Land Sharks: Aggression in Small Dogs

People who are scared of dogs often cite breeds like Doberman Pinschers, Pit Bulls, and Rottweilers when asked what types of dogs are the most intimidating. Many will tell you, though, that the little guys can be just as terrifying.

So who is more aggressive – the big dogs or the tiny land sharks? Aggression in small dogs is a real thing, and at Beverly Hills Veterinary Associates we are happy to weigh in on the debate.

Big Dog, Little Dog

While it can be difficult to wrap your head around, a Pomeranian and a German Shepherd are members of the same species. This means that inherently, their behaviors can be quite similar.

So why do certain dogs get a worse wrap than others?

When they show signs of aggression, larger breeds of dogs tend to be much more intimidating than that little ankle-biter next door. They also have the capability to do a lot more damage.

The answer to what dog breeds are most aggressive isn’t a straightforward one. It depends on many things including what is defined as aggression (Lunging? Biting?) as well as to whom or what the aggression is directed towards (Other dogs? People? Other animals?).

Dog breeds that bite most, though, are a pretty mixed bag. With German Shepherds, Dachshunds, Chihuahuas, and Pit Bull Terriers all making the list, it seems pretty clear that aggression is not isolated to small or large dogs.

Dealing with Aggression in Small Dogs

One big difference between aggression in small dogs and that in larger dogs is how we deal with it.

The truth is that we tend to tolerate behaviors that are rooted in dominance and aggression in the little guys much more than we do the bigger ones. A yappy Yorkie is far less troublesome than a barking Bernese Mountain Dog. And while most people don’t mind toy poodle jumping up on them, a pouncing Pinscher is a totally different story.

We often fail to teach smaller breed dogs how to interact in an acceptable manner. While many of these bad habits are harmless in and of themselves, they can escalate in certain situations.

So what is a small dog lover to do? Plenty!

  • Use positive reinforcement training to reward the behaviors you want (confidence around other dogs, not barking at the mailman, etc.)
  • Don’t skimp on training classes for your little dog – socialization and basic commands are helpful for them, too
  • Do not allow rude or aggressive behaviors, even if they seem harmless – manners are manners, regardless of size.
  • Avoid carrying your pup everywhere to promote confidence and minimize any protective behavior
  • When out, use a well-fitting harness or collar and a secure leash (not a retractable one!) to maintain the best control of your pint-sized pet

Perhaps most importantly, don’t forget that we are here to help you. If you need advice on training for your pet, or if you are having trouble with aggression or other behavior concerns, give us a call. Our expert staff knows a lot about dogs, and we are often able to help or at least steer you towards appropriate help. We want you to be able to enjoy your dog, big or small!