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December 8, 2011 at 1:00 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Measuring Up in Size: The 3 Sizes of a Dog

By Victoria Swanson More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the Purebred Star Blog Series

Breeds are classified as being of either small, medium, large, or very large build, as compared to the height and weight of other dogs at their adult size. Whether you're looking for a mix-breed or purebred, the adult build or size is an important factor to consider when selecting the right dog for your family.

Selecting the Right Size of Dog for Your Lifestyle

Where do you live - an apartment, on a farm? In the county or out in the 'burbs? This is an important question to ask yourself when considering a breed. Take your space into account, along with the breed's activity level and their build.

Contrary to popular belief, if you're interested in a very large breed, they needn't necessarily be ruled out when living in an apartment. If they have a low activity level, a very large breed may actually do better than a spunky terrier in a smaller space.

On the other hand, a very little breed with long fur might NOT be the best fit for living on a farm or in a pastoral setting. These sort of country landscapes, with their mud deposits and cow poo, can be tricky because of the longer fur. And don't forget about those hawks that like to prey on small animals... YIKES!

Unfortunately while they're just as wonderful and loveable as purebreds, it's difficult to tell just how big a mix-breed puppy will eventually become. However, with a purebred, there are specific standards that breeders must abide by, so it's much easier to predict. Adopting an adult dog will also insure the size is "as-is," as they are done growing.

Breeds By the Build


Giant Purebreds.

Great Dane * Mastiffs * Saint Bernards * Newfoundlands * Great Pyrenees * Irish Wolfhound

Things to consider:

Expenses. The bigger the dog, the bigger the vet, food, crate, and accessory expenses.
Lifespan. Giant breeds don't usually live past 10 years.
Habits. Many are considered the mellowest dogs out there, but you should still take their size into consideration before taking one on. Because of their size, giant breeds can be a liability if not bred carefully. They also tend to slobber a lot!
Space. Even though the Giant Breeds can make a wonderful laid-back pet, they tend to take up a lot of space if you live in a studio-type apartment


Medium to Large Purebreds.

Golden Retrievers * Labradors * German Shepherds * Australian Cattle * Standard Poodles * Border Collies * Coonhounds

Things to consider:

Activity Level. Tend to have some of the same issues as a Giant Breed, although their "Activity Level" is much higher. Meeting their exercise needs will be imperative in maintaining their health and happiness.
Lifestyle. If you are an active person that lives in suburbia, a farm, or the country, a medium to large breed might be a good fit for you! As for apartment living, there are many medium to large breeds that do thrive in these environments, but not all will be able to adapt.
Lifespan. This build can usually live to 12-15 years, and their expenses should be taken into consideration because of this longer lifespan.
Travel. These breeds tend to make great travelers. However, having the right size vehicle will be important!

All Bark No Bite

Small Purebreds.

Pomeranian * Chihuahua * Havanese * Pug * Tibetan Spaniel * Shih Tzu * Pekingese *

Things to consider:

Travel. Make a excellent traveling companions.
Lifestyle. Many small purebreds make GREAT apartment dogs and are a good fit for the elderly, but be sure to take your time to do the research to find the right breed for your lifestyle. Terriers, for example, may be too hyper for an apartment/condo or for an elderly person who is looking for a calm lap dog.
Activity Level. Most small breeds are highly active in comparison to their larger cousins. For instance, the majority of Terriers are extreme busy-bodies.
Medical Issues. Keep in mind that smaller purebreds tend to have more medical problems than larger breeds. The most common health conditions are related to their dental health, anal sac problems, and eye issues.
Habits. A note of warning: Some small breeds are frequent barkers - an important factor to consider if you live in an apartment or condo, as you neighbors will likely not appreciate constant yipping.

Adopt First

As you begin looking for a dog, please check with rescue organizations first. Every year there are millions of dogs being euthanized - not because they are bad dogs, but because there is no home for them and insufficient resources to care for them at rescue agencies. By adopting a dog, you are truly saving a life!

At the very least, NEVER purchase any dog from a pet store. Unfortunately, those puppies almost always come from puppy mills. Instead, look for a reputable breeder to work with.

On a final note, it is important to spay and neuter your puppy by 6 months old to have a healthy and happy pet for many years to come!


Dog Bible, Edited by Kristin Mehus-Roe, 2005

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