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All around us we find dogs coming in a great range of sizes and displaying a wide variety of characteristics. Studies reveal that among all mammals, domestic dogs show the greatest range of body size among its different breeds.
For example: The smallest dog breed- the Chihuahua can weigh as low as 3.3 lb (with most members of the breed weighing between 3.3 lb and 6.6 lb). The height of Chihuahuas usually ranges between 6 and 10 inches though some grow as tall as 12 inches or even 15 inches.
The largest dog breed, the Great Dane, weighs over 100 lbs and a male Great Dane can weigh even up to 200 lbs. The heights of the dogs of the breed can range between 28 and 42 inches!
Broadly speaking, dog breeds are classified into 3 varieties on the basis of their size.
Giant Variety: The very large dogs weighing around 100 pounds or even more are considered to belong to the giant variety. Their heights range between 22 and 42 inches.
Standard Variety: This variety of dogs includes the very large to large, large to medium and the medium to small dog breeds. The minimum weights of dogs belonging to this group lie around 25 pounds and the maximum weights of the dogs may even exceed 65 pounds.
Miniature Varieties: Miniature dogs are those that are very small as compared with other breeds.
Toy Dogs – Toy dogs are very small dogs that are kept exclusively as pets and companions unlike the working dogs. Their heights may range from 6 inches to 15 inches and their weights may vary between 4 lb and 12 lb.
Teacups – ‘Teacup’ dogs or ‘tiny’ dogs are dogs that are smaller than the usual toy dogs. Chihuahuas of tiny sizes, Tiny English Spaniels and Tiny Fox Terriers etc are regarded as Teacup dogs.
Giant breeds grow rapidly compared to other smaller breeds but take longer to mature into their full adult sizes.
These breeds are best suited to a good sized or even large yard with ample scope to run around and play.
Large-sized dogs are classified as dog breeds weighing 50 or more pounds.
Large dogs need more space, and are best suited to homes with a good sized yard. These dogs require regular exercise.
Alert and less startled, these breeds are better intruder detterents compared to smaller breeds.
Large to Medium dog breeds weigh around 35 to 65 pounds, approximately.
These breeds are home loving dogs and love being around families.
Some of these dog breeds are usually related to guardian activities and are quite ideal to protect your house and family from any intruders or burglars.
Dogs, typically between 26 to 50 lbs or between 18 to 25 inch at the shoulder, approximately, are grouped under this category.
These dog breeds are suited to both apartments and homes with yard. These breeds need moderate exercise and daily walks will suffice.
Also known as Pocket Pet dog breeds and an average 10 inches or under at the shoulder, small dog breeds do great as lap dogs.
Small dogs breeds are great for apartment living as it requires minimum exercise. These breeds do fine without regular walks or play.
Though of a small size, small breeds are bold and can be fairly aggressive. They make good watchdogs.
What can be the reason behind this discrepancy in size of domestic dogs?
Researches carried out on 3000 domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) from 143 different breeds showed that the mutation (alteration) of a size-influencing gene has given rise to the variety of small dog breeds. Such mutations are nearly absent in case of large sized dog breeds.
Mutations in the case of small breed dogs happened over several years, either through the natural breeding process of dogs or by human intervention, through crossbreeding or accidental crosses.
Over the years the functional utility of dogs as efficient aides in hunting and keeping a watch/guarding has lost significance. Modern city-dwellers prefer to keep these all time friends of humans simply as sweet companions. A tiny, cute, slow-moving creature that has little need for exercise and low endurance is what people look for in their pet dogs nowadays.
The miniature and toy varieties of some breeds of dogs like Dachshund and Poodle that have been developed by special breeding meet such requirements of people. They have thus become very popular.
It may be noted however that Toy and Teacup dogs are not recognized as distinct breeds of dogs and the small sized dogs of different breeds (those that grow roughly to the size of an arm’s length) can be classified into the toy dog group.
In recent times the Doxiepoo- a cross breed of the Dachshund and the Poodle has also been developed. There are similar other designer breeds of dogs too like Mauxie, Chug and Muggin that are hybrids of different dog types.
A dog’s exercising needs depend on the nature of the dog and its energy level. Its size has nothing to do with it.
A high-strung dog or a pet who is a bundle of energy will definitely need higher workout and play sessions to release its pent-up energy than dogs who are laid back.
Although, many dog owners believe that a Toy Dog with a small compact body will need little amount of exercise than a large breed, that’s not so. Small dogs like the Affenpinscher, Papillon, Poodle, Miniature Pinscher, Pekingese, etc., have high energy level that need to be released through exercise to avoid boredom and behavioral problems.
Again medium sized dogs like the Shetland Sheepdog, Italian Greyhound, Bullmastiff, Greater Swiss Mountain Dog will remain content with regular walks and occasional playing sessions.
Working dogs like the Australian Kelpie or Blue Heeler will need vigorous exercise to keep them busy and active.
Find more on Dog Breed Exercise Needs
A number of small dog breeds like the Yorkshire Terrier, Shih-Tzu or Lhasa, tend to be snappy and moody compared to bigger dogs like Golden Retriever or Dalmatian who are patient and charming by nature.
A dog’s compatibility with small children has nothing to do with its size and everything to do with its nature. Therefore, instead of going by the size, people with small kids, should do a good research regarding each dog’s nature and temperament, before actually bringing the dog home.
However, no dog (no matter how tender its heart is) will tolerate being teased and irritated. Kids and their parents should always keep that it mind.
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