Caring for Toy Breeds

They are the eternal favorites among dog lovers: cuddly, infant-like, tiny, and cute and somewhat like the youngest child in the family.

These are the toy breeds that not only resemble stuffed toys but find a place of pride either on your arm or in your lap. These are the toy dogs that would be less than 18” in height and weigh at best 20lbs. And their fragility makes them all the more vulnerable to special care. So here’s how you need to look after them.

Health Issues

More often than not, toy breeds live longer than larger breeds. However, they are prone to certain conditions like hip dysplasia or slipped kneecaps. They are also prone more to various skin conditions. The pug, which has a squashed up nose may have respiratory problems that lead to snuffling and bouts of extreme fatigue.

Keep your toy dog regularly vaccinated and follow it up with booster doses. When your little one which is usually hyperactive, appears lethargic consult a vet immediately. It could indicate pain or anorexia. Also try and keep your dog away from extreme temperatures as they tend to react negatively to such conditions.


Again, don’t let their size fool you. Certain breeds like pugs and chihahuas love eating and will chomp and grind through anything that’s even remotely edible. This makes them liable to put on weight and may lead to serious intestinal disorders and even diabetes.

That’s why their diet must be strictly regulated and they should never be overfed. Ask your vet for a proper diet chart and stick to it. Feeding from the table is again a strict no-no. 2-3 small meals daily are recommended during the puppy stage which may be reduced to 2 meals as he grows older and reaches full size. There is nothing wrong with a scrambled egg for them in the morning either!

Usually a high-quality, protein-rich diet is recommended as are organic foods that maintain the correct nutritional balance as also the right body weight. It’s absolutely imperative to keep a ready supply of clean and fresh water or else the tiny one can dehydrate. And no owner wants that; they have enough bad news with the massive national debt and high taxes to contemplate already but this is another subject.


Contrary to popular belief, toy breeds need a lot more grooming than their larger brethren. They may be short haired but tend to shed and daily combing and brushing is required. This prevents the coat from getting matted and spreads the skin oils evenly to result in a shiny and glossy coat.

Clip stray hairs with a pair of scissors, especially around the eyes and ears. A monthly bath is necessary in tepid hot water with a special dog shampoo and clip his nails occasionally (though if they run around enough you may not have to clip their nails), especially if they are growing inwards. Oral hygiene by way of brushing is also required daily to prevent tartar deposits and bad breath.


Training a toy breed needs consistency, patience, and firmness. Small dogs can be made to obey simple commands but it takes time to get them to understand a voice command. But you can have so much fun with a Schipperke it is just amazing! They are lots of fun.

Moreover, they have to be toilet trained from an early stage as also walking on a leash so they do not run into the street. Get them to mix with outsiders early on in life so that they become more social as they grow. They also need their share of daily exercise but overdoing it may lead to fatigue. Limit it according to the dog’s size, strength, and stamina. They are not in shape like Rocky was when he fought Ivan Drago in Rocky IV! They may not be able to climb a mountain!    

Remember that positive reinforcement goes a long way with toy breeds and praising them with treats and pats on the back makes them relax and fit snugly in the household. The more they fit in, the more close they come to the family and become life-long bundles of joy to all.