Thursday, March 31, 2011

The (Canine) Napoleon Syndrome

This is really an adjunct to “Little Dog Syndrome”,  but it is different enough that I decided to make it a separate entry. 

I don’t know if other animal professionals call it this, or if it’s just my own way to describe the boldness of some little dogs, but I do call it the Napoleon Syndrome (NS).

I think we all know what the Napoleon Syndrome is in people—but just in case, I’ll explain briefly.  In today’s society, short men who display a rather fierce, aggressive attitude are considered to have “The Napoleon Syndrome”.  In other words, common belief (whether right or wrong) holds that some (short) men are trying to overcompensate for their physical size. 

Well, the same thing happens in the dog world.  Some small and toy dog breeds are “too big for their britches”! We’ve all seen the Yorkie or Pomeranian playing with or sometimes attacking a much bigger dog.  These dogs don’t know how small they are and don’t realize they look a little ridiculous—imagine a Chihuahua chasing a Rottweiler away!  The thing is, sometimes big dogs are so surprised by these little guys bravado, that they DO run away!

The danger here, of course, is your little one taking on the wrong big dog and getting injured or killed in the process.  These little guys can also be the “ankle-biters”—absolutely no fear of anything and they believe they are guard dogs.  I sometimes affectionately call these dogs “chicken hawks” after the little guy in the Foghorn Leghorn cartoons—the tiny little “hawk” insists he is going to kill and eat Foghorn Leghorn—with very comic results. 

So, if you have a dog with “Little Dog Syndrome” or the “Napoleon Syndrome”, the important thing is to socialize them with other dogs and with people, and to give them some training and rules/boundaries, in order to protect them from themselves.