Types of Toy Dog Breeds
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Different breed standards for dogs exist around the world. This is due to organizations such as the FCI, AKC and others. While some will differ in breeds they accept or other categorization issues, most agree there are five categories of dog according to size: giant, large, medium, small and toy. Many dogs have been bred specifically for their size, with smaller dogs usually seen as companion animals since they aren't large enough to be working dogs.
Although there are some slight differences, the International Cynological Federation (FCI), consider toy dogs to be those that weigh a maximum of 3 kg. AnimalWised brings you our list of 15+ toy dog breeds with pictures to see if your dog falls into this category.
What is a toy dog breed?
The process of dog breeding is a rich and complicated one. The domestication process has been a long one, but along the line breeders have selected certain traits and characteristics they want to encourage. For example, Poodles have been bred, in part, due to their curly hair. Poodles are also noteworthy in terms of size, which we explain further below.
Since some breeders have preferred smaller dogs, they have bred certain breeds to be miniature. The smallest recognized category is the toy dog breed. While we provide more below, the most common types of toy dog breed include:
- Yorkshire terrier
- Prague Ratter
- Toy Poodle
- Miniature Bull Terrier
- Italian Whippet
Below we go into detail about each of these toy dog breeds. We do so by providing information on their characteristics and care.
One of the most popular toy dog breeds is the Yorkshire Terrier. As an adult, they normally weigh around 3 kg, making them part of this toy dog breeds list. However, some can weigh up to 7 kg in rare cases. They are the smallest of all Terrier dog breeds and are characterized by their beautiful long coat. This is usually a combination of silver-blue, black tan and other colors.
Despite their long silky coat, they are relatively easy to care for, even with first-time guardians. While many toy dog breeds were bred as companion animals, the Yorkie (as they are affectionately known) was bred as a ratter. This means they were used to hunt rats, often in small spaces. They can be full of energy, but they are extremely loving and affectionate to their family.
Another of the most popular toy dog breeds is the Chihuahua. This tiny breed comes from the State of Chihuahua in Mexico, from where they derive their name. It is believed they were first domesticated by people of the Toltec civilization. Today, we find various types of Chihuahua breeds, weighing anywhere between 1.5 to 4 kg.
As a general rule, they can be very territorial and possessive with their human guardians. Even though they are so small, they ar brave and will defend those they love with might. However, with proper education, they will be very affectionate and sweet dogs. To help better understand how to educate and care for a Chihuahua, here is our article on tips for educating dogs.
The Prague Ratter is a breed of toy dog which weighs usually around 1.5 to 3.5 kg, although its ideal weight according to certain breed standards is 2.6 kg. They are characterized by their black and tan coloration, similar to Rottweiler and Doberman breeds. However, blue, chocolate, lilac and merle coat colors are also acceptable. This coat is short and dense, rarely losing much during shedding season.
Their character stands out as being loving, obedient, active and intelligent. They create very strong emotional ties with their human families, but can also get on well with other animals. We just need to be very careful when socializing them with smaller animals. In the old Czech Republic, the Prague Ratter (Pražský Krysařík) was very popular among the monarchy and nobility. They were even taken to aristocratic parties as a status symbol.
The Poodle is one of the most popular breeds in the world, appreciated in particular for their appearance. However, unlike most breeds, the Poodle has very specific categorizations in terms of size. The three recognized types of Poodle are the Standard, Miniature and Toy. However, some categorize them into four sizes. In the case of the Toy Poodle, they are less than 28 cm at the withers and weigh between 2 and 2.5 kg.
The Toy Poodle is very obedient, active and intelligent. This makes them easy to train and educate. In fact, according to the psychologist Stanley Coren, they are one of the smartest dogs in the world.
Also known as the Continental Toy Spaniel, the Papillon is another of the most popular toy dog breeds. Their name means ‘butterfly’ in French and they are so-called thanks to their ears which resemble butterfly wings. They measure about 23 cm at the withers and weigh between 1 and 5 kg. For this reason, they are sometimes considered a small sized dog breed.
Like the Prague Ratter, the Papillon gained great popularity among aristocracy. They are considered a royal dog in France, in part due to Marie Antoinette who had one as a companion. They make many appearances in portraits from the time.
Miniature Bull Terrier
As we stated above, some dog breeds are difficult to classify. This is the case with the Miniature English Bulldog which is a toy variety of the Bull Terrier. However, they are still a very muscular dog and measure between 30 and 35 cm in height, as well as between 9 and 16 kg in weight.
Like the Yorkshire Terrier, the mini-sized Bull Terrier emerged in the 19th century to hunt and kill rats. This led to a terrible sport where bets were placed on how many rats the dog would kill. Fortunately, this activity was outlawed in Victorian times.
Another of the most popular toy dog breeds today, especially in European countries, is the Pomeranian. They have a long and silky coat, but are considered a hypoallergenic dog, despite its length. They have a lion-like appearance and weigh between 1.8 and 2.5 kg.
In the past, Pomeranian dogs which weighed up to 23 kg were used to her livestock. This larger version of the breed was even used as a sled dog. They later became popular in Ancient Greece and Rome, especially among ladies of the aristocracy. Due to selective breeding, their size dwindled, but their noble character remained intact.
The Maltese is another of the smallest dogs in the world, weighing about 3 kg. With a cheerful and fun character, the Maltese is a very loving dog with its owners. In fact, it is a dog that needs constant company.
Although the exact origins of the Maltese are unknown, we do know they were highly revered in Ancient Egypt. In the tomb of Ramses II, stone statuettes of the dogs in the shape of this breed were found.
With a similar appearance to both the Toy Poodle and the Maltese, the Bolognese is a small white dog which is much loved by any family lucky to have them. Weighing less than 4 kg and barely 30 cm in height, the Bolognese has a beautiful white coat, arched tail and tufted hair.
The Bolognese was also highly appreciated by nobility in antiquity. In fact, in the 16th Century, Philip II of Spain considered them the most majestic gift that could be given to an emperor. They are currently very popular as a show dog.
Also known as the Italian Sighthound, the Italian Greyhound has a size proportionate to other Greyhounds, except they are of a much smaller size. They measure between 32 and 38 cm at the withers and can weigh less than 4 kg. Larger specimens may be around the 5 kg weight.
Did you know the Italian Greyhound is one of the oldest dog breeds in the world? Fossils and paintings of the Italian Greyhound have been discovered from 3,000 BC. Evidence has been found which suggested they accompanied Egyptian pharaohs more than 6,000 years ago. Like many other toy dog breeds, the Italian Greyhound was also highly prized by nobles and kings for centuries, especially during the Middle Ages and Renaissance.
Other toy dog breeds
In addition to those previously mentioned, we leave you a list with other dog breeds that can be considered toy sized:
- Chinese Crested Dog
- Yorkie Poo
- Miniature Pinscher
- Teddy Roosevelt Terrier
Many of these breeds are not officially recognized by breed standard organizations, but are starting to become more recognized. They are so-called ‘designer dogs’ breeding two specific breeds together to achieve a certain outcome.
Are teacup dogs the same as toy dog breeds?
While toy dogs are the smallest officially recognized dog breed, teacup dogs are smaller. They are bred specifically to be as small as possible. Unfortunately, this process leads them to have many health problems which seriously affect the dog's quality of life.
For this reason, teacup dog breeds are not encouraged by most breed standard organizations. Breeding them is essentially cruel and should be stopped. Read our article on teacup dogs to know more.
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