Picking the Right Kind of Puppy for You

Picking the Right Kind of Puppy for You

In This Chapter

  • Pinpointing your ideal breed or mixed breed
  • Understanding what makes a breed (or mix of breeds) unique
  • Getting the scoop on the terms “breed groups,” “designer breeds,” and “hybrid vigor”

Sure, almost all puppies love dog biscuits and a scratch behind the ears, but the similarities pretty much end there. All dogs face the world in different ways. Some thrive on human interaction; others prefer an independent lifestyle. Some love the general mayhem created by small children, while others find it less than thrilling. Some see houseguests as long-lost friends, and others see them as potential enemies. Some dogs cherish quiet, solitary times; others eat your house if you come home too late. What sounds good to you?

In this chapter, you find out all about dog breeds and what happens when the breeds are mixed. Each puppy is a genetic splendor, and although a purebred puppy offers some predictability, a mixed-breed puppy contains what we professionals call “hybrid vigor.” Starting off the chapter is a questionnaire to help you discover both your desires and your expectations. Getting a breed that’s predisposed to a trait or look you admire, or figuring out what breeds are in your mixed-breed puppy, takes much of the guesswork out of the puppy’s developing look, behaviors, and needs.

Assembling Your Needs and Wants: A Breed Questionnaire

Does the thought of choosing the right breed or finding out what mix of breeds is most appropriate for you leave your head spinning with excitement? Are you feeling overwhelmed with the choices that lie in front of you? Whether your wish list includes a Miniature Poodle, a Weimaraner, or a Beagle, you can use this chapter to get an idea of the differences between breeds and to determine just how their traits will impact your life. (The only thing similar about these three breeds is the number of teeth they have! Their energy levels, coat requirements, and trainability run the gamut.)


Getting a puppy is no short-term thrill. In fact, the thrill is relatively shortlived. As your puppy grows, you’ll be responsible for all the care, love, and training of a developing dog who will share the next decade and a half with you and (hopefully) enrich your life.

The following questionnaire should encourage deep consideration of your life now and your hopes for the future. Sure a 6 a.m. run with your well-trained companion sounds great, but if you’re addicted to the snooze button, you’ll quickly grow to resent your puppy who just can’t be shut down. This is the time to be honest with yourself and your family so that you give your puppy the best chance of living up to your expectations.
This questionnaire has been split into three subsections to better help you gain perspective on each consideration. If you’re committed to the effort required to care for a puppy, devoted to meeting his needs, possess the patience to deal with typical puppy phases, and are mindful to choose a breed and temperament closely suited to your lifestyle and family situation, you’re certainly on your way to a lovely, lifelong bond with your puppy. Good luck!

The questions

Before jumping into the breed descriptions, take a look at yourself. And be honest! Though you may like the idea of an active lifestyle or a giant breed, adopting a puppy is a big commitment. Think about who you are first, and then match this information to a breed description that’s most suitable.

Interpreting your answers

Now what? Look back over your chart and note whether you’re getting some ideas of the type of dog that will suit your lifestyle in the long run. As I help you analyze the questionnaire, make a mental sketch of your ideal dog. Would it be small, medium, or large? Would it have a high energy level or be comfortable taking walks every couple of days? Keep the questionnaire in mind (make a copy if you need to) as I walk you through the description of the various breeds or mixed-breeds available to you.

Questions 1–5 

Even though your dog’s appearance shouldn’t be a chief motivating factor in your breed selection, it’s still important. These questions are meant to guide you along and help you narrow your decision.


You’ll find high costs associated with healthcare and maintenance of many breeds. For example, long-, thick-, or curly-coated dogs need regular professional grooming. Professional groomers charge between $35 and $100 and are needed every three to six weeks. Also, short-snouted dogs are prone to respiratory problems that may warrant medical attention. Developmental complications, such as joint dysplasia, chronic skin and ear conditions, heart murmurs, and eyelid malformations, are also found in some breeds. All this healthcare and maintenance costs money — are you prepared to pay?

