What is the Toy Group?
When a new breed is given purebred status by the American Kennel Club (AKC), they’re assigned to one of seven breed groups. Breed classification is based on their characteristics and what they were originally bred for. Breeds that fall under the Toy Group were often bred for one purpose—to be companions for humans.
When compared to their larger canine cousins, these pint-sized breeds might be lacking when it comes to size, but they sure make up for it in personality. Toy breeds were not only bred to sit on your lap or be carried everywhere you go, but often held positions as guard dogs to alert the household of potential danger and some of the smaller terrier types helped with vermin control.
Which is the smallest of the toy breeds?
The Chihuahua is considered the smallest breed and doesn’t often exceed over 6 pounds.
Which is the largest of the toy breeds?
The Pug is considered the largest of the toy breeds, weighing between 14-18 pounds.
Are toy breeds good with children?
As cute and cuddly as most toy breeds are, they’re often not a suitable choice when it comes to a household with small children. Most small dogs have a low tolerance for loud noises or rough play. This can cause anxiety in a small dog, leading to behaviors like fear biting. Young children often have a harder time handling or picking up these small breeds, which could lead to accidental injury to the dog or child. When picking a toy breed for a young child, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Havanese, or Shih Tzu tend to be your best bet as they are sweet, playful, and sturdy when it comes to playtime.
Are toy breeds good apartment dogs?
Yes! These small toy breeds barely take up any space making them an excellent roommate in your apartment.
Which breeds are members of the Toy Group?
The Toy Group currently houses 23 breeds, so grab some coffee and enjoy learning about all the Toy Breeds!
- Affenpincher- The Affenpinscher is an ancient toy breed whose name means “monkey dog” in German. It is believed that the Affenpinscher was used in the development of many of the smaller rough-coated breeds across Europe, including the Brussels Griffon and the Miniature Schnauzer. As the breed was used as ratters, they tend to not do as well with rodent pets such as hamsters, ferrets, and gerbils, but tend to get along with other dogs. This breed would not do well in a home with young children because they typically don’t enjoy being hugged, squeezed, or chased. However, they make great companions for adults and older children.
- Biewer Terrier- The Biewer Terrier (pronounced Beaver) was first developed in Germany by Yorkshire Terrier breeders, Wener and Gertrude Biewer. A puppy in one of their litters had a rare recessive piebald gene and from there the Biewer Terrier was developed. Although they appear to be a colorful tri-colored Yorkshire Terrier, there are some structural differences including a full-length tail. The Biewer Terrier is also the first breed to receive to ever receive purebred status through advancement in genetic testing rather than the traditional pedigree process.
- Brussels Griffon- The Brussels Griffon originated from breeding of the Affenpinscher to the Belgian street dog (Griffons d'Ecurie, or Stable Griffons). When or why other breeds were introduced can only be speculated as there wasn’t detailed recordkeeping. It is well documented that the Pug, the King Charles, and the Ruby Spaniels were crossed with the original Belgian dog.
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel - The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was named after King Charles II, who lived and ruled England in the 17th century. Perhaps one of the most easygoing breeds, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is trustworthy, friendly, and easy to train, not to mention how the breed takes easily to its surroundings, whether they're running around outside with their family or sleeping next to them on the couch.
- Chihuahua - The breed derives its name from the Mexican State of Chihuahua, where the earliest specimens of the breed were found. Like human babies, Chihuahuas have a soft spot on their heads called molera. Unlike babies, a Chihuahua might have the spot for its whole life. Whether or not a Chihuahua keeps its soft spot depends on size, genetics, and skeletal structure. Show dogs aren’t penalized for having them. The breed is also known for its apple or deer shaped head. They come in long and smooth coat varieties.
- Chinese Crested- The Chinese Crested is believed to have evolved from the African hairless dogs that were traded among merchants and sailors, making their way to China. The two types of Chinese Crested are the hairless (dominant) and powderpuff (genetically recessive) varieties. A powderpuff Chinese Crested has a coat of straight hair that covers its entire body. The more well-known type is the hairless variety, which is mostly hairless with tufts of fine, silky hair on the head, tail, and feet. These tufts are called the crest, plume, and socks, respectively.
- English Toy Spaniel- Know as the “Merry Monarchs” this toy spaniel was favorite amongst British royalty in the 1600s. It is believed that spaniel-type breeds brought from Asia to Europe, played a role in their development. While they enjoy being a pampered lapdog, they have a true spaniel personality and enjoy hunting. This is a playful, intelligent, and gentle breed.
- Havanese - The Havanese is the National Dog of Cuba and the country's only native breed (Havana = Havanese). They are part of the Bichon family and have gone by such names as the Havanese Cuban Bichon, Bichon Havanais, Bichon Havanês, Havaneser, and Bichon Habanero. Their unique gait is described as lively and springy, which accentuates the happy character of the Havanese.
- Italian Greyhound- This ancient breed that has been depicted in 2,000-year-old artifacts is the smallest of the family of Gazehounds (sighthounds) which rely on their keen sight and speed. Italian Greyhound puppies are fearless and believe they can fly. When not handled appropriately, the Italian Greyhound will not think twice about jumping off your lap or out of your arms. Broken bones are common in pups between four and 12 months old, particularly the radius and ulna (the bones in the front legs).
