A Glimpse at the Differences Between Big and Small Dogs

A Glimpse at the Differences Between Big and Small Dogs

big and small dogsIf you take a good, hard look at a Pug and a German Shepherd, it can be mind-boggling to think about the fact that they belong to the same species. Humans have certainly left our imprint on canines over the decades. It is nothing short of crazy what spectrum members of the same species can cover.

Even though our family pets may all be dogs, there are some distinct differences between big and small dogs. Read on to learn how a Chihuahua is not a Coonhound.

The Lifespan Phenomenon

One of the most intriguing differences between big and small dogs is the dramatic and obvious discrepancy between expected lifespan. A Toy Poodle can be expected to live in excess of 15 years, while a Great Dane will live, on average, seven.

What explains this sharp difference? There have certainly been several studies investigating this phenomenon, and it appears that larger dogs age more quickly. This means that a year in the life of a Giant Schnauzer is far longer than a year in the life of a Pomeranian.

It is speculated that a molecule in the body known as IGF-1 may have something to do with the hastened aging process. Larger breeds tend to have more of these in their bodies, and, in time, we may find what role IGF-1 has on aging.

Other Differences Between Big and Small Dogs

Some other major differences between large and small dogs are notable as well. Some have to do with biology, others with typical lifestyle, and still others with unique characteristics.


  • Small dogs typically need to eat less than large dogs because they have a smaller body mass to maintain
  • Large dogs tend to have fewer behavior problems
  • Smaller dogs may be more susceptible to poisonings (such as chocolate toxicity) simply because they require less of the toxin to reach the toxic threshold
  • Larger breeds are historically easier to housebreak
  • Small breeds are more prone to developing dental disease
  • Large breeds are more affected by orthopedic issues, such as arthritis, due to the body mass they must support
  • Smaller breeds can be more prone to exposure issues and dehydration

Big dogs, small dogs, at Schertz Animal Hospital we love them all. Each breed and individual canine companion has his or her own personality and unique attributes that are nothing short of endearing.

Even though all dogs are members of the same species, we have to remember that there are definitely differences amongst them and be sure to factor that into account when we take on their care.

Posted in

Share This Article

Schertz Animal Hospital

Since 1976, Schertz Animal Hospital has offered the greater San Antonio area outstanding pet care. Our state-of-the-art animal hospital in Schertz, TX compliments our stress-free handling and experienced veterinary staff. Make an appointment online or give us a call at (210) 659-0345 today!