Questions 6–20

Now we get into the meat of the questionnaire with personalities, behaviors, and exercise. I prompt you to think seriously about your long-term commitment. Sure, the idea of choosing an active dog that will encourage you to run five miles a day has exercise appeal, but if jogging becomes just another one of your passing phases, will you be able to keep up with your dog’s activity level?

Questions 6 and 7: These questions target the essence of your dog’s personality. Some breeds are spirited and fiercely independent. Others watch you closely and can’t seem to make a decision without weighing your opinion. And then you’ll also find the in-between breeds who would choose to follow but won’t destroy the furnishings if you go out to do errands. What appeals to you: A dog who needs you desperately (for example, a Shetland Sheepdog or a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel) or a dog who’s content with time apart (such as a Cairn Terrier or an Airedale)?

Question 8: The amount of exercise you’re able to give your new pooch should be a key factor in choosing a dog breed. If you’re honest here, this question will help you discover what breed’s energy level you can match. Even though an active breed may sound dreamy, if you can’t provide constant attention and exercise for the next decade, cross it off your list.


A Golden Retriever is an acclaimed family dog, but he’ll need a lot of attention, reassurance, and exercise — pent-up energy or isolation can cause the retriever to destroy the house or to become clingy and impulsive. These behaviors will no doubt be frustrating for your family.

Questions 9–11: How involved in your life would you like your dog to be? If socializing is high on your priority list, choose a breed that was bred to take direction and follow humans around (Retrievers and herding breeds, for example). Though all dogs will enjoy being near you 24/7, breeds that were designed to work independently of man (such as Siberian Huskies, Terriers, and guarding dogs) are more mentally equipped to handle periods of isolation.

Questions 12–14: These questions pinpoint why you’re getting a dog. Does the thought of a dog’s protection appeal to you? If so, you may want a Rottweiler or a Mastiff. Do you like being alerted to outside noises, or do you want a companion who just rolls with the comings and goings of the outside world? If you’re interested in a playmate for your children, a retrieving breed or spaniel may be an ideal choice.

Questions 15–16: These questions dive deep into the time-commitment issue. Training a dog to bark at the “right” things is a key consideration for all breeds throughout their first year. The amount of time you need to commit is determined by both the breed and the personality of each individual puppy. Strong, independent, and dominant puppies, such as boxers or bull terriers, need more structure and stern reinforcement than passive, dependent, and sweet-natured puppies.

Question 17: Grooming is another time consideration. All dogs need a good brushing from time to time, but long-, thick-, curly-, or featherycoated breeds (such as Golden Retrievers, Shepherds, or Shih Tzus) need a commitment (daily brushings) and periodic professional groomings, which may become costly!

Question 18: Sharing time with your puppy is a healthy way to establish trust and friendship. Consider your favorite pastime and find a breed that is in the same groove as you. For example, if you’ve got a fetish for Frisbees, you’ll have to decide whether you want a dog who fetches them relentlessly or one who shows no interest (so that you can actually play a civilized game with friends or family).


Question 19: Introducing a new puppy to other pets in your household can be tricky, so take this question seriously. If you breed prize-winning rabbits, avoid breeds genetically programmed to kill them (such as Terriers). If you have another dog, choose a breed that will mesh with his traits and personality.

Question 20: If you have other considerations write them down and think through them in terms of the future. For example, say you were planning to have a child in a couple of years. Does that mean you want a protective dog to stand guard, or a cheerful spirit to welcome your child at the door?

Questions 21–30

These questions target you and your lifestyle. Getting a puppy is like falling in love: The lines between your commitment and your own needs aren’t always clear. Sure, now you may say you’ll groom your 10-week-old Shih Tzu every day, but what happens when you miss a day and notice he has become a knotted mess? Can you afford a groomer? Are you really willing to commit to this daily task? You should also consider how well you handle stress. Puppies can be annoyingly impulsive and scattered. Are you going to need medication to get through the early years, or can you roll with it? If you’re a neat freak, pick a dependent, composed breed that will (hopefully) have greater respect for your wishes.

