It's a Small Dog World!






When visiting Disney one of my favorite places to see is “It’s a Small Small World,” I enjoy seeing it and then humming the song for days after.

I enjoy things that are small and that goes for dogs, too. The toy breeds are so cute, cuddly and precious. However they are really not “toys,” but living breathing creatures that need to be watched out for and properly cared for.

Each toy breed is a category in itself and if you are in the market for a small dog you need to do yourself a favor and research the breed you are considering.

I will be giving you a thumbnail description of a few breeds later on in this article, but you owe it to the dog to do far more research.

There are approximately two dozen-toy breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club and the United Kennel Club to choose from. These breeds are perfect for a small house or an apartment. They are not the perfect choice for someone with small children or large dogs.

Toy dogs are not for everyone, they require care and need to be treated as real live pets and not as a “moving stuffed toy.” Due to their size, care has to be taken to protect them from being sat upon, tripped over or stepped on by unseeing adults.

Most toy-bred dogs tend to be easily excitable, territorial, reactive to their environment and protective of their owners.

Most are great watchdogs and some can be over active barkers.

However, they are quite portable and are welcome at most motels, hotels and airlines. It is recommended that you keep your toy dog leashed at all times, when you are out and about, as they are apt to run into traffic or chase an unseen object. Collars are good for holding tags, but with a toy breed a harness is suggested for walking outside with a leash.

Why? Due to their small size, pulling or tugging on a collar with a leash can easily injure the dog’s throat or neck.

Remember these are little bitty guys with small delicate bones.

Jumping off furniture can also injure small and delicate bones.

Think about this for a moment, jumping off a couch or chair for a small toy breed is like a human jumping off a one-story building.

If your dog is able to get on a couch or chair and does this 20 or 30 times a day think of the impact that jump has on its front and back legs. Add a flight of stairs to the dog’s activity and you can get worn out just thinking about it.

Furniture jumping and all the other jumps and climbing a small dog will do during the course of a day can bring about many injuries. Small dogs suffer from broken legs, sprains to the leg, wrists, shoulders, broken toenails, tendonitis, slipped kneecaps and ruptured disks.

How can you prevent these things from happening? First of all teach your pet not to climb upon the furniture. Okay, so they are lap dogs and we bring them up on the furniture and expect them to jump down.

However, there are little ways that will not disturb the décor of your home that can make life a little easier for your precious little dog.

Ramps are great. A ramp covered with carpet or some other material that allows for traction can be simply made or store bought. It does not need to be large in size just wide enough for the dog to walk up it and long enough so that it is not like climbing a steep mountain.

There are even low stair steps made especially for small dogs in order that they may climb upon couches, chairs or even your bed without harming themselves.

A ramp or a set of stair steps may seem like a frivolous thing, but one vet visit for a broken leg or hurt back would more than have paid for it.

In the small small world of small breed dogs there are many things to consider, grooming is one very important thing as many small breeds have a great deal of hair which has to be brushed and combed along with trips to the groomer.

Barking can also be a problem in an apartment complex. Toy breeds need to be socialized extremely well in order to have them adjust to external sights and sounds that create barking.

Attitude is another problem; some breeds have very superior attitudes and can be very demanding. With some breeds patience is not just a requirement on your part is it an absolute necessity.

That is why I cannot say it often enough do your homework and research the breed you are considering.

Here is a thumbnail sketch of 10 of the most common small breeds:

  • Shih Tzi:
  • Lifespan 12 – 14 years
  • Weight 9 – 16 pounds
  • Height 8 – 11 inches
  • Pros: They are gentle, loyal and affectionate. Are as a general rule not barkers, they are not demanding or high strung and get along with other pets
  • Cons: Grooming, need almost daily combing and brushing as hair get matted and tangled. Needs air conditioning cannot be over heated or in high humidity.
  • Italian Greyhound:
  • Lifespan 13 – 15 years
  • Weight 7 – 12 pounds
  • Height 13 – 15 inches
  • Pros: Clean and odorless. Peaceful, undemanding and needs little training. Beauty in motion.
  • Cons: They are prone to broken legs and slipped kneecaps. Are best in situations where there are no children. Are not considered a watchdog and needs a leash on at all times, when not in the house. Prone to running after anything that moves.
  • Toy Poodle:
  • Lifespan 10 – 14 years
  • Weight 6 - 9 pounds
  • Height up to 10 inches
  • Pros: Need little exercise and are non-shedders (as much as dogs can be) are lively and good watchdogs.
  • Cons: Need to be groomed every 6 to 8 weeks. Are over bred due to popularity, which can bring on genetic health problems. It is suggested to avoid the “tea cup” variety, as they may be neurotic and/or sickly puppies.
  • Yorkshire Terriers:
  • Lifespan 12 – 14 years
  • Weight 3 - 7 pounds
  • Height 7 - 9 inches
  • Pros: They are beautiful, smart and very loyal to owners. Can be cunning and tricky, a great lap dog that loves attention and is a great watchdog.
  • Cons: Need constant grooming, not good around children. Yorkies like quiet, but they can be barkers. High energy and very lively. Need harness and not a collar when going outside and should be leashed at all times. Very adventurous.
  • Pomeranian:
  • Lifespan 12 – 16 years
  • Weight 3 - 7 pounds
  • Height 8 - 11 inches
  • Pros: Good apartment dog does well in obedience training and needs little exercise. Makes a great lap dog.
  • Cons: Needs good socialization to curb barking and possessiveness. Pom’s shed quite a bit and need brushing. Prone to dental problems and needs proper dental care.
  • Pekingese:
  • Lifespan 13 – 15 years
  • Weight 8 – 14 pounds
  • Height 8 - 9 inches
  • Pros: Does not mind being alone, good dog for someone who works. A small dog but not as delicate as other small dogs needs an occasional walk in the park.
  • Cons: Not child friendly, likes some cats does not like other pets. Needs grooming, brushing and sheds. Needs to be in air conditioned space as it cannot tolerate heat.
  • Toy Fox Terrier:
  • Lifespan 13 – 14 years
  • Weight 4 - 7 pounds
  • Height 8 – 11 inches
  • Pros: Very smart, learns quickly and is the easiest of all small breeds to housebreak. The newest toy breed to be recognized by the AKC and UKC in 2003 so they are not over bred. Have few genetic health problems and are good watchdogs.
  • Cons: They are Terriers and will dig, chase and run. They need great socialization, as they will over react to things. Usually are a one person or one family dog. Very high strung and are not for a person who is not active or for the elderly.
  • Pugs:
  • Lifespan 12 – 14 years
  • Weight 14 – 18 pounds
  • Height 10 – 11 inches
  • Pros: Good with children and other pets. Very easy to live with, peaceful. Needs minimal grooming and little exercise.
  • Cons: Indoor dog that needs air conditioning cannot tolerate heat or humidity. Has wheezing problems along with grunting and snorting, prone to breathing problems. Sheds a bit and needs eye care.
  • Miniature Pinscher
  • Lifespan 13 – 14 years
  • Weight 8 – 10 pounds
  • Height 10 – 12 inches
  • Pros: Excellent watchdog – will attack. Very active, high energy, playful and curious. Needs plenty of exercise.
  • Cons: Not for small children. Very fragile, but does not know this. Strong willed, very curious and needs to be on a leash at all times when outside as it will run and chase anything that catches its eye.

    There you have a quick rundown on 10 of the top small dog breeds. If one of these is for you please do your homework and know what you are getting into before you leap.

    Good luck and have fun