Vol. 3 No. 1 (2017)

Exploring the influence of size on undesired behaviours of domestic dogs

Amanda Martino
veterinary surgeon freelance

Published 2017-05-09


  • dog,
  • undesirable behaviour,
  • size,
  • breed,


The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of the size of the dog on the expression of undesirable behaviors. Data obtained by 1156 anonymous questionnaires filled in by dog owners were statistically analyzed using the Kruskal Wallis test (p<0.05) and the Mann Whitney test (p<0.05). It emerged that small dogs more frequently displayed the following behaviors: house soiling, exaggerated jumping-up on owners when they come back, not obeying commands, chewing people’s body parts, licking insistently the mouth and other parts of owners’ body, barking when left alone, barking insistently (when not alone), tail chasing, mounting and humping, barking at other dogs, attempting to bite other dogs, growling at other dogs, fearing veterinarians/veterinary clinics, disliking when people (especially strangers) enter their territory, and defending one or more objects considered as their own.

Large dogs showed more frequently the following behaviors: jumping-up on other people, digging holes, chewing objects and people’s body parts, chasing vehicles/bicycles/people, eating their own feces, destroying objects when left alone, pulling on the leash, tail chasing, chasing cats, attempting to bite other dogs, bristling when meeting other dogs.

The owner’s behavior is regarded to be a possible cause of undesirable behaviors in dogs. Based on these results, veterinary behaviorists should emphasize the importance of knowing basic ethology and of the intraspecific socialization, especially with owners of small dogs.