Dog breed library - Toy breeds

Size of dog
Coat length
Grooming required
Size of home required
Size of garden required
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AffenpinscherThis little terrier type dog has a distinctive look giving rise to the name "Monkey Dog". They are very affectionate but have a mischievous and playful side to their personality too. Small with a shaggy wiry coat, the hair on the face is longer than on the body and the head is round with a pronounced 'stop'. They can come in a variety of colours but are often black or dark grey. They originate in Germany and are thought to have originally been larger in size and bred for ratting but has been miniaturised to add to its appeal as a pet. They are sharp, lively and stubborn, constantly active and are good guard dogs. They generally like people but need constant firm guidance. Fearless little dogs, they are inclined to challenge other animals, whatever their size, so that needs to be trained out when they are young. Although they enjoy a long walk, they are so busy indoors that they give themselves plenty of exercise. However they do need to experience outdoors too for mental stimulation. The wiry coat doesn't need too much grooming but will need stripping as well as occasional brushing and combing. Their short nose inclines them to breathing problems, especially in hot weather and they can be prone to bone fractures.
Australian Silky TerrierThis courageous little terrier is intelligent and sociable. The little Silky Terrier is slightly longer than it is tall, with a long silky coat, parted down the middle of the back in shades of tan, black and blue. They were bred from combining the Yorkshire and Australian Terriers largely as companion dogs but are naturally good at catching small rodents. Although he is friendly, he is also self-sufficient and full of curiosity. Generally good with people, they have a tendency to chase small wildlife. They have great stamina and are full of energy and will need to go for regular walks as well as the exercise they give themselves by running around at home. The silky coat is fine to maintain if it is combed daily. If left, it will tangle and matt easily. They are a generally healthy little dog.
Bichon FriseThe Bichon Frise is a natural performer who enjoys taking centre stage. They are a small, sturdy dog with a (usually) white, soft, curly coat and a tail that curls up and over the back. Overall, they give the impression of a ball of fluff. The breed dates back to the 13th Century but was popular in the courts of 16th Century France where they provided entertainment by performing tricks. They are intelligent, charming, affectionate, lively, quick to learn and surprisingly quiet. They love human company and are good natured with other animals. They enjoy a good walk but are an active little dog indoors too. They should be groomed and bathed regularly and professionally trimmed too but they shed very little. They can be prone to eye, skin and ear problems, epilepsy and dislocated kneecaps. They can also be very sensitive to flea bites.
BologneseThe Bolognese (pronounced Bol-o-neese) is very fond of human company and a generally intelligent little breed. They are a small, stocky dog with a mass of long, white, fluff. In fact the only feature you can really make out is its little black nose. The coat, however, is more like flocking than a regular coat. They come from Northern Italy and hail from the same line as the Maltese. They were bred as companion pets. They are fairly docile, particularly indoors, but are willing to please and quite good at obedience. They love human company and are good natured with other animals. They enjoy the opportunity for a daily walk. The long coat requires regular grooming but does not need trimming. They are a generally healthy breed with few problems.
Cavalier King Charles SpanielThe Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a sweet dog with an ever wagging tail who is eager to please. They are a small, balanced, silky-coated little dog with a domed head and large, dark eyes. Their coats are usually two colours but they can be tricolour too. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was bred as a companion dog. Trainable, affectionate and happy, they love human company and are good natured with other animals. They are quite active indoors but will enjoy a daily walk too. They don't require a lot of grooming but it is necessary to trim the hair between their pads and to check their ears. Unfortunately, this adorable little dog is prone to some serious health problems: syringomyelia (a brain disease), eye problems, kneecap problems, back problems, ear infections, deafness and hip dysplasia. If considering getting a puppy, it is advisable to check the health of the sire and dam over a few generations.
ChihuahuaThe famously tiny Chihuahua is the epitome of cuteness. Their tiny body is slightly longer than it is tall. Their head is very round with large round eyes and large erect ears. There are two types - Long Coated and Smooth Coated, they come in all colours. They come from Mexico and were bred to be a pet that was prized for its size. They are full of energy and cheerful. They are willful but intelligent so perfectly trainable but their size inclines people to let them get away with things they would not allow a larger dog to do. Loyal to their owner, they need to be trained to accept strangers and children in particular. They need to be taught to tolerate other animals. Although very active indoors, they need the opportunity for outdoors exercise too but the smooth coated types will need a coat in cold weather. Neither coat type needs undue brushing. They are prone to rheumatism, gum and eye problems. They are born with a molera, an unclosed section of the skull which usually closes but remains open in some dogs making them more susceptible to injury.
