5 min read (Articles narrated by Mabel)
If you’ve ever adopted a dog before, you’ve probably noticed that large breeds are more common than small breeds at shelters and rescues. Oftentimes, this steers people away from adopting if they’re looking for a small dog. However, Molly prefers small dogs and she still adopts instead of shops, so it’s important for all humans to keep looking at rescues, even if they don’t find their perfect pup immediately.
How are They Different?
In Cara Sue Achterberg’s new book, 100 Dogs and Counting, she refers to small, hypoallergenic dogs as “unicorns”. Why? Well, because they’re very rare at the rescue she fosters for. And when the rescue does get these dogs in their care, they get adopted right away.
Many shelters and rescues are a lot like this. Sure, there are some rescues that specialize in certain small breeds, but in general, you will probably see more large breeds than small breeds up for adoption.
The main reason people prefer small breeds is because it’s assumed that we’re easier to care for. After all, we take up less space and we eat less food.
However, if humans choose a small breed because they think they’ll be easy, then they will likely be disappointed. Small breeds need training and attention just as much as any other dog. So, while some aspects of our care is easier, we could have behavioral issues that are more difficult to deal with. Every dog is different, so a dog’s size isn’t the only thing that makes them “hard” or “easy” to care for.
As for hypoallergenic breeds, most people want them simply because they shed less. My hair definitely doesn’t get all over the house like Taco’s does, so I know that’s a plus for Molly. However, dogs with minimal shedding typically need more grooming, which could cause them to be more high maintenance than expected.
So, you need to consider much, much more than a dog’s size before you adopt them. Sometimes, a large dog will actually be the better choice even if they aren’t the dog you planned on adopting.
Why are Large Breeds at Shelters More?
Many humans think large breeds are at shelters more because there’s less of demand for them, but that’s not always the case. One of the main reasons is that they take up more space. It’s easy for rescues to take in small dogs since they take up less space, which also makes it easier for small dogs to get adopted too.
People will often not want a big dog because they take up more space. Sadly, this also means that rescues can’t save as many big dogs from kill shelters due to limited kennel space. The reality is that rescues can take in two small dogs or one large dog, and it’s often a difficult choice.
Also, people who live in apartments might not be able to adopt a large dog. Large dogs often like having space to run around, and it’s difficult for them to do that in a small home. Additionally, apartments often have restrictions against dogs of certain sizes and breeds, making it impossible for some people to adopt a large dog.
Finally, large dogs do cost more. They eat way more food than I do, so you will find yourself spending more on their food. Other items such as beds and toys could cost more too because of the size and strength of a larger dog.
None of these reasons are meant to steer you away from adopting large dogs, but they’re just explanations as to why these dogs are often overlooked. Many humans are quick to judge a dog based on appearance, but large dogs are just as loving as any smaller dog.
How to Help
I’m going to have to answer this with the same answer I always give: adopt! If you’re interested in a large dog, then please adopt one that has been waiting in the shelter for a while. If you’re unsure of what size dog you’re looking for, meet with multiple dogs and then decide. Don’t overlook the large breeds when you visit the shelter.
If you can’t adopt a large dog, then it’s okay to adopt a small dog like me. Many people see me and assume I’m not a rescue because I’m a small, low-shedding breed, but any dog can be a rescue. If you adopt a small dog, you’re opening space for another dog, so you’re still helping.
Also, if you want a small dog, but your local shelter doesn’t have any at the moment, please do NOT give up and go to a breeder. Shelters and rescues are constantly getting new dogs in, so if you’re patient, your perfect companion will come along.
If you want to rescue, but then you change your mind and buy from a breeder instead, you’re only adding to the problem. The more dogs that are bred, the more that end up in shelters, causing more large breeds to die in kill shelters.
So, be patient. Bringing a dog into your family is a huge deal, so you should never rush to find the perfect dog. Adopting and fostering are the best ways to save dogs of all sizes and breeds. When a dog gets adopted, that opens up space for another dog to be saved. Remember this next time you want a dog.
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