Sunday, February 8, 2009

3 Good Things (toy dog edition)

From the AKC

The diminutive size and winsome expressions of Toy dogs illustrate the main function of this Group: to embody sheer delight. Don't let their tiny stature fool you, though - - many Toys are tough as nails. If you haven't yet experienced the barking of an angry Chihuahua, for example, well, just wait. Toy dogs will always be popular with city dwellers and people without much living space. They make ideal apartment dogs and terrific lap warmers on nippy nights. (Incidentally, small breeds may be found in every Group, not just the Toy Group. We advise everyone to seriously consider getting a small breed, when appropriate, if for no other reason than to minimize some of the problems inherent in canines such as shedding, creating messes and cost of care. And training aside, it's still easier to control a ten-pound dog than it is one ten times that size.)

The toy group is a little tricky for me. I have a Pug, and this dog was definitely bred for human companionship (and possibly to appear human as is sometimes the case), but with the miniaturization process often comes problems.

1. Manchester Terrier

Until 1959, the Manchester Terrier and Toy Manchester were registered as separate breeds, although interbreeding was permitted. Since then, the two breeds have combined to form one breed, the Manchester Terrier, with two varieties: Toy and Standard.

Development of the Toy from the larger Manchester Terrier was first a matter of chance and later the business of selective breeding.

Manchesters were excessively inbred during the Victorian era, at which point the weight of the average specimen dropped to an alarming 2.5 lbs.

Frustration with ear shape caused Manchester breeders to slow and eventually stop breeding altogether but for a few staunch devotees who continued to keep the breed alive.

The sole difference between the Standard and Toy Manchester, besides size of course, is ear shape.

At one point, the Toy Manchester was so highly prized that it is rumored that surreptitious matings with Italian Greyhounds occurred to keep size to a minimum.

I think the markings on this dog are what make it so interesting. They look like tiny Doberman Pinschers and so are often confused with mini pinschers, but they are a completely different breed.


2. Papillion

Papillons, which used to only have large, drooping ears, were known in the 16th and 17th centuries as Dwarf Spaniels and were often depicted on the laps of French and Spanish noblewomen. Over time, an erect-eared type, fringed as to resemble the ears of a butterfly, developed (Papillon means "butterfly" in French). In the United States, Papillons (erect-eared) and Phalenes (drop-eared) can be born in the same litter and are shown together as one breed.
A Papillion won at Westminster in 1999 and I think that is the first time I fell in love with its adorable little face.


3. Pug

You’re going to put that where?

The Pug is well described by the phrase "multum in parvo" which means "a lot of dog in a small space." They are recognized for their even-tempers, playful personalities, and their outgoing, loving dispositions. This square and cobby breed comes in fawn, silver fawn, apricot fawn or black, with a well-defined "mask" on his muzzle.

The Pug is one of the oldest breeds of dogs and has flourished since before 400 BC. Most researchers agree that the breed comes from Asia, due to its similarities to the Pekingese. China is the earliest known source for Pugs, where they were pets of the Buddhist monasteries in Tibet. The breed next appeared in Japan and Europe, becoming popular when Prince William II became the King of England. He owned Pugs and they became the fashionable breed for generations.

For reasons which I can only describe as an excellent public relations campaign, my daughter has always wanted a Pug. Being the loving homeschooling mother that I am, I made her write a research report on the history, care, and keeping of a Pug. She did it, and did a fine job, too, because with it she convinced me that this little noise making, funny-faced, cold-hating and heat-loathing beast which is prone to asthma and epilepsy would make a fine addition to our family! I think it was the saving Prince William and Napoleon and Josephine stories that put me over the top, though. (That one knows how to manipulate me. Darn it.)

Scroll down to Pug. There are no fewer than 14 different Pug rescue agencies.

Honorable Mention: Italian Greyhound (that’s a bone thrown to my husband who would rather have a fast little dog, than a cute little dog).

Next up: Winners and Rastafarians.

Why Dog Week?


Amy said...

I saw my first Italian Greyhound at the dog park this weekend. Not cute, but very beautiful in its way.

Lynne said...

Sleek, but rather timid looking.

There is one in our neighborhood - I did try to trade it for the Pug, once, but was unsuccessful.