Toy Breeds

Affenpinscher

Affenpinschers are among the oldest of the toy breeds. They originated in central Europe. Their name translates as “Monkey-terrier” in German, but the French refer to them as “mustachioed little devils.” These wiry-haired, energetic dogs are well suited to both names. These tough and agile dogs were bred to catch mice and rats in kitchens, granaries, and stables.

Breed Category

Toy

Temperament

Affenpinschers show great loyalty and affection to their human families and are best known for their sense of humor and desire to entertain.

Appearance

They are terrier-like in appearance with their small stature and square-proportioned body. Their coat is rough and shaggy and it is longer and rougher on the head, neck, chest, stomach, and legs. The face is covered in coarse hair with a beard and moustache. The most common colors are black, silver, gray, red, black and tan, but you can find them in most any color. They have widely spaced prominent eyes and a round face with a short muzzle.

Size:    Height at withers 9-11 in.

Weight:    7-9 lbs

Exercise Requirements:    Moderate

Grooming Requirements:    Moderate

Life Expectancy:    12-14 years

Things to Consider

  1. Like to bark and climb
  2. Can be irritable and difficult to train

Brussels Griffon

The Brussels Griffon is the product of European interbreeding over many generations.  In Belgium they were used by the coachmen of Brussels as ratters to kill stable vermin.  The breed was crossed with a Pug in the 1800s, which led to the smooth-coated version, and later crosses may have included Yorkshire Terriers and spaniels.

Breed Category

Toy

Temperament

This is a good family pet that is entertaining and sensitive, but also full of self-importance.

Appearance

With a small, puglike face, which is covered in harsh hair, the Brussels Griffon’s dark eyes peer out with a determined glint.  The jaw is naturally undershot and the forehead is domed.  Thickset, compact, well balanced, and well boned for its size, the breed has a purposeful trot and moderate reach.  The rough coat is wiry, with longer hair on the head and around the eyes, nose, cheeks, and chin to form a fringe; or smooth with short, glossy hair all over.  Colors seen are red, belge, black and tan, or black.

Size:    Height at withers 7-10 in

Weight:    8-12 lbs

Exercise Requirements:    Moderate

Grooming Requirements:    Minimal

Life Expectancy:    12-15 years

Things to Consider

  1. This breed has a tendency to bark and climb.

Papillon

Well known as companions to the noble ladies of Europe and subjects of famous paintings, Papillons are charming and vivacious, but have also retained a certain degree of toughness.  This breed is easily distinguished from other dogs by its butterfly ears, for which it is named.

Breed Category

Toy

Temperament

The Papillon can be trained to a high level of obedience and relishes mental stimulation.  It is responsive, playful, affectionate, and usually good with children, although some can be timid.

Appearance

The abundant coat is long, silky, straight, flowing , and principally white; it is decorated with patches of color on the ears, head, and torso.  Traditional markings on the head and ears emphasize the butterfly illusion.

Size:    Height at withers 8-11 in

Weight:    9-10 lbs

Exercise Requirements:    Low to Moderate

Grooming Requirements:    Moderate

Life Expectancy:    12-15 years

Things to Consider

  1. This breed is a good choice for apartment dwellers.

Australian Terrier

The tenacity of these small, spirited dogs belies their size.  Australian Terriers were bred as farm dogs, and they are apparently scared of nothing.  One of the smallest of the working terriers, the Australian Terrier was bred as a worker and companion, and it is able to navigate rough terrain.

Breed Category

Terrier

Temperament

Willing to take on small vermin and snakes, Australian Terriers are also unafraid of confrontations with larger dogs, and they seem to especially enjoy teasing cats.  However, these dogs are generally friendly and affectionate companions and they respond well to training.  They also make good watchdogs.

Appearance

Australian Terriers have rough, untrimmed coats that are either blue and tan, or all red.  The hair on the head is a little softer.  They have dark, intelligent eyes and pointed ears that stand erect on top of the head.  The body is long in relation to its height, and the feet are small and compact with black toenails.

