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June 7, 2019

Through my long-time work as a journalist, I get access to stats and other information not always available to other dog folks. When I see something of interest (or that scares me), I'm going to start telling you about it. Here's how the trend toward people preferring smaller dogs may affect you.


trend toward smaller dogs stats graphic

47% of U.S. households have dogs under 25 pounds. Pet market experts expect this trend toward smaller dogs to continue. That's going to change things in several important ways.

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5 Ways Smaller Dogs are Going to Change Things (for Bigger Dog Lovers)

1. The price of pet food will increase -- a lot.

"From the perspective of pet food, smaller dogs have helped enable price points per pound to spike upward -- since this trend can be offset by the relatively smaller volume of pet food consumed ... between 2011 and 2017 the average price per pound of pet food and treats in the pet specialty channel jumped by 46%."
(source: "Pet Industry Outlook: Veterinary Services and Pet Product Retailing," May 2018)

2. Veterinarians will shift their focus to conditions more common in smaller dogs.

Rather than gearing up to handle things more common in bigger dogs such as arthritis, orthopedic issues, and bloat, veterinary hospitals will likely shift their focus to diabetes, dental disease, and dislocated kneecaps, which are more common in smaller dogs. 
(source: "Pet Industry Outlook: Veterinary Services and Pet Product Retailing," May 2018)

3. Products for indoor pottying may become more common.

I get pitched products like this all the time. Frankly, I think it's gross and not helpful to allow dogs of any size to potty inside unless they are having a medical issue that causes incontinence and such. But, I realize that I have sturdy dogs who go outside easily in all kinds of weather, and I realize that living in a rural area, with good fences, where I can simply let them outside to potty is a lot easier than having to leash them and take them for a walk for all potty trips -- as people in urban areas or places without fences must do.

4. It might get harder to find harnesses, beds, and other pet products for bigger dogs in local stores.

Stores and online retailers are going to stock what sells the most, and with smaller dogs potentially dominating the pet product sales, then it might get harder to find your dog's size. It'll probably cost a lot more too.

5. Pet friendly hotels and other establishments will likely maintain low dog weight limits.

Pet friendly often means places like hotels are friendly, but only to smaller dogs, under 25 pounds. So, it may become even harder to find spots that welcome bigger dogs as this trend toward smaller dogs continues.

(I rely on my friends at for all the latest news on traveling with pets.)

What Worries Me Most About the Trend Toward Smaller Dogs

#1 and #4 worry me most as someone with dogs who weigh more than 25 pounds. Bigger dogs already cost more to feed, more to treat with veterinary care, and more to use certain pet products, so the chance that it might get even more expensive or harder to find what I want is not great news.

Does any of this worry you? Post a note in the comments below. 

About the Author Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related.

I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

  1. I don’t worry about those items. I feed a balanced home prepared raw food using human ingredients so if I was to worry about food, it would be increased prices on people food. One could check the used market for items for larger dogs.

  2. A lot of apartments won’t allow dogs over 25 pounds. So as more people get those small dogs, that increases the amount of tenants that landlords can pick from without having to consider the “big” dog owner. I live in a small city with a 90 pound dog and can’t find an apartment. I’m currently living with my sister at her house.

    1. Oh!!! That’s an excellent point! Even in supposedly dog friendly Colorado, where we live, it’s really hard to find rentals (houses or apartments) that allow dogs at all, so I can imagine that weight limits also narrow or completely eliminate your options. I’m sorry to hear it.

  3. I would never consider a smaller dog ever. Even as we get older, we will always have bigger dogs. I feed my dogs virtually for free (I buy organ meat) because I work with local hunters to get enough meat scraps to fill 7 freezers each year. I was feeding four gsds (140 lbs, 90 lbs and 60 lbs and 70s lbs) for almost free. I understand that most people don’t want to do raw but that is how I will get around that information.

  4. I have 1 dog that’s 25 lbs and 1 that’s 35 lbs. and yes, it’s already expensive to feed and vet them. As I get older I would consider a smaller dog simply because they would be easier to handle. When it comes to feeding and vetting however, it all seems expensive regardless of the size of the dog. With vets I understand the cost and even with the food (to a point). But pet owners are often misled with all the “extras” they are told their pets need. The list of supplements and supplies that we are led to believe “our pets can’t live without” is overwhelming. And it can lead to some people spending a lot of money on things their dogs don’t need (or want).

    With smaller dogs I think that trend will only get worse because smaller dogs seem to have more health problems usually due to over-breeding to achieve a certain ‘look’. Designer dogs, which I find to be reprehensible. But that’s just me.

    Good article though. Very informative.

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