Do You Want a Pure or Mixed Breed?

All dogs you see, no matter what country they’re from, have a genetic inscription — or a small bundle of codes — that determines each of their traits from the color of their coat and the shape of their tail to the sound of their bark and their reactions to strangers. Just as humans are random pairings of their parents’ traits, so are dogs. Each set of dogs having these same traits, or genetic inscriptions, is classified into groups called breeds. The first decision you’ll need to make is whether you’re a purebred type or a mixed-breed variety. Here’s the difference:

Pure breeds: There are over 420 identified purebred dog breeds around the world. Each has been fine-tuned by humans to perform a specific function in society. Although most breeds don’t “work” anymore, fanciers continually devote themselves to breeding and selling puppies that reflect their traditions. Choosing a specific breed will enable you to predict the size, weight, and interest of your puppy.

Mixed breeds: Dogs are blind to these specifics. An unorchestrated meeting can result in a mixed variety of puppies. Since these puppies are often produced “by accident,” many of them end up being given to the shelter or given away. No love is lost, however — a mixed-breed dog is often healthier due to the increased gene pool, and these dogs are just as capable of loving their owners.

Predictability reigns: Discovering purebred dogs

When you purchase a purebred dog, you’re buying into a generational lineage: Over time each breed was created by breeding dogs who had specific looks or traits or who were happiest doing certain jobs (such as herding, pulling, retrieving, or cuddling) with dogs who had other admired traits. Breeding created predictability in both appearance and interests.
Currently, more than 420 breeds are registered worldwide. Being a purebred dog is like belonging to an exclusive club: Only dogs with similar looks and interests get in. Once they’re in the club, they’re only allowed to breed with other dogs who have membership. Even though it’s a big club, few variations are available to the next generation.
Of course if a member of the team breaks code and mates with another breed, you’ve got what people in America call a “mutt” or mixed breed. Equally capable of love and devotion and often more healthy due to the increased variation potentials, these puppies are considered mistakes and are often given away or relinquished to an animal shelter.
What are some other differences between a pure and mixed breed? Purebred dogs cost more — between $300 and $3,000 (although rare, some purebred dogs with parents who are renowned in the show ring can fetch this price).

Mixing the breeds: Discovering hybrid vigor


A mixed-breed dog is every bit as delightful as a purebred dog, and as some argue, healthier mentally and physically by virtue of hybrid vigor. Hybrid vigor is a term that refers to a mixed-breed dog’s gene pool: By matching two completely different breeds, you get an ever expansive possibility of traits. Hybrid vigor advocates attest to healthier dogs because of the greater number of available genetic bundles. When mixed breeds are mated, it’s assumed that the healthy traits will be dominant, and because there are more options, the genetic make up of the dog is better. Do I believe in this theory? Absolutely!

Because purebred dogs have a limited number of genetic bundles available to them, their appearance may not vary much from generation to generation. A soft-coated Wheaten Terrier, for example, is always wheaten in color — with little variation. If this breed mated with a chocolate-colored Labrador Retriever, however, you’d see varying coat colors. Since the coat types are also different, it’s likely each puppy would come out with its own unique look.
Designer mixed breeds are the latest craze to hit the dog world. To create a designer mixed breed, breeders mindfully mate two purebred dogs to create a new, unique breed. The practice has become rampant enough to warrant attention. Since they’re now coined designer breeds, these puppies come at a price at or higher than a purebred puppy.
This idea began with an attempt to create hypoallergenic seeing eye dogs by mating Standard Poodles with Labrador Retrievers. The resulting dogs were coined “Labradoodles,” and though they didn’t catch on as seeing eye dogs, the craze caught on in the public sector. Now breeders have created designer mixes of every shape and size — the list of designer breeds is nearing 100. Here are just a few of these fun new breeds:
Designer breed name                                               What they’re made of

