A young Asian girl nuzzles noses with a tabby kittenA young Asian girl nuzzles noses with a tabby kittenA young Asian girl nuzzles noses with a tabby kitten
Barks & Mewsings

The Trupanion blog

What Size Dog Should I Get? A Quiz for Prospective Pet Owners!

By: Brianna Gunter

A group of dogs of different sizes sit together.

Congratulations on deciding that puppy parenthood is for you! Now that you’ve made the pivotal choice to bring a dog into your life, it’s time to decide what size is the right for you. Doggy dimensions vary wildly, but they can generally be grouped into small, medium, and large.

Believe it or not, the dog size decision could actually be more important than breed, gender, or color. After all, you can always learn to live with a pooch that is more outgoing and energetic than anticipated, or one who’d rather snooze all day than play a game of fetch. But if your pal grows to Clifford-sized proportions in your studio apartment, you’ll have to make some major living arrangement changes or worse, give up your pet.

Understanding different dog sizes

When people refer to dog sizes, they’re typically referring to weight. Because of this, some breeds may even fall into multiple size categories. Greater canine weights tend to come with taller statures, but this isn’t always the case.

For example, a Welsh corgi may not be all that taller than some toy breeds, but the corgi’s much bigger weight (and overall build) typically puts it in medium dog size territory rather than small. Here’s a quick rundown:

Small dogs

A small terrier dog waits for his owner to throw a white ball.

“Small dogs” typically refers to pups that weigh around 20 lbs. or less. Subcategories of small dogs include toy, miniature, and teacup breeds, though some breeds may fall into multiple of these classifications.

These adorable little canines are beloved around the world for their compact sizes and playful energy! However, there’s a common misconception that their small proportions mean less work for pet owners. In reality, small dog breeds still need plenty of exercise and snuggles with their humans—if their needs aren’t met, these rambunctious cuties can start behaving poorly.

Learn about specific small dog breeds and the health conditions that affect them!

Medium dogs

A medium size dog in a red harness poses outdoors.

For those who prefer the personalities of bigger dogs but have limited space, a medium dog can be the way to go. These in-between pups can range from around 20 lbs. to 60 lbs. in weight, and they’re often playful and friendly without being too hyperactive. Many herding breeds fall into the medium dog range, serving as highly trainable and tolerant family pets—even if they get a bit stubborn at times.

Interested in a medium dog? Learn about individual breeds and how to keep them healthy at every life stage.

Large dogs

A large bernese mountain dog on a forest road with a little girl.

At around 60 lbs. full grown or more, large dogs are at the tippy top of the size chart. “Giant” dog breeds (like the Great Dane or Irish wolfhound) are also included in this category, even though they may tower over other big dogs like the Labrador retriever.

Big dogs can have big personalities or be gentle giants, but all require more daily activity than smaller pups. In addition to considering their higher exercise and food needs, it’s important to research big breeds you’re interested in ahead of time before committing to these majestic creatures.

Check out specific large dog breeds and health conditions they’re at higher risk for!

Quiz: which dog size is right for me?

So many dogs, so many sizes to choose from. Here’s a quiz to help you out. Keep in mind that the results here are intended to be useful in your dog-search process, but they may not reflect your specific canine needs.

Before you start, you may want to snag a pencil and some paper to record your answers. Ready? Set? Go!

1. What kind of home do you have?

  1. A big house with a yard and everything.
  2. A smaller house or decent-sized apartment with limited outdoor space.
  3. It’s small and snug in every way, but it’s home!
  4. I’m moving soon, so does it matter?

2. Do you like to exercise?

  1. You bet! I love running, Frisbee, going on long walks—you name it! I actually might be a dog.
  2. Yes, but maybe just a daily jog. I occasionally go on a hike though if the weekend is nice.
  3. I much prefer relaxing indoor exercises like yoga or going to a class nearby.
  4. Ugh, exercise. Must I participate in it ever?

4. Have you ever had a dog before?

  1. Yes, and they’re a challenge that’s totally worth it.
  2. No, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot and would really like one.
  3. Yes, years ago. My house has been way too quiet lately.
  4. No, but I had a goldfish named “Dog” once.

