Small dogs suffer from short mans’ syndrome 80



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It is something that is often wondered about. Why do smaller dogs seem to bark more and can sometimes show signs of more aggression than their larger companions?

According to a University of Sydney study it has found that 33 of 36 undesirable characteristics can be associated with height, body weight and skull size of dogs.

The scientists found, “When average body weight decreased, excitability and hyperactivity increased.”

The study, examined owners’ of 8000 dogs from across 80 breeds.

They found a trend that smaller breeds have a higher incidence of being untrainable, anxious, pushy, jealous and attention-seeking. They are more likely to beg for food, bail up their owners, mount people, roll around in poo and leave smelly messes in the corner when left alone.

The scientists also investigated the relationship between skull shape and behaviour and found that long-skulled breeds like Afghans and whippets were more likely to stare compulsively, steal food and terrorise other dogs.

Ultimately the researchers have said that more study is needed to determine whether nature or nurture makes smaller dogs more naughty. Perhaps it is humans who are more tolerant of bad behaviour of smaller dogs which affects their development?

They have said that the behaviours of small dogs may be a result of their being overindulged and over protected.

What do you think? Do you have a dog? Large or small? Do you find their behaviour different to other dogs?


Rebecca Wilson

Rebecca Wilson is the founder and publisher of Starts at Sixty. The daughter of two baby boomers, she has built the online community for over 60s by listening carefully to the issues and seeking out answers, insights and information for over 60s throughout Australia. Rebecca is an experienced marketer, a trained journalist and has a degree in politics. A mother of 3, she passionately facilitates and leads our over 60s community, bringing the community opinions, needs and interests to the fore and making Starts at Sixty a fun place to be.

  1. I have a little dog. She hasn’t got an aggressive bone in her body. My previous dog was smaller and he lived till he was 17. He was the sweetest dog you could imagine.

    3 REPLY
    • I am a firm believer that dogs reflect thier owners attitudes and behaviours. I suspect you don’t have an aggressive bone in your body young Fran, from your comment. I love Cesar Milan and he stresses that you don’t let a small dog get away with being aggressive just because it’s small.

  2. Size is nothing to do with their nature and personality. Some small dogs are aggressive, but so are some bigger dogs.

  3. I think the so called researchers need to chill out. ….We’ve always had small dogs. …This story sounds like a lot of rubbish. ..put your brain to some better use.

  4. I have a dog! He’s small! He’s very well behaved! He’s been house trained since 6 weeks old! (No kidding). Yes, he loves visitors and does his meerkat impression for attention, but he displays none of the symptoms listed here, except, he thinks he’s a Doberman!!!

  5. I think it’s a Boston Terrier, possibly a French bulldog, so I hope you have lots of money!! Very expensive doggies! But oh so gorgeous!

    4 REPLY
    • I wouldn’t pay that much myself ! The mothers have to have caesarean due to the heads being too big to give birth naturally and they are bred not to have a tail ……. bad breeding in my book 🙁

    • I have no personal experience with either breed. My daughter was very keen to have a French Bulldog, but when she told me the name of the breeder I told her to investigate further as he had been an athlete in the public eye and had an unsavoury reputation. She did her research and discovered there were 20 odd breeding females; the first price quoted was $1500, which, within days, then became $3,900 and yes, she has stumbled into a puppy farm and was horrified. She also discovered all the problems associated with the breed, like caesarean births, difficulty with their ears and breathing problems. She already had a pugalier so got another one of those. He’s a menace, but she loves him!!

  6. I have a small dog (not tiny) but the only symptoms he has is anxiety and dependence. Considering his dodgy first two years before we adopted him I think that is to be expected. It’s the breed not the size.

  7. Until 15 months ago I had a Maltese x Toy Poodle which had to be put down due to cancer, he was trained from just 8 weeks not to bark and he always greeted everyone with a wagging tail he never in his 15 years bit anyone, he actually loved his 10 weekly trip to his clipper and she said to me that she had never seen a small dog so well behaved, it’s all about the way you teach them and treat them.

    7 REPLY
    • Elizabeth while they are puppies it is very easy, the words NO BARKING plus squirt them in the face with water at the same time, if you have a smart dog they learn after maybe 3-4 times, and when they stop barking don’t forget to reward them.

    • We have a small and large dog. The small one is definitely the boss. Very strong willed and hard to train. The large one is no problem. I doubt the water training would work on the small one Trish – she just loves water (cant hose the garden when she is about as she practically kills herself trying to get to the water). The citronella collar does work though.

    • It does work Jeanette, however you need to start their training when they are young and haven’t developed bad habits, because while you can still train them it does take longer, the citronella collars are good.

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