Dog Facts

Why Do Small Dogs Bark More Than Large Dogs (Or Do They???)

I have two dogs, Cooper, a white fluffy Maltese-Poodle mix that’s seven-years-old, and Gracelynn, who has a black silky-textured fur coat and is almost three-years-old.

Gracelynn is fifteen pounds and Cooper is 12 pounds.

Left: Gracelynn; Right: Cooper

I walk Cooper and Gracelynn regularly, and due to their walking behavior, I joke around that I have the worst dogs in the neighborhood. They always bark at anyone who also happens to be taking a stroll, particularly if they have a dog with them.

Despite being such small dogs – or maybe because of it – they always, and I mean always, bark up a storm when someone walks by. But what amazes me further is that if the person they’re barking at also has a little dog, then that dog begins to bark as well.

But…

If the person they’re barking at has a big dog, then typically that big dog doesn’t make any noise. No barking at all. It’s always puzzled me.

Well, it turns out that while the thinking “small dogs bark more than big ones” is certainly a stereotype, there is some truth to it.

So, here’s three reasons that may explain why small dogs tend to bark more than big dogs. (By the way, researchers can’t figure out everything. These are just their best explanations so far.)

  1. Which Dog Is More Obedient?


When it comes to analyzing the behavior of dogs, the study performed by Christine Arhant for the Applied Animal Behaviour Science journal is a go-to.

This study attempted to answer over 240 questions by conducting over 1,000 surveys…so this study was huge.

Fortunately, there’s a snippet in this study that concentrates on behavioral differences between big dogs and little dogs. One of the differences Christine noted was that big dogs – believe it or not – may be more obedient than small ones.

Let’s go a little deeper:

Owners in this study were asked to give their dogs certain commands (sit down, roll over, etc.), and big dogs obeyed more often than the little ones. In fact, in the study the researchers were able to measure which dogs had longer attention spans, and again, big ones came out on top.

Why is this?

What does this have to do with barking?

To answer these questions, we need to go to the next reason on our three-part list.

  1. Who Gets Excited More Easily


Another behavior difference that Christine’s study tackles is this:

Who gets excited more easily, and who tends to be more aggressive?

To get to the bottom of this, they monitored which dogs snapped more, which dogs barked more, which chased people, and which ones got excited when the doorbell rang.

The results came out with big dogs tending to be less likely to do those things and small dogs in the opposite realm.

Which means that one of the reasons small dogs bark more is because they get excited easier. And their barks are an expression of their excitement.

On top of that, small dogs may even be more aggressive. And barking is a way to show their aggression.

Big dogs, on the other hand, don’t seem to get very excited or aggressive by the things that smaller dogs do.

But that’s not the only reason why little dogs bark more…there is final, if not more important, reason that we have to tackle in order to get to the bottom this question.

  1. The Anxiety Factor


Here’s the final behavior difference in Christine’s study that we’ll cover in this article:

Which dog tends to get more fearful or anxious?

To answer this question, the researchers monitored the reactions of big dogs and little dogs as they were exposed to loud sounds, fireworks, crowds, etc. Signs of anxiety were panting, drooling, and/or trembling.

Again, big dogs were less likely to show these signs of anxiety than small dogs.

From this observation, we can formulate our final reason why small dogs bark more than big ones: they are doing it out of fear and anxiousness.

That could be why your little dog is barking more than your big one, and why he or she seems to constantly be making noise.

So, to wrap things up:

Little dogs (may) bark more than big dogs because, first, they tend to not be as obedient to your command to stop, second, they get excited by things easier, and their barking is an expression of that excitement, and finally, they’re barking because of anxiety.

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