DOES SIZE MATTER BETWEEN DOGS!

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We were spending the night with a few family friends and one “itsy-bitsy-teeny-weeny” dog named Wyatt. The weight differential between he and Jaxson was huge – 70 lbs vs. 7 lbs, causing the question “does size matter between dogs?” to cross my mind…

DOES SIZE MATTER BETWEEN DOGS!

Jaxson has been around small dogs before. Remember Piper?…

DOES SIZE MATTER BETWEEN DOGS!With the two of them, size just didn’t seem to matter, but then again Jax was only 5 months old!

At doggie day camp, dogs were assessed and grouped by disposition and personality – not size. That’s how my 98 lb Leo ended up with the small dogs.

Many “small puppy” parents would gasp and shriek when they logged on the video cam to check on their pups and saw something like this…

DOES SIZE MATTER BETWEEN DOGS!

Leo was such a gentle giant, he couldn’t have been anywhere BUTsmall dog camp.”

Fast forward to #lifewithJaxson

Before his first birthday, I received a call from the General Manager –

Cathy, it seems that Jaxson is too much for small dog, so we’ve moved him to big dog camp.

#saywhat?

Apparently, after hours of playing, all the dogs in small camp were winding down in the late afternoon, but Jaxson’s engine was just warming up. And until we moved to SC, Harley remained in small dog while Jaxson played with the big dogs.

BACK TO WYATT –

Jaxson had never met Wyatt, an eleven year old Yorkie. For that reason I wanted to make certain Jaxson would not – step on, run over, or try to play catch with him while we all lived under the same roof for 30 hours…

DOES SIZE MATTER BETWEEN DOGS!

Let me clarify – Jax would never “intentionally” harm Wyatt. But he is considerably larger, stronger, faster and oh so clumsy when he gets excited. And another dog in the house along with three little humans is a recipe for excitement #doodlesteroids

A-MAZING –

– is the only way I could describe his behavior.

He was slow and purposeful to move when close to Wyatt…

DOES SIZE MATTER BETWEEN DOGS!

He played the role of a guardian. Tailed him like a detective. #DeputyDoodle…

DOES SIZE MATTER BETWEEN DOGS!The stairs only worked one way for Wyatt – up! He wasn’t confident coming down. So he’d set up camp on the landing and Jaxson faithfully remained by his side until someone came to scoop him…

DOES SIZE MATTER BETWEEN DOGS!As I studied these two I thought a lot about Leo in “small camp” and wondered if dogs actually recognize their various sizes.

  • A Dog’s Growl Announces It’s Sizescientists discovered dogs can tell another canine’s size simply by listening to its growl.
  • How Dogs Make Sense of Sizethe Taylor experiment show that domestic dogs have the cognitive ability to match visual cues to size (by looking at the other dog) with acoustic cues to size (by listening to the growling sound made), enabling them to build a more accurate picture of the other animal’s status.

This theory may explain why dogs seem to run from Jaxson. His bark is unusually deep and throaty. Solicitors step back as he races towards the door. #Falkordoodle

While I found plenty of articles on this subject – the majority were referring to public dog parks and off-leash areas. #wedontgo

I recognize there are some dangers associated with large and small dogs playing together. For that reason I followed them around like a reporter from the National Enquirer. #paparazzipetparent

Eventually I realized after taking every precaution I could think of – these two were going to be just fine together, (or I just got weary and bored walking behind two dogs who wouldn’t sit still and the wine finally kicked in) 🙂

So, when it comes to large and small dogs playing together…

DOES SIZE REALLY MATTER? –

The idea that large and small dogs cannot play well together is untrue. And there is no scientific term for dog behavior called predatory drift. Big dogs and small dogs can play together on a regular basis, and big dogs are not destined to become predatory to little dogs. Source: Dr. Sophia Yin

FYI –

We (as pet parents) should always exercise good judgement and caution in any and every situation when our dogs are in new environments.

There are plenty of sites available online offering “how-to” tips when introducing large and small dogs to one another.

I am not a veterinarian or a trainer, I just research then decide – “if in doubt – do without.”

Make this a memorable Monday – be kind to someone today!

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33 Comments
  • JeanneP of bichonpawz
    August 29, 2016

    Excellent article Cathy…how nice that Jaxson was so well behaved with his fellow houseguest! It is always better when it works out that way!!

    • Cathy Bennett
      August 29, 2016

      Thanks Jeanne. I think I shadowed them for about three hours and then when I was completely worn out – I stopped. But by then I realized they were fine together. Glad you enjoyed the post!

  • Emma
    August 29, 2016

    We have always been good with dogs that are similar in size to our cats. Katie especially, was always gentle with small dogs, but we have also had a lot of fun playing together. We know to be careful with smaller dogs. We are also a bit scared of larger dogs.

    • Cathy Bennett
      August 29, 2016

      You and Bailey are a nice size – so any dog larger than you is a “giant” – I’d be a bit scared myself!