Size:    Height at withers 10-11 in

Weight:    12-14 lbs

Exercise Requirements:    Moderate

Grooming Requirements:    Moderate

Life Expectancy:    13-14 years

Things to Consider

  1. Should not be walked by children

Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkshire Terriers were originally bred in England by Yorkshire miners who wanted dogs small enough to carry in their pockets to chase rats underground in the mines.  These tough, industrial origins rather belie the pampered appearance of many Yorkies today, but they remain tough dogs at heart.  They do not require a great deal of exercise, but they love playing and interacting with their family.

Breed Category

Toy

Temperament

The breed seems oblivious to its small stature and can be aggressive with strange dogs and small animals.  Inquisitive and adventurous, Yorkies have a tendency to bark a lot, but they can be trained not to.  Unsurprisingly, they make good watchdogs.

Appearance

Dark, steel-blue, and tan colors are trademark characteristics of this breed.  The coat is parted along the back and hangs evenly straight down the sides of the body.  It should be brushed or combed every day.  Their tails are usually docked to medium length and held high.  Heads are small and the ears V-shaped, while the rest of the body is compact.

Size:    Height at withers 8-9 in

Weight:    7 lbs

Exercise Requirements:    Low

Grooming Requirements:    Considerable

Life Expectancy:    14-16 years

Things to Consider

  1. This breed may not be reliable with young children and should be socialized early.
  2. They are prone to several hereditary health problems.

Shih Tzu

“Shih Tzu” translated means “lion dog,” and these gentle lapdogs were favorites of the royal family in China during the Ming Dynasty, who put considerable effort into their breeding.  They were originally exhibited as Lhasa Terriers or Tibetan Poodles, and only after 1934 were they given separate breed status–being dubbed with their colloquial Chinese name Shih Tzu.

Breed Category

Toy

Temperament

Shih Tzus make lively companions and love to play and romp around, but they can be surprisingly stubborn.  They need daily exercise of some sort, either a short walk or vigorous games.  They do not do well in humid and hot environments.

Appearance

The Shih Tzu has a proud bearing and an aristocratic carriage, with the head held high and the tail elegantly curved over its back.  Their luxurious coat hides a sturdy body and smooth, effortless stride.  The long, dense double coat is mostly straight and comes in any color.  Grooming needs are considerable; the coat needs brushing or combing every day and clipping occasionally.

Size:    Height at withers 8-11 in

Weight:    9-16 lbs

Exercise Requirements:    Low to Moderate

Grooming Requirements:    Considerable

Life Expectancy:    11-14 years

Things to Consider

  1. This breed does not tolerate extreme temperatures.

Havanese

Related to the Bichon family of small dogs, which originated in the Mediterranean, today’s Havanese is descended from the dogs that were brought to Cuba, where they served as pampered pets of the wealthy.  These dogs were also known as Habeneros and as “White Cubans.”  The breed eventually declined, but was revived when three Havanese-owning families moved to the US, where the breed has grown steadily in popularity.

Breed Category

Toy

Temperament

The Havanese is an affectionate, equable dog that is friendly with children.

Appearance

This is a small, sturdy, short-legged dog with a unique gait that is lively and springy.  The profuse double coat is wavy or slightly curled, and can be any color or combination of colors.  The head is slightly pointed, and the large, dark eyes are covered by a long fringe of hair.

Size:    Height at withers 8-11 in

Weight:    7-13 lbs

Exercise Requirements:    Low to Moderate

Grooming Requirements:    Moderate

Life Expectancy:    12-14 years

Things to Consider

  1. This breed tends to be very vocal, but responds well to training.

Chinese Crested

The two versions of this breed, the Powderpuff and Hairless varieties, are distinctive and yet likely to be born in the same litter.  This breed was thought to have originated in China in the thirteenth century and to have traveled to the West with traders who used them as ratters on ships.  The Powderpuff variety tends to have a heavier build, but otherwise these dogs are almost identical (except for the coverage of hair).  The Hairless variety is not bred for the outdoors and should wear protective clothing on cold-weather outings.

Breed Category

Toy

Temperament

Chinese Cresteds are devoted to family and have an innate willingness to please.  They are friendly and affectionate and make good watchdogs.  They are good with children, though nervous of young children.

