Small dogs have become popular as pets for many reasons. Whether purebred or mixed breed, their expense for food and preventives is minimal and they require little space. They can be fun to dress up and their tiny bodies and sweet faces just seem to bring out the nurturing instinct in humans. In spite of being tiny and adorable, these toy breeds often make good watch dogs. The barking alert of a miniature canine can deter an intruder as well as a big dog’s bark can.
On the other hand, small dogs can sometimes be yappy and their tiny size can cause them to be fragile and defensive with small children. The following profile guide of the most popular toy breeds, according to the 2010 AKC registry, can help you decide if one of these small dogs is a good fit for your family.
Weighing just 4 to 7 pounds, the Yorkie is third most popular of America’s favorite dogs of 2010. They tend to be curious and a bit bossy but make an affectionate and beautiful pet for an owner committed to extensive grooming on the long, silky coat.
Poodles rank number nine on the list of America’s favorite dogs. Considered hypoallergenic and intelligent, Poodles do well in obedience and agility competition, but require a great deal of grooming.
This beautiful breed is number ten of America’s most popular dogs. Weighing 9 to 16 pounds, the Shih Tzu is large for a toy breed and can be quite brave. The Shih Tzu owner must be committed to extensive grooming of the long, flowing coat. These dogs are sweet and playful, yet content with minimal exercise.
The Chihuahua, at 3 to 6 pounds, is the smallest dog breed in the world and the thirteenth most popular in America. Although affectionate, Chihuahuas tend to bond with and become very possessive of one person and may not be a good choice for a family with young children. Chis are sensitive to cold and love to tunnel under the covers. Both the long haired and smooth haired varieties are easy to groom.
These lively little dogs from the spitz family make a good companion for long walks. Ranking number fifteen of America’s favorite dogs, they are affectionate and friendly and generally love kids, but their 3 to 7 pound size can be fragile. Their long, straight hair with fluffy undercoat requires daily brushing and regular trimming.
This snowy white breed is generally quite affectionate, yet fearless. They rank twenty-second on the 2010 AKC list of most popular breeds. For the owner who has the time and inclination to maintain extensive grooming of the luxurious coat, the Maltese can be an intelligent and hardy pet that is usually good with children as long as they are mature enough to handle the tiny 4 to 6 pound size.
Pugs are America’s twenty-fourth most popular breed of 2010. At 14 to 18 pounds, they are bigger than other toy dogs. They generally love people and make good family pets requiring minimal grooming but, as one of the breeds with a pushed in face (brachycephalic), they often have respiratory problems and require extra protection in hot weather due to a greater risk of heatstroke.
A Caution about Teacup Dogs
The American Kennel Club recognizes 21 breeds in the Toy group. Teacup dogs are not recognized by the AKC. The term “teacup” does not refer to a breed or group but to an undersized Toy breed dog. A teacup dog may be the runt of the litter, have dwarfism, or have been born prematurely. These dogs often have lifelong health problems, special medical needs, and a shorter lifespan.
The popularity of these cute little miniature pets pushes up their price and has created a market because few people realize that when teacup dogs are bred, they often pass on heartbreaking health issues to their puppies.