  • The Daily Pip
    August 29, 2016

    Really interesting. Our last two dogs have been on the smaller size – one thought he was a big dog and the other is less confident. Glad Jax did so well with Wyatt~

    Since dogs come is such different sizes, shapes, colors, etc. – always wondered if dogs think dogs who are different in shape and size are actually dogs or do they think they are some other species like a cat?

    • Cathy Bennett
      August 29, 2016

      Great question Pip – what does a dog think when they see a cat?

  • Monika & Sam
    August 29, 2016

    Sam is a bit of an oaf too around little pups so I have to make sure he doesn’t treat them like wind up toys. Jaxson sure demonstrated careful observation under mama doodles watchful eyes. Kudos to you all!

    • Cathy Bennett
      August 29, 2016

      Monika – I was exhausted from Doodle duty! LOL But you know we’ve got to be extra careful because our dogs don’t mean to hurt another dog but by size alone, they could do some serious damage. Dogs seem to understand though, and it was as if Jaxson knew he was much bigger than Wyatt. I loved watching them interact.

  • Yvonne Smith
    August 29, 2016

    Cathy,
    Loved your article about does size matter and the fact that Jaxson got along so well with my grand-dog ( Piper) . Every time she gets a chance to hangout with the Jax &
    Harley I know it’s gone to be a fun time

    • Cathy Bennett
      August 29, 2016

      I miss watching Piper and the Boys together too! Remember, Piper was Jaxon’s first friend! She’ll always be special to us!

  • Dz Dogs
    August 29, 2016

    Great article!
    We are not around many small dogs, but Ziva did great with our foster kitten I think she was extra careful because the kitten was so tiny. 🙂
    When we did doggy daycare they split the dogs up by personality and play style as well, not size. But Dante and Ziva were always in the high energy club, I don’t think Dante knows how to be calm – unless its movie time.

    Way to go Jackson for being a good boy!

    • Cathy Bennett
      August 29, 2016

      Hey DZ – what’s “movie time?”

  • Lindsay
    August 29, 2016

    The size difference and the photos illustrating such are cute. 🙂

    I’d love to put Jax and the boys together, they’d have so much fun together. Then when they’re done, they could take a nap on the sidelines with mellow Harley. 🙂

    Baxter LOVES big dogs, I am convinced he was a big dog in a previous life, even his feet are massive, I call them paddles and people have called him Falkor before, funnily enough, because of his bouffante head of hair. Cute eh?

    Do you find with white dogs that your dogs gravitate towards other white dogs? This may be us humanizing them but we swear they get more excited and wiley around other white dogs, dunno if it’s cause they think they’re the same dog or what…

    • Cathy Bennett
      August 29, 2016

      HA! I agree with you Lindsay – your crew and Jaxy would be a great three-some. Harley would probably wait on the sidelines for all the romping and playing around to stop then he’d cuddle and sleep with them. I never thought about the “white dog” thing, off the top of my head I’d have to say it doesn’t seem to matter. They are excited around any color of dog. Have a great week!

  • Ruby
    August 29, 2016

    Oh, I love this post! My OES was the same way! I think some dogs are just ‘in tune’ with the needs of smaller or disabled dogs, and know to be slow and gentle. And, other dogs, like Ruby, are just hyperbutts that don’t seem to have an off-button! ☺
    Kisses,
    Ruby ♥

    • Cathy Bennett
      August 29, 2016

      Jaxson is usually “off the chain” with excitement when he’s around another dog, but when they are smaller than he is, he seems to be really aware of their size. I will still be diligent the first time he is around a smaller dog to ensure he’s not too playful which could result in unintentional harm to a smaller dog.

  • Jen
    August 30, 2016

    I always so feel so bad for Leroy because he really wants to play and interact with small dogs but they never want to play with him. On the rare occasion that one does, Leroy is so damn good and gentle with them. One paw swipe and he could knock a little guy over but he attempts it!

    • Cathy Bennett
      August 30, 2016

      After watching both Leo and now Jaxson around smaller dogs, I am convinced that they understand the difference in size. Jaxson’s play approach was so gentle vs. what I’ve seen with dogs closer to his size.

  • Sharon
    August 30, 2016

    We have 5 dogs ranging from 20 pounds to over 200 pounds. Our Bernedoodle at 50 pounds, rules are 2 mastiffs (130 pounds and 200+ pounds). The 20 pound Alaskan Klee Kai rules everyone. If someone asks to go outside too soon after they have come in, he will tell them off. Our 200+ pound Neo has a best friend outside our own dogs–a pug. Size seems to be the last consideration for any of them; play style and the “size” they consider themselves to be, seems to matter most

    • Cathy Bennett
      August 30, 2016

      Sharon – sometimes I think dogs see themselves in the reflection of the dog that they’re looking at. Jaxson may have very easily thought he was the 7 pounder! Have a great week!

