5 Toy Breeds That Worry This Vet the Most

Chihuahua dog breed
Anita Peeples, Animal Photography
Too many Chihuahuas are ending up in shelters — and that worries me.

Let me say this up front: I love all dogs. Every single one I see in my practice brings a smile of joy to my face. But I often have concerns about certain small dog breeds, either because they may be prone to specific health problems or because they have reached such heights of popularity that mass production by puppy mills or careless breeders has put them at risk of overpopulating shelters instead of homes.

Because of this, there are some dogs I would like to see less of in my practice. Not because I think they’re bad — there’s no such thing as a “bad” dog in my book. Instead, I would like to see fewer of these types of dogs, and I would like them all to have better health and ample opportunities for loving, lifelong homes.

Which dogs worry me the most? These five Toy dog breeds.

Lovable but Trouble

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel: You might be surprised to hear me say this — Cavaliers are wonderful little dogs with sweet temperaments. They easily capture the hearts of their owners, but it’s their own hearts that I worry about. Because of their limited gene pool, Cavaliers are prone to early onset of a common heart problem in dogs: mitral valve disease. Because of this, their life spans can be as short as six to 10 years. These dogs should live up to 14 years or more. Some of them do, but not enough. Veterinary researchers and breeders are seeking an answer to this health concern, but until they find one, I’d like to see this breed’s skyrocketing popularity come back down to Earth.

Chihuahua: The great thing about Chihuahuas is their long life spans. It’s not unusual for these tiny dogs with the ginormous personalities to live 15-plus years with regular wellness care. Some of them even live into their 20s. For a dedicated owner, that’s a huge bonus. But it worries me that so many of these entertaining but bossy little dogs end up in shelters. There are so many in states such as California and Arizona that they are often airlifted or trucked to other states, where they are less common and in higher demand. Until that problem is solved, I’d like to see fewer of them walk through the doors of my practice.


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