Would You Downsize Your Dog for the Environment?

Would You Downsize Your Dog for the Environment?

We don’t really have a dog at our house. I say not really because my aunt, who also lives here, does have a small, very old dog who lives in the basement and backyard. We don’t see her because she snaps at children, though my husband takes care of her when my aunt is away. Someday, when we do get a dog, we’ve talked about getting a nice, big family dog—like a golden retriever. I’ve always wanted one, and my daughter loves dogs. (My husband and I are cat people.)

According to the Daily Grist, however, getting a big dog might not be such a great thing for the environment. I never really thought about it, but it really does all add up: two German shepherd dogs in the United States, for example, apparently use up more resources in a year than an average person living in Bangladesh. That’s pretty ridiculous.

The average big dog eats more meat annually than the average person, too—by nearly 200 pounds. Scientists say that owning a dog is an extravagance, mostly due to this amount of meat created just for their consumption—which leads to plenty of environmental destruction. Of course, like Erika recently pointed out, the plastic bags used to take care of dog poop are also a problem.

Grist suggest that rather than give up our dog obsessions altogether—Americans love their dogs; all you have to do is visit the pet aisle of any grocery store to see all of the wacky, expensive things people buy for their pets—Grist suggests that we downsize our dog addictions, opting instead for smaller breeds. They also list several benefits to doing this in addition to those benefitting the environment—from less food to buy to less hair shed to clean up.

I’m not sure I could ever get a small dog, though. Growing up, we had one, and she was okay—she’s still alive and with my parents, old but still sweet. But most of the small dogs I’ve encountered have been major causes for irritation. All of the retired people on my block have tiny, yippy dogs who sit outside and bark at all who pass by. We can’t even go out into our yard without being barked at, which is super annoying. In fact, before those neighbors moved in, we spent a much more significant amount of time outside; now, though we still try to play outdoors, we’re constantly accosted by barking. The only dog on the block who doesn’t sit around yipping is this giant dog a neighbor a few houses down has that looks like an enormous caterpillar. He’s scary enough without the bark!

What about you? Would you be willing to downsize your breed of dog in order to have a smaller eco footprint?