Generally when we choose a dog breed for temperament or particular traits, we aren’t then given a Small, Medium, or Large? choice. But when we select one of these five breeds (or groups of breeds), we do have size options.
Yes I’ve heard all the hotdog jokes, but I’m a breed with a serious working background. I’m a badger dog, developed over 300 years ago in Germany for strenuous hunting. I needed a long rib-cage for efficient breathing underground, where oxygen is limited. My short legs served a purpose too; they folded so I could move through tunnels easily. Over time different sizes developed: the standard (like me) weighing 16 to 32 pounds, and the miniature, weighing up to 11 pounds. We unofficially call any of us sized between standards and miniatures “tweenies.” Drats. Just realized that nickname rather detracts from my serious working reputation, now doesn’t it?
I’m a Miniature American Shepherd, shown here in a familiar activity: a joyful run! Let’s start with the story of our bigger cousins, the Australian Shepherds. With ancestors likely originating in the Pyrenees Mountains (not in Australia, by the way), Aussies were developed here in the states for herding livestock and all-around ranch work. They typically weigh about 60 pounds or so. They often excel in agility or herding trials, as well as disc dog and a host of other dog sports. Now to my story. I’m a significantly smaller breed, but I share the American ranch working heritage. In the later part of the 20th century, some Aussie lines were used to develop me in a miniature version. We too often rock the agility world, and we retain sound herding instincts. But since we only weigh some 25 pounds, we usually prefer bossing sheep, not cattle.
No matter our diverse sizes and histories, we Poodles were grouped together as one breed in the mid-20th century. Our size variety is calculated by shoulder height, not weight. We Standard Poodles were developed in France as retrievers. Odds are you recognize me by my coat. My distinctive coat cut wasn’t developed purely for your admiration, though. It was designed to facilitate work in cold water. I typically weigh about 60 pounds and stand over 15 inches at the shoulder. The Miniature Poodle weighs about 16 pounds, and stands between 10 and 15 inches. Celebrated for his agility, the Miniature Poodle historically participated in variety shows, but also hunted for truffles (you humans apparently relish them!). And lastly there’s the Toy Poodle, who stands 10 inches or under and weighs some 8 pounds. He’s small, but carries a big attitude. Size variance aside, we’re all remarkably intelligent, active, and people focused. Pick the size that’s right for you!
4. Miniature, Standard, and Giant Schnauzer
We Schnauzers (schnauz refers to our distinguished snouts) were developed as all-around farm dogs and ratters. But unlike our Poodle cousins above, we Schnauzers are now three distinct breeds. I’m a Miniature Schnauzer, grouped with Terriers. And although I only weigh about 15 pounds, I’m as rugged and hard-working as my bigger cousins. The Standard Schnauzer, categorized in the working group, weighs about 40 to 50 pounds. The Giant Schnauzer, also in the working group, weighs even more; males can weigh some 90 pounds. Our size range is rather remarkable, given we range between 15 and 90 pounds! Notwithstanding our size differences, we all have illustrious arched eyebrows, bristly mustaches, and whiskers. Plus spunk and spirit galore!
5. Bull Terrier and Miniature Bull Terrier
I’m the Miniature Bull Terrier, but my history is interwoven with my (about 50 pound) cousin, the Bull Terrier. In the 1800’s, Brits combined Bulldogs and Terriers to develop the (not-originally named!) Bull Terrier. Originally bred for work and toughness, the Bull Terrier was later developed mainly for companionship. Appealing to the gentle class, James Hinks bred our ancestors with notable white coats and social natures. Over time, people bred some of us in a smaller size. We Miniature Bull Terriers, now our own breed, typically weigh about 30 pounds. At one time, there was a Toy variety too, but he essentially went out of style. In any size, we’re well recognized for our unique egg-shaped noggin. And even more importantly, we’re all notorious for our free spirits and jovial natures.
Top photo: Miniature American Shepherd and Australian Shepherd courtesy JD Smith.
Homepage photo: Poodles courtesy Bev Scott.