Finding the Right Dog 1- Lifestyle Issues – Size Matters

What size dog do you want? Here’s my own breakdown of dog sizes after having given it a lot of thought. Most dogs fit into carry-on, lap, med/large and big. The actual poundage varies depending on your own poundage, strength and stamina.

Big dogs have two major characteristics: You can’t lift them up and they can’t sit in your chair with you. These are dogs you need to have a training plan for when you get them home because they will be too big to be allowed to behave badly. You will also need an exercise plan since they will not be able to get sufficient exercise in your small house or apartment. (More about exercise in upcoming articles this week.)

Carry-on dogs are the other end of the spectrum, generally up to 7 or 8 pounds. If you travel by air often and want to take your dog you need one about this size. The carry-on size is also for the small woman or older woman who wants to take her dog everywhere with her. They fit in a bag and don’t get too heavy when you shop or stroll with them. These little dogs should get the opportunity to walk like dogs but you want to do this on empty sidewalks, not at group events. They are too little for people to pay attention to and get stepped on or become nervous walking among people.

Lap dogs run up to around 20 pounds. (I’m thinking Pugs here. They are about the heaviest of the lap dogs although I know a Lhasa who’s about that big.) A ten to twenty pound dog can walk well at most events without getting stepped on unless the crowd is really tight. A lot of terriers fit in this group but terriers are a world unto themselves and many terriers need to be worn out before they will sit quietly on your lap for any period of time.

Medium/Large dogs are about the biggest dog you can lift up easily into your car or onto the vet’s table. They give the impression of “big dog” rather than “little dog”. My Deva fits this category at 40 pounds. It sounds smaller than it looks. This dog is big enough to intimidate people by its size (although in fact, most people who will be afraid of dogs will be afraid of the little ones too.). This dog will still need exercise but throwing a ball or Frisbee for her to fetch will be within the realm of any relatively healthy adult, including seniors. She’s a little too big to sit in my chair with me (although we can do it if we are really motivated).

Note: This article pertains to adult dogs. Predicting the size a puppy will be can be very difficult especially if the exact parents are not known. If the size of the dog is crucial, you need to pick an adult dog.

This is the first of a series on finding the right dog for your family. Be sure to join our mailing list to be notified of other articles as they are published.

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