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By Robin Tierney

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The following item is based on information in the article, "How much is that doggie for my condo?" by Eileen Mitchell.

Many homeowners' associations and apartments have rules about weight limitations for dogs. However, the idea large dogs need large homes and small dogs need small homes is borne from ignorance rather than fact.

Small is not always better; a diminutive stature does not always translate to disposition.

Different dogs thrive in different environments. Some are mellow, others are yippers. Others must always have something to do and can be destructive if bored. Some are good with children, some are natural watchdogs. Temperament is a more important factor than is size.

Jennifer Figueiredo, dog training coordinator with Tony La Russa's Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF), says it's a popular misconception that all small dogs are fine for condo living. "The majority of dogs categorized in the Sporting, Hound, Working, Terrier and Herding groups often have trouble acclimating to condo living," she says. "Many dogs in those five groups do not make ideal condo pets due to their inherent instincts from their original function. For example, every dog in the Sporting group was originally bred for hunting, retrieving, bird flushing, water retrieving or pointing. Those activities require a dog with lots of energy."

That's why potential dog owners should first research various breeds and their natural behaviors -- there are plenty of books and Web sites.

Take the ex-racer greyhound, for example. "There's a common misconception among those unfamiliar with ex-racers that they are hyperactive. They are not," says Carolyn Raeke in her book, The Guide to Adopting an Ex-Racing Greyhound.

"Ex-racers basically have two speeds: off and on. In truth, greyhounds sleep a lot. And if they aren't actually sleeping, they are resting. It is a common expression among greyhound owners that their pet is a 40 mph couch potato." Ex-racers rarely bark and are content sleeping on their pillow for most of the day.

"Training is key," adds Eliza Dexter, spokesperson with the East Bay SPCA. "It's truly a factor in how well a dog does in any environment, regardless of size."

Thanks to the popular TV sitcom "Frasier," the tiny Jack Russell Terrier has grown in demand. However, these dogs are not recommended for condo/apt. living because they need a lot of outdoor exercise, including running, and are often too loud for such high-density living.

Keep in mind that regardless of size, a dog needs access to an outside area. Owners must commit to taking their dog out several times a day, every day, rain or shine. And since dogs crave companionship, owners can't just go out with friends every evening after work.

Be knowledgeable of your condo or apartment rules; don't try to sneak in an unacceptable dog. But you can try to work with condo representatives and apartment managers to modify rules.

The bottom line: make sure the dog's personality and breed characteristics are compatible with your situation and lifestyle.


For more Dog Tips about pet care, adoption and the work PAW does, visit our website at:

Partnership for Animal Welfare, Inc.
P.O. Box 1074, Greenbelt, MD 20768