If dogs and wolves have a common ancestor, where on earth did all of these silky, yappy, cuddly, small dogs come from? Read on to find out.
Just as big dogs were bred for a specific role so were some of the little ones. Some were bred for working roles such as terriers of many types who were ratters and formidable hunters. Take a look at the Dachshund bred for digging into the underground home of unfortunate badgers, his body was long and lean for his role.
Some little dogs simply evolved into the size that they are in order to ensure their own survival, such as the Chihuahua who stayed small because food was scarce. Natural selection of this breed ensured that they didn’t grow too big because they would not have been able to find enough food to feed themselves and their offspring. Like every breed he has been engineered by people, to look a certain way now, yet the earliest Chihuahua was always originally a small dog.
Although many of the dogs above were naturally small the other point I must add is that size has also changed due to artificial selection by breeders and kennel club influence. Think of the Yorkshire terrier who was a rough and tumble dog once long ago and yet is now often only a delicate lap dog because we have bred him that way.
Small dogs that become lap dogs were often actually bred for purpose which makes them great at the job of best friend. Think of the Shih Tzu who was a palace companion and gift for royalty. He has never had any job other than to look regal and be his human’s pal. It makes sense that his friendship would be flawless wouldn’t you say?
Companion dogs usually make wonderful pets if carefully taught general rules for living and behaving nicely. They are often highly intelligent and trainable but may need a bit more motivation than those that were bred to work. Typical common companion dogs are the Shih Tzu, Papillion and the Pug. Specific companion dogs were bred only for the companionship role.
Other companion dogs often came from working lines and were bred via a process of artificial selection to be smaller and supposedly easier in the home. These include the Pomeranian, toy Poodle and toy Yorkie.
The Pomeranian was initially bred from much larger Spitz dogs. Sled dogs with high drive and energy were gradually downsized into a variation of companion dogs inclusive of this little Pomeranian, the Japanese Spitz and the German Spitz. This genetic history of tenacity needed for sledding is an understandable reason for intelligence and some stubbornness in these little Spitz, wouldn’t you say.
The toy Poodle is said to be a variation of a French truffle dog. None are sure whether he is scaled down from the larger standard poodle or a breed in his own right. Known in France for his high level of intelligence and quick learning tendencies the toy Poodle is a fine little dog.
The tiny toy Yorkie, in my opinion, is one of the most well removed dogs from his genetic history. As once a hardy ratter this little terrier is silky coated and unsuitable for harsh or cold conditions. That said, the toy Yorkie has a way about him which still reflects the tenacity of his ancestors, as any Yorkshire Terrier lover will tell you.
In addition to all of the benefits, of lap dog love, is the fact that these little canines are genetically dogs – just like their bigger cousins. They share needs, offer the same friendship and are often blessed with a fantastic sense of humour.
As most people with small dogs already know!
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