The American Pet Products Manufacturers Association (APPMA), surveyed a population of people in 2005- 2006 in order to gather the statistics, nationwide, of the percentage of people with dogs and cats. The numbers are outrageous; 73 million dogs and 90 million cats are found in homes across the board. This statistic does not include the number of reptiles, birds, or small animals, but the statisties really proves the love of animals that we Americans have.
Now, although these statistics do not explore the number of homes with mini pets, the numbers are higher than you may think. I asked twenty people whether they own or have ever owned a miniature pet, to be specific a miniature version of a normal sized pet, and 13 out of 20 answered "yes," owning various miniature dog breeds, a few miniature horses, and even a miniature pig.
Miniature pets are actually more popular than you may think. Miniature pets are not just the average teacup poodle or miniature pinscher. Miniature pets include various livestock such as horses, cattle, goats, and pigs, as well as domestic pets such as, dwarf (munchkin) cats, miniature lop rabbits, and miniature dogs.
Many people obtain miniature animals because of space restrictions. Many apartment complexes have a weight limit on dogs that are permitted in the apartments, which make miniature dogs better for apartment dwellers. Miniature livestock such as horses, cattle, and goats, make great pets for those people who love the standard horse, cow, and goat, but do not have enough acreage to house and care for them properly.
The main concern with miniature pets is the health concerns related to breeding down, in breeding, and overbreeding. So, you must make sure to find a reputable breeder of the animal that you would like to open your heart to.
Miniature horses were once bred as pets for the nobility of the European culture. Historical records state that the French King Louis XIV, 1650, had miniature horses in his zoo. Dating back to the 1760's, paintings and articles featured the small horses. These horses were pampered like our pet dogs are today. But, some of them were used as working horses in Wales and Northern Europe; these working ponies were used in mines to carry larger loads because they could hold their helds low.
The United States refined the tiny horses, adding lines of Hackney Pony and the Pony of the Americas, both are miniature horse breeds.
Today, miniature horses can be found throughout the world in various colors and patterns. For the most part, the size of the horse is variant depending on the registry of the horse, but they are usually less than 34-38 inches at the withers (the ridge between the shoulder blades).
Miniature horses have great temperaments, especially with people, making them great family pets. They are still horses and exhibit natural behaviors found in regular sized horses, so you can't treat them like anything less. Because of their size and temperaments, these horses not only make great pets, but service animals such as guide horses and assistant horses (equivalent to the guide dog and assistant dog) for people with disabilities.
Do remember although they are miniature, and can live indoors, they are horses and fair much better outside.
With the proper care, miniature horses can live long hardy lives, with a lifespan on average of 25 to 35 years.
Smart Miniature Horse
Dwarfism is a big concern among the miniature horse breeders and caretakers. Dwarf horses are unlike miniature horses in the sense that they have conformation deformities and more more health concerns.
Miniature horse registries try to avoid accepting dwarf horses into their registries in order to avoid having the gene spread into sound miniature horses.
The oldest living horse, on record, was a dwarf horse; Angel lived to be 50 years old. Another horse who holds a record, is Thumbelina, a dwarf horse; she is, on record, as the smallest horse, at a mere 17 inches tall at the withers.
Miniature Horse Breeds
There are various miniature horse breeds to include the Shetland pony, Falabella, and Micro Mini, as well as several other various mini horse breeds.
The Shetland pony, is probably the more famous of the miniature horse breeds. They originated in the Shetland Islands, near Scotland. These horses are an average official height of 28-42 inches at the withers. Through selective breeding, the horses have heavy coats and short legs. These small, but sturdy horse, can be a great working horse, used for children rides at the fair or carnival, harness driving (in and out of the show ring), and they are often seen in petting zoos.
The Falabella miniature horse originated in Argentina. The horses were left to roam, which in turn caused them to develop various characteristics suitable for the land. The horse ranges from 28 to 34 inches at the withers. They have the general conformation of the Arab horse with a sturdy build and thicker coat.
The Micro Mini is an even smaller miniature horse. Many breeders strive for horses that are an average of 30 inches at the withers. These horses are both delicate and small, making them better show horses versus work horses.
