Living little carries some big risks
Living little carries some big risks A 4-year-old Chihuahua named Tampa negotiates his way around the bigger dogs at the Sepulveda Basin Dog Park in the Encino section of Los Angeles
Living little carries some big risks
Lexile: 1090L

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The smallest dogs in the world weigh less than 7 pounds. They can easily slip through cracks in a fence, get stepped on or even hugged a little too hard.

A few other "little" problems are inherent in the popular "toy" pooches that people love to tote in purses, push in strollers or carry along on errands. They can be expensive, can't keep pace with big dogs on long walks, shouldn't roughhouse with kids and are often targeted by thieves.

But pet owners say the small setbacks don't overshadow the diminutive dogs' outsized personalities.

"There is vulnerability about small dogs. You have to protect them," said Debra Beilstein, secretary of the Yorkshire Terrier Club of Los Angeles. Her Yorkie, 13-year-old Mica, weighs 3.8 pounds.

She says their stature doesn't keep them down.

"Yorkies don't think of themselves as small," Beilstein said. "They have big personalities, lots of attitude."

The Chihuahua, Pomeranian, Yorkshire terrier and Maltese are American Kennel Club-designated toy dogs that weigh under 7 pounds. The Yorkshire terrier is the most popular toy breed in the country. It ranks No. 6 on this year's list of all Kennel Club-registered breeds.

Small dogs like Yorkies still require big-time care, American Kennel Club spokeswoman Jessica Rice D'Amato said.

"Just because they are small doesn't mean they need less exercise or mental stimulation than other breeds," she said.

And because the small dogs are so adorable, children tend to squeeze them like they do teddy bears, which can cause injuries, Beilstein said.

Perhaps a bigger problem than predators is the tendency of small-statured dogs to tumble from their owners' arms and get hurt. Dr. Al Townshend, a vet in Chestertown, Maryland, said that's the most common reason he sees toy dogs.

Despite the risks and problems of pocket-size pooches, they can give big-time performances.

Pam Shelby, a retired teacher from Beaumont, California, said her Yorkie, Desi, became a champion in agility contests. There's nothing like taking your dog through the hurdling, jumping, climbing and swerving paces of the obstacle-laden contests, she said.

Those who own toy dogs say they make up for their small stature with a large presence. Dr. Jack Stephens, an Idaho vet, says Yorkies have a reputation of being a little cocky, almost too confident, an attribute shared by his pet Chihuahua.

"You will not find a smaller dog than Torrey, nor one more strong-willed in personality, territory or aggressive than her," he said. "With 10 dogs in our household she 'rules' them all by sheer personality."

Critical thinking challenge: What advantages do small dogs have over big dogs?

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  • dylanh408
    5/02/2014 - 12:51 p.m.

    I think that is really cool that that "Toy" pooch is less then 7 pounds because that means that he can get through stuff that other dog can't ( plus if he is being chased then he can slip through a fence and the dog that is chasing him will not be able to get to him anymore ).

  • ivyl-Koc
    5/04/2014 - 10:26 p.m.

    I find this article interesting because I love small dogs they are so adorable. Some advantages that small dogs have against big dogs is how they can't protect their owners or they can't stand up for themselves because they're so small they will just get stepped on.

  • emmab12342624-
    5/05/2014 - 09:30 a.m.

    A Chihuaua in California weight less than 7 pounds can easily slip through cracks in a fence because he weights less than 7 pounds once again. On the one hand, I know Chihuauas can be from Mexico. In which, I have to admit, I just never knew Chihuauas can be from California before.

  • NakoomaKewenvoyouma-Lar
    5/05/2014 - 11:45 a.m.

    Small dogs can almost go into anything; small cracks, little holes and so much more. Also when they eat they don't consume as much as big dogs so they seem to be less expensive food wise. Their appearance also makes them more cuter and gives them more attention. For all the risks that they have the owners seem to always look out for them and pay attention to them, which helps. Another idea is their small size is great for small houses or apartments, owners probably feel better with smaller dogs. Smaller dogs can be more careful and have more agility then big dogs, they can go through things a lot quicker and easier.

  • peterb-Koc
    5/05/2014 - 12:47 p.m.

    A tiny dog is much like a tiny man they have to work twice as hard. Reason being is the height and size difference. We all know a dwarf is taller than a small dog but not a normal person.

  • deja.lachappa01
    5/05/2014 - 06:58 p.m.

    This story is about the smallest dog in the world. This dogs name is Torrey and she weights 3.8 pounds. She is thirteen years old and is the smallest dog in the world. Torrey is a champion in agility contests and her owner is Pam Shelby. She is a Yorkie and she lives in California.

    5/05/2014 - 07:07 p.m.

    Even though small dogs are vulnerable and can get hurt easily, at the end of the day they're still dogs. They still require all the work any other dog needs, just maybe a little more caution. If anyone buys a toy dog like these, they would obviously have to looks up the risks to make sure they care for the dog properly. But if you're willing to put in the care, you should be very happy with your dog. Everything has its advantages and disadvantages, whether its big or small, tall or short.

  • BrandonI
    5/06/2014 - 01:32 p.m.

    I have a Yorkie and he does make up for his size in personality. He is either big for his breed or he is the regular Yorkie not the toy one, because he weighs twelve pounds. Either way he is not a Great Dane but he is a part of the family like any other dog.

  • MackenzieSh
    5/06/2014 - 01:33 p.m.

    I think this is a really good thing for the "Toy" dog because if the dog is getting chased by another dog, it can easily slip through the holes. Or even if it's trapped, it can slip through holes, or small places to try and get out.

    5/07/2014 - 10:57 a.m.

    expressing the importance of taking proper care of these little dogs, the author has given them a voice. allowing little dogs to be handled ruffly, can and most likely will cause them injures.

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