Friday, April 20, 2018
Pets

World's smallest dogs often can be a handful

LOS ANGELES — Living little carries some big risks.

The smallest dogs in the world weigh less than 7 pounds, and 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 if purebred, 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."

Many toy dogs have genetic problems with teeth and joints, and they won't save you money on food costs because they tend to live longer than larger dogs, experts say.

The chihuahua, Pomeranian, Yorkshire terrier and Maltese are American Kennel Club-designated toy dogs that weigh under 7 pounds.

No one knows exactly how many of these dogs are living in the United States or around the world, but the Yorkshire terrier is the most popular toy breed in the country, ranking 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. Do your research, talk to breeders and think about your lifestyle before adopting a toy, she said.

Contrary to some beliefs, "toys are not cheaper to keep than other dogs," she said. "They live longer, so any savings on food is likely negated by their longer lives."

And because the small dogs are so adorable, children tend to squeeze them like they do teddy bears, which can cause injuries, Beilstein said.

Her pet Mica is no larger than a bunny, so she watches for predators when they walk and has double-fenced her yard to guard against cracks and crooks.

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, Md., said that's the most common reason he sees toy dogs. "People tend to hold them and carry them more frequently. They lose their balance and drop the dog," Townshend said.

He says falls can lead to serious injuries or death, especially because small dogs have thin skulls.

Another issue is easy for pet owners to control: watching what treats they give to the tiny dogs held close in laps or bags. "As lap dogs, they tend to have more access to people food, which is not always good for any dog," said Dr. Jack Stephens, a veterinarian in Boise, Idaho, who has a 2-pound, 13-year-old chihuahua named Torrey.

Those who own toy dogs say they make up for their small stature with a large presence. Stephens says Yorkies have a reputation of being a little cocky, almost too confident.

"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."

Comments
Find A Friend: Levi, the Dog

Find A Friend: Levi, the Dog

If big hearts score points, then you could say that Levi’s got game. But only in the sweetest, least competitive and non-confrontational way possible. Sports might teach life lessons to humans, but Levi plays ball to forget the horrors of a not too-d...
Published: 04/13/18
Updated: 04/17/18
Construction begins on Saladino Dog Park in Brandon next week

Construction begins on Saladino Dog Park in Brandon next week

BRANDON — Hillsborough County will be starting construction next week on new amenities to Bertha and Tony Saladino Park, including a dog park.The county will start construction on a dog park, walking trail and expanded parking lot on Wednesday.The pa...
Published: 04/13/18
Hernando Pet of the Week for April 20

Hernando Pet of the Week for April 20

Courtesy of Hernando County Animal ServicesLouise is a 3-year-old black female terrier mix. She came into the shelter as a stray. Louise loves people and playing outside. She is a selective dog, so a "meet and greet" will be required, and she needs t...
Published: 04/12/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Find A Friend: Gracie, the cat

Find A Friend: Gracie, the cat

Never judge a book by its cover, because Gracie is no ordinary pussycat. She’s a kitty with charisma, an atypical tigress, a pal of a pet. She’s chatty and playful and likes to roll around with her belly up in the air just to gain attention. She’s re...
Published: 04/09/18
Updated: 04/17/18
Hernando Pet of the Week for April 13

Hernando Pet of the Week for April 13

Humane Society of the Nature CoastDakota is a gorgeous 5-year-old hound. She participates in the Tails 2 Trails walking group at 9 a.m. every Sunday on the Suncoast Trail. Inquiries about adopting Dakota or other dogs and cats can be made at the Huma...
Published: 04/09/18
Updated: 04/11/18
Find A Friend: Bunny, the Boxer mix

Find A Friend: Bunny, the Boxer mix

Wait...what? She missed the deadline for the hippity-hop holiday edition of the paper? Ah well, Bunny has learned to take disappointment in stride. After all, she almost had a real home until the landlord said he didn’t want "her kind." But spring br...
Published: 04/06/18
Updated: 04/17/18

Hernando Pet of the Week for April 6

Hernando County Animal ServicesLeroy is a handsome white and black, 2-year-old rat terrier mix. He is enrolled in the Heal to Heal program at the Hernando County Women’s Correctional Facility, where he works with the trustees and trainer John Gore fr...
Updated one month ago
For military veterans suffering from PTSD, are service dogs good therapy?

For military veterans suffering from PTSD, are service dogs good therapy?

JACKSONVILLE BEACH — Adam Fuller credits a simple, one-word command — and a black Lab mix named J.D. — for helping to save his life. "Cover," he tells J.D., who is sitting to his left in a grassy field next to a park playground. The dog calmly walks ...
Updated one month ago
On National Puppy Day, Tampa Bay ranks high in dog park rankings

On National Puppy Day, Tampa Bay ranks high in dog park rankings

It’s National Puppy Day and one good way to celebrate is to make a few new friends at the Vinoy Dog Park near downtown St. Petersburg. It isn’t very difficult; as soon as you open the gate you’ll have four or five pups rushing to say hello all at onc...
Updated one month ago
Video: Florida man reunites with pet cat that ran away 14 years ago

Video: Florida man reunites with pet cat that ran away 14 years ago

FORT PIERCE — A Florida man has been reunited with a cat he lost 14 years ago. TCPalm.com reports Perry Martin of Fort Pierce said he had assumed his orange tabby named Thomas Jr., or T2 for short, had died in traffic. Martin moved in with a friend ...
Updated one month ago