Selecting the ideal dog is part logical and part emotional. You might think you want a big dog, but a small dog will fit better in your home. Maybe the compromise is a dog breed with short legs, such as a corgi or basset hound. These breeds offer the body size of a medium canine but the height of a small dog. Other puppies with short legs include small breeds such as the Pomeranian or Scottish terrier.
About a dozen breeds of short-legged dogs, including corgis, basset hounds, cairns, and dachshunds, actually have two sets of genes where there should be one — a type of genetic mutation. This genetic anomaly turns on a growth mechanism during fetal development that causes stunted legs. It's a type of dwarfism that was selected by breeders centuries ago when the breeds were modified to perform specific jobs, such as chasing rodents or herding cattle. Today, the modifications are considered breed standards by many kennel clubs.
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Corgi: a dog with short legs
There are many dog breeds with short legs, but a few are known for their stubby stance, most notably the corgi. The Pembroke Welsh corgi is a favorite of Queen Elizabeth and was originally bred as a herding dog with a strong chest. The Cardigan Welsh corgi shares similar leg characteristics but are slightly bigger with rounded ears and a foxlike tail.
The corgi's low-to-the-ground, compact body is ideal for nipping at the feet and hocks of cattle, which was once their job. Consequently, they are an energetic breed that loves to run and requires regular exercise. Even though corgis can weigh up to 30 pounds, they are rarely more than a foot tall, making them as sturdy as midsize dogs but as cute as lap dogs.
Cute puppies with short legs
Speaking of lap dogs, the Pomeranian is extremely adorable thanks to a smiling face. The smallest in the "puppies with short legs" category, the Pomeranian rarely weighs more than 7 pounds and rarely exceeds 7 inches in height. Poms have a perky, big-dog demeanor, making them good watchdogs. Surprisingly, this now toy dog is a miniaturized descendant of an Arctic sled dog.
In the terrier group, the Scottish terrier is an easily identifiable dog with short legs thanks to a wiry topcoat and squared, bearded face. These petite dogs have a big personality and strong hunting instincts and are prone to playful bursts of energy. However, unlike other short-legged herding dogs, Scotties are rarely fast.
Also built for distance but not speed is the short-legged basset hound, bred to run at a pace hunters could keep up with. The long ears and droopy face of the puppylike basset hound are the breed's calling card along with their short, bowed legs. The basset hound is considered a medium-size breed, weighing up to 65 pounds.
The dog with short legs and a long body
Dachshunds, also called wiener dogs, are recognizable for their long, hotdoglike body shape. This is a dog with short legs — very short. Originally, dachshunds were bred to hunt farm vermin, chasing them deep into burrows. In German, the dog's name translates to "badger dog," which was once their primary prey. These clever little dogs might look like loungers, but they are actually good hunters with high energy and require regular exercise despite their truncated legs.
Miniatures are no taller than 6 inches, and standard-size wiener dogs are under 10 inches tall. Because of their long bodies, dachshunds are prone to back issues. Always support the dog's back when lifting or moving him. Keeping a dachshund a healthy weight is especially important with this compact breed.