- Japanese Chin- Despite the name "Japanese" the breed is native to the land of China. It was later developed by Japanese nobility and was often offered as a royal gift. Much like cats, Chins love to be up high. They often jump up on high pieces of furniture and tables and they also are found grooming themselves quite often. They have a low tendency to bark.
- Maltese - This ancient dog of Malta is the aristocrat of the canine world for more than 28 centuries. The Greeks were known to erect tombs to their Maltese. Ceramic art and innumerable paintings of the little dog date to the 5th century making their place in antiquity is well documented. The Maltese is covered from head to foot with a mantle of long,silky, white hair that make their black points and eyes stand out. They’re a gentle and affectionate breed that is eager and sprightly in action.
- Miniature Pinscher - The Miniature Pinscher is a distinctly German breed often referred to as the Zwerg or Dwarf Pincher in historical documents. They’re not a scaled-down, version of any breed, especially the much larger Doberman Pinscher, although it is believed they both descended from the German Standard Pinscher. The Miniature Pinscher is often referred to as the "King of the Toys” due to their proud strut that is commonly compared to that of a hackney pony.
- Papillon- The Papillon is one of the oldest breeds of dog in Europe that has been traced back nearly 700 years. The breed originally only had dropped ears but over time, an erect-eared variety with long fringe was developed. Taking on the appearance of a butterfly, the French named them after the colorful insect. While the erect-ear variety is the most common, the drop-eared can still be found and are often referred to as “Phalene” which means moth. The Papillon is known for its sharp mind and keen agility skills.
- Pekingese - The Pekingese was named after the ancient city of Peking in China, now called Beijing. The legend of their development is the foundation of Pekingese lore. It is said that a lion who fell in love with a marmoset asked Ah Chu to shrink him to the size of a pigmy but allow him to keep his great lion heart and character. Their offspring was known as the Lion Dog of China due to their stocky body and long mane. The Pekingese were highly protected until 1860 when the Imperial Palace was looted by the British. They’re a good-natured and affectionate breed that can also be very opinionated and stubborn.
- Pomeranian - This breed takes its name from the historical region of Pomerania that makes up the southern coast of the Baltic Sea, which is now present-day Germany and Poland. Pomeranians are members of the Spitz family and are descended from the sled and herding dogs of Lapland and Iceland. Pomeranians are known for their plush coat, foxlike facial-features, and their vivacious personality. They also boast one of the widest variety of colors options and color combinations in one breed.
- Poodle (Toy) - The origins of the Poodle trace back to Germany where it was known as the Pudelhund. The word Pudel comes from the Low German verb meaning "to splash about", and the word Hund (dog). The Poodle comes in three sizes with the Toy variety being the smallest, standing no taller than 10 inches at the shoulder. Poodles are one of the smartest breeds, ranking second in canine intelligence. This makes them extremely easy to train and made them a favorite to perform amazing tricks. The Poodle is also a favorite among allergy suffers as they are considered a hypoallergenic breed. This has led to their popularity in creating many of the Doodle hybrids that we see today.
- Pug - The Pug can be traced back to 400 BC to the Buddhist monasteries in Tibet where they were kept as pets. Though they have gone by many names throughout their history, it was believed that they got the name “Pug” due to their facial expression. They’re known for their curly tails that curve up towards their bodies and according to the AKC, “the double curl is perfection.” This compact breed is charming, comical, and affectionate.
- Russian Toy- Often mistaken for a Chihuahua, the Russian Toy has no ties to the breed. Their development took place in 18th century with the arrival of the English Toy Terrier in Russia. The Russian Toy comes in both the smooth and long coat varieties. This cheerful breed thrives on human companionship and loves to snuggle. They are described a small, elegant, and live breed with long legs.
- Shih Tzu - Evidence of the Shih Tzu can be traced to 624 AD. Their name means “lion dog” and were highly regarded due Buddhist belief that there is an association between the lion and their Deity. This led them to be closely protected and only bred in court. The Shih Tzu’s job was to guard palaces and monasteries in ancient China and keep everyone happy. They often served as foot, hand, and lap warmers for their human. The Shih Tzu is a spunky and affection breed that does well with children.
- Silky Terrier - The Silky Terrier was developed in the late 1800s in Australia by crossing the Yorkshire Terrier and the Australian Terrier. This led to a breed that looks very similar to the Yorkshire Terrier with its silky coat but with the sturdy body of the Australian Terrier. The Silky does enjoy barking but can be trained to bark when necessary. They also have a strong prey drive so they will chase cats, small animals, and sometimes other dogs.
- Toy Fox Terrier- This American bred terrier was developed in the early 20th century by crossing smaller Smooth Fox Terriers with Chihuahuas and Italian Greyhounds. The purpose of this breeding was to develop a small toy size dog that still had the heart of a terrier. The Toy Fox Terrier is a small dog that is fun, playful, and full of personality.
- Yorkshire Terrier - This breed favorite was developed by Scotsman working in the woolen mills of Yorkshire, England. They brought with them many types of terrier breeds from Scotland and crossed them with local breeds like the longhaired Leeds Terrier. During their time working as ratters in the woolen mills, they were a much big dog, but selective breeding over the years has led to the breed we know of today. Although smaller than what they once were, this is still a dog that is bold, courageous, and confident.