Chiweenie                                                       Chihuahua/Dachshund

Doodleman Pinscher                                       Doberman Pinscher/Poodle

Jack-A-Bee                                                      Jack Russell Terrier/Beagle mix

Labernese                                                         Labrador Retriever/Bernese Mountain Dog

Pomimo                                                            American Eskimo/Pomeranian

Puggle                                                               Pug/Beagle

Shorgi                                                                Corgi/Shih Tzu

Torkie                                                                 Toy Fox Terrier/Yorkshire Terrier

Zuchon                                                               Shih Tzu/Bichon Frisé

Are you wondering how a breeder can get away with selling these mixed breeds at such high prices? The answer is that the people breeding these mixes have bought into the hybrid vigor argument hook, line, and sinker. If breeders are reputable in their passions, they’re taking two healthy specimens of each breed and trying to design a line of puppies who have the healthy traits of each breed.
For example, the Puggle (Pug and Beagle cross) has a longer snout than the Pug, which is genetically healthier, hands down! Personality-wise, most owners hope that with this cross the Beagle’s scent-chasing obsessions will be toned down and that the marginally higher trainability of the Pug will seep in.


One catch to choosing a designer breed is that you can’t exactly be sure of what you’re going to get. A purebred dog can be predicted down to the size, weight, and interests. A mixed-breed dog, designer or not, will have a random mix of either traits in no particular order. If you’re thinking of buying one of these fun and fancifully named breeds, make sure you like both mixes — you could end up with the look of one and the personality of the other.


Beware of buying a “designer mix” from a pet store. Commonly bred in puppy mills in deplorable conditions, they’re separated from their moms far too young and then sold at exorbitant prices. It’s a travesty — buyer beware — the puppy suffers!

Picking Your Pup among Seven Standard Breed Groups

In this section, I discuss some of the most common and/or popular breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC). Even though the AKC is by no means the only kennel club to recognize dog breeds, it’s the one most recognized in the United States.
Each year the AKC hosts the Westminster Dog Show in New York City, where dogs who have received their championship title compete for Best in Show. Winning Best in Show is considered the highest honor for dogs and their breeders. The AKC breaks down the breeds into seven groups, each of which I discuss in detail in this section. Each group contains breeds that share a similar instinct or life purpose. Though each breed within a group varies, certain commonalities thread each breed to its group.

Just for fun

The first Westminster Dog Show was held in 1877, making this annual event the second oldest sporting event in the United States. Only the Kentucky Derby, which began in 1875, has been around longer.

Team players: The Sporting Group

A proactive lot, dogs in the Sporting Group (see Figure 3-1) were bred to help man sustain himself by flushing (scare out of hiding) birds and retrieving those that were shot. In this day and age, you’re unlikely to shoot your supper from the sky, but don’t tell that to your dog. Born with a fetching fetish, they thrive on an active and involved lifestyle and won’t retire just because you’re well fed. No ducks to claim or birds to point out? Your slippers will do, and so will the pigeon perched on the windowsill.
Figure 3-1: The American Spaniel is a fun-loving, high-spirited breed that needs lots of exercise and activity.
Following are the four types of dogs that comprise the Sporting Group, along with specific breeds within those types:


  • German Shorthaired Pointer
  • German Wirehaired Pointer
  • PointerVizsla
  • Weimaraner
  • Wirehaired Pointing Griffon


  • Chesapeake Bay Retriever
  • Curly-Coated Retriever
  • Flat-Coated Retriever
  • Golden Retriever
  • Labrador Retriever


  • American Cocker Spaniel
  • American Water Spaniel
  • Clumber Spaniel
  • English Cocker Spaniel
  • English Springer Spaniel
  • Field Spaniel
  • Irish Water Spaniel
  • Sussex Spaniel
  • Welsh Springer Spaniel


  • Brittany
  • English Setter
  • Gordon Setter
  • Irish Setter


Even though these loyal and cheerful dogs have well-earned reputations as patient family pets, they need both mental and physical stimulation. They can’t cope with long hours of isolation, because it, along with lack of exercise, will only fuel anxiety. An unhappy Sporting Dog is destructive, hyper, and impulsive. This isn’t a good mix — especially for your couch and end table.