  • Callie, Shadow, and Ducky's Mom
    August 30, 2016

    Love this article! Callie was our “mama dog” – even though she was spayed during puppyhood, she retained the maternal instincts she got from her dog mama. She protected Shadow from potential harm from the first day she was with us. When Ducky came along, Callie was gentle with her too at first. But then, Ducky was the smaller pup with the big dog attitude. And she was our “wild child”. Callie soon started teaching her some manners. And at daycare, she gravitated toward Golden Retrievers and puppies. Now, she’ll play with just about any size dog. Except the bulldog – they just don’t like each other.

    • Cathy Bennett
      August 31, 2016

      From all of your stories about Callie, I would have selected her as the “Mama” in the group. As Wyatt and Jaxson played together, Harley took the opportunity to truly relax and stay to himself. At first he was happy to see Wyatt because they had met once before. But after a while he quickly figured out that Wyatt could keep Jaxson company and he could chill-out! Dogs really do come with their own personalities!

  • Peggi Duncan
    August 31, 2016

    I started looking at your post when I decided to get a goldendoodle. After months of searching, I finally found my little boy. He was 9 weeks old Monday and weighs 11.6 pounds! He will be a big boy. I will post pictures of him later. Thanks for your posts.

    • Cathy Bennett
      August 31, 2016

      OMDoodle Peggi – that is Doodle*tastic. Can’t wait to see some photos! I love the name also. Give him lot’s of Golden hugs and Doodle kisses from Harley, Jax and I. Welcome to Doodleville ❤️

  • Peggi Duncan
    August 31, 2016

    Oh yeah–his name is Asher. It means blessed.

  • Lindsay Pevny
    August 31, 2016

    Love this post, and how your dogs are so gentle when playing with dogs of all sizes!

    I ended up with 5-pound Matilda and 30-pound Cow by fate, and worried so much when they first met. But now that they have spent 2 years together, I know I don’t have to worry. They look scary playing together, baring their teeth and snapping, but I can put my hand between them and feel how gently they’re actually biting down – no force at all.

    • Cathy Bennett
      August 31, 2016

      Hi Lindsay! Welcome to Doodleville. I agree with you – all that snapping is nothing but gentle playing (I’ve stuck my hands in-between my two!). I find watching dogs play (especially those who are of different sizes) fascinating. Happy to hear your two like playing together.

  • Michelle & The Paw Pack
    August 31, 2016

    I have two smallish guys – 10 and 20 lbs. The smaller of the two is a 1 year old, still very much a puppy, and loves all dogs. My older boy used to be the same way, until he was attacked by an off leash big dog. Now he’s fine around big dogs he knows. He loves our neighbor’s German shepherd mix and one of his best buddies is a huge Great Dane. He’s good around any dog that’s smaller than him, whether he knows them or not – but still sometimes gets nervous around big dogs that he doesn’t know. We’re working on it, and he’s gotten better, but it’s been a few years now since he was attacked. I have a feeling he might always be at least a bit weary of big dogs now.

    • Cathy Bennett
      August 31, 2016

      I’m so sorry to hear about this Michelle – I would imagine it takes a whole lot of time and a whole lot of courage to overcome something that traumatic. Bless his little heart. I think he’s a brave little soul for wanting to play with ANY dogs after that. Hugs…

  • Jan K
    September 1, 2016

    There are times I think our beagle Cricket does not realize how small she is. Then again, she probably doesn’t appreciate that Luke forgets that sometimes too and trips or runs right over her! (if he’s paying attention, he’ll just jump right over her…LOL).
    I wonder about this. When Luke was a puppy and he and Cricket were the same size they played a lot. Now Luke and Sheba, the same size, play more, and Luke doesn’t play with Cricket as much. But I’m not sure if it’s their sizes or just their temperaments (Sheba will put up with a lot more from Luke than Cricket will).

    • Cathy Bennett
      September 2, 2016

      Temperament does play a role. Harley will growl and let another dog (regardless of size) know if he doesn’t feel like being bothered. It’s that non threatening growl that dogs understand to mean – “leave me alone” And usually, since Jaxson is always there too, the other dog will leave Harley alone and just play with Jaxson! It all works out in the end – just like in your house! P.S. – meant to tell you how good Sheba has been looking in those most recent photos. You’re doing a great job girlfriend! She’s blessed to have you – as you are her!

  • Tenacious Little Terrier
    September 2, 2016

    Mr. N has played with a lot of big dogs. I always monitor and if it looks like it’s getting too rough, I yank him out. Some big dogs are not terribly body aware or play too rough. One dog kept trying to initiate play by batting Mr. N in the face. He did NOT appreciate that.

    • Cathy Bennett
      September 2, 2016

      That dog sounds like he didn’t have any manners! Batting another dog in the face is #notcool I would worry myself because Mr N.’s limbs are so little, he’s got to be extra careful who he “hangs out” with. Jaxson would be a great playmate for him because he usually just lets the smaller dogs do whatever they want to him. Hopefully their paths will cross one day!

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