Breeds – All About Toy Dogs

Although the breeds in the Toy Group are as small as their name suggests, it is a mistake to think of them as being delicate or difficult to raise. Indeed, because they originated before there were good dog doctors in the world, such tiny animals had to be exceptionally hardy to have survived so long.

It is true that they were all raised as household pets. Therefore, they expect a lot of attention and affection, and they are not so aggressive as larger breeds. But they do not have to be pampered in order to be healthy, and they often have greater courage and intelligence than you might expect from such small physical size.

Most of these toy breeds were not bred “down” from larger dogs. They are true breeds that were originally raised thousands of years ago to serve in the ancient religious or court ceremonies of China and Japan, and among the Indians. They were the treasured pets of royalty for centuries. Sometimes they are called “lap dogs.” This term is believed to have come from Greece in the time long before there were furnaces or oil burners. When it grew cold, noble ladies used to hold tiny dogs in their laps to keep their stomachs warm!


The Pekingese is one of the best known and best loved of the toy breeds. These smart, stubborn, pretty little dogs have been favorites of many Americans and Europeans since 1860, when they were first brought from their native land, China. There, Pekes were treasured by kings and queens for centuries. “Common” people were forbidden to own them. They were also considered sacred dogs because the Chinese thought they resembled lions, and the lion was the symbol of the Buddhist religion. In ancient days, anyone who stole one of these sacred, royal pets was sentenced to death.

Pekingese were used in court ceremonies, where four of these small dogs were selected to be the royal bodyguard. Two of them walked ahead of the Emperor as he made his way down the long halls of the palace. They gave short, sharp barks to announce his arrival. Two other Pekes followed behind, carrying the hem of the Emperor’s robes in their mouths.

In those days, noblemen and their ladies wore gowns with long, flowing sleeves. Some Pekes were so small they could be carried in these sleeves. This is why they were often called “sleeve dogs,” as well as “lion dogs,” “dragon dogs,” or “sun dogs.” Even today, some Pekes are so tiny they are still called “sleeve dogs” all over the world, and are highly prized.

The Pekingese now lives in many countries, but he still looks the same as in the days when he lived only in Chinese palaces. He weighs about fourteen pounds, or less, and has a rather long, stocky body set on strong, short legs. His coat is made of beautiful silky, straight hair of any shade of red, tan, black, white, or combinations of these colors. He wears a lionlike mane that forms a ruff around his throat, and he carries his bushy tail in a high curl over his back. His head is large, with a flat, black nose, large “pop” eyes, and a wrinkled muzzle. His drooping ears, with their fine feathers, fall into a heart shape. His whole expression is one of pride rather than mere prettiness. You will usually find he has a mind of his own and is so brave that he will not run away from even the largest dog. He loves to play roughly, especially in the snow, and he should not be spoiled by too gentle care. Although he is hardy enough to live in the country, his size makes him seem more at home in the city.


The Pomeranian’s ancestors were probably large, white sled dogs from Iceland, although his name comes from that part of Germany known as Pomerania. This is a very old breed; pictures of Poms have been found in the tombs of ancient Athens. In England during the Middle Ages, they were much larger dogs and were used to herd sheep.

But gradually they were bred small enough to be house pets and so become the tiny, lovable dog we know today. The Pom is a smart, quick-moving little fellow who likes his comfort. He seems to know how appealing he is and he has a way of getting what he wants. Although his ears are tiny, he has such a sharp sense of hearing that he makes one of the best of all watchdogs. He is also so intelligent and easy to train that he is often used as a circus dog.

The average Porn weighs around seven pounds, but some are as small as three pounds. He has a compact little body under a stiff, thick coat that stands out all around. He wears a short, soft coat under this, and he sheds the top coat in the summer. He can be black, brown, red, cream, orange, white, and many other colors. His tail curls over his back almost to his head, and is very bushy. His eyes are bright and his nose pointed, giving his face a rather foxlike expression. His feet are tiny and move briskly. Children love him for his cute tricks and independent personality. He makes a fine city pet.


The Chihuahua (pronounced chee-wa-wa ) is the smallest of all dogs. When full-grown he weighs only from one to six pounds! He gets his name from the state of Chihuahua in Mexico, from which his ancestors came many hundreds of years ago. They were the pets of royalty in that country, and may have been used by the Toltec Indians in their court ceremonies. Today, they are the pets of all kinds of people in all kinds of countries, since they can live anywhere. In spite of his size, the Chihuahua neither needs nor wants to be babied.

His head is tiny and round, with a slightly pointed nose and large ears. His eyes are also round and can be dark or reddish, or even very light-colored if his coat is blond. He wears a smooth, shining coat of almost any solid color or combination of colors. His tail is quite long and usually curls a little over his back. There are some Chihuahuas whose coats are soft, silky, and long, with a full tail and fringed ears and legs.

Because he is small-boned and rather fragile, the Chihuahua would probably make a better pet for a city lady than for a country child.


Because he looks very much like a Pekingese with a smooth coat, the pug is also thought to have originated in China. There are pictures and sculpture of this breed which date from the time of Confucius. Later, ancestors of the pug were brought from China to Holland by sailors and explorers. There, this little dog became a great favorite of King William III, and later became the pet of many ladies in England. His name is said to come from the Latin word “pugnis,” which means fist. The pug’s profile is supposed to resemble the shadow of a clenched fist.

He is a small dog weighing about fifteen pounds, with a thick, sturdy body and not too short legs. He wears a smooth, gleaming, tight-fitting coat of black, silver, or yellow fawn, with a black face and a black line running down his back. His head is large, with dark, protruding eyes and a deeply wrinkled forehead, as if he were frowning. His nose is short and square, his ears soft and dark and tiny. His tail curls tightly over one hip. A double curl is supposed to be most attractive!

Because of his size, the ease with which he can be kept clean, and his affectionate nature, the pug makes an ideal pet and watchdog for the city. He does not like strangers, so he should be taught his good manners while he is still a puppy.