5. How often are you home?

  1. Not often, but usually because I ‘m going on walks or other outdoor adventures.
  2. Pretty regularly. I usually leave for work, and I don’t work insane hours.
  3. I love being home! It’s my happy place.
  4. Barely—I work long hours and have a very active social life.

6. How okay are you with picking up dog poo?

  1. I’m perfectly fine with it. Gotta do what you gotta do.
  2. I mean, I don’t love it, but it’s manageable.
  3. If I’m being honest—the smaller, the better!
  4. Ugh, gross. I’d do it if someone was watching I guess.

7. Do you have a car?

  1. Yeah, a mid-size SUV or larger.
  2. Yep, one with four doors and a trunk and everything.
  3. Sure do! It’s a compact one I zip around in.
  4. Who needs a car when you have feet?

8. What’s your personality like?

  1. I’m pretty laid back. I don’t find much worth stressing over.
  2. Normal… I think. I can get a bit loud when I’m having fun though.
  3. Fairly outgoing I’d say. I have great friends and enjoy being in the spotlight.
  4. I’m quick to anger and have a hard time calming down.

9. How much can you afford to spend on pet food a month?

  1. Between $65 and $100+
  2. Between $40 and $60
  3. Between $20 and $50
  4. I’m not sure.

10. Almost done! How much cleaning are you willing to do?

  1. I already clean every day and am willing to do what it takes.
  2. I’m ready to adopt a regular cleaning schedule.
  3. Cleaning is fine, but I don’t want to do a crazy amount every day.
  4. Cleaning? Willing? My vacuum collects more dust on it than in it.

Results

Two French bulldog puppies smile up while on their backs.

Ready to find out which dog size is for you? Go ahead and add up how many of each letter you wrote down.

Mostly As: A big dog seems like the right choice for you! Do your research on large dog breeds, and try talking to a local veterinarian about their exercise and nutrition needs. A big dog is a lot of commitment, but the right one will be a loyal companion whether you’re adventuring outdoors or snuggling on the couch. (Just make sure that couch is sturdy!)

Mostly Bs: Congratulations! You may be a great candidate for the best of both worlds, a.k.a. the beloved medium dog. Don’t just snag the first of these canines that you see though—they may seem like laid back pals, but all dogs are still a big responsibility. Try talking to a veterinarian near you to learn more about caring for a medium size dog before you select your new best friend.

Mostly Cs: You’re a special kind of person looking for a special kind of pet, and that may just be a small dog! These cute canines will quickly capture your heart with their congeniality and love of lap time, but be prepared for their high energy and chattiness. Reach out to a local veterinarian to make sure you have everything you need for a new little pal in your life.

Mostly Ds: You’re not quite sure what kind of dog would be the right fit, and maybe you’re not yet sold on the idea of being a puppy parent in general. That’s okay! Welcoming a dog of any size into your life is a major commitment that should be taken seriously. Try volunteering at a local animal shelter or do some pet sitting to get to know these wonderful creatures better and see if caring for a canine is a task you’re up for.

Size is just one indicator of dog personality

No matter what size dog you feel is the right choice, it’s important to keep an open mind. While common patterns are seen among different breeds and sizes, dogs are still individuals at the end of the day. Just because you have one Chihuahua who likes to run around and be vocal does not mean your next one won’t like to snooze quietly all day.

Adopting a dog is a big decision even for experienced pet parents. In addition to having to take lifestyle and personality into consideration, you’ll also have to make a plan for keeping your new pet healthy. Enrolling in dog insurance early on can help ensure your pal is protected throughout his life.

A dog and cat snuggle

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A WORD FROM TRUPANION

We’re the official blog of Trupanion—chosen by veterinarians as the #1 pet insurance in America. Here you’ll find useful dog and cat care tips, interesting veterinary insights, and fun pet topics galore.

While you’re browsing our pet blog, please note that the views expressed here are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect those of Trupanion. Our articles are reviewed by veterinarians for accuracy, but they are not a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment. Always consult with your own pet’s veterinarian for advice.

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