It’s hard to imagine your grandmother’s little teacup Yorkie hunting down an elk however many generations ago. A new study was done by researchers at UCLA actually found that by comparing DNA, the gene for small body size found in tinier breeds actually better matches the gray wolf population in the Middle East and the surrounding area.
This suggests that small domestic dogs arose there several thousand years ago, after the first wild wolves were being tamed. Whether you share your home with the cousin of a wolf or a feisty pocket dog, you won’t want to miss this list of 25 of the world’s tiniest dog breeds.
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The original Whippets were thought to be English Greyhounds that were too small for hunting. They were returned to their owners and later bred to make a smaller hunting dog to chase rats.
Like the Shetland pony and Shetland sheep, this breed is diminutive but hardy, made to thrive in the rough environment of its native island. The original Shetland sheepdog was a spitz dog, and was eventually refined into its smaller size through a cross with spaniels and terriers.
Chinese Crested Dog
Though the current name likely stems from their use as ratters on Chinese ships, it is believed that the breed actually shares origins with the Mexican Hairless Dog the Xolo. One famous Chinese Crested Dog, Sam, was the winner of the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest from 2003 to 2005.
A toy dog breed from Germany, evidence points to the Min Pin being a very old breed. Historical artifacts and paintings illustrate images of the dog, but factual documentation of the breed only began about 200 years ago.
Though its origins are unclear, we know it to be a cross between German Pinscher and Italian Greyhound.
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
The corgi is a cattle herding dog breed finding its origins in Pembrokeshire, Wales. There is one other breed under the Welsh Corgi name, known as the Cardigan Welsh Corgi.
Both are descended from northern spitz-type dogs like huskies. Although the Pembroke is the younger of the two Welsh Corgi breeds, it was made famous by Queen Elizabeth II, who had more than 30 during her reign.
The first recorded Miniature Schnauzer was a black female named Findel in 1888. She appeared in the first edition of the Pinscher-Schnauzer Klub’s exhibition book.
This Belgian breed claims its origins in the early 16th century as a herding dog. Today, the debate is still ongoing about whether it is really of spitz descent or just a miniature sheepdog. In the areas of Leuven and Brussels, the Dutch word schipper meant skipper, making the Schipperke a “little shepard.”
Interestingly, cairn terriers are predominately left paw dominate, which has been shown in dogs to correlate to high performance in scent-related tasks.
Descending down into the Mastiff and then the bulldog, the French Bulldog finally came about through a crossbreeding with the English terriers.
Though the English name Shih Tzu is a transcription of the Chinese word lion, the Chinese name is actually “Xi Shi dog” after one of the four legendary beauties (four beautiful women renowned for their appearances).
Though its origins are unclear, it is thought that the Shih Tzu is a cross between the Pekingese and the Lhaso Apso, a Tibetan dog given by the Dalai Lama to the Chinese emperor in the 17th century.
The Pomeranian takes its name from the Pomerania region of north-west Poland and north-east Germany.
Though it is classified as a toy dog, it derives from the large German Spitz breed. Though its ancestors were working dogs from the Arctic regions, the modern breed is refined for little more than the show.
Modern genetics shows us that there is very little pre-European genetics in today’s Chihuahua, however, suggesting that interbreeding with European dogs has left little of its ancient ancestral lineage.
Also known as the lion dog, the Pekingese is an ancient breed of toy dog from China. Its nickname refers to its likeness to the Chinese guardian lions, and it was favored by Chinese royalty as a lap dog.
Recent DNA comparisons showed that the Pekingese is one of the oldest dog breeds, and also one of the least genetically diverged from the wolf.
Everyone knows—and also seems to enjoy making fun of—the pug’s distinctive features of a wrinkly, short-nosed face. In ancient times, Pugs were bred and kept as companions for royalty in China.
The official national dog of Cuba, the Havanese was developed from the now-extinct Blanquito de la Habana or little white dog of Havana.
Historians believe that the Blanquito was bred with other Bichon types to refine what is now known as the Havanese. They are famous for their long, fine fur and are sometimes referred to as Havana Silk Dogs.
King Charles Spaniel
The King Charles Spaniel is thought to have originated in East Asia and were first seen in Europe in the early 16th century.
They were brought to fame by their association with King Charles II of Great Britain and Ireland and have been affiliated with royalty since the time of Queen Mary I. The King Charles Spaniel was originally crossbred with the Pug to reduce the size of its nose, as was the preferred style of the time.
The Maltese are toy dogs who are thought to originate from the Mediterranean island of Malta. The Maltese are believed to have been bred down from the Spitz dogs found among the Swiss Lake Dwellers and refined to keep its small size.
Some believe the dog’s ancestors to have been the Tibetan Terrier from Asia, and that it found its way through the Middle East and Europe with the migration of nomadic tribes.
Developed in Yorkshire, England, this little terrier has an ideal weight of a whopping 7 pounds on the show floor. But this dog was not always only admired for it’s looks and originally came to use in mills to hunt vermin in the late 1800s.
The original dogs that started the breed are a bit of a mystery, but it is thought that they come primarily from dogs brought over with Scottish workers looking for jobs in England.
The name Bichon Frise, meaning curly lap dog, is very French, but the ironically enough, the breed itself is not. Bichon type dogs actually originate from Spain, where they were used for sailing before the French developed them into lap dogs.
The bichon type arose from water dogs, like poodles and spaniels. Today, the Bichon has been categorized by four types: the Bichon Frise, the Maltese, the Havanese, and Bolognaise.