What is the difference between small, medium and large dog breeds?
Dogs are classified into 3 broad size categories (small, medium or large) based on their weight. It’s important to know what category your dog falls into, because dogs have special diet and exercise needs specific to their size (and sometimes to their breed).There’s no easy way to tell your dog’s category based on the breed alone, as size can vary within a single breed, or even between doggie siblings. The best way to check your dog’s size is to check their weight first.
See the handy list below to find out what size classification your dog belongs to:
Small or toy dog breeds – 2 to 22 pounds (1-10 kg)
Medium dog breeds – 24 to 57 pounds (11-26 kg)
Large dog breeds – 59 to 98 pounds (27-44 kg)
Giant dog breeds – 99 pounds or more (45 kg+)
You may notice that there is a fourth classification, “giant.” Also there is a “toy dog” classification. Read on to find out more.
Small, toy and teacup dog breeds
If your dog weighs between 2.2 to 22 pounds (1 and 10 kg), he or she falls within the small dog category. These dogs usually have high energy and are usually kept as indoor pets. Because they’re largely indoor pets, they are prone to skin irritation and weight gain. Be careful to ensure that they get regular exercise and regular grooming.
Toy dogs are small dogs that weigh less than 18 pounds (8.2 kg) and are less than 18 inches in height – both measured in their adulthood. Examples of toy dogs include Pinschers, Spaniels and Terriers.
Teacup (or tiny) dogs are even smaller than toy dogs, they’re small enough to fit in a teacup! To qualify as a teacup dog, your dog must not be more than 17 inches in height or 4 pounds (1.8 kg) in weight at 12 months old. Chihuahuas are a good example of a teacup dog. Other examples are Poodles, Yorkshire terriers and Maltese.
Medium dog breeds
If your dog weighs 24 to 57 pounds (11 to 26 kg), he or she falls into this size category. Medium-sized dogs are the most popular type of dogs because there are so many breeds that fall into this category, including Bulldogs, Border Collies, Bull Terriers, Welsh Corgis, Siberian Huskies, Chow Chows, German Shepherds, Alaskan Malamutes, Dalmatians and Pitbulls to name a few. There are so many types that they can be laid-back or energetic, guard dogs or personal companions, and can be well-suited to indoor- or outdoor- living. The one thing they have in common is their weight category.
Medium dogs are popular because they aren’t prone to injury like small dogs and large dogs are. They are also highly intelligent dogs and make good companions. Medium-sized dogs should not be left outdoors unattended because they tend to be “diggers.”
Be careful to tailor your dog’s food needs to their energy level (energetic or sedentary). Medium-sized dogs need regular exercise to maintain a healthy weight, and also because their energy can turn into restlessness inside the house if they don’t receive enough physical stimulation.
Large dog breeds
If your dog weighs 59 to 98 pounds (27 to 44 kg), he or she falls within the large size category. Common large breeds include Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Greyhounds, Rottweilers, Mastiffs, Afghans and Doberman Pinschers. Large dogs usually have slower metabolism, high exercise requirements, and are best suited to homes with plenty of space, such as a large outdoor yard. Their diets should take into account the need for bone and joint health.
Giant dog breeds
If your dog weighs 99 or more pounds (45 or more kg), he or she falls into the giant dog category. Common examples of giant dogs are Great Danes, Irish Wolfhounds, Bullmastiffs, Newfoundlands, Polish Greyhounds and Scottish Deerhounds. These breeds usually grow rapidly during the first 6 months of their life, during which time they require a diet that is high in energy and nutrients, and also one that is easy to digest. They usually attain adult-size in about 18 to 24 months, by which time special attention should be given to their bone and joint health.
Which dog breed is compatible with small children?
While some small dogs tend to have high energy and be moody, and other large dogs are usually patient and more laid-back, a dog’s compatibility with children has nothing to do with its size and everything to do with its nature. The best way to check if a dog will be compatible with your children is to do adequate research into the specific dog breed’s nature and usual characteristics, and of course to do a meet-and-greet for proper introductions and to observe how they interact.
If you want to know more
We highly recommend The Dog Encyclopedia, it has information on over 400 dog breeds, each with a description of the breed’s history, character, behavior & anatomy, and lists compatible owner traits. It’s also fully illustrated, and so suitable for children of any age.