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How to Identify Toy Dog Breeds

They’re cute. They’re feisty. They’re often quite long-lived. And some places with “No Dogs Allowed” signs don’t enforce the rules when it comes to these charming little dogs. Toy dogs are special. Just ask them.

All toy dogs are small, ranging from two pounds for some Chihuahuas to just under 20 for the stocky Pug. The group includes the Affenpinscher, Brussels Griffon, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Chihuahua, Chinese Crested, English Toy Spaniels, Italian Greyhound, Japanese Chin, Havanese, Lowchen, Maltese, Miniature Pinscher, Papillon, Pekinese, Pomeranian, Pug, Shih Tzu, Silky Terrier, Toy Manchester Terrier, Toy Poodle, and Yorkshire Terrier.

You can give them ironic names like Spike or Killer, and people will think you’re clever. You can give them names like Daddy’s Itsy-Bitsy Little Cutesy-Poo and people won’t think you too addle-brained. You can dress them in sweaters. You can have their toenails painted bright red.

You can laugh at their furious displays of territoriality when a large dog passes in front of your house, and you can pick them up to keep them out of trouble when that large dog decides she’s not about to tolerate insults from a scrap of fur no bigger than her head.

Toys are among the brighter breeds around, and more than a few of them excel in obedience competitions. Better still, they love to be the center of attention and so are naturals when it comes to learning tricks.

Many of these breeds have luxurious coats that need either to be kept clipped short or groomed frequently to keep tangles and mats at bay. Some real shedders are in here, too, but because the dogs are small, so too, is the problem of dealing with the fur.

These dogs are among the best for inexperienced dog owners, but tiny dogs are fragile and not up to the rough handling that some children can dish out, so think things through before you bring in a toy dog.

Mostly what you can do with a lively, energetic toy breed is enjoy. Most toy breeds haven’t had to work for a living, so they’re perfectly suited to being pampered and petted.

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