Appearance

The Chinese Crested is a lean dog, with a narrow ribcage and plain or spotted skin.  The Hairless variety has silky hair o the ears, head, tail, and lower legs.  Where hair is absent, the skin is soft and smooth and lightens in color in the summer.  The small head has well-defined features, appealing dark eyes, and large ears that are emphasized by the long hair on the head.  The Powderpuff has a slightly more robust construction, with a deep chest and better protection against cold weather in the form of a soft double coat of moderate density and length.  Powderpuffs need brushing two to three times weekly, and Hairless dogs require skin protection, with the application of sun block as appropriate.  In both varieties, the hair is white.

Size:    Height at withers 11-13 in

Weight:    5-12 lbs

Exercise Requirements:    Moderate

Grooming Requirements:    Moderate

Life Expectancy:    13-15 years

Things to Consider

  1. The Hairless Chinese Cresteds are prone to sunburn and should be protected from the cold.

Poodle (Toy)

All varieties of Poodle are closely associated with France, although they probably originated in Germany.  The early Poodle varieties became valuable water-hunting companions; from there they were drawn into military service and then later used as seeing-eye and watchdogs.  Some of their exotic clips arose from practicality and necessity, from the days when the breeds were working dogs.  Today, Poodles have become renowned as chic accessories for fashionable ladies, particularly in France.  At one time, Poodles nearly died out in America, but in the 1930s the breed was revived and has gone on to become the world’s most popular dog.  They are generally elegant in appearance, with a light, springy step that stems from their working retriever stock.

Breed Category

Toy

Temperament

Intelligent and independent dogs, Poodles need lots of mental stimulation.  A short daily walk or indoor games are recommended to keep them occupied.

Appearance

There are many guidelines for the clips and appearance of show Poodles.  Family pets are usually left unclipped, except for regular maintenance clips, which should be done at least four times each year.  The coat is curly, harsh, and can be dense; any solid color is acceptable.  Poodles have straight, narrow muzzles, bright eyes, and ears covered by wavy hair.

Size:    Height at withers 10 in

Weight:    4-8 lbs

Exercise Requirements:    Moderate

Grooming Requirements:    Moderate

Life Expectancy:    12-14 years

Things to Consider

  1. These dogs are prone to eye and hip problems.

Maltese

The Maltese originated almost 3,000 years ago on the Mediterranean island of Malta, where this breed’s isolation has led to a fabulous canine specimen.  They are striking dogs with big characters and gregarious natures.  They enjoy daily indoor romps and a short walk on a leash, but they are not great outdoor dogs.

Breed Category

Toy

Temperament

Maltese are good-tempered pets, but they are inclined to be irritable with small children with a trusting, lively nature.

Appearance

When trotting along, this diminutive breed looks like it is floating on air, as the Maltese is covered in long, flat, silky hair that hangs to the ground.  The coat color is white, with a hint of gray or lemon.  Grooming care can be time consuming, involving combing every one to two days.  Also, the white hair may be difficult to keep clean.

Size:    Height at withers 9-10 in

Weight:    4-7 lbs

Exercise Requirements:    Low

Grooming Requirements:    Moderate

Life Expectancy:    12-14 years

Things to Consider

  1. This breed has a tendency to be vocal
  2. They need to be socialized with other dogs at an early age to avoid aggression.
  3. May not be tolerable of small children.

Chihuahua

Chihuahuas were “discovered” in Chihuahua, Mexico, in about 1850, after which a few were taken to North America, where they became popular lapdogs.  One of the breed’s progenitors was likely the Techichi, bred by the Toltecs at least as early as the ninth century AD.  The popularity of the Chihuahua has gradually increased over the years and was particularly intense after Xavier Cugat (the King of Rumbas) was seen with one in his arms.  Fragile and apparently delicate, Chihuahuas are not keen on the outdoors, and most can get enough daily exercise merely by running around indoors.

Breed Category

Toy

Temperament

Reserved with strangers and often devoted to one person, Chihuahuas can be temperamental.  They are intelligent dogs, very involved in the world around them, and usually quite vocal in offering their opinion.

