I’m thinking about adding a dog to the family. For various reasons it would be best to adopt the smallest type possible. However, I also cherish the prospect of wiling away many an hour throwing a ball and having the dog bring it back. What’s the smallest type of dog that would take naturally to this pastime?
My dog Banjo retrieves eagerly and he’s only six pounds, he’s a longhair Chihuahua. He’ll go get the little stuffed toy, Mr. Monkey Man, as long as I keep throwing it. I always tire out before he does.
I had a Pomeranian that would chase a racquetball and return it.
Some personal anecdotes:
When I was kid, we had a miniature poodle that would fetch all day long and drop the ball as soon as he returned. he was not a stereo typical “prissy” poodle and best I can remember he weight about about 25-30 lbs. Not sure if a Toy poodle would do the same.
I had a Boston Terrier that would fetch all day long as well. but I could never get her to drop the ball unless I teased her with a treat. she was a large BT, and weighed 25 lbs. And all muscle. Jaws of steel. She would not let go of a sock while playing tug-o-war.
We found (and returned) a boston terrier a few months back that was a fetching fool.
But it really depends on the dog. I had a Lab that I was able to train to retrieve but never really enjoyed it much…yet most retrievers are wild for it.
Our current Terrier mix gets into a fetching mood now and then, but after 3-4 throws, she’s had enough.
It’s a dog by dog type of thing. Although he’s not small, Blackjack will fetch something exactly once. Then he expects you to spend the rest of the day scratching his head and butt.
The one toy Poodle I knew was fanatical about it.
Most dogs will enjoy fetch, but of course for the smaller dogs, you’ll have to throw smaller toys.
All of my Papillons have been fetching fools! Even my little old girl with a heart murmur will still fetch a few times before she tires out.
My first little Pap Boy Jay actually played frisbee… I had a little soft Pap-sized frisbee and he would play until he was ready to drop.
Seriously… Papillons are WONDERFUL little dogs, they are in the top 10 for intelligence, easy to train, loyal, loving, and will do ANYTHING to make their person smile. And they are not delicate little flowers… they will run with the big dogs!
My dog, Little Miss Rowdy, is a chihuahua/Italian Greyhound mix, weighs 8.5 pounds soaking wet, and fetches like each ball is her only chance of salvation from a world without bacon.
I think what you need to look for is a dog that wants to please and has some athletic ability. Once that combination is present, getting them to fetch is not that difficult. (I do have to keep a second ball loaded in the Chuck-It if I want LMR to drop the ball she’s returning.)
My friend’s Jack Russel weighs like… 8 lbs and is a maniac for fetch. You have to use the chuckit (a modern-day atlatl) to throw it far enough for her though. She just stares sadly at a bad throw.
Please note: JRTs are not suitable for most families, or any inexperienced dog owner, so don’t get one.
I had two boston terriers who were champion fetchers. (And mine would also not let go of anything in a tug of war game. My 25-pound female BT once pulled my 115-pound mom right off the couch. If she clamped down on a frisbee, you could pick it up and spin around and she’d just hang on, flying around you. I think she loved that game.) I did have to teach them to drop the object they were fetching though.
My impression was that any dog can be taught to fetch. It’s a matter of teaching a few commands, “go get it,” “come,” “sit-stay,” and “leave it.” Teach each of those and you’ll be able to put 'em together over time. I would also advise teaching a dog “that’s enough” or some command that tells them the game is over. My female BT would keep fetching until she collapsed in exhaustion or you convinced her that you were about to.
God, I miss those dogs. I think I’m going to have to get one of Toucanna’s puppies.
We have two chihuahuas - one likes fetching and one doesn’t. At their size I can throw the ball down the hallway and it’s far enough, so we can play fetch even in bad weather.
Our Lhasa Apso (7 pounds) fetched, rolled over and did all those other dog things.
We have a Bichon that LOVES to fetch. It’s really funny to play fetch with him and our big Lab at the same time - the little dog is almost as fast, and can stop on a dime, so he usually gets the ball, when the lab overshoots it.
I had a JRT when I was a kid. She could play fetch all day every day and never get tired of it (or get tired, period).
She was also really good at catching a tennis ball. I would stand on the deck and throw a tennis ball as high as I could and she would run out into the yard, find it in the air, and catch it. She never missed, not even once.
I miss that dog.
No cite I’m afraid but I remember seeing a guy on TV claim that fetching ability depends on muzzle length rather than the size of the dog. he was saying that flat faced dogs have poor 3D vision irrc and so can’t see where the ball goes and so have no desire to chase it. I note that all the dogsdmentioned so far have nice pointy faces.
My BFF’s 4.5 lb. chihuahua is a fetching fool too.
Throw his lovey down the hall for an inside game or a knotted piece of rope outdoors and he’ll play as long as someone’ll throw for him.
Might I inquire why you want the smallest type of dog? No offense intended, but people sometimes make assumptions and wind up not asking the right question. For example, if you want a small dog because you have a small apartment and a sedentary lifestyle, some small breeds might not be all that appropriate. If you want a small dog because you have small children, you might be surprised to learn that many small breeds are inappropriate for young children, and some large breeds have much better reputations with small children. Or if it’s shedding you’re concerned about, some small but longhaired breeds would do you no good. And so on.
Lastly, be aware that all “breed tendencies” are generalizations, and individual dogs vary, sometimes wildly, from those expected tendencies.