When these puppies are exercised, directed, and included, there isn’t a group that’s more happy-go-lucky and accepting of life’s random chaos.

Which way did he go? The Hound Group

The dogs in the Hound Group (see Figure 3-2) are a happy lot with a one-track mind; their fascination with hunting propels them through life and allows them plenty of opportunity for employment. Though you may have no interest in hunting a fox, chasing deer, or treeing a coon, your hound puppy probably will.


Originally teamed in pairs or packs, each was prized for its instinct to follow game without depending on human direction. As a result, a hound’s affable manner and pack mentality results in a dog who enjoys family life and yet is independent enough to entertain himself.

Figure 3-2: The Beagle, one of the scent hounds, will happily sniff for hours but may not prioritize direction without a lot of positive reinforcement.
Following are the types of dogs that fall under the Hound Group, along with specific breeds within those types:

Sight hounds:

  • Afghan Hound
  • Irish Wolfhound
  •  Basenji
  • Pharaoh Hound
  • Borzoi
  • Saluki
  • Greyhound
  • Scottish Deerhound
  • Ibizan Hound
  • Whippet


Sight hounds must be kept on a lead when outdoors because you can’t outrun them, and their instinct to chase hasn’t been bred out of them. In addition, you need to socialize sight hounds to common household pets (like cats, birds, and rabbits) at an early age; otherwise, they may confuse them for lunch as they race across your floor.

Scent hounds:

  • Basset Hound
  • American Foxhound
  • Beagle
  • English Foxhound
  • Black and Tan Coonhound
  • Harrier
  • Bloodhound
  • Otterhound
  • Dachshund
  • Petit Basset Griffon Vendén

Large game hounds:

  • Norwegian Elkhound
  • Rhodesian Ridgeback

Leave it to me: The Working Group

The breeds in the Working Group (see Figure 3-3) vary in chosen occupation, but their work passion unites them. Whether participating in guarding, pulling a cart or sled, water retrieval, protection, or police work, they’re a task-oriented group.
Figure 3-3: The Bernese Mountain Dog is one of the draft dogs in the Working Group.


Choose a dog from this group only if you can use and appreciate his skills. For example, Great Pyrenees and Kuvasz were originally bred to guard flocks. Because their work ethic is still intact, they make ideal watchdogs when trained. If left to their own devices, however, they often take their instincts to the extreme, assuming you and those in your circle are sheep that need to be protected. Dinner guests won’t be welcome, and the postman best beware!

The breeds in the Working Group may be large, but if their schedule is maintained, training is approached mindfully, and exercise is provided, they can adapt to any lifestyle with ease. Although these dogs must be contained when living in the country, they can adapt to apartment dwelling when given daily walks and an occasional romp in the dog park.
Following are the types of dogs that fall under the Working Group, along with the breeds within these types:

Sled dogs:

  • Alaskan Malamute
  • Samoyed
  • Siberian Husky


With their double coat, sledding breeds aren’t much for really hot weather. If you live in a hot climate, consider another breed. These dogs would be miserable.

