Top 5 Pocket Pooches In the past, "toy" dogs have often been bred to make a dog owner's life easier, mainly for the richer sectors in society. They were owned by the affluent and were seen as status symbols and a luxury item despite their apparent lack of purpose. However, nowadays they have become a fashion statement for all social classes rich and poor, celebrities far and wide. Indeed, entire sites are now being created devoted to the canine preferences of our favourite celebs, and these can have a real impact - for good or bad being a point of debate - on the trends of dog ownership around the globe. Toy dogs are generally easier to care for, but they are usually not fond of children and large families. They also tend to be a bit "yappy", however they are loyal and intelligent and great entertainers. Here are just five favourite pocket pooches
Definitely a favourite in the UK, naturally due to its origin. First bred to catch rats in the coalmines, this rugged and slightly scruffy looking toy dog is very popular because it does have all of the loveable characteristics of a larger dog, only in miniature. They are about 7-9 inches tall and weigh 5-7 pounds. The Yorkie is easily recognisable due to its long shiny straight coat which is coloured reds, tans and greys that can reach to the floor. Naturally this beautiful coat needs daily grooming
The Yorkie has boundless energy and an even temperament. They can be hard to train, but with persistence it is manageable as they are usually intelligent and quick to learn. Yorkies are quite sociable dogs and often get along with other pets, but do tend to be very possessive of their food and toys. They are best suited to families with older and calmer children, rather than toddlers. They don't need excessive walks and often will not walk on a lead, so obedience training may be necessary. They will be wary of strangers, and will bark in defence, so are excellent guard dogs, but it is advisable to socialise early so that they don't become too shrill and yappy. Their lifespan is approximately 12-14 years. Contemporary celebrity Yorkie-lovers include teen pop princess Miley Cyrus, who has a Yorkshire Terrier named Roadie.
It is sometimes thought that the origin of the Shih Tzu goes way back to them being shown in paintings and art of the Tang dynasty in 618 to 907AD. Other thoughts are that the Tibet's Dalai Lama in the 16th or 17th century gave a gift to the Chinese Emperor of the sacred Tibetan Lhasa Apso dogs. In the Tibetan religion, there are stories of a small dog that can transform itself into a lion. These Tibetan Lhasa Apsos, when introduced in Peking, were crossed with the Pekingese to produce the Shih Tzu, which means "Lion Dog" in Chinese. Unfortunately, they almost became extinct when the Chinese Communist government imposed a huge dog tax in 1947. Luckily there were other breeding pairs in Europe and the breed also became extremely popular in the US after WW2, and more recently haveing been "endorsed" by celebrities such as Nicole Ritchie, who has one named Honeychild
Despite their delicately exotic looks, they are one of the most robust of the toy dogs. They are 8-10 inches tall and 9-16 pounds in weight. They are intelligent, playful, affectionate, friendly, and outgoing dogs and require some training, especially house training. They are also extremely loyal to their owners and families, showing only rare bouts of aggression. Therefore, great with other pets and older children, but not great watchdogs.
This dog is a true lap dog and will love being pampered all day long. This for a Shih Tzu is important because they require a lot of grooming. Their double coat needs to be brushed and combed thoroughly every day to prevent tangles. The long hair can scratch the dog's eyes and therefore should be tied up away from the face. It is best have their coats trimmed and clipped regularly. While this may change their overall appearance, it is better to have a clipped Shih Tzu than one full of tangles. They do also enjoy daily walks and are more than happy to trot along with you. Their lifespan is approximately 10-14 years.
The Chihuahua is the smallest of the toy dogs. Their recent popularity may be due in part to the likes of Paris Hilton, but they were probably first bred in Chihuahua, Mexico during the time of the Aztecs. The longer coated Chihuahua was thought to have been bred later in the U.S. Chihuahuas weigh 2-6 pounds and are a mere 5-9 inches in height. The two varieties are Smooth-coat and Long-coat, which are extremely similar bar their coat. Smooth-coated Chihuahuas tend to be the more popular, as they have glossy, smooth, soft coats. Long-Coated Chihuahuas have longer, soft coats that feather on the tail, ears, neck and feet. They are the ultimate apartment dog and are extremely popular with older people.
