Help me chose a small dog as a pet, snowflake details inside
December 25, 2013 2:44 PM   Subscribe

Help me chose a small dog as a pet, snowflake details inside

I am a 58 year old woman, I live alone, and I've always had pets. They've died recently, so I would like to choose a dog that is small or miniature, so I can take it travelling with me on the airplane in my carry-on purse (what is the policy for this?). Preferably that doesn't shed very much hair. Also, I'd like to rescue it from a pound, or shelter, or something like that so that I can help save a life. I live near Columbus Ohio.
posted by kikithekat to Pets & Animals (21 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I have no idea the travel rules but we adopted a chihuahua puppy a year ago through Chihuahua Rescue & Transport and she's been an absolute joy. Ours is the pretty long-haired kind but even she hardly sheds. Biggest thing w/possessive little critters is to make sure they get lots of time around/interaction with other dogs. This thread has lots of testimonials about how surprisingly not-annoying Chihuahuas are.
posted by headnsouth at 3:17 PM on December 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

A couple of folks in my family own Yorkies which seem designed for just such a lifestyle. Between the two of them (over the years), they've had a fair number of small dogs - Westies, Scotties, Maltese, toy poodles, Lhasas, and Chihuahuas. I've owned a Shi Tzu, and of the lot, I have to say that the Yorkies are the nicest small breed I've seen for what you're after. Even tempered, especially for terriers. Good with the kids, small footprint, etc. They travel well by car or plane and can easily use an under-the-seat pet carrier. All dogs shed, but yorkies aren't too bad. Keep them cut short for easy maintenance and bon voyage!
posted by jquinby at 3:19 PM on December 25, 2013

I feel that the most superior small dog breed is that of a silky terrier. They have remarkably friendly and polite dispositions and if you keep them shorn their luxurious fur does not shed (though they can get mats and burs a lot if they live outside). My silky was a prince among pups. I'd give anything to have another right now.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 3:24 PM on December 25, 2013

For travelling on a plane, I'd recommend a dog that is less than 12 lbs, because most airlines limit you to 15-20lbs, including the carrier. You'll also want a shorter dog, because they need to be able to stand up and turn around in the carrier (so no Italian Greyhounds, Min Pins, etc). I recommend getting a dog that is at least 1.5 years old, so that you know its full size. If you go for a dog that's at least 4-5 years old, you might have a calmer temperament (you also help a senior-ish dog). Don't get a dog that is a snub-nosed breed (french bulldog, boston terrier, shih tzu, pug). is a great way to find rescue dogs in your area; Best Friends is another great organization (esp for helping you find the right dog for your lifestyle).

I'd look at maybe a miniature dachshund, yorkie, chinese crested (not everyone's cup of tea) or short-haired chihuahua.

Here are a few: 1 2 3 4 5
posted by melissasaurus at 3:30 PM on December 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

Won't chihuahuas or other small dogs need to wear a coat or a sweater? I'm worried about some dogs dying very easily.
posted by kikithekat at 3:32 PM on December 25, 2013

Yes, they'll need a sweater if you're going out for long walks, but as a NY resident and chihuahua owner, it's really not a big deal (I've certainly never been concerned with him dying as a result of the cold). When not outside, he just likes to snuggle more than my other, furrier, dog.
posted by melissasaurus at 3:42 PM on December 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Don't get a dog that is a snub-nosed breed (french bulldog, boston terrier, shih tzu, pug).

Agreed. They suffer.

Deer head Chihuahuas are healthier than apple-head, but probably still have the chihuahua temprement.
posted by sebastienbailard at 4:01 PM on December 25, 2013

I've had pomeranians and taken care of a yorkie, and they all have individual personalities - one pom was wild and crazy, the other calm and dignified; the yorkie's definitely not even-tempered. If you find a rescue dog who's a few years old, you can get a good idea of its personality.

One nice thing about pomeranians is that they don't need a sweater in the winter. On the other hand, they may need a haircut for the summer. And they shed a lot. Both of my poms were very good air travelers, resting calmly in their carry case under the seat.
posted by moonmilk at 4:09 PM on December 25, 2013

My Chihuahua wears things outside because they stay on & hold a leash better than a collar (she gets out of those harnesses without trying) and because she's so ridiculously cute wearing them. Not because she's cold (SW VA mountains).
posted by headnsouth at 4:18 PM on December 25, 2013

Most airlines have policies that animals in the cabin must be in closed carriers, and must not be taken out of the carriers on the plane at all. The carrier must be small enough to fit under the seat in front of you, and must be stored under the seat for the entire flight. So, if your plan is to carry a dog in an open purse in your lap, it is unlikely that you'll be allowed to do that on a plane.
posted by decathecting at 4:43 PM on December 25, 2013

Yorkie is "York Terrier" right? It seems Yorkie my favorite so far. Preferably around 1.5 years old. I'd like one that won't tear apart my house, is searching through then going to visit them in person the best way to do this?
posted by kikithekat at 8:18 PM on December 25, 2013

My personal method of picking dogs (we have two big ones) is to visit the humane society over and over again until I find a dog that just has to come home with me right now because I love him/her so so much. Both times I picked dogs I'd already passed over two or three times and just sort of fell for. No regrets.