Draft dogs:

  • Bernese Mountain Dog
  • Greater Swiss Mountain Dog

Guard dogs:

  • Akita
  • Komondor
  • Anatolian Shepherd
  • Kuvasz
  • Bullmastiff
  • Mastiff
  • Great Dane
  • Rottweiler
  • Great Pyrenees


Raising children and dogs is challenge enough. Territorial breeds can overstate their job as guardian, protecting your home and children against all intruders — including friends, extended family members, daily workers, and even other children. These dogs quickly suffer career stress in busy houses. If your heart’s set on a territorial breed, structured training is a must.

Personal protection dogs:

  • Boxer
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • Giant Schnauzer
  • Standard Schnauzer

Rescue/water dogs:

  • Newfoundland
  • Portuguese Water Dog
  • Saint Bernard

Shepherd or sheep? The Herding Group

The Herding Group breeds (see Figure 3-4 for an example) were developed during the agricultural age when their herding skills were prized by sheep and cattle herders across the globe. Man put great effort into fine-tuning these herding instincts when developing the breeds in this group. Even though these skills are no longer a priority, each dog’s behavior in the home is reflective of them. For example, a dog bred to herd sheep is often seen herding children.

So how big is large?

Dogs come in all shapes and sizes. Unfortunately, the sizes aren’t as simple as big and little. The following table can help you figure out how big large is and how little small is — just in case you ever need to know.
Up to 10 inches
10–20 inches
20–27 inches
27+ inches
2–20 pounds
20–50 pounds
50–90 pounds
90+ pounds
Following are the types of dogs that make up the Herding Group, along with the breeds that fall under each type:

Sheep herders:

  • Australian Shepherd
  • Collie
  • Bearded Collie
  • German Shepherd Dog
  • Belgian Malinois
  • Old English Sheepdog
  • Belgian Sheepdog
  • Puli
  • Belgian Tervuren
  • Shetland Sheepdog
  • Border Collie

Cattle/sheep driving dogs:

  • Australian Cattle Dog
  • Canaan Dog
  • Briard
  • Cardigan Welsh Corgi
  • Bouvier des Flandres
  • Pembroke Welsh Corgi


If the herding breeds aren’t given an outlet for their impulses, they can develop obsessive, patterned behaviors like circling a table or chasing fastmoving targets such as automobiles or joggers. For drovers that are understimulated, their pacing creates a well-trodden path in a yard or field. Guarders must be trained, lest they adopt their people or children as sheep to protect. Cattle dogs are serious-minded, strong, and stocky dogs who can develop repetitive behaviors such as nipping your (or your children’s) moving ankles.

If properly trained and exercised, you’ll find these dogs to be deeply loyal. Also, when the males are neutered, they aren’t prone to roaming.
Figure 3-4: Lassie has ensured that everyone recognizes a Collie. This lovely breed is warm, yet persistent, keeping track of the family as though they were a herd of sheep.

Hot diggity! The Terrier Group

The breeds in this group (see Figure 3-5 for an example) were designed either to track down vermin in barns or fight other animals for sport. Determined
and tenacious by design, they work independently and don’t prioritize human direction. Because they’re spirited and spunky, and not easily impressed or
persuaded, terriers aren’t a great match for control freaks. Even though they thoroughly enjoy human companionship and a good romp, they must be confined or leashed to prevent roaming or hunting.
Figure 3-5: The Border Terrier is  one of the plucky vermin hunters from the Terrier Group.
Following are the two types of dogs in the Terrier Group, along with specific breeds that make up each type:

Vermin hunters:

  • Airedale Terrier
  • Manchester Terrier
  • Australian Terrier
  • Miniature Schnauzer
  • Bedlington Terrier
  • Norfolk Terrier
  • Border Terrier
  • Norwich Terrier
  • Cairn Terrier
  • Scottish Terrier
  • Dandie Dinmont Terrier
  • Sealyham Terrier
  • Fox Terrier (Smooth and Wirehaired)
  • Skye Terrier
  • Irish Terrier
  • Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
  • Jack Russell Terrier
  • Welsh Terrier
  • Kerry Blue Terrier
  • West Highland White Terrier
  • Lakeland Terrier


Don’t be surprised if your terrier breed lifts his lip as you (or anyone else) reach for his bone or food bowl. It’s a natural reaction called spatial aggression, and it’s similar to what a young child who doesn’t want to share a favorite toy does. Other dogs known for this behavior include some working breeds, hounds, and certain toy breeds. For suggestions in overcoming this dilemma, refer to Chapter Food and Fitnes.