Chinese CrestedThe Chinese Crested is the most popular of all the hairless breeds but they actually come in two varieties, the hairless and the powderpuff. They are a small, slender dog. The hairless has hair only on their head, feet and tail whereas the powderpuff has a soft coat all over. They have large, erect ears and come in all colours. They actually originate in Africa but were brought on board Chinese trading ships to hunt vermin. They crave human companionship, are alert and affectionate. They are trainable and can be remarkably good at agility. They are very people friendly but children may need to be careful not to damage the skin of the hairless. They are generally good natured with other animals. Although active indoors, they need a good daily walk too. The hairless type do not need a lot of brushing but will need bathing frequently. The powderpuffs have a very fine coat that matts together easily so regular brushing is essential. The hairless need sun cream to protect them against sun and coats for the cold and tend to have more problems with their teeth than the powderpuffs. Both varieties can be allergic to wool.
Coton De TulearThe little Coton De Tulear is always eager to please. The French word "coton" means cotton and these dogs look like a little ball of fluffy cotton. They do come in a variety of colours but the preferred one for show dogs is white. The Coton De Tulear is the official dog of Madagascar and was originally bred as a companion. They are friendly, lively and sociable and very people-centred and they naturally tend to get on well with people and other animals. They are active indoors but enjoy physical exercise outdoors too, including swimming, and do well at agility. Their long hair needs a good deal of grooming. There are no known health problems.
English Toy Terrier (Black & Tan)The English Toy Terrier is the oldest of the terrier breeds and is full of energy. They are a small, slender but muscular dog with a long, narrow head and pointed, erect ears. Their smooth coat is black and tan. They were bred to kill vermin and are said to be the best terrier for this task. They are highly intelligent, alert, eager to please and powerful. This makes them excellent at sports like agility but their body and brain must be kept exercised. They generally get along well with people and are usually good natured with other dogs but may not be trustworthy around small mammals. They are very active indoors but need plenty of exercise outside too. Their short, shiny coat is easy to care for with minimal grooming. They can be prone to problems with their blood.
Griffon BruxelloisThe Griffon Bruxellois may have been nicknamed "monkey-face" and "street urchin", but he makes a delightful companion. This little dog's cute face is said to be reminiscent of the Ewok from the Star Wars film with their rounded head, bulging eyes, short nose, beard and shaggy eyebrows. They come in two coat types, smooth and rough. Smooth coats are short and glossy and rough coats are dense and wiry. They hail from Belgium. Their ancestors were vermin catchers but the Griffon Bruxellois was more popular as a pet. Intelligent, happy, lively, curious and good at learning tricks, the Griffon Bruxellois is fearless,fun and, unlike some small dogs, not yappy. They make a good companion for people and get on well with animals such as dogs and cats. They are an active little dog indoors but enjoy a walk outdoors too. The smooth coats are easy to maintain, the rough coats need stripping. They can be prone to eye and respiratory problems and are sensitive to the heat.
HavaneseThe Havanese is the National Dog of Cuba. They are a little, sturdy dog with a bouncy stride and a lot of hair which covers their entire body. The coat may be wavy or curly but the most striking kind is the corded where the coat hangs in long strands. This can come in many colours. They are one of the "Bichon" breeds, the French word for bearded, and were popular in Cuba as a lap-dog. They are a natural companion dog: playful, affectionate, intelligent, easy to train for obedience and tricks and generally quiet. They are naturally sociable with other animals and people and are happy with moderate exercise. If just wanted as a pet, the coats can be clipped to make grooming easier but a corded coat requires special care. They are a healthy, long-lived breed but can suffer from some age-related problems eventually.
Italian GreyhoundAlthough this little dog can run like the wind, he loves all the comforts of home. They are a fine and delicate looking little dog with the slim frame and deep narrow chest of a standard Greyhound but in miniature. Their coat is short and glossy and is either white with coloured markings or coloured with white markings. Images of dogs like Italian Greyhounds have been found all over the world, including ancient Egypt, for thousands of years but despite their racey shape, they have largely been prized pets. They are playful, intelligent, affectionate, eager to please and enjoy being cuddled as much as going for a good run. They naturally get on well with people and animals. They are an active little dog both indoors and out so a good daily run is important. To keep the coat looking glossy it is only necessary to rub it with towelling. They are prone to epilepsy, slipped stifle, fractures and PRA. The delicate puppies can fracture a bone easily so extra care must be taken with them although the adults are hardier than they look.
Japanese ChinThe Japanese Chin, also known as the Japanese Spaniel, has royal connections, favoured as a pet of the Japanese nobility. They are a toy dog with a broad head, large eyes and short muzzle. They have a very long coat which is white with markings in one colour e.g. black, lemon, sable, red etc. Officially, the nose should match the coloured patch on the coat. Although called the Japanese Chin, they actually come from China and were bred as a companion dog. They are naturally lively, loyal and affectionate to their owners and are very intelligent. They can be good at learning tricks. They may need to be taught not to be wary of strangers and in turn, children should be taught not to play rough with them but they generally get on well with other animals. They are an active dog indoors and although not in need of a lot of exercise, appreciate a daily walk too. The coat needs to be brushed regularly and the eyes and ears checked for signs of infection. They are prone to eye and breathing problems and are sensitive to extremes of temperature.
