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Judy Hedding

How Much Does a Small Dog Weigh?

By May 5, 2011

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People who visit dog parks encounter issues. These problems are not unexpected when you gather strangers in a public place and hope that they will follow rules and be courteous. Short of having dog park police at every off-leash area in the county, there's not much that can be done to make everyone happy.

I received an email from a reader today:

Most dog parks in Phoenix are divided between large dogs and small dogs. My question to you is: is there a general weight limit between large and small dogs? What is it? The park where I am going my 3 pound dog is with 65-100+ pound dogs. Everyone says their dog is gentle and used to small dogs. My concern is that while their dog is running and playing it might land on or run into my tiny dog and physically harm or kill it. If there is a general consensus of pounds between large and small could it possibly be posted along with the words? If not, my tiny dog is not able to play in the park with 30-40 pound dogs. I will not be able to use it. I will hunt for another dog park in my area where perhaps the people are more considerate.

Arizona Dog Park
At the Dog Park
Judy Hedding
Here are a few of my thoughts on the topic. First of all, you are correct that there are some dog parks in the area that have separate areas designated for large and small dogs and some that do not. The ones that do probably are not going to post a weight limit for the small dog area. A larger dog that is old may well be better suited in the smaller fenced area. Likewise, I have seen some 10-pounders that were highly aggressive and didn't belong in the small dog area at all. Of course, they can't call the sections of the dog park "Aggressive" and "Non-Aggressive" because almost no one thinks their dog is the aggressive one. Some dog parks designate the areas "Active" and "Passive" or "Active" and "Timid."

I have the same concern as you do regarding my dog being hurt. I have had the experience of being at a dog park when another owner of a smallish dog thought his dog was being cute when pinning my dog to the ground with its teeth in her neck. After some discussion, about all I could do was take my dog home. I asked the man when he typically uses the park so I could make sure I was never there when he was.

If you force me to come up with an unofficial estimate, I'd say about 25 pounds. Is it a general consensus? I doubt it. Small dog owners usually know when a dog doesn't belong in that area. If a calm 30-pounder was in the small dog area, I wouldn't try to force the owner to remove her.

Finally, some dogs don't belong at any dog park. They are either not under control by their owner, too aggressive, or simply are not socialized well enough to play nice. If you find that your dog is too fragile, no matter what part of the dog park you are using, it's possible that your dog needs to find another way to socialize, like in a friend's yard. I think your idea of trying different dog parks is a good one for now.

My dog park pet peeve: people who bring little kids into the dog park who play with the dog toys and run around among the dogs. There's a good reason that dog parks require people to be over a certain age in the fenced area. Why do people think the rules apply to everyone but them? If you have a dog park pet peeve, or if you want to share a story about an experience you had at a dog park, please share your comments here.

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May 6, 2011 at 1:23 pm
(1) Kristen Nelson, D.V.M. says:

If you take your dog to a dog park, please keep them up to date on their vaccinations and parasite control. As a veterinarian, I worry about exposing your pet to infectious diseases such as parvo, distemper and tick fever.

May 15, 2011 at 1:48 pm
(2) Mark says:

The dog park we take our dog to in Scottsdale doesn’t have a big or small section, but rather an active dog section and passive dog section.

I have a 70 lb golden retriever that is passive. Unfortunately, people have decided that passive means small, and active means big. On more than one occasion, my dog has been nipped at by small dogs that definitely weren’t passive, but were in the passive section. However, most of the time he just rolls over if a dog is acting aggressively toward him. This always diffuses things.

If someone has a very small dog, please keep in mind that Scottsdale doesn’t have a size division in its dog parks, only temperament. This could be an issue for small dogs that may not be able to get out of the way.

June 2, 2011 at 1:37 am
(3) Tim says:

If all the dogs are passive, there really should be no concern about a little dog getting out of the way. If the 30 and 40 pound dogs are running all over the park, including into people, they aren’t passive. That’s the problem we have at our park.

September 21, 2013 at 6:12 pm
(4) Lurlene Bello says:

Cool material, plenty of small dog related information!

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