Pick the tiny dog that steals your heart.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 8:35 PM on December 25, 2013 [3 favorites]

I had a wonderful Chihuahua for almost two decades but as engaging and intelligent as he was, he was also a lot of work. Now I have a Havanese, who is much less exciting, but so much easier in all respects. (I travel a lot, and with my dog, too.) Havanese are sturdy, happy little dogs who don't shed and, unlike Chihuahuas, don't require a wardrobe or feel compelled to enslave their owners.
posted by grounded at 8:38 PM on December 25, 2013

Yorkie=Yorkshire Terrier
posted by misozaki at 9:09 PM on December 25, 2013

We have a Yorkie and a Shih Tzu, and while the Yorkie is much smaller, she is also more yappy and fragile. The Shih Tzu is calm as he can be.
posted by tamitang at 9:43 PM on December 25, 2013

Look into a Maltipoo (Maltese-Poodle), they shed very little, are quite small, and are wonderful companions.
posted by eldvno at 11:13 PM on December 25, 2013

Looking at different breeds is a good start, but every dog is different. Petfinder is a great way to pick out some potential dogs before meeting them in person. If you identify some rescue groups in your area that seem to have dogs that you like, you might want to contact them directly and they can help you further narrow your search. Also some rescue groups and shelters in your area might do "off site" adoptions which are usually less overwhelming than going to a shelter. You may also be able to meet dogs that are in foster care, so you can talk to the foster parents to get a better idea of the dogs' personalities.

I have not taken pets on airplanes myself but my understanding is that they need to go in a soft-sided carrier that can fit under the seat in front of you. Probably 10-12 lbs is going to be the max size.

In terms of a dog getting cold, if you're worried about a dog *dying* from the cold then it doesn't really matter what size the dog is - any dog left out in winter weather for an extended period of time is going to be subject to the elements! I'm sorta on the fence as to whether small dogs really "need" sweaters and jackets in cold weather. I put one on my small dog a few weeks ago when it was really cold in San Francisco, but I'll admit that it was partially because he looked cute in it.

Yorkshire Terriers are undeniably cute...and often very high maintenance, personality-wise. They're kindof the quintessential yappy dog. It of course depends on the animal but I think there is a general consensus on this. I am sorta soured on them, as my MIL has a teacup Yorkie that is teeny (3 lbs?) and obnoxious and poorly behaved, but that's not entirely this dog's fault. However I think that the intentional over-breeding for teenyness is setting dogs up for problems regardless of the breed.

Shih Tzus are a lovely breed, generally well-tempered, but they have sort of a delicate structure and seem to require a lot of vet visits - eye issues, ear issues, thorns in the paw, etc.

Another thing to consider in terms of coat/shedding is that dogs that don't shed often require a lot more grooming. For instance, dogs like Yorkies and Shih Tzus have beautiful coats but they have to be brushed often, and the coat will keep growing until it's quite long so most owners get them clipped regularly to a more manageable length. A short-haired dog will shed but you don't have to get their hair cut. For many people this is preferable to constant shedding, but it's something to keep in mind. My small dog (he's some weird indeterminate Schnauzer mix) somehow ended up with a coat that is short but barely sheds, but I think that's an anomaly.
posted by radioamy at 11:33 PM on December 25, 2013

I had a bichon frise who was an excellent traveller, extremely friendly and good natured and not yippy at all. I highly recommend the breed. No shedding, very sweet, pretty quiet. I snuck her into restaurants and onto planes in her travel bag because she never made a peep in there. Downsides are frequent grooming and like many pure bred dogs they have a breed tendency towards hip displasia - she had terrible arthritis in her old age. Until age 13 or so she was very sturdy and happy though. I'd look into a mixed breed that has poodle or bichon in it if I was looking for a small dog again. Pure breeds have somewhat predictable traits (most useful when getting a puppy), but often have health issues. If you're adopting an adult a mixed breed is likely better because you can see the traits directly.
posted by rainydayfilms at 6:24 AM on December 26, 2013

My grandmother had a series of Yorkies that she named Tipi. Each and every one was a love and a sweetheart and very well trained.

I have a friend who rescues Chihuahuas and he usually has 4 at any given time. They are a hoot, and he is very strict with them, but even so, Chihuahuas gonna Chihuahua. I love those little guys, they have so much heart!

Poodles are the smartest dogs, and I love their independance.

My mother-in-law has a shi-tzu and that thing is a terror. It has no training AT ALL and is spoiled rotten. But it is an affectionate doggie and Lily is pretty comical.

No matter what kind of dog you get, do rescue one, and make sure that you get him or her to training ASAP. Even if the dog is trained, the two of you together, taking the training class, will reinforce what the dog knows, and will teach you how to handle your dog responsibly.

You don't have to have a designer dog, or a pure-bred dog. Just go to the shelter or to pet finders and see which dogs appeal to you. Then select one and go about your merry way.

Good luck to you! I know you'll find your perfect companion.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:51 AM on December 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

MALTIPOO!!! Doesn't shed, mine maybe barks once every two weeks (sort of randomly)and her barks are barely whispers (wwooof). Mine is 14 lbs, but you can definitely get them smaller. Here's a photo, just because, Oh MY god, so fucking cute.
posted by Sophie1 at 6:52 AM on December 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

My best friend, not a dog person, inherited a Maltese when his parents died (separately, over the course of some years). He loved that dog like crazy, and I could absolutely understand why. She was such a funny little thing, very lively and interested, and loving to everyone. She had a special little house in the kitchen.

I've never known a Malti-Poo but I do agree that they are adorable and, given that poodles are considered to be pretty smart as dogs go, it seems like you couldn't go wrong with one of them.
posted by janey47 at 11:09 AM on December 26, 2013

« Older How can I redirect my FedEx package to a different...   |   What are some useful paradigms for understanding... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.