One of the cutest dog groups around is the Toy group. These miniature dog breeds have been a huge hit for decades and are a great choice for almost anyone.

If you’d like to learn more about the Toy group, read about its history and popular breeds below.

The Toy Group History

It’s amazing to think that the diversity of dog breeds we have today all originated from a common ancestor. Some of today’s dogs might look like other wild canines, like the grey wolf, but the Toy group is a category all its own.

Toy breeds are the smallest breeds that are recognized by dog enthusiast groups, like the American Kennel Club. These small dogs wouldn’t exist today if it were not for human intervention.

Since the earliest days of the human and dog relationship, people have been making decisions about what truly makes a “good boy.” People in harsh and cold climates would want a stronger, colder hardy dog. So, people would selectively breed dogs together that shows these desirable characteristics. Dogs that were too weak for their environment would not be allowed to pass on their genes.

Having a cold hardy dog in Alaska makes sense. Having a strong swimmer makes sense if you live on the Iberian Peninsula. But what were Toy dogs bred for?

Dogs in the Toy group may have been bred for several different purposes, but one thing is for certain: Toy dogs are companions. These dogs are all small size and friendly disposition.

Dogs in the Toy group rarely grow to be more than ten pounds, and this makes them the perfect companion for a lap. This really is what they were bred for. Dogs in the Toy group have come from a wide range of places. As different as their heritages might be, they have been bred by people who could afford to keep a dog simply for companionship. This means that Toy dogs are the dogs of royalty.

Royal Pups

Many dogs in the Toy group can trace their roots back to royal breeding programs. Many Toy dogs can trace their roots back to ancient dog breeds as well.

Take for example the Pekingese. This breed at one point was called the Sleeve Pekingese. This was because it was customary for people to carry the dog around in the loose-fitting sleeve of their robe. The tradition was taken up by members of the Chinese Imperial Household. In fact, for centuries the breed could only be owned by those who lived in the Imperial Palace.

Many breeds can trace their royal roots back quite far and from many different areas. Even the smallest of the Toy group, the Chihuahua, hails from Mexico while others like the Miniature Pinscher comes from Germany. Almost anywhere you look, there was the desire for companionship among royals.

Toy Breeds vs Teacup Breeds

When discussing the Toy group, it’s important to make a distinction between Toy dogs and Teacup dogs. If you remember from above, the Toy group holds the smallest dogs that are recognized by the American Kennel Club.

Then what does that make Teacup breeds?

The answer is that Teacup breeds are not officially recognized by any dog organization. Most often dogs that are called “teacup” are the runts from a litter of dogs that are already rather small. This also means that “teacup” dogs are usually unnaturally small and come with a slew of health problems. Some of the health problems that Teacup dogs suffer are:

  • Hypoglycemia
  • Seizures
  • Liver shunts
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Heart problems
  • Respiratory problems
  • Incontinence issues

Because these dogs are unnaturally small, no reputable breeder would allow the sale of such a dog. These dogs have become popular for their “cute” size and because breeders may mislead buyers.

Popular Toy Group Breeds

While this is not all the Toy dogs, here is a view at the most popular dogs in the Toy group.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel comes from the British Isles and remains one of the most popular of the Toy group. This dog shows its regal grace and poise and is known for their beautiful coat.

They can be sweet and gentle but have also been known to take on the lifestyle of their owners. If you are a couch potato, your Spaniel is likely to curl up right with you. But if you prefer to be active outside, you better bring your leash and plenty of water!


The Chihuahua may have become popular as a purse dog in recent times, but don’t let that fool you. This pup is royal through and through. They can trace their lineage back to the ancient kingdoms of the early Americas, and they show it.

While they’re one of the smallest Toy breeds, they have a huge “bark.” Many Chihuahua owners say that their personality is larger than life.

Miniature Pinscher

The Min Pin is said to be a cross between the Dachshund and the Italian Greyhound. They have been used as lap dogs but also as guard dogs despite their small size. They have a big personality that has been loved in its home country of Germany.


The Pomeranian is well known for its big dog personality while being rolled up in its tiny, cute appearance. They are alert and perky, but they also are jokesters.


The Poodle is a unique breed in that there are three different sizes. They are the national dog of France and have had a long-standing affair with the ruling class there. While they may look prudish, don’t let that throw you. They were originally breed as water dogs and are happy to go for a romp outside.

Lovable Toys

You can see now why the Toy group has been such a popular one. They often combine the personality of a larger dog with the compact size of a smaller one. They are easier to handle for people who is unable or unwilling to raise a larger dog. This is one of the reasons they have become so popular in large cities where space may be tight.

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