  • American Staffordshire Terrier
  • Miniature Bull Terrier
  • Bull Terrier
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Although the fighting breeds have a combative history, most of the breeding lines have all but extinguished this impulse. Extensive socialization can ensure a friendly attitude toward other dogs and pets.


Though rare, some owners still use some of the fighting breeds for sport. These owners usually won’t neuter the dog (as doing so would diminish their fighting tenacity) and often neglect them. Because of this mistreatment, these dogs’ genes can seep into the domesticated gene pool, possibly causing the breed to be more aggressive. When choosing a dog from this group, trace its history or talk openly with the breeder or previous owner about their breeding philosophy and the temperaments of the dog’s parents.

All mixed up: The Non-Sporting Group

The Non-Sporting Group is the catchall group (see Figure 3-6 for an example). When a dog’s orientation is too varied to fit anywhere else, it ends up here. Dalmatians, for example, were bred to follow horse carriages over great distances and, when parked, to lie under the carriage and guard both the contents and the horses from vagabonds. Keeshonds, a Norwegian breed, were bred to accompany man on sea travels, cheerfully alerting him to any commotion. Though each dog’s ancestry is varied, they’re threaded together by their devoted participation in human affairs.
Figure 3-6: The Bichon Frisé is a happy clown from the Non-Sporting Group.
Following are the dogs that make up the Non-Sporting Group:

– American Eskimo Dog

– French Bulldog

– Bichon Frisé

– Keeshond

– Boston Terrier

– Lhasa Apso

– Bulldog

– Löwchen

– Chinese Shar-Pei

– Poodle (Standard and Miniature)

– Shiba Inu

– Schipperke

– Chow Chow

– Tibetan Spaniel

– Dalmatian-

– Tibetan Terrier

– Finnish Spitz

Snuggle puppy: The Toy Group

The lovable little miniatures in this group (see Figure 3-7 for an example) have been bred down from larger dogs. Even though they can be cuddle companions, many still have their original breed characteristics firmly set in. Take the Miniature Pinscher for example. A distant relative of the Doberman Pincher, the “Min Pin” is an astute watch dog who sounds a visitor’s arrival before they’ve even knocked at the door.
Figure 3-7: Pugs are a plucky, solid breed from the Toy Group, but don’t tell the Pugs — they’ve got a big-dog mentality in a small package.
Following are the breeds that make up the Toy Group:

– Affenpinscher

– Miniature Pinscher

– Brussels Griffon

– Papillon

– Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

– Pekingese

– Chihuahua

– Pomeranian

– Chinese Crested

– Pug

– English Toy Spaniel

– Shih Tzu

– Havanese

– Silky Terrier

– Italian Greyhound

– Toy Manchester Terrier

– Japanese Chin

– Toy Poodle

– Maltese

– Yorkshire Terrier


When assessing specific breeds, research their ancestry. Even though their size is clearly different, their genetic impulses may be undeniably similar. Don’t pass on training them simply because of their stuffed-animal-like appearance. Constant affection without direction results in a Napoleon-like complex, which is reflected in behaviors from chronic barking to marking and often aggression. You’d be surprised how much damage a 5-pound dog can inflict!


Toy breeds are fragile by design. Even though certain breeds are stockier (the Pug and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, for example), they’re all tiny — especially as puppies. Be mindful of this puppy around larger dogs and young children. Toddlers can easily hurt or overwhelm the puppies because they may mistakenly confuse them for stuffed animals.

Sarah Hodgson