Napoleon Syndrome... Short Man Syndrome... Little Man Syndrome… All are just a few terms used to describe an alleged type of inferiority complex experienced mainly by short men. The theory behind this generally undesirable attribute suggests that shorter organisms will act aggressively toward larger organisms in an attempt to gain respect and recognition. But does this alleged complex also exist in the canine population?
My little niece pooch fits this cliché to a tee! In fact, if she could read, I have probably just deeply offended her in using the word ‘little’ to describe her. Sorry Bella! Every morning when I take Bella for a walk in hope of overcoming her apparent ‘coffee-table’ physique as described by her vet, she shows no interest what-so-ever in dogs her own size or smaller despite their desperate attempts to gain her attention. Too cool for school, is Bella’s approach to the smaller doggy population.
However, when a large dog approaches Bella, an instant reaction of enthusiasm, eagerness, and excitement is triggered, and out explodes her alter ego. If there is such a thing as ‘too keen’ in dog vocabulary, Bella epitomises the phrase. How does the fearsome exposure of canine teeth and aggressive growling go down with the likes of Lassie, Beethoven, and other big dog species you may ask? Well to be honest, I think if I were Doctor Doolittle and could talk to the animals, they would be telling me the whole facade was ridiculous! Occasionally Bella stirs what looks to be some sort of fear in their big eyes, but mostly I sense they are looking at her mockingly.
In researching ‘Small Dog Syndrome’ or SDS, I consistently came across a similar point acknowledged by vetinarians, pet owners and pet professionals, which I must confess had never occurred to me. According to the experts, it seems that perhaps ‘Small Dog Syndrome’ may actually be a reflection of poor discipline by the owner, and an inadvertent result of their actions toward their pup. While many of us, myself included, have always believed that these small dog behavioural characteristics stem from an inferiority complex acquired to compensating for their smaller stature, apparently this is not the case. It seems as owners of small dogs which display assertiveness toward larger canines, we have perhaps been too quick to justify and rationalize this behaviour with excuses, rather than acknowledging our lack of discipline. Wow… the more reading I did, the more evident it became that I too may be partially at fault for Bella’s anti-social behaviour!
Many pet experts put it simply by saying, if you let your ‘Small Dog’ behave in this unacceptable manner…. they will! Whilst most pet owner genuinely do consider their pets to be part of the family, so too do our pets view us as their family. Essentially, they see their them as a pack, so when I permit my cute little niece to behave in a certain manner as mentioned above, I’m allowing Bella to postulate from this lack of discipline that she is the family pack leader. Oh my… the realization of how deluded my niece really is rather concerns me!
So fellow dog owners, what can we do to overcome this Small Dog Syndrome? Are Bella and all the other SDS sufferers out there destined to live with a prejudiced attitude toward the larger canine breeds? Of course not! Remedy for this syndrome is possible, but ultimately, it depends on owner education and owner behaviour modification. As responsible pet owners, it is our duty to stop ignoring the SDS signs, and take control. It's time to take action and address your pet's inferiority complex so that all dogs, large and small, can co-exist in harmony.