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If you want to adopt a small dog, a good place to start is by researching toy dogs. Smaller dogs offer one important benefit, particularly for first time pack leaders: a 10 pound dog is much easier to control than a 100 pound dog. But don’t think that means a small dog will be easier to train — just that less is required of you physically.

Dogs in this group are typically good lap warmers, were bred primarily for companionship, and have lower energy levels. However, these aren’t characteristics of every breed included in the toy dog category, so it’s important to look into the particular toy dog you’re considering.

Here are some fun facts about some of the most popular toy dogs:

[Photo Gallery: photos in the Final Folder. Please use breed and description as captions]

  1. Chihuahua
    The Chihuahua is the smallest breed in the world — though most of these feisty pups don’t seem to realize that!
  2. Pug
    Modern pugs descend from dogs imported to Europe from China in the 16th century, and gained popularity after becoming the official dog of Holland’s House of Orange.
  3. Chinese crested
    Most people assume all dogs in this breed are hairless, but about half of them do have plenty of hair.
  4. Maltese
    This dog is used to royal treatment. It’s a popular breed that has been owned by heads of state around the world for centuries, since at least 500 B.C.E.
  5. Toy poodle
    Poodles are considered hypoallergenic, and they also shed very little.
  6. Yorkshire terrier
    These pups weren’t bred for companionship like many breeds in this group. They were bred for their ability to hunt rats!
  7. Shih Tzu
    This breed’s full name is Tibetan Shih Tzu Kou, which translates to Tibetan Lion Dog. It was bred to resemble a lion.
  8. Pomeranian
    Only two out of the nine dogs on the Titanic survived: a Pomeranian and a Pekinese, the next pup on our list!
  9. Pekingese
    The Pekingese was a popular breed during the T’ang Dynasty, but only members of the Chinese Imperial family were allowed to have them.
  10. Italian greyhound
    Like their larger counterparts, the Italian Greyhound has a double-suspension gallop, enabling it to run very fast.
  11. Cavalier King Charles spaniel
    This breed was named after King Charles II, who ruled England in the 17th century and loved these affectionate lap dogs.
  12. Toy fox terrier
    As of 1984, the American Kennel Club recognized these pups as two distinct breeds and not just two varieties of the same breed: smooth fox terriers and wire-haired fox terriers.
  13. Miniature pinscher
    Many experts believe that a wide variety of very different breeds — dachshund, German pinscher, Manchester terrier, and Italian greyhound — were crossed to create the first min pin, also known as the King of Toys.

Many toy dogs are actually a mix of two or more toy breeds, offering some of the benefits (and challenges) of each. Some have amusing combo names, such as Chug (pug and Chihuahua), but many are unique! If your guy or gal doesn’t have a name for its mixed breed status, why not come up with your own fun combination?

Just remember, a smaller dog doesn’t necessarily have a smaller need for exercise. Even toy dogs require regular exercise, discipline, and training, and some breeds are typically high energy, which means they may requiremore exercise — not less.

Remember, a primary consideration when adopting a dog should be to find one with an energy level that matches your own.

What do you think are the advantages or disadvantages of owning a little dog? Let us know in the comments.

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