King Charles SpanielThe King Charles Spaniel is often confused with the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel but it is actually smaller and a much older and rarer breed. They are small with a domed head and short muzzle, the result of cross-breeding with the Pug in the nineteenth century. Their bite is slightly undershot, their ears are long and their coat silky. They come in the same range of colours as the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel: tricolour, red, black and tan, and red and white. Although originally bred as a small gun dog, they have been popular since the fifteenth century in the royal courts of Europe as a companion. They are reserved but gentle and affectionate with a stable temperament. They enjoy nothing more than affection from their owners. They naturally get on well with adults, children and animals. They are not a high energy dog but enjoy a daily walk. Their long, silky coat needs regular grooming but is not difficult to maintain. They are prone to eye and heart problems and their short muzzle also inclines them to respiratory problems which may cause difficulties with anaesthetics.
Lowchen (Little Lion Dog)In the 1600s, the Lowchen or "Little Lion" had to tolerate not just being groomed to look like a lion but to having it's exposed skin used as a foot warmer for noble ladies. They are a small but sturdy dog with a long, soft, dense, silky coat that comes in white, black or lemon but they can also be speckled. They are often clipped to look like a lion: the hindquarters, all but the tip of the tail and part of the front legs are clipped. They found favour as a companion dog and originate in Europe, probably Germany because Lowchen means "Little Lion" in German. They are tougher than they look and can be a little wilful but they are basically sweet natured, cheerful, intelligent and eager to learn. They are normally good natured towards strangers, children and other animals. They are an active breed indoors but enjoy a daily walk too. They shed very little but their coat needs regular grooming as it tangles easily. They are usually very healthy but can be prone to kneecap problems.
MalteseOnce loved by royalty, it is said that noble ladies carried these little dogs around in their sleeves. They are a small, sturdy dog with long, silky white or off-white hair which sets off their black eyes and black nose. For ease of grooming the coat is often trimmed into a "puppy" cut. They originate in Italy where they were a popular lap dog owned by nobility all over the world. Bred to be a companion, they are lovable and loving, lively and playful. They are a good watch dog and will not hesitate to warn of intruders. They are highly intelligent and good at learning tricks and they are normally sociable with people and other animals. They are an active breed indoors but enjoy a daily walk too. They love to play outdoors and may enjoy jumping in puddles. The very soft coat needs a lot of care with daily brushing and combing. They find very cold or very hot conditions difficult, are prone to chills and sunburn. They may have digestive problems, teeth problems, skin, eye and breathing problems and slipped stifle.
Miniature PinscherThe Miniature Pinscher is a hardy, friendly and spirited little companion, often called the "King of the Toys". They look like a little Doberman, a small, compact, well proportioned dog with a short, sleek coat. The coat comes in variations of a dark colour with reddish markings: black and rust, chocolate and tan, red and stag red (red with black hairs). They originate from Germany where they were bred to be ratters. They are playful, alert and intelligent, responding well to training and often doing well in competitive obedience and agility. They can be something of a watchdog too and will alert you to the presence of strangers. They are easy to train to be sociable with strangers and tend to naturally be good with other pets and children. They have plenty of energy and tend to be active indoors as well as enjoying a daily walk. The smooth, short hair is easy to care for and they are generally healthy and not prone to any specific problems.
PapillonThe name "Papillon" means "butterfly" and it's easy to see where the name comes. For such a delicate little dog, they have very large erect ears exaggerated by long fringes. They are a fine-boned little dog with a slightly rounded head and those distinctive ears. Occasionally, Papillons have ears with drop tips. They are called Phalene Papillons (moth). Their tail is carried over their back with long hair that fountains down and they come in white with coloured patches and a coloured mask. They are one of the oldest breeds of dog and were always a companion. The original dog, known as the Dwarf Spaniel, had drop ears like Phalenes. The erect ears and change of name came later. They can be a charming dog: friendly, intelligent, playful and proud. They are very trainable and can be good at agility, obedience and learning tricks. They are naturally people, children and animal friendly. They are a good watchdog too. They are fairly active indoors but are tougher than they look and enjoy a good daily walk outside. The silky coat needs daily brushing and combing and occasional bathing. Teeth need regular cleaning as they are particularly prone to building up tartar. They can be prone to kneecap problems and some have difficulty under anaesthesia. Occasionally, their fontanel (soft spot in the skull) does not close properly.