Appearance

Known for being the smallest dog breed, the Chihuahua is only slightly longer than tall.  It has an alert, terrierlike attitude, and it can move swiftly.  There are two coat varieties–long-haired and short-haired.  The short coat is soft and glossy, while the long coat has soft, straight to wavy hair and fringed ears.  Both types require a minimal amount of grooming.  Coat color varies but is most commonly fawn, red, or white.  Chihuahuas have distinctive round heads, neat faces, prominent ears, and bright, intelligent eyes.

Size:    Height at withers 6-9 in

Weight:    up to 6 lbs

Exercise Requirements:    Minimal

Grooming Requirements:    Minimal

Life Expectancy:    13-14 years

Things to Consider

  1. This breed is an excellent choice for apartment dwellers.

Pomeranian

The smallest of the five German Spitz breeds and retaining a lot of the character of their larger cousins, Pomeranians make good watchdogs and can produce a shrill yapping that may deter intruders.  They need a daily walk or session of indoor play, and the thick double coat needs brushing once or twice a week.

Breed Category

Toy

Temperament

The intelligent and extroverted Pomeranian is an energetic dog, although it can be reserved toward strangers.

Appearance

A warm, soft undercoat is combined with a harsh outer coat that stands off the body and gives this breed a puffed-up appearance.  The coat is normally one color–orange, black, tan, cream, or white.  It has a small ruff, erect ears, and a tail that arches over the back and is carried flat.

Size:    Height at withers 8-11 in

Weight:    3-7 lbs

Exercise Requirements:    Moderate

Grooming Requirements:    Moderate

Life Expectancy:    12-16 years

Things to Consider

  1. This dog tends bark excessively.

Japanese Chin

A favorite lapdog of the noble and royal ladies of China and Japan, a pair of Chins was presented to Queen Victoria by the American Commodore Matthew Perry upon his return from the East.  Subsequently, traders imported more of these dogs to both Europe and North America.  The cheerful and good-natured Japanese Chin has a distinctive expression and an extremely dainty character.

Breed Category

Toy

Temperament

Japanese Chins are responsive and affectionate to those they know, but they can be reserved with strangers.  A dog that enjoys a quiet existence, Chins do not make suitable pets for young children.

Appearance

Small and lively, with an aristocratic look, Japanese Chins have large wide-set eyes and a short undershot jaw.  Their single abundant coat stands out from the body and is silky and straight, but the overall appearance is square.  Colors are black and white or red and white.  the plumed tail is arched over the back.

Size:    Height at withers 8-11 in

Weight:    4-7 lbs

Exercise Requirements:    Low to Moderate

Grooming Requirements:    Moderate

Life Expectancy:    12-14 years

Things to Consider

  1. This breed does not tolerate heat well.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Appealing and attractive small dogs, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are among the most popular toy dogs.  They were admitted to the AKC’s Toy group as a separate breed in 1996.  One appalling consequence of their popularity, however, is that inbreeding has increased their tendency toward fatal heart conditions.  Cavaliers enjoy a long walk and run, and they are quite athletic, despite their size.

Breed Category

Toy

Temperament

Their cheerful characters make them ideal companion dogs.  They are friendly toward other dogs and pets and very affectionate toward people.

Appearance

An elegant spaniel, slightly longer than it is tall, this breed combines many of the qualities of a toy and gundog.  It retains the build of the working spaniel, but everything is smaller.  The silky coat, of moderate length, has a slight wave, but no curl, and is feathered around the long ears and feet.  These spaniels typically have gently expressions, with large, dark eyes, short muzzles, and long, feathered ears, low-set and close to the face.  The placid nature of these animals tends to encourage the feeding of tidbits, which can lead to weight problems.  The coat can appear in a variety of colors, from ruby, black and tan, and tricolor, to Blenheim.

Size:    Height at withers 12-13 in

Weight:    13-18 lbs

Exercise Requirements:    Moderate

Grooming Requirements:    Moderate

Life Expectancy:    9-11 years

Things to Consider

  1. This breed has common chronic heart disease.

English Toy Spaniel

The English Toy Spaniel (known in the UK as the King Charles Spaniel) shares an identical early history with the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.  Popular as “comforters” or companion dogs, spaniels grew in popularity during the seventeenth century, partly because of the fashion set by King Charles III.  These dogs are not overly active, but they do enjoy a walk on a leash and fun games.