- American Miniature Horse Association
The AMHA is a registry of miniature horses. They keep records of breeders, shows, and events for miniature horses. The registry is composed of over 160,000 horses and 12,000 people in more than 37 countries and provinces.
- Royal Dandie
Royal Dandie's are a miniature pig breed that exhibit the characteristics of a potbellied pig, but are of a small scale. These pigs make great house pets, ranging from 20 to 65 pounds.
Miniature cattle tend be 36 inches give or take. But what is the purpose of such a small cow? Well, they can actually serve as a number different purposes.
- Novelty- In many occasions, people like things that are unique and sometimes colorful to look at. Many people enjoy caring for animals but want something besides a horse that doesn't get ridden or a dog no one plays with. And, there's that old sentiment that "the smaller the better".
- Kids- With the help of their parent's, raising miniature cattle is a great project for children. With their small size at any age, kids can handle the animals. Having a pet to care for, teaches responsibility.
- Home-Grown beef- With a national move toward healthy and drug and chemically free food, miniature cattle have found a place. Beef type cattle such as Dexter, Lowline Angus, and Hereford offer big options in a smaller package. Since these miniature cattle are smaller than normal cattle, they can be raised without the huge equipment and large feed expenses. Although, mature mini cows are half the size of standard breeds, but can still fill a freezer for a small, growing family.
- Mini-Milkers- Again, natural being the key to most food trends today. Raising cattle for milk, ensures that you are getting fresh, non-tainted milk. But, sometimes, the machinery can be extensive, as well as the feed expenses for the larger animals. Miniature cattle such as Dexter and Jerseys, make great milking cattle.
- Misc.- Miniature cattle can be great lawn mowers, organic fertilizer creaters, petting zoo animals, pet therapy animals, and whatever else you can think of. With their small size, they are easier to manage when raising and caring for.
Where the average pot bellied pig can reach weights of 60-300 pounds. The miniature pot bellied pig, such as the Royal Dandie, tend to reach weights of 20 to 65 pounds.
These pigs still exhibit the characteristics of their larger counterparts, just on a smaller level. They are very intelligent, and can be housebroken and taught to do tricks.
In many cases, miniature pigs are used in petting zoos, carnivals, and circuses.
The miniature pot bellied pig is much healthier than a normal sized pot bellied pig. It's legs are longer making them more agile than the average pot bellied pig. Having a slimmer body and build, the miniature pot bellied pig is much healthier than their standard counterpart.
The Royal Dandies make great indoor pets, but they still need their outdoor time too. The sunlight gives the pigs natural Vitamin D, which is essential for calcium and phosphorus absorption.
These miniature pigs can live an average of 10 to 17 years.
Mini Vietnamese Potbelly Pig
- Australian Miniature Goat Registry
The AMGR is a small registry that keeps records of miniature goat breeders and individual goats. Their aim is to keep people of common interest linked together. They share their passion and information for the mini goat with anyone who has an interes
- National Pygmy Goat Association
The NPGA is open to everyone who is able to follow the specified by-laws of the group. They are set to share information about Pygmy goats, and to further the betterment of their breedings.
Miniature goats are averaged at no taller than 30 inches. These goats come in a variety of colors and coats, ranging from long haired to short haired, black to white to everything in between. Miniature goats come in a variety of breeds such as the Pygmy goat, Nigerian dwarf goat, and Australian miniature goat.
The most common miniature goat would be the Pygmy goat. According the National Pygmy Goat Association, the female Pygmy goat at over twelve months old should range from 16 to 22 3/8 inches at the withers, whereas a male at the same age group should range from 16 to 23 5/8 inches. These goats can be of varying colors and coats.
The Nigerian dwarf goat is another popular miniature goat breed. This particular mini goat, is the best miniature milking goat.
Miniature goats, in general are hardy, alert, good-natured, and docile. They are a very responsive pet, milk provider, and lawn mower. Most miniature goats can adapt to varying settings and climates. In extreme cold and heat, precautions do need to be taken.
These active, fun-loving animals can be a great addition to any home that can provide a draft free 8 x 10 foot shed with elevated sleeping and feeding places, which will actually house four adult mini goats, as they are social herd animals, having at least two is optimal. You should, also, provide an attached outside enclosure with at least 4 foot tall fencing for fresh air and exercise.
