The use of the word “toy” to describe small dogs that belong to a toy breed is redundant and also incorrect, suggesting that the breed comes in different sizes—there is no such thing, for example, as a “toy Chihuahua”; all Chihuahuas are toy dogs (and the worlds smallest breed of dog). However, some breeds do come in different sizes, such as Poodles, which come in standard, miniature, and toy varieties.
The diminutive Yorkshire Terrier is undisputedly a toy. The Australian Terrier is one of the smallest terriers, but is in the Terrier group.
Form versus function
Another area of contention is the idea that toy dogs are only companion animals, slow moving, with little need for exercise and with low endurance. Papillons give lie to this; although dainty and small they are quite capable of taking long walks with their humans and often excel at the energetic sport of dog agility. Maltese are another example of very robust daintiness. The UKC defines Italian Greyhounds as having been bred exclusively as pets; the AKC states that these dogs were bred as gazehounds, dogs that hunt by sight, and are quite fast and hardy, but they are nevertheless members of the AKC Toy group.
The terms “teacup” (“tea cup”) and “tiny toy” are not used officially by any kennel club, but the increasing frequency of their use by laypersons has led some to believe that the terms are official. Since the terms are unofficial, there is no accepted standard of their definition, but they are widely understood as describing particularly small adult toy dogs, usually smaller than the breed standard indicates. Some breeders have expressed concerns that the terms are used by unscrupulous breeders to fool purchasers into paying inflated prices for dogs that may be unhealthy or need special care due to their extremely small size.
Here is a list of smaller “toy” dog breeds. These dogs are generally small and great for keeping a person company. Most are good apartment dogs. Click on a dog breed for more information.