Not all dogs conform to being small or medium—many are
somewhere in between! Far from a toy or giant, these dogs are
around the 15-30 pound weight range; some would say the
Small to medium dogs are very popular family dogs and city dogs because they have less energy
than the toy group, are big enough for kids to play with, but
don't take up much space or need huge areas for exercise. Many
of these dogs have been bred to be great companion
dogs—friendly, affectionate, and patient—so they are great for
newer pet parents who are looking for a friend to greet them at
home. Small to medium sized dogs tend to do well with kids,
being very playful, but gentle, animals.
While not large athletic or working dogs, these breeds still
need their exercise and plenty of attention. These dogs tend to
be very social so they shouldn't be left home alone all day.
They love to make their pet parents happy, so make sure you
have time to train them, play with them, and reward them for
being so good!
Below are several very different breeds who all fall between
the small and medium size categories. They have very different
needs and temperaments, so try to find the breed that suits you
best. Learning about their background and instincts can
indicate how they will act in your home.
These wavy haired dogs have always been popular because of
their sweet temperament and great cuddling size. They make good
family dogs and get along well with children, but can be
difficult to housebreak. Make
sure you keep their waxy coat brushed and watch their floppy
ears for infections.
Beagles are happy little hounds who love a good chase! Used for
so long as hunting dogs, Beagles have a strong search instinct
which makes them tend to wander off following a scent, and a
loud baying bark (which sounds more like a howl) often heard
when they find what they were searching for. These dogs can
usually be socialized to live with other pets and are gentle
and affectionate with children.
This ancient African hunting dog has a very distinct look with
their high ears, curled tail, and athletic physique. Baseji
have the ability to make a larger variety of noises and yodels
than other dogs but are generally quiet dogs with a lot of
energy and speed. These dogs are easily trained and bond well
with their owners but can be nervous around strangers. Since
they love to chew, be sure to give Basenji chew toys so they
don't get bored and gnaw on your shoes or furniture!
German Pinschers are excellent watchdogs who would do anything
for their family. This leads them to bark whenever they want to
tell you something important (“Someone's at the door!”) and can
also lead to problems with biting in protection situations.
These dogs are better for a pet parent with experience
training a dog,
because it's important for German Pinchers to know who's the
boss. They must be carefully trained to back down from
confrontations with other dogs and to not bark too
These dogs (pictured above) may look short and compact, with
their stubby legs, but they are powerful herding and watchdogs.
A very friendly breed, these dogs are highly intelligent and
require training with strong leadership so that they know who
is the “pack leader.” The Corgi's beautiful coat is easy to
care for, only requiring routine brushing.
This dog was bred for fox hunting, and the combination of
speed, agility, and courage make Border Terriers great hunters.
They love to dig and need a lot of exercise to work off their
energy, but are relatively easy to train. The Border Terrier's
water-proof coat requires special grooming and hand stripping
twice a year to avoid mats and keep the fur clean.
Loyal and brave, miniature Bull Terriers are not the fighters
they were once bred to be—now they only like to play. These
dogs can be a little difficult to train, requiring firm
leadership, even from children. They may be too energetic for
small children, especially because they like to join in when
they see wrestling and roughhousing. They can be low
maintenance, requiring minimal grooming, but should not be left
alone for eight hours every day.
Nutrition for Medium and Small
Dogs come in all shapes and sizes, and smaller breeds have
distinct nutritional needs for their smaller bodies, appetites,
mouths, and stomachs. Read on to learn about nutrition for dogs
that are on the lower size spectrum – from extra-small to
What’s My Dog’s Size?
Your dog’s breed will determine his or her size. Of course not
all dogs are purebred (and we love mutts of all types), so
another way to determine size is by weight. If you know your
dog’s weight, you can determine their size, assuming your dog
is a healthy weight. If your pet is underweight or overweight, you should consult a
What Size is Your Dog?
Extra Small Dogs
Pug, Bichon Frise
Border Collie, Cocker Spaniel
More Activity Means More Calories--But Not Too Many
A highly active small dog requires more calories than a dog
that get moderate exercise—like just leisurely walks, for
example. But the breed can also determine a dog’s activity
level. Many small dog breeds are considered very active.
Terriers, like the Jack
Russell, are known for speeding around, and can require up
to 30% more calories than another similarly sized dog.
But small dogs are also particularly susceptible to obesity.
And it’s especially dangerous for some small breeds to be
overweight due to congenital problems in these breeds, like
patellar luxation, or loose kneecap, of the hind limbs that can
sometimes be painful.
For a healthy balance, look for these amounts of protien and
fat in your extra-small, small, or medium breed dog's food:
Dental Health Through Diet
Smaller dogs can also be more susceptible to dental problems.
Oral problems like plaque buildup can lead to bigger health
issues if left untreated. Dry, crunchy food may help reduce
plaque and tartar buildup, and should be a component of your
small dog’s meals. But remember that your dog needs to crunch
it to have these potential effects and if your pup is a
“gulper” or “inhaler,” these benefits may be moot. A
regular dental cleaning
regimen is always a good idea.
Don't Skimp on Water
Some studies have also shown that in general, smaller breeds
are more susceptible to bladder stones than larger breeds. If
your dog has had bladder stones in the past, including some wet
food in his or her regular diet may help ensure increased water
intake, which may reduce the risk for bladder stones.
Regardless, always keep plenty of fresh water available for
your dog. Miniature
Schnauzers, in particular, are at risk of stones, and
studies have shown that using wet food as their primary means
of nutrition helps dilute the urine, thereby decreasing the
risk of stone formation.
How to Feed Your Small Dog
You will want to divide your small dog’s daily food ration into
smaller portions, served two or even three times a day. Dogs
with smaller stomachs will find the smaller portions easier to
Allergies and Poisonous Foods
Some research suggests that certain breeds are more susceptible
to health problems related to food allergies. Many of these
at-risk breeds are extra-small to mid-weight dogs
some Bulldogs, Cocker Spaniels and Boston Terriers. As a dog owner, you
should look out for the signs of a food allergy: itching,
swollen eyelids, flatulence, and digestive problems. The most
common allergens are beef, dairy, and wheat. A vet can help you
determine which food ingredient is the culprit.
And although all dog owners should be familiar with
common foods that are poisonous
to dogs, small breed owners need to take extra care. For
instance, a portion of chocolate that might not be fatal to a
larger dog can easily overwhelm a small dog’s system. Keep
chocolate out of reach of all dogs, but be especially watchful
of your smaller dog around any foods that are poisonous to
Many pet food companies now offer a specific formula for your
smaller dog. With proper nutrition, your small dog can have a
reduced risk for many health problems and diseases, and have a
happy, longer life with you.
More on Dog Breeds
Dogs That Don't Shed
AKC Recognized Breeds
The Best Dogs for Children