Breed Category

Toy

Temperament

Although sometimes reserved and calm, English Toy Spaniels are also affectionate and playful.  They are excellent lapdogs and are devoted to their family.

Appearance

English Toy Spaniels are compact dogs with long, silky coats in an attractive combination of colors.  They are shown as four varieties:  the red and white Blenheim; the black, tan, and white Prince Charles; the mahogany-red Ruby; and the black and tan King Charles.  With domed heads, they have undershot jaws and turned-up noses, dark, wide-set eyes, and an appealing expression.

Size:    Height at withers 10-11 in

Weight:    8-14 lbs

Exercise Requirements:    Minimal

Grooming Requirements:    Moderate

Life Expectancy:    10-12 years

Things to Consider

  1. This breed is prone to knee problems.
  2. They tend to be sensitive to anesthesia.

Toy Fox Terrier (American Toy Terrier)

The Toy Fox Terrier is the product of determined and deliberate crosses between Manchester Terriers, small Smooth Fox Terriers, and Chihuahuas.  This has created a robust breed that makes an excellent companion and show dog.

Breed Category

Toy

Temperament

Good in obedience and agility trials, this breed likes to be the center of attention.  Its personality is influenced by its stock:  Typically terrier, but with a milder disposition.  Animated, eager to please, and loyal to its owners, these dogs are not easily intimidated.  Intelligent animals, they are easy to train and have proved highly capable as hearing dogs for the deaf.

Appearance

Elegant, athletic, and well balanced, this breed has a short, fine, and glossy coat with a small ruff; colors are white and tan, tricolor, or black and white.  The large V-shaped ears are erect, pointed, and set high on the head.  Large dark eyes are set wide apart, and the head has a well-defined stop.  Toy Terriers are naturally well groomed, with intelligent, eager expressions.  The tail may be dock.

Size:    Height at withers 8-11 in

Weight:    4-7 lbs

Exercise Requirements:    Moderate

Grooming Requirements:    Minimal

Life Expectancy:    13-14 years

Things to Consider

  1. There are no particular health problems in this breed.

Toy Manchester Terrier (English Toy Terrier)

The Toy Manchester Terrier is descended from small Manchester Terriers, with a dash of Italian Greyhound, which shows itself in the breed’s slightly arched back.

Breed Category

Toy

Temperament

Although exhibiting typical terrier character traits, this breed is very gently.  Toy Manchester Terriers are lively companion dogs and are especially suitable for city dwellers.

Appearance

Sleek, racy, and compact, the Manchester Terrier is longer than it is tall, with a slightly arched topline and a keen, alert expression.  The wedge-shaped head is toped by large, erect ears with pointed tips.  The short, dense coat is a glossy black and a rich mahogany tan.

Size:    Height at withers 10-12 in

Weight:    12 lbs

Exercise Requirements:    Moderate

Grooming Requirements:    Minimal

Life Expectancy:    14-16 years

Things to Consider

  1. This breed sometimes displays aggression.

Italian Greyhound

This breed is believed to have originated in areas of Turkey and Greece more than 2,000 years ago.  Prized for its elegance and beauty, the Italian Greyhound’s fragile proportions mean it is never raced like the larger sight hounds.  A daily outdoor run or walk on a leash is enough exercise for this miniature breed.

Breed Category

Toy

Temperament

Italian Greyhounds are equable dogs that enjoy a comfortable indoor life.

Appearance

The Italian Greyhound is a sight hound in a reduced package and embodies similar characteristics to a full-sized Greyhound.  However, the fine-boned structure means that fractures are a likely hazard, although these dogs are otherwise hardy.  The coat is short and glossy, and grooming is minimal.  The head is well proportioned, with the skull and muzzle being of equal length.  Large eyes and the dog’s habit of holding its head on one side often give it a quizzical appearance.