PekingeseAt one time Pekingese could only be owned by Chinese royalty. Anyone who stole one would be executed and if you were not of noble birth you had to bow to them. They are a small, compact dog with a stocky body that is slightly longer than it is tall. Their head is large for the body-size with a flat front face and long ears that seem to blend in. The double coat has a long outer layer that comes in a variety of colours. Named after the ancient Chinese city of Peking, now Beijing, they were owned by Chinese emperors and sacrificed with them on their death to accompany them to the afterlife. They are spirited but sensitive, playful yet dignified and naturally brave although need to be taught not to guard their possessions. They can be very loving and make excellent companions. They are often people, children and animal friendly. They are quite inactive indoors and can easily become overweight so care needs to be taken of their food intake and they need a daily walk. The long coat needs daily brushing and combing. Pekingese are prone to catching colds, herniated disks dislocated kneecaps, ingrowing eyelashes breathing problems and heart problems. They also often have difficult births.
PomeranianThe Pomeranian's lively, affectionate nature make it likeable to many people, even those who are not normally drawn to small dogs. They are like a tiny spitz-type with a little pointed face, tail held up and over the body and a thick double coat. The outer coat is long, slightly harsh and comes in a huge range of colours. The originate from Germany where they were originally a much larger herding dog. It was Queen Victoria who started to breed them down in size to be a companion. The Pomeranian is a proud, lively little dog. It is intelligent, eager to learn, very loyal to its handler and family. The Pom is a wonderful companion and show dog. The breed's docile temper and affectionate nature endear it to many. It is alert, inquisitive and active: one of the most independent of the toy breeds, they needs a firm, gentle hand. They naturally get on well with adults, children and other animals. They tend to be active indoors but enjoy a daily walk outdoors too. They need frequent brushing and combing to keep the coat looking good and will shed continually. They are prone to dislocated patella, slipped stifle, heart problems, eye infections, skin irritations and tooth decay.
PugThere have been a number of famous Pugs throughout history. Josephine is reputed to have told Napoleon on their wedding night "If the Pug does not sleep in our bed, neither do I!" They are small but thick-set and stocky. For the size of the dog, their head is surprisingly large and surprisingly wrinkled and their muzzle is very short. Their tail is curled and carried over the back and their coat is short and smooth. They come in apricot, fawn, black and silver. They are one of the oldest known breeds and originate from somewhere in Asia, possibly China, where they were bred to be a companion, particularly to royalty, similar to the Pekingese. They are normally a happy little dog, loyal, loving, robust, spirited and full of fun. They are highly intelligent and good guard dogs without being yappy. Pugs generally get along very well with children, visitors, dogs and other pets. They enjoy exercise outside but can have breathing difficulties if over exerted - little and often is the key. They have difficulty coping with extreme weather conditions. The short coat is easy to maintain but care must be taken to ensure the creases on the face are cleaned regularly too. Apart from difficulties with hot and cold, they are prone to a number of health problems: allergies, breathing problems, skin problems, eye problems and Pug Dog Encephalitis. Puppies often have to be born by cesarean too.
Russian ToyThe Russian Toy has only been officially recognised by the Kennel Club in the UK since 2017. It's a dog similar in size and looks to the chihuahua and can have a smooth or long-haired coat which can be black and tan, blue and tan or red. They have 'pricked' ears with 'fringes' of hair which sometimes don't fully develop until they are around 3 years old. They were bred initially as watch dogs and rat-catchers. They are very loyal to their family and are often trained for agility and obedience. Both coat types shed but not overly. The long coated do need a comb occasionally to brush out any tangles. Puppies can suffer from tooth problems as their adult teeth come through, and as with many small dogs, they can suffer from patellar luxation (slipping kneecap). They can also have very delicate bones, simply due to their size.
Yorkshire TerrierOriginal working Yorkshire Terriers, or "Yorkies" were much larger than the ones we see today but have been selectively bred to make a smaller dog suitable for women to carry as an attractive pet. They are well-proportioned toy dogs. Their most noticeable feature is their coat. It is straight and silky and flows over their head (often held off the face in a top knot with a bow) and in a straight curtain to either side of their body. The coat on the body and tail is largely steel blue and the rest is tan. They originate from the North of England where they were used to keep down the rat and mice population from mines and clothing factories. Yorkies are intelligent and although a little wilful, are perfectly trainable. In the right hands, they are lively, courageous, loyal, playful and affectionate. They are only yappy, wary of strangers and unfriendly towards children and other animals if they are spoiled. However, they are not suitable for small children as the child may not take sufficient care to avoid hurting them. They are an active dog indoors but appreciate a daily walk outside too. They need a good deal of brushing and combing to keep the coat looking at it's best and their teeth need to be checked regularly. Their little skeleton can be prone to a range of health issues such as problems with the spine and slipped stifle. They are also prone to bronchitis, eye infections, early tooth decay, poor tolerance of anesthetics, and digestive troubles. Dams often have trouble delivering puppies and sometimes need to have cesareans.