- Dwarf Cats
A big concern with miniature cats is dwarfism, a genetic mutation in which the cats are consider dwarfs, versus a miniature cat. These cats can have other health concerns and appear disproportioned.
- Designer Cat Association
The Designer Cat Association is a collection of cat breeders who's main goal is produce the most unique and different cat breed. The association has a category separated for the Dwarf cats and their breeders.
- National Miniature Lop Rabbit Club
Mini Lop Rabbits should range from just 3.4 to 3.8 pounds. These floppy eared rabbits are a small comparison to their larger bunny cousins. They have varying coat colors and patterns, making them even more appealing.
Also known as dwarf cats, these miniature cats average at around 5 pounds and under. A normal sized cat, will range from 5 to 15 pounds, so don't be fooled into purchasing a miniature cat that is 10 pounds, as 10 pounds falls in the the normal weight category.
Popular dwarf cat breeds are the Munchkin, Bambino, Dwelf, Genetta Cat, Kinkalow, Lambkin, Minskin, Napoleon, and Skookums.
The Munchkin is the founding breed for the rest of the dwarf cat breeds. In 1983, Sandra Hochendel found two cats hiding under her pickup truck in Rayville, Louisianna. She bred the cats resulting in a kitten with short legs, who she gave away. In 1956, Max Von Egon Thiel of Hamburg, Germany described a cat with short legs. Then, in the 1990s Dr Pflueger began working with cats with the short legs. And finally, in 1994, the Munchkins were recognized as a new breed by The International Cat Association.
In many cases, these dwarf cats are the result of a domestic cat with the genetic mutation, dwarfism. Dwarfism is a genetic condition in which the animal displays an extreme small size in comparison to the average size of the species. In many cases, the cats can exhibit disproportioned body parts or can suffer growth concerns associated with bone and cartilage development.
- American Miniature Schnauzer Club
Founded in 1933, the AMSC has over 600 members in the US, Canada, and various foreign countries. The AMSC holds the breed standard for the Miniature Schnauzer, breeder lists, breed rescues, as well as other various Miniature Schnauzer information.
- Miniature Pinscher
Devoted to the British breed, the miniature pinscher, this group of people hold great insight to the breed's history and standards. You can find various health concerns, breeder information, training information, and pictures.
The most infamous miniature pet, would probably have to be the smaller of dog breeds. These small dogs are popular amongst apartment dwellers. As many apartment complexes have weight limits as to the size of dog you're allowed to have in the apartment. Most pet limits do not exceed 30 pounds. So, once you've learned the limits of your apartment complex, it's off to find a dog.
You're choices are actually wider than you may think. Miniature dog breeds include the toy group and sometimes terrier groups, as well as their teacup versions.
- Miniature Poodle
- Toy Poodle
- Italian Greyhound (Miniature version of the Greyhound but not a miniature Greyhound)
- Miniature Rat Terrier
- Miniature Pinscher
- Miniature Dachshund
- Miniature Schnauzer
Other miniature breeds that may not quite fall within the limits include:
- Shetland Sheepdog (miniature version of the Rough Collie)
- Miniature Siberian Husky (rare)
- Miniature Bull Terrier
- Miniature English Bulldog (rare)
These miniature dog breeds need exercise, too. Just because you get a smaller dog, don't excuse yourself from exercising it. Just watch out for any obstacles that could pose as a problem for the small dog.
Some people say that smaller breeds, that have been genetically worked at through selective breeding over and over to have the end result of a 4 pound dog will have more genetic problems. I'm going to leave that open to opinions, as others say there is no excess genetic problems with these toy and teacup breeds than there would be in a regular breed. I would recommend being careful as to where you purchase a teacup or a miniature dog, as in many cases puppy mills can be of a great concern, which will lead to a higher risk of genetic problems. Look for a reputable breeder who takes pride in their dogs.
When you purchase a miniature dog breed, do make sure to wait until the dog is at least eight weeks old, preferably ten. Why? Because smaller breed dogs, need more socialization, learning how to be a dog, so staying with its litter and mother for a few weeks longer will help create a better all-around dog. With further training and socialization, of course.