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Is A Toy Dog Right For You

Aug 17, 2007
I'm not talking about something that requires batteries. No, I'm referring to the twenty-two breeds recognized by the AKC as being toy dog breeds - from Affenpinscher to Yorkshire Terrier. They make great human companions, adapt well to smaller spaces, they are generally good-natured and they're cute.

With so many people "down sizing" their homes and living in more compact areas, toy dogs and other small dogs may offer the perfect choice in a canine companion. But first, you need to assess your environment to determine if a toy dog (or any pet) is compatible with your life style.

While toy dogs in general can make good companions in small apartments, some breeds adapt more easily to these conditions than others. Toy Poodles, for example, adapt well to small spaces, and they are "non shedding" which is important if you have allergies.

Will you be leaving the dog alone while you work? While no one wants to leave their pet alone all day, sometimes it is unavoidable. There are many opinions as to whether you should leave a dog at home for eight or nine hours per day. Some feel it is not fair to the dog, while others do it successfully, and have happy, well-adjusted pets. Develop a morning and evening routine with your dog in which you feed them, walk them, and play with them so they know what to expect. Some experts say that dogs have no sense of time, so they can't tell if you've been gone eight minutes or eight hours.

Obviously, ensure the dog has plenty of water and that the dog's barking will not disturb others.

If you have small children, you may want to delay getting a toy dog or get a larger breed. Toy dogs can be quite fragile, and small children may indeed think the dog is a toy. When the child is old enough, a dog is a great way to teach responsibility by feeding and caring for the dog.

Do you have other animals in the house? Some toy breeds do not tolerate children, other animals or strangers very well. Others, such as the Bichon Frise (BEE-shon FREE-zay) are very sociable, and get along well with other dogs.

As a group toy dogs are more difficult to train than larger dogs. So you will need to be patient while house training your toy dog. Again, some breeds have a reputation for being easier to train than others.

In many ways, toy dogs are less expensive and more convenient to live with. Obviously, they eat less, their beds, mats, and crates are smaller and they require less fenced area if you let them out. With many more travel facilities being "pet friendly," your toy dog can be a great traveling companion. Many breeds can be "carry on luggage." While I don't recommend it, I've known people who have taken their toy dogs along on their motorcycle trips!

Toy dogs can be good home protectors, too. Breeds such as the Chihuahua and Pekingese are naturally wary of strangers and bark readily at unusual noises.

Finally, we can make some generalizations about the characteristics of various breeds, but keep in mind that dogs - like people - are individuals, and they may or may not possess the characteristics of their breed. For that reason, you may want to consider an older dog rather than a puppy so that you can observe the dog's behavior.

OK, if you're determined to get a toy dog, and have done your research to determine which breeds best fit your lifestyle, what should you do to ensure you get a healthy, happy, well behaved pet? Should you consider a pure breed or a mixed breed?

While many people will only consider a pure bred toy dog, understand that pure bred dogs (of any size) will have more genetic-related health problems than mixed breed dogs. The reason is that pure breeds started with a very small population of dogs, and it is kept that way to ensure consistency in the breed. Thus genetic problems are carried on from one generation to the next. If you're willing to accept these risks and the inevitable veterinarian bills, then go for a pure bred toy dog.

It's now possible to have a pure bred dog's DNA tested to see if it carries, has, or is free of specific genetic diseases. The problem is that DNA testing can only be performed for a few certain diseases specific to a given breed.

Mixed breed dogs, on the other hand, come from a much larger gene pool, so the chances of chronic genetic disease are much lower. "Mixed breed" can be a misnomer because some "mixed breeds" may have no pure bred dogs anywhere in their linage. Therefore, mixed breeds don't develop any of the, well, "deformities" that are the hallmarks of pure breeds, like the Dachshund (back problems) or Bulldog (breathing and many other problems). Mixed breeds have evolved to the right size and shape of what a dog should be. And, since many pure breeds are bred for certain behavioral traits, mixed breed dogs are more even tempered.

Another reality is that pure bred toy dogs have become fashion accessories for the rich and famous, and the price of toy puppies has risen accordingly. It's not uncommon for pure bred puppies of certain breeds to bring several thousand dollars. A better alternative is to check out pet adoptions and rescue centers. Not only will you be giving a dog a home, but you'll be helping to prevent over breeding.

The Internet has many, many good sites to help you learn more than you ever wanted to know about toy dogs - or any dog - for that matter. With a little research, you can find an ideal companion you'll enjoy living with for many years.
About the Author
Janet Winter has a deep love for animals and enjoys writing informative articles about caring for your dog's comfort, safety and fun. You can learn how to provide a loving, pampered life for your dog by visiting APamperedDog.com. She is a web designer, travel agent and writer on many topics including dogs, wild birds and babies.
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