of Marcie Davis, the CEO of Davis Innovations, who as a paraplegic of 35 years has had a service dog for over 16 of them.

There are several different kinds of service dogs, including guide dogs, hearing dogs, mobility dogs, seizure alert/response dogs, psychiatric service dogs, and autism dogs. There are also other types of dogs with jobs that help people, including therapy dogs and emotional support animals.

Focusing in on the amazing work that guide dogs do, we look back on the history of how we have reached the point where we are today.


Labradoodle Assistance Dogs. Image Source.

Using dogs for assistance can be traced all the way back to first century AD murals which depict dogs leading blind men. There are many other examples which have been documented over time; however the first attempt to train specific dogs to guide the blind came at around 1780 at the hospital for the blind in Paris.

The modern guide dog story begins in the First World War, where thousands of men were left blinded by poison gas. It was German doctor Dr Gerhard Stalling who noticed the behavioural traits when leaving a dog with a blind patient. He opened the world’s first guide dog school for the blind in August 1916.

It was not until 1929 that the teachings from Dr Stalling made it to the USA, opening a Seeing Eye School in New Jersey. From there it was expanded world wide- to Switzerland in 1928, then into the UK in 1931.



Statue commemorating the founding of the guide dogs for the blind association at The Cliff, New Brighton, Wirral, England in 1931.Image Source.

In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act defined a service dog as “any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability.” Prior to this, the service dog had a very poorly defined job description.

Guide dogs for the blind had become an accepted use of the dog in a service capacity since 1929 in the United States, but the use and training of a service dog for a role other than a guide dog for the blind first began to emerge in the 1960’s.

The role of the service dog has continued to expand to include social dogs for children on the Autism spectrum in 1996 and, in 2012, dogs for veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress as a result of combat trauma.

Thanks to these organisations that have committed trainers and unwavering support, uncountable numbers of people have had their lives transformed by guide dogs. The history has continued to work for increased independence for the blind and partially-sighted the world over.

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