Tag Archives: dog breeds

Most Nasty Little Dogs are Just Scared

Small dogs have a big reputation for being aggressive. “Nasty” little dogs is a pretty common phrase. But are small dogs actually more reactive than big dogs? Or are other factors at work that just make it seem that way?

Nature vs. nurture

A dog’s breed has a significant impact on their temperament. Most small dog breeds were developed for pest control. Designed by people to work independently, as hunters. The Yorkshire Terrier, now considered rather fancy, was developed to rid the Yorkshire fabric mills of rats. Not as elegant as they seem!

Many of the terrier breeds are expected to show their feistiness. Even these days at dog shows, judges will ask terrier people to “spar” their dogs – seeing how they react to each other. 

Many of the medium and larger breeds of dogs work closely with people. Calmly doing their jobs, whether that’s retrieving, tracking, pointing, herding, or guarding. Killing vermin didn’t really enter the picture.

So many small dogs are, by nature, readier to react to distractions in their environment. They’re always ready for the chase.

The nurture part

Of course nature is only part of the answer. How dogs are raised makes a huge difference, too. Most people with large, or powerful dogs know their dogs need to be trained to live successfully in society. Small dog people aren’t as likely to seek out manners or obedience classes. We know that, if push comes to shove, we can always pick up our dogs and leave. And, unfortunately, many puppy classes include play periods that may be unsafe for small dogs. It only takes one incident of getting bashed into or rolled over to make a small dog wary of their bigger cousins.

In addition to training, most larger dogs also have a need for more exercise than most people can typically provide in their homes. Even a tiny house is big enough for a little dog to play fetch. So we tend not to take long walks with little dogs.

Confession time

This is where we tend to fail. Even though we live in a very walkable, suburban environment, we’re not walkers. In our minds, there’s always something else that needs doing and taking the time to go nowhere seems like a waste. Of course that’s not really true. Walking has lots of benefits, for both people and dogs. 

Nasty little dogs may not be comfortable out and about.

As a result, our dogs lack the socialization they probably should have. They’re fine in training classes, dog shows, obedience and agility trials. They just can lose their cool when they see other dogs, or bicyclists in the neighborhood greenway.

It’s our fault and we know it. Real socialization of dogs means getting them comfortable in a variety of real life places, so they don’t react negatively. Dogs of any size who regularly get out and about in their neighborhoods are generally calm. Even the smallest dog will be comfortable in familiar surroundings.

Fear based

Most nasty little dogs don’t have a Napoleon complex. They don’t think they’re the kings of the world. They’re afraid, and showing how tough they are in hopes that the threat goes away. No surprise they act this way – fear causes most dog aggression. Even resource guarding behavior has its roots in fear – fear that something the dog values will be taken away.

The cure for nasty little dogs isn’t to punish them or yell at them. It’s to get them comfortable in new places, new experiences, and new encounters. Even if it’s just getting out to the local greenway to practice calmly watching the world pass by. Which we promise to do – as soon as the weather gets warmer. 

Toy Group adds breed – there’s a new toy dog in town

We were excited to read this week that the Russian Toy is the latest toy dog breed recognized by the American Kennel Club and added to the Toy Group for conformation shows. 

Russian Toy dogs practicing some tricks

We’ve done a little research and while these little dogs may resemble Chihuahuas to a degree, they are distinctly different, lighter and taller, and originating half-way around the globe! The Russian Toy was developed in Russia, possibly as far back as the 1700s. And we never heard of them until now! This photo of the adorable Russian Toy dogs here belongs to the national club, the Russian Toy Club of America, and we thank them for the introduction to their beloved breed!

Purebred exists for a reason

We know that not everyone is as fascinated by dog breeds as we are, but we’ve loved dog shows since we were little girls and we understand there is value in breeding dogs to a standard for type – which includes looks as well as personality.

Now, with the addition of the Russian Toy, there are 23 breeds in the AKC Toy Group. They range from the sturdy Pug to the elegant Italian Greyhound. From the long, flowing coat of the Yorkshire Terrier to the bare skin of the Chinese Crested.

There is a toy dog breed for everyone – taking into account your personal taste, lifestyle, exercise level, grooming ability, etc. Whatever your particular, unique circumstances are, there’s a dog breed that would fit in perfectly and enhance your life. And we firmly believe that everyone’s life is improved when they experience the unconditional love of a dog.

All dogs’ lives are valued

We’re not saying that purebred dogs are “better” than other dogs. We do know, however, that they’re more predictable. All Poodles will have similar fur and similar grooming needs, from the largest Standard Poodle to the tiniest toy Poodle. Poodle owners know what they’re getting. 

Poodle-crosses, or doodles? It depends on the cross, and the unique genetic set that particular dog gets. If it’s a “Labradoodle” it may have Lab fur, Poodle fur, or a mixture of the two. (Did you get only the “good” genes from your parents? We didn’t, either.) Groomers tend to charge more for “doodles” because they’re more work than other dogs. 

Looks are certainly part of the package – personality is, too. A Brussels Griffon’s personality is much different from a Pug’s. One Griff and Pug breeder we know always said she added Pugs to her life because she wanted to be smarter than some of the dogs in her house. Having never had a Pug, we’ll have to take her word for it. We know they’re adorable, but we can’t vouch for their intelligence. 

