May 25, 2010

Dog Breed Characteristics - Small Dogs

Not too sure which type of dog to buy? This is part 1 of 3 articles that addresses the different needs and characteristics of some of the popular dogs. Look out for my other 2 articles on 'Dog Breed Characteristics - medium-sized dogs' and 'Dog Breed Characteristics - large dogs'.


A small, fast-moving toy dog named after the state of Chihuahua in Mexico. It stands between 15 cm to 25 cm tall, but some grow as tall as 35 cm. There are only 2 recognised varities of Chihuahuas, the long-coat and the short-haired. Long-coat Chihuahuas have a downy undercoat, which makes them look 'fluffy'. Short-haired Chihuahuas, on the other hand, require minimal grooming. Although Chihuahuas are small, they are not suitable for families with very young children because they have the tendency to bite when frightened. They can also be quite picky eaters. OVerfeeding is definitely a no-no because overweight Chihuahuas are prone to joint injuries, diabetes and shortened life span. And they don't really cool that cute.


This is one of the oldest breed around and is believed to be originated from the island of Malta. A Maltese is a toy dog that is covered with long, silky fur and is usually pure white in colour. They have very expressive facial features, which makes them popular as pets. They are companion dogs and love attention from their owners. They are also extremely playful, and are good with children. They thrive well in small enclosed areas, and are popular with those living in the cities. However, Maltese can get very aggressive and they have the behaviour of barking constantly.

Australian Silky Terrier

They are a friendly lot. They orignated from Australia (hence its name) and this breed is classified as a toy dog in Australia but a terrier in Europe. It has a silky coat and it is usually non-shedding. This breed is suitable for those who are allergic to pet hair. Similar to the Maltese, they love the attention of their owners. A playful breed, it is suitable for those families with older children. They respond well to obedience training, coupled with rewards and praise. The only main problem with this breed is that it's coat tangles easily and will need daily grooming.


This is one of my favourite breed. It looks lively and graceful with its trademark tail. They are typically friendly and active, but they can develop a bad habit of barking excessively if allowed to do so. They are also intelligent creatures and can be trained easily. Note that they are extremely loyal and will lay around their owners' feet. Owing to this loyal behaviour, they will follow the owners from room
to room, thus risking getting stepped on. It is important to train them not to do so.

Shih Tsu

It's name was derived because it looks like a lion (Shih Tzu literally means "lion dog" in Chinese), and it originated from China. They are very sensitive to high temperatures, so it is important to keep them in cooler conditions. They need regular grooming to maintain their coats, and they shed little if proper care is given. Supervision is recommended during drinking because water can enter their flat noses easily and cause breathing problems. Not suitable for busy professionals due to its constant grooming needs.

Are you having problems training your dog? Click the link below to see how you can train your dog now!

George Yeo

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Comments on Dog Breed Characteristics - Small Dogs »

May 25, 2010

KNCArmyWife @ 3:36 am

Can most breeds of dogs be taught non-breed characteristics?
My husband and I are looking for a large breed dog. What we've mostly been looking at is a Golden Retriever based soley on temperment; but are exploring our options more towards dogs that we like the appearance more of before we decide. I heard that dogs like Siberian Huskies, Mamalutes, Shibas, Akitas ect naturally dis-like other household pets, like small dogs and cats. If you raise them from a young age around these animals- will they still grow up to not get along with them? We have a Pomeranian and 2 cats.

Bossoli @ 3:38 am

I have a Siberian Husky and the only pets she does like are small dogs and cats.

If you get a dog from a reputable breeder who breeds for temperament and train her firmly, there is no reason why undesirable behavior cannot be prevented in any breed.
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GG @ 3:40 am

Better off going to a shelter and doing a meet & greet with your resident dog.
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tony l @ 3:42 am

Having a well behaved and balanced dog? Of course!
However, it's hard to teach certain breeds tasks for which they are not genetically predisposed.
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drb @ 3:44 am

Siberians, Malamutes, Shibas and Akitas are all classified as "ancient" breeds, that is, they are more similar to the orignal dog stock genetically and behavioraly that some other breeds. Behavioraly, one of the characteristics is that they have a high level of prey directed behavior. For wild canids, such as wolves, prey is most often small rodents, birds or other such small animals. This instinct is pretty strong in these breeds, also, and they tend to see cats, and sometimes small dogs as objects of prey. However, if they are raised with a cat or small dog, they frequently will accept that particular animal as part of the household and not attack it. A strange cat or dog would probably be a different matter. This is not universally true, but happens quite often. If you raise a puppy of one of these breeds with your Pom and cats, there's a reasonable chance it will get along with them. My male Akita was raised around a cat, and has never shown any aggression toward her. A cat in the yard would be dead meat if he got the chance, though.
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flexiblewill @ 3:46 am

I'm afraid my answer is going to be limited to my own experience, but I can at least share that with you.

I have a Border Collie, a dog with a very high prey drive, and therefore a tendency to attempt to control the motion of almost anything that moves. By three months old, she was already instinctively exhibiting the classic characteristics of her breed: eye, crouch, and stalking. She does this to me when I am out playing with her; she also does it to moths, squirrels, and blowing leaves.

However, we introduced her very young to cats, and she treats them as she would another puppy: she wants to play and is often puzzled that they don't react as another young dog would. I am certain that it was our own intervention, and the fact that we treat the cats like another pet and not like a toy or something to chase, that has changed her behavior.

Not all dogs may be as easy to mold, but I do think that with consistency and patience, you can steer their natural instincts to chase into another behavior that's more preferable to you. A dog who is consistently trained should be able to understand that it's OK to chase the ball, but not the kitties or the little Pom.

Best of luck with your decision and your growing household. :)
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suzy49 @ 3:48 am

The short answer to this is "No, you can't teach a dog the behavior characteristics that aren't natural for his breed - or unteach them something that is natural"….

however, every individual dog within a breed is different and generalizations are only so useful. Some dogs exhibit much stronger prey drive, protection instinct, herding instinct etc. than others of the same breed. It also depends if the pup you choose comes from an actively working bloodline (ie dogs that are on a farm and working, protection dogs etc.) or not.

Certain breeds are less likely to get along with smaller dogs/cats than others but often they're the guardian type dogs or ones with a high prey drive.

Of the breeds you mention, the Malamute would probably be the best fit. It's a more relaxed, laid back gentle dog, with less of a tendency to wander than the Huskies , Shiba Inus or Akitas. It's generally good with children and other pets.

As I said though, each dog is individual. Visit breeders, talk with them, see the temperament of the parents etc. It all counts when you're trying to pick a puppy. A good breeder can tell you what their dogs are like, and help you pick a puppy that will be a good match for you.

Do bear in mind that not even all Golden Retrievers are laid back, gentle dogs. Some can be quite high-strung. Again a lot depends on genetics and breeding.

you can find more info. on choosing a puppy, and lots of tips and advice on all aspects of puppy care at the website below.

Best of luck in your puppy search.
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Tara @ 3:50 am

Animals can be surprising in the friends they make. It is very possible to get a large dog that grows up friends with your other pets.

Probably the hardest breeds to get used to being ok around small animals would be any in the terrier group, as they were bred to hunt small animals.
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