Why Are Bigger Dogs Calmer? Reasons Explained

The world of dogs is a diverse one, with breeds ranging from tiny Chihuahuas to massive Great Danes. While each dog has its unique personality, it’s a common observation that bigger dogs tend to exude a sense of calmness that often eludes their smaller counterparts. 

But what’s the science behind this phenomenon? In this article, we will explore the intriguing connection between size and temperament in dogs and uncover the reasons why bigger dogs are often calmer.

Size Matters: The Physiology of Bigger Dogs

To understand why bigger dogs are calmer, we must first delve into the physiological differences between large and small breeds. 

Bigger dogs, such as Saint Bernards and Newfoundlands, have larger bodies with more substantial bone structures and muscles. This physical advantage contributes significantly to their perceived calmness.

Lower Metabolism

One key factor is metabolism. Larger dogs tend to have slower metabolic rates compared to their smaller counterparts. This means they burn energy at a more leisurely pace, resulting in a calmer disposition. 

Smaller dogs, on the other hand, have faster metabolisms, which can make them more excitable and prone to bursts of energy.

Temperature Regulation

Another physiological advantage of bigger dogs is their ability to regulate body temperature more efficiently. Their larger bodies have a lower surface area-to-volume ratio, which helps them retain heat in cold weather and stay cool in hot climates. 

This improved temperature control can lead to a calmer demeanor as they are less likely to be affected by environmental discomfort.

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Genetics and Breeding

The genetics behind a dog’s temperament play a crucial role in their behavior. Breeding practices have a significant impact on a dog’s size and temperament, which is why certain breeds tend to be calmer than others.

Selective Breeding

Many larger dog breeds were selectively bred for specific traits, including calmness and docility. Breeders aimed to create dogs that were suitable for various roles, such as guarding, herding, or companionship. 

As a result, these breeds tend to exhibit a calmer temperament as it aligns with their historical functions.

Smaller Breeds and High Energy

Conversely, smaller dog breeds were often bred for different purposes, such as hunting or vermin control. These roles required high levels of energy and alertness, which have been ingrained in their genetics. Consequently, smaller dogs may be more prone to restlessness and hyperactivity.

Exercise Needs

Exercise is a crucial aspect of a dog’s behavior, and it can significantly influence their temperament. Bigger dogs typically have lower exercise requirements compared to smaller breeds. 

This is because their larger bodies expend less energy during everyday activities. A brisk walk or a game of fetch can often suffice to meet their exercise needs, leaving them feeling satisfied and calm.

Socialization and Training

The way a dog is raised and trained also plays a significant role in their temperament. Regardless of size, early socialization and proper training are essential for shaping a dog’s behavior. However, bigger dogs may benefit from their calmer disposition during the training process.

Easier to Manage

Bigger dogs are often easier to manage during training sessions due to their calmer nature. They may be more attentive and less prone to impulsive behavior, making it simpler for owners to establish boundaries and reinforce positive behaviors.

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Smaller Dogs: More Energy, More Patience Required

Training smaller dogs can be a bit more challenging, especially with highly energetic breeds. These dogs may require more patience and consistent training to overcome their natural tendencies towards excitability and restlessness.

Age and Maturity

Age and maturity also contribute to a dog’s temperament, and larger breeds tend to mature at a slower rate than smaller ones. 

This delayed maturity can lead to a longer “puppy phase” during which they exhibit puppy-like energy and behavior. In contrast, smaller dogs often reach maturity faster and may transition into a calmer phase sooner.


The correlation between size and temperament in dogs is a complex interplay of genetics, physiology, and environmental factors. While bigger dogs do tend to be calmer, it’s crucial to remember that every dog is an individual with its unique personality. 

Understanding these factors can help prospective dog owners choose a breed that aligns with their lifestyle and preferences. 

Whether you opt for a calm, gentle giant or a lively, pint-sized companion, the key to a happy and harmonious relationship lies in providing love, care, and proper training to your furry friend.