Good things Come in Small Packages
Toy dog breeds are the smallest-in-stature AKC group of dogs. These were bred originally for the sole enjoyment of people, and had no real “job” to do throughout the ages except be companions for their people.
We have a pretty good visual record through history of this group, since many dogs featured in the Toy group were included in painted portraits, on the laps or near the feet of their masters. Check out the painting below for an example.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and Pugs seem to be the favorite painted subjects in many of these paintings, and appear as lap dogs in the company of the wealthiest aristocrats, even kings and queens, especially in portraits painted during the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries.
Toy Breeds Were Favorites of Royalty
In the painting to the right, painted in 1781 by Thomas Gainsborough, Queen Charlotte is shown with her little dog. The dog is definitely a member of the toy dog breeds group and is most likely a Papillon.
Many of the dogs in the toy group make great apartment-dwellers, since they do not need a great deal of space to roam.
Some of the “toys” are devoted to their people and stay close to them, but other breeds in the group are more solitary and go off to seek a spot by themselves in the house.
Although it would seem that their small size would make them the perfect dogs for small children, their tiny frames can be fragile, and they can be easily hurt by playful children who might roughhouse too much.
AKC List- The Toy Group
Currently, the American Kennel Club recognizes twenty-one breeds of dogs as members of the Toy Group. We have listed here, from the smallest to largest in size:
- Chinese Crested
- Yorkshire Terrier
- Toy Fox Terrier
- Japanese Chin
- Toy Poodle
- Manchester Terrier
- Silky Terrier
- Brussels Griffon
- Miniature Pinscher
- Shih Tzu
- English Toy Spaniel
- Italian Greyhound
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Toy Breeds and How They do with Kids
Chihuahuas are extremely popular dogs, but are not generally the best breeds for families with small children. Some Chihuahuas are extremely nervous, and others are quite brazen and can nip. They are very sensitive dogs and can easily be injured due to their tiny size. If socialized from puppyhood with other pets, unfamiliar people and with extremely careful and gentle children, it is possible to have a Chihuahua fit in well with your family, but it is usually best to wait until your children are older before bringing a Chihuahua home.
Our top family dog “picks” from the Toy Group are listed in bold print below, but a few others that do not appear on the list can also be given more consideration if you are willing to work with the breeds and understand their nature to see if they can fit in with your family situation. These are the Silky Terrier, English Toy Spaniel and Maltese.
The Silky Terrier is quite playful and moderately affectionate to its family. It can work well in households with careful, considerate children, but it it can be territorial and show some dominance. It also tends to be a bit obsessive once it starts on a task. The Silky Terrier sometimes has a strong desire to chase small animals, such as cats, so beware!
The English Toy Spaniel, like its close “cousin,” the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was a favorite lap dog of the English aristocracy. They can be a bit on the stubborn side, which can make training a challenge, and they tend to keep to themselves, but give affectionate and gentle attention when called on to do.They tend to be somewhat stand-offish with people that they do not know, but are very attentive to their own family, and are generally friendly with other animals.
The Maltese is another breed that didn’t quite make our most highly recommended list for families with children, but could still be a nice addition in the right situations. The general personality traits of the Maltese that you should bear in mind in families with kids are its somewhat territorial nature, its solitary personality and its highly active need for movement inside the house. They are considered moderately territorial (we usually like to recommend dogs with low territorial natures in households with young children). They are somewhat solitary beings who keep more to themselves, and are very playful inside the house.
Recommended Toy Breeds for Families with Younger Children
We recommend the following list of Toy dog breeds for households with younger children:
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
- Shih Tzu