Size:    Height at withers 13-15 in

Weight:    7-14 lbs

Exercise Requirements:    Moderate

Grooming Requirements:    Minimal

Life Expectancy:    13-14 years

Things to Consider

  1. This dog can be easily injured and are ideal for city dwellers.

Miniature Pinscher

Developed in Germany in the 1800s, the Miniature Pinscher gained international recognition in the early twentieth century.  One of the more energetic breeds, the Miniature Pinscher is an athletic, racy dog.

Breed Category

Toy

Temperament

These dogs are self-possessed, busy, playful, and bold, and they have good watchdog abilities.  They are courageous animals, who will snap at animals larger than themselves, and they retain a strong ratting ability.

Appearance

With a narrow, tapering head and erect ears, this is a remarkably alert and upstanding breed.  “Minpins” have a strong muzzle, small catlike feet, and a high-stepping gait.  The tail is set high and frequently docked.  Coat colors are clear red, stag red, black with rust-red, or chocolate with rust-red.  The coat is smooth, hard, and short.

Size:    Height at withers 10-12 in

Weight:    8-10 lbs

Exercise Requirements:    Moderate

Grooming Requirements:    Minimal

Life Expectancy:    12-14 years

Things to Consider

  1. This breed has a low tolerance to cold and is not well suited for the outdoors.

Pug

Another toy breed that can trace its history to China, the Pug is frequently seen in tiny carvings, or netsuke, which confirm how little the breed has changed over thousands of years.  It has many of the features of the eastern mastiff breeds from which it was miniaturized, including a distinctive expression.  This dog’s wrinkles must be cleaned and thoroughly dried to prevent infections and dermatitis; a daily walk and occasional brush of its coat to remove dead hairs are its only other care requirements.

Breed Category

Toy

Temperament

Pugs are highly affectionate and they make good watchdogs.  They are playful and generally willing to please, but they can be stubborn and seemingly convinced of their own importance.  Tough and hardy dogs, they are rarely aggressive.

Appearance

Although compact, Pugs hid a big dog in a small shell.  They have a large forehead with deep wrinkles, and traditionally a black mask. The coat is fine, smooth, and short, and can be apricot-fawn, black, or silver in color.  Surprisingly fast for a stocky dog, their gait is strong and jaunty with a slight roll about the hindquarters.  The short nose can cause breathing problems in hot weather, and in general, Pugs are not very tolerant of heat or humidity.

Size:    Height at withers 10-11 in

Weight:    14-18 lbs

Exercise Requirements:    Minimal

Grooming Requirements:    Minimal

Life Expectancy:    12-15 years

Things to Consider

  1. These dogs wheeze and snore.
  2. They are prone to obesity and corneal abrasions.

Pekingese

Highly prized in China during the Tang Dynasty, the Pekingese were carefully bred for centuries before making an appearance in the West.  A type of sacred “Foo Dog,” they were known as sleeve dogs because they could be carried in the large sleeves of their masters.  Many were pampered by personal servants in the imperial palaces, where they were treated like royalty.  These long-haired, distinctive-looking dogs are sensitive to heat and should be kept cool in warm weather.  Their exercise needs can be met with a leisurely walk.

Breed Category

Toy

Temperament

Pekingese dogs can be playful, but they are probably not active enough to play with most children.  They can be exasperatingly stubborn, but they make good-natured and devoted companions.

Appearance

This is a compact, long-haired dog with a pear-shaped body, heavy forelimbs, and lighter hindquarters.  It has an unhurried gait with a slight roll brought about by bowed legs.  The Pekingese has a thick undercoat and a long, coarse outercoat, which is straight and stands off the body; it is profusely feathered on the ears, tail, legs, and toes, and needs a great deal of grooming.  The nose appears almost squashed between the large, bright eyes.

Size:    Height at withers 6-9 in

Weight:    14 lbs

Exercise Requirements:    Minimal

Grooming Requirements:    Considerable

Life Expectancy:    13-15 years

Things to Consider

  1. These dogs are susceptible to corneal abrasions and are sensitive to anesthesia.
  2. These puppies must often be delivered by cesarean.
  3. Pekingese tend to be aggressive with other dogs.

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