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

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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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Assigned 6 times

  • Haley34333
    5/02/2014 - 08:42 a.m.

    Little dogs can get under a house and whenever a child is sad the little dog will calm them and make them happy

  • TheAlex33301
    5/02/2014 - 08:43 a.m.

    Wow this dog is so small and cute. It's amazing that this dog is droning this. I'm glad someone did this to show the world what little people and animals can do with just some hope.

  • Donnie Rockholt
    5/02/2014 - 08:48 a.m.

    It is just crazy how a little dog being that small but something could hurt him really bad. But even though it is small, it has a big attitude.

  • Haleyh627
    5/02/2014 - 08:48 a.m.

    I think that even though smaller dogs con tumble out of their owner's arms they still have tons of spirit. Some of the little dogs I know have more spirit than the dogs I know that are even bigger than them. Little dogs have many advantages because of their size and stature. Like the smaller dogs can hide in places bigger dogs can't get into and littler dogs are full of more energy than the bigger dogs. So, smaller dogs are for the stylish and the athletic.

  • Alverson0015
    5/02/2014 - 08:49 a.m.

    I can't believe that that dog is that small! I understand that they are reLly expensive but people that try to kidnap then need to think about what they're doing. They are just hurting people's feelings. That little dog can live a hard life going through what the kidnappers do. I hope that don't hurt them.

  • Jadaw742
    5/02/2014 - 08:50 a.m.

    Small dogs have much more of an advantage than big dogs is because little dogs can easily slip out of a fence, which larger size dogs find to be a very hard challenge, besides them digging a hole, which is a whole other story. Little dogs are lap dogs, even though when your big dog tries to sit on you, you usually push them off eventually.

  • anag7916
    5/02/2014 - 08:58 a.m.

    well i never had two dogs i only had one so i really don't know because the dog that i have is median size i actually never saw him little i only Saw him at 9 yrs old and up.

  • ceciliamc
    5/02/2014 - 09:01 a.m.

    I think it is pretty cool that there is a small dog that small so if it is in trouble it can easily get out of the spot they are in. If I had a dog small like that it would be hard to take care of it.

  • codydbz1
    5/02/2014 - 09:03 a.m.

    I think its cool how she stood up for her little dog and did not need to get a big one or a very big one. i think its cool how its only 3.8 pounds.

  • shena805
    5/02/2014 - 09:41 a.m.

    Wow, an actual dog that weighs less than 4 pounds, one accident like a hard squeeze would make a huge injuries, let's hope that the Yorkie's owner doesn't have little cousins that don't know the difference between a dog and a toy.

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