Shop or adopt

As long as people get dogs from responsible sources, be it breeder, shelter, or rescue, it’s a good thing. And all of those responsible sources will be able to speak to the health and soundness of every dog under their care. Both physical and mental stability are important. 

Getting a toy dog is a huge step for anyone. It changes life forever and is an enormous disruption. That’s why doing your research and finding exactly the right dog for you is so important. If it’s true that “you only live once,” you deserve to have the perfect companion for you.

Pick one word for your dog

If you could use only one word for your dog, what would it be?

Just for a fun exercise, think about your dog. If you have more than one, like we do, just focus on one at a time. Is there a single word or short phrase that would distinguish that dog’s personality so everyone who knows him or her would recognize who you were talking about? 

It wouldn’t be a complete description, but just the outstanding feature that allows that dog to stand out.

Puppy personalities

It’s a given – dog people understand that all dogs, even siblings, have distinct personalities, just like people. We don’t know too many non-dog people, but we get the impression they don’t understand that “this dog” is different from “that dog.” As if there were a great mass of dog, and any chunk of the dog mass is indistinguishable from any other chunk.

Dog personalities are somewhat defined by breed. Breeds were developed to bring out not only certain physical traits, but psychological ones as well. Anyone who’s ever owned a terrier knows that independence is part of the package. Just as intensity comes with Border Collies, and willingness is right there with Golden Retrievers.

Box of chocolates

People are drawn to particular breeds because of both looks and personalities. We’ve always been partial to flat-faced dogs. Part of that is because our first dog was a Boston Terrier. Now our preference, and our household, includes Bostons, French Bulldogs, and Brussels Griffons. In all honesty, if space, time, and finances allowed, we’d probably wind up with a dozen or more. Of each.

Even within a breed, each dog is distinct. Now we have two Bostons in the house at the same time – a first for us. And our one-word descriptions indicate the differences in their personalities. Simon is persistent. Booker is a flibertigibbet.

It was also true when there were two Griffs. Tango, who’s still with us, is silly. Roc was sober. And Golly, who was the inspiration for our business, was one hundred percent diva.

The Frenchies couldn’t be more different, either. Torque is sweet. Teddy was irresistible, but selfish. If there was one dog who invariably got what he wanted, it was Ted.

What’s your dog’s one word?

When you have your one word for your dog, what do you do with it?

For us, with the joy we get from building our bond and their brains with training games, it colors the way we play with them. 

Even if we’re playing the same game, like “put your toys away,” the way we interact with each dog changes. 

Simon learns quickly and focuses intensely. Booker has to be kept “on task.” Tango has days where he’s all about the game – other days he just doesn’t want to play. Torque loves playing any game. He’s the epitome of loving what he does, so he never “works” a day in his life.

One word for you, too

Now that you’ve considered your dog – how about you? What’s a word that your best friend would use to describe you? And how does that mesh with your dog’s word? 

Figuring out those definitions is a puzzle that’s a bit intriguing to think about, and may help your family work even better. 

Does dog size matter? Big vs. little dogs

Does the size of the dog matter? Are little dogs smaller in anything but size?

There are all kinds of sayings about dogs. The one we hear all the time is “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog!”

Which is nonsense, of course. Except that it does point out that it’s attitude that matters more than actual size.

We love little dogs!

Many times when people come into the shop they say “We have big dogs, can we come in?”

And our absolutely truthful answer is: “We love all dogs – you and your dog are welcome here!” And the next comment, inevitably, is why little dogs?

Simply put – it’s harder to find “stuff” for small dogs, so, as small dog people, we created the shop we needed.

Put in perspective: there’s not a lot of size difference between a harness for a 60 lb. dog and a 70 lb. dog. There’s a huge size difference between a harness for a 5 lb. dog and a 15 lb. dog. The 15 lb. dog is three times the size of the five pounder!

Talking dog breed sizes

This week Hope was interviewed for a story about “small dog breeds for big dog people.” We suppose that when people are looking to downsize, they may want to shrink their dogs, too!

But as we told the reporter, different dog breeds were developed to do different “jobs” – and most of those jobs aren’t interchangeable.

Born this way

mastiff looking at camera

Most bigger dog breeds have the jobs of protecting, herding, sporting, or hunting. All of those jobs are done alongside people, with dog and human acting as a team. The sport of dog obedience, to this day, follows some of the traditions of long ago. Dogs “heel” on the left so that their humans’ right hand was free for fighting, or shooting, or using whatever tool the job required.

Different jobs, different looks

Smaller dog breeds do different jobs – the ones they were bred to do. Pest control is a specialty of most little dog breeds. For example, the adorable and elegant-looking Yorkshire Terrier is a determined little ratter whose original job was to keep the fabric mills of Yorkshire free of pests.

Bred for the job

Fox terrier head shot, 3/4 view looking to left

The other main “job” of little dogs is companionship. In today’s world, dogs of all sizes fill this role. Although it’s always a good idea to keep in mind the dog’s original function. A Border Collie isn’t well-suited to life in a city apartment where the owner works all day. Just as a Pug may not be the best companion for a marathon runner who wants an exercise buddy.