Acta Vet. Brno 2009, 78: 107-114

Body Size and Behaviour Traits of Dogs in Czech Households

Eva Baranyiová1, Antonín Holub, Mojmír Tyrlík2

1Department of Veterinary Public Health and Toxicology, Faculty of Veterinary Hygiene and Ecology, University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Brno, Czech Republic
2Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University, Brno

Received April 29, 2008
Accepted December 15, 2008

The objective of this study was to analyse the effect of body size of dogs on their coexistence with humans in Czech households. For this purpose we used questionnaire data on 246 dogs indicating the breed. The dogs were divided into five body size groups, i.e. toy (T, up to 5 kg body mass, n = 32), small (S, 5 - 10 kg body mass, n = 52), medium size (M, 10 - 17 kg body mass, n = 39), large (L, 17 - 33 kg body mass, n = 70), giant (G, over 33 kg body mass, n = 53). The largest dogs surpassed the body mass of the smallest dogs at least seven times, and giant dogs weighed at least one half and toy dogs less than one tenth of the average body mass of people in the Czech human population. Despite this the majority of the studied traits regardless of body mass of the dogs showed no significant differences. In the vast majority of Czech households all dogs were considered household members, taken on travels or vacations, photographed and their birthdays were celebrated. Aggressiveness of the dogs did not correlate with their body size. Among the 84 traits of the behaviour of dogs and their owners, which were analysed, only 23, i.e. 27.4% traits were significantly related to their body mass. Larger and heavier dogs were more frequently kept in houses with yards and gardens, in rural environments. Toy and small dogs prevailed in urbanised environments, in apartments. They were allowed to use furniture, sleep in beds of household members. Moreover, toy dogs predominated in one-person households. Large dogs were more often trained, sometimes by professional trainers, obeyed commands better and were more often described as obedient. They were considered not only as companions but also as working dogs. Giant size dogs were also more often trained to be protective. These data show that the differences in the body size of dogs modified their co-existence with humans only to a limited extent.