Do small dog breeds make better pets? Ask Roxie and Brien. Their marriage has put that question to the test. Long story short, after six years they’re still in love.
When they married, their combined household included three teenaged children, two cats, two male dogs, and a tortoise. Dogwise, there was Billie, Brien’s Airedale Terrier, and Razu, Roxie’s Miniature Schnauzer.
Brien and Roxie met walking their dogs on the boardwalk at the beach. The debate over which breed of dog was smarter, sweeter, more trainable – in short, better – was launched at their very first meeting.
“How old is your dog?” Brien inquired. “Looks like he’s barely our of puppyhood.”
“Two. And yours?”
“Too too what?”
“Too too good to be true!”
They shared their first laugh.
“Airedales are funny dogs,” Roxie observed, a few minutes into their conversation. (The talk was all about their dogs, as is often the case when two dog lovers meet.) “But those long, skinny, shaggy legs—” She giggled. “I’ll bet he falls all over himself when he runs.”
“Never!” Brien countered, tightening his hold on the leash as Razu stepped closer to make friends and Billie stiffened and growled a warning. “Your dog’s invading my dog’s territory,” he said.
“He’s just being friendly,” Roxie said. “Why is your dog acting so stand-offish?”
“He’s not the social type,” Brien defended. “He’s the strong, silent type.”
“Takes after you?”
“‘Fraid not. I’m a wimp, and I always stop and talk to attractive women.”
“You’re flirting with me.”
“Never,” he said with vehement shake of his head. “Would you care to have dinner with me?”
That was the beginning. It was love at first sight for the two of them, and for Razu. But then, Razu loved everybody.
As for Billie, he wasn’t so sure about Brien’s new friends.
As they came to know each other and their children played together, Billie began to tolerate Razu’s presence. He never did take to Roxy’s daughters’ cats, though.
The friendly debate over small dog breeds vs. large breeds raged on.
“Razu’s so sweet,” Roxy would say.
“Billie’s sweet, too,” Brien would counter.
“Razu hardly sheds at all,” someone would point out. On that point there was no contest, for bits of Billie’s fur on the rugs made vacuuming a daily necessity.
There were things they could agree on: Both breeds were strong-willed, independent, active, playful, stubborn, confident, and funny. They both loved romping with the kids.
But while Razu seemed open to whatever life style changes came his way, Billie had a slew of problems problems adapting to the changes in Brien’s life.
With a new wife and two new daughters, Brien was becoming more of a homebody. He still managed to take Billie walking every evening, and Razu went along as well. But mountain hikes and swims in the ocean, sports he and his dog had enjoyed together in the past, became a rarity.
Bred for the hunt, the Airedale craved strenuous exercise. With less of it now, he turned his energy in other directions: incessant barking, digging in the garden, chasing the cats.
Brien had no idea his dog would go after the cats. He’d never had cats, so the problem had never come up before. The minute Billie saw the two Siamese in the yard, he lit out after them. The cats ran for their lives escaping up the trunk of a Jacaranda tree.
Brien took the Airedale indoors. The girls did their best to coax the cats down, but it took nearly an hour for the second one to finally come down out of the branches. When she did she was still shaking in fright.
Concerned, Brien consulted with a trainer. As long as he was around and aware, the dog left the cats alone. But Billie could not be left alone with them.
One day he spied a cat in the yard and caught its hind leg in his mouth as the cat tried to run. She managed to get away, but not without major damage to her right hip.
The cat nearly died from that encounter. To this day, she drags her right leg.
As he approached his tenth birthday, Billie showed signs of wearing down. On a routine vet visit he was diagnosed with pancreatitis, a fairly common Airedale affliction, and three months later he made his exit from this life.
The whole family mourned his passing. For all his spunky misbehavior, Billie was well loved by all. His death seemed to hit Brien’s son the hardest. Jason had grown up with the dog. To him, Billie’s death felt like losing a brother.
Looking back, Brien saw that Billie had been the perfect dog for him as a happy-go-lucky, physically active and adventurous single man. But becoming a family pet put him at a disadvantage.
He conceded that the Miniature Schnauzer was a better choice for a family dog.
So… What do you think? Are small dog breeds more appropriate for family situations?
More specifically, if YOU are thinking about dog breeds and debating between an Airedale and a Miniature Schnauzer, what lessons can you take away from Roxy and Brien’s experience?
- A Miniature Schnauzer tends to be friendlier to other dogs than an Airedale, unless the Airedale was socialized with other dogs at a young age
- Airedales, bred for the hunt, are more aggressive and may chase and kill small animals
- Airedales shed more than Miniature Schnauzers, which can lead to allergy problems for family members
- Airedales require more coat maintenance, more trimming of their fur
- Miniature Schnauzers have no strong digging instinct, while a bored Airedale will tend to dig up the garden and the yard
- Miniature Schnauzers tend to live longer: twelve to fifteen years, while Airedales typically live ten or twelve years.
An Airedale is a wonderful dog. Intelligent and courageous, protective and adventurous, they are perfect in an outdoor setting. They require intense daily physical activity. On the whole, they are not made for life as a household pet. Their large size, combined with their tendency to romp, makes them a hazard around small children and elderly people, who may be unsteady on their feet.
A Miniature Schnauzer is a much better choice if you have small children or elderly adults in your family, or if you are not committed to a regular rigorous exercise program with the dog. Schnauzers do require daily exercise, and if they get their run in they are not likely to dig up your garden or yard or terrorize other animals.
Schnauzers are social animals, enjoying human contact and other animals. They love to be held on your lap, and to be stroked and have their belly rubbed.
Both breeds require proper training. Like all breeds, both have health challenges, though Schnauzers less so than Airedales.
Whether you choose an Airedale or a Schnauzer, you’re sure to have great pet stories to tell. If you have a business, you can use those stories to boost your customer base and your income. To explore the many ways of doing that, check out the Pet Writes membership. Get started today with the 7-Day Trial!
Chiwah Carol Slater
The Pet Story Passionista
Word Weaver Chiwah
Founder, PetWrites.com, WordWeaver4U.com