5 Toy Breeds This Vet Worries About

Let me say this up front: I love all dogs. 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, not because I think they’re bad — there’s no such thing as a “bad” dog in my book — but because fewer of these types of dogs could mean that more of them may have better health and ample opportunities for loving, lifelong homes.

I know talking about my concerns may roil pet owners who've had good — or great — luck with any of these breeds. But knowing I might receive some criticism in response to this article won't deter me; I'll wear my thick skin proudly, as this is a discussion we need to have.

Click through the slideshow to see the five Toy dog breeds that worry me the most.

5 Toy Breeds That Worry This Vet the Most

Two Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Dogs Looking Up

Leesia Teh, Animal Photography

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavaliers are generally wonderful little dogs with sweet temperaments — they easily capture the hearts of their owners — but it’s their own hearts that I worry about. Cavaliers can be prone to early onset of mitral valve disease, which is a common problem in dogs, and their life spans can be as short as six to 10 years. 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.

Longhaired Chihuahua Smiling on Sofa

Leesia Teh, Animal Photography


The great thing about Chihuahuas is their long life span — it’s not unusual for these tiny dogs with ginormous personalities to live 15-plus years with regular wellness care, and some even live into their 20s. For a dedicated owner, that’s a huge bonus. But it worries me that so many of these often 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.

Yorkshire Terrier Standing in Grass

Sam Clark, Animal Photography

Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkies are typically independent and personable, but their health and behavioral problems can get them into trouble. Among their health concerns are portosystemic shunts, luxating patellae and collapsing tracheas. They’re also easily injured because of their tiny size. Behavior-wise, it’s all too easy to ignore house-training or training in general. That can turn what should be a smart, highly trainable, well-behaved dog into a little tyrant. These are all among the reasons that it’s not unusual to find Yorkies and Yorkie mixes available in shelters or rescue groups.


Tara Gregg, Animal Photography


Although they're not technically a Toy breed, people tend to associate Puggles with the small size of the Pug. This popular combination of a Pug and a Beagle is often cute and sweet, but he can have some issues that may become problematic. For starters, he's a shedder — both Pugs and Beagles shed heavily — but often, people don’t realize this before they get one. Size is another factor: It’s not unusual for Puggles to grow bigger than buyers expect. And they can have the breathing problems associated with Pugs, as well as the high energy level associated with Beagles. These are problems that can land them in shelters or with rescue groups.

Teacup Pomeranian


Teacup Anything

It’s easy to understand the appeal of teeny-tiny dogs. We humans are attracted to extremes, and the idea of a dog who fits into the palm of a hand is almost irresistible. But it must be resisted. Micro dogs weighing 3 pounds or less at adulthood can be more prone to serious health problems and may live shorter lives. It’s hard on them, and it’s hard on their families to lose them at an early age. There are plenty of healthy small dogs; let’s not encourage the breeding of tiny, unhealthy dogs simply so we can have bragging rights about whose dog is the smallest.

More on Vetstreet:


Join the Conversation

Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!