Throughout the world there are more than 400 purebred dogs. However, the American Kennel Club only recognizes and accepts breeds with a lineage, as well as those with an active breed group to perpetuate and develop the breed. For that reason, the AKC does not recognize many breeds. Once recognized by the AKC, the breed appears in the AKC Stud Book. Each breed is placed in a specific category, based on temperament, physical appearance and function.
When the American Kennel Club was founded in 1884 (then called the Philadelphia Kennel Club), it haphazardly listed its original 29 different breeds. Breeds as different as the dachshund and the mastiff were lumped together on the list.
As the list of purebreds slowly grew, club officials realized they needed to organize the many different purebreds into distinct groups. In 1923, the AKC organized the breeds into five categories: Sporting Dogs (including hounds), Working Dogs, Toy Breeds, Terriers and Non-sporting Dogs.
Today, there are eight categories: Sporting, Hound, Herding, Toy, Working, Terrier, Non-sporting and Miscellaneous.
The Toy Breed group classification is based primarily on their small size. But what they lack in stature, they certainly make up for in personality. These dogs are bred as companion pets and are ideal for apartment living. They are cherished as family members and are devoted to their families. Some have an independent streak and may be a little headstrong.
The Toy Breed group of dogs currently includes:
Affenpinscher. Also called the monkey terrier, the affenpinscher is a toy dog with a face similar to that of a monkey. Round eyes and a soft ruff around the face give this breed his characteristic look.
Brussels griffon. A tough little dog, the Brussels griffon is not one of your typical "cute" toy dogs but has an unusual appearance and plenty of personality. Once you meet one, you understand their appeal. Somewhat stubborn, the Brussels griffon is an intelligent and loving dog.
Cavalier King Charles spaniel. King Charles II was almost never without two or three spaniels. He once ordered that the dogs were to be admitted to all public places – even courtrooms. With large eyes and a slightly rounded head, the Cavalier is adorable.
Chihuahua. What the Chihuahua lacks in size he certainly makes up for in personality. Faithful and protective, this dog fits in great in even the smallest of apartments.
Chinese crested. This breed is slowly gaining popularity. Not completely bald, the Chinese crested has some puffs of hair on the head and may have a very spotted skin. Despite his weird appearance, the Chinese crested is a great family pet.
English toy spaniel. This is a cousin of the Cavalier King Charles spaniel. The toy spaniel has a pushed-in nose compared to the Cavalier. The hair coat is moderately long and wavy and is most often red and white.
Havanese. Named after the Cuban capital of Havana, this small terrier was originally popular with Cuban royalty. Becoming more popular in the United States, the Havanese is a toy breed that was accepted by the AKC in 1996.
Italian greyhound. As the smallest member of the sighthound group, the Italian greyhound is thought to have originated in Greece and Turkey. Eventually popular with Italians in the 16th century, this diminutive dog looks just like a miniature greyhound.
Japanese chin. Described as elegant yet comical, the chin is not well known in the United States. The dog is considered part of royalty in Japan, but in this country has been referred to as the Japanese terrier. The dog has a distinct Oriental expression and an amazingly luxuriant coat.
Maltese. This popular breed of royalty expects to be treated like a princess. With a long flowing white coat, the Maltese does require regular grooming but prefers to be pampered instead of working for a living. This results in a docile and great apartment companion.
Manchester terrier. These dogs require only a weekly brushing for a good grooming, but, like all dogs, require a brisk, daily walk or romps. They have a lot of energy indoors or out, so be prepared for some play after work.
Miniature pinscher. Contrary to the belief of some, the miniature pinscher is not bred down from the Doberman pinscher. In fact, the breed is the older of the two and is something of a cross between the greyhound and the terrier. They are alert and like to investigate, so they typically roam the household.
Papillon. Popular in the days of Louis XIV, this little dog has erect ears with fringes, giving the appearance of a butterfly. For this reason, it was name papillon, French for butterfly.
Pekingese. Legend has it that this native of present-day Beijing, China, is the offspring of a lion and a monkey. The Pekingese is a bold, regal toy dog that has an enthusiastic bark rivaling the Chihuahua's.
Pomeranian. This little fluffball looks just like a tiny fox. Weighing around 5 pounds, the Pom is an adorable breed that thrives on human companionship.
Pug. For such a small dog, there's a lot of love stuffed into the pug's body. A clown by nature, the pug demands attention and adoration, but returns both in greater measure.
Shih tzu. Proud and intelligent, the shih tzu is from Tibet and China, where the name means "lion dog" because of the breed's appearance. The dog is also called "chrysanthemum-faced dog" because the hair around the face grows in all directions. The breed is alert, curious and gentle.
Silky terrier. Developed in Australia, this little dog is related to the Yorkshire terrier. Originally called the Sydney silky terrier, the breed typically weighs around 10 pounds. In 1955, the American name for the dog was officially changed to silky terrier.
Toy fox terrier. Weighing in at 7 pounds, the toy fox terrier is a tough little dog. With a smooth hair coat, the toy fox terrier does not have the wiry coat characteristic of other fox terriers.
Yorkshire terrier. The Yorkie is a tiny dog with lots of spunk. They are happy to spend their days lounging on the sofa, but these calm dogs require regular grooming.