Can Little Dogs Live Safely With Big Dogs?

Of course, shelters and rescue groups are fully entitled to make their rules as they want to, but I’m very happy to see many of them starting to move from “rules” to “guidelines” as they work to get more pets and people connected. Guidelines recognize that there can and will be exceptions and allow shelters to focus on the greater interest of getting pets out of shelter cages and runs and onto couches and beds in great new homes.

Which brings me back to your not being allowed to adopt a little dog because you have a big one. Of course, it’s true that a big dog can hurt or even kill a little one, even by accident (little dog-big dog collisions rarely end well for the little dog). And I would bet that this rule is in place because of a past tragedy that the shelter does not want repeated. That doesn’t mean that it necessarily would be repeated if you brought the Chihuahua home with you — your Labrador could be a perfect “big brother” to a little dog. In fact, right now our family includes two big dogs (a Golden and a Labrador Pit Bull mix) and two little ones, and everyone gets along fine.

If you believe your Labrador will be fine with a small dog, it’s worth trying to see if there’s any give in the rules. If you can persuade the shelter to meet your Labrador and judge the factors individually, you may be allowed to adopt the smaller dog. If not, don’t waste your time trying to change the organization: There are lots of dogs who deserve a good home like yours, and you’ll find another good candidate to adopt. Especially if you're looking for a Chihuahua, a popular breed that's over-represented in shelters these days.

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