Chihuahuas are intelligent, loyal and loving dogs, devoted totally to their owners and family. They thrive on close interaction and contact with the family, hence why they make such great companions. However, despite this, they are prone to being a bit "snooty" and aloof, as well as fiercly jealous and possessive. They most certainly have delusions of grandeur, are very confident and will undoubtedly challenge any larger dogs. Chihuahuas are great with older children if they have been raised with them.
These little dogs can actually be trained quite easily. Chihuahuas are known to be somewhat insecure and this is what can cause their excessive barking, so ideally socialisation and training whilst still a puppy is advised. Chihuahuas tend to get the exercise that they need indoors - be careful with them jumping from furniture as they can easily hurt themselves - so they don't appear to need much regular outdoor exercise. If you do venture out with them during the winter months, it's best to keep them warm in a little coat. The Smooth-coated variety will only need the infrequent brush. The Long-coated Chihuahuas need regular grooming and trims. They are either single coated, which sheds little, or double coated that can shed quite a bit. Because they don't get outdoors a lot, they will need to have their claws trimmed on a regular basis. Their lifespan is approximately 12-14 years.
Definitely one of the most intelligent, gentle and loving of the toy dogs. As their name suggest, they originated from Malta. However there have been statues of similar looking dogs in Ancient Egyptian tombs as well as being a favourite breed of noble ladies in ancient Greece, Rome and the Middle Ages in Europe. Hollywood beauty and Academy Award winner Hale Berry owns two Maltese named Polly and Willy.
These dogs are full of energy and just adore playing. They have huge characters and are full of surprises. They are often insecure when a puppy, so early socialisation to people and other animals is advisable. This should then give them the confidence they need as they mature, hopefully lowering their inherent lack of trust in strangers and their tendency to bark. They enjoy training, so there is little issue there. They tend to be suited to older children.
The Maltese dogs are about 8 to 9 inches in height and weigh 4 to 7 pounds. They are easily recognisable by their long-haired coat, which is white, straight and silky. Naturally, because of their beautiful coat, they need daily grooming, including regular bathing. Their coat is normally centre parted with the coat almost reaching to the ground. They don't shed their hair, so any dead hair should be brushed out. As their hair grows long over their eyes, tie it up so they can see. They love to go for walks as well as getting plenty of exercise indoors playing their games, but always keep them on the lead to avoid confrontations with larger dogs. Their lifespan is 14-15 years.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The Cavalier Spaniel was first bred in the 16th century in England and quickly became a favourite of European socialites. King Charles II also kept a large group of these dogs. They are often seen in portraits of European aristocracy. They were used to warm laps in chilly castles and on carriage rides. They are graceful, gentle, playful and mild mannered. They are superb family dogs, enjoying play and close contact with their families. They are sociable dogs and mingle well with children and adults of all ages, though, as with all breeds of dog you should always supervise play with younger children. They love cuddles on laps and anywhere warm and snuggly. Outdoors they are lively and do tend to chase small animals as is their hunting dog ancestry. Luckily they are easy to train and love long walks. They have long silky coats that feather around the neck and chest. They are usually, tan, red, white and black, either with two or three colours throughout their different varieties. With this coat they will need regular grooming, at least twice per week. They are about eleven to fourteen inches in height, making them one of the taller of the toy dogs, and weigh eleven to eighteen pounds. Their lifespan is ten to fourteen years. The list of celebrity King Charles Spaniel owners past and present is lengthy, and includes Lauren Bacall, Frank Sinatra and Liv Tyler.
Whatever breed of toy dog you choose as your companion, remember that you will need to consider how you will provide the necessary funds for veterinary treatment should you dog have an accident or become ill. There are so many pet insurance providers now that it can be difficult to decide what it the right choice for you and your faithful friend. Animal Friends Insurance is an ethical pet insurance company which donates all of its profits to helping animals all around the world. You could pay them a visit now, and let the information found there help you through the pet insurance maze