Are small dogs adorable little bundles of fun or freaks of nature? Comic Rich Hall unleashes his disdain against Pekinese owner Dame Barbara Cartland
Pro-small dogs

"Small dogs are much more cosy than big dogs, you can cuddle them more - you can't cuddle a big dog, if you see what I mean, but you can pick up a small one and give it a good hug and a kiss. I don't use my dog as a fashion accessory, I'm just fond of animals. I treat them the same as I would a child - a dog is almost a human being and you must treat them as though they were and then the dog will become exactly what you want, be a relation to you and look after you and cheer you up when you're unhappy. I've got a small dog, and I'm delighted with him. He's a Pekinese and he's absolutely marvellous. He understands everything, even though he's only two; when I say `upstairs', off he goes, he's so wonderful. I find small dogs to be much more intelligent than big dogs. I take him about with me and he does everything I want him to.

I have had a large dog, but they are rather inclined to go off swimming or playing, and with mine one day he didn't come back, it was very sad. But with a small dog you can pick them up and of course carry them about. Having a little dog helps to keep people's brains working well - they're not just sitting there, they're thinking about the dog. But I wouldn't say that my dog is at all spoilt - he's very clean, has very good manners, and if I call he comes at once.

Small dogs aren't nasty, my dog is very good-tempered. The only thing is that he gives orders; he goes up to people and says `woof', which means that he wants you to let him out. He's marvellous like that. I don't understand how people can say that small dogs are ugly to look at because my present dog is the most beautiful thing you've ever seen, and he's the same as he has always been, nothing to do with genetic in-breeding. He's all white and he really is very dashing."

Dame Barbara Cartland's latest novels, `Hidden Danger', `Secret Passage' and `Queen of Hearts' are published by Chivers Press

Anti-small dogs

"Little dogs are bedroom slippers with legs. I hate them, especially Pekineses with their pushed-in little faces - disgusting. They're basically there for kicking and deserve to be hated because they didn't have the genetic wherewithal to get any bigger. It's humans' fault I suppose for in-breeding them - though why anyone would want to breed downwards I don't know. They're just inferior; you can make them do whatever you want and they'll take on their owner's personality. Big dogs don't. Big dogs know that they can go and run and kill animals - they're closer to their wolf roots.

A big dog will demand that you treat it with respect, but little dogs have allowed themselves to be mollycoddled. Dogs should only be treated like children when they are, when they're puppies. When they're adults they should be treated as adults. If you put small dogs out in the wild, how long would they last? Jack London in Call of the Wild would've died if all he'd had to rely on to keep him warm in the freezing Yukon was a couple of Maltese terriers.

Small dogs obviously want to be big dogs because they're always too feisty. Look at Chihuahuas; that's 20lb of dog crammed into a 5lb body (just the eyes made it out). In fact the only good thing you can say about them is that there's less of them to hate. I understand that old people need company and a little lapdog, fine. But in the end, every other dog is right outside, round the corner, laughing at the poor little thing and would just love for a chance to kick its ass. If a small dog happened to turn up on my doorstep, of course I would take care of it, but I would do everything I could to turn it feral and get it back to its dingo roots. Barbara Cartland ought to go out and get an Irish wolfhound - maybe her whole approach to writing novels would change."

Rich Hall is a former (large) dog owner, but now has no pets below shoulder height. He is currently on UK tour (details, 0891 455 484)