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.
jamiesweeney from Philadelphia, PA on October 14, 2011:
WOw.They are very very cute!Love the potbellied piglet.I guess they are wonderful pets to have at home.
LaurenLL on May 10, 2011:
Hahahaha What so Cute Miniature Animals, I love that. Thanks for sharing.
DR on April 14, 2011:
i want to share something, that we shouldn't play with the nature. those experiments on horses, goats etc etc, are beyond nature.A tall and big horse looks very good and a fat big cow looks also very good. those small creatures could not fulfill the requirement of meat.And there could be any disease in those kinds of experiments.
ttrash from Australia on December 29, 2010:
Heidi- this is the same risk associated with the breeding of many "teacup" animals. Inexperienced breeders often make poor choices and end up breeding closely related animals in order to attain a "perfect" small form. In the end, you get a lot of deformities and lifelong health problems.
Heidi on December 09, 2010:
I have been studying miniature horses lately. I have found that when breeders try getting the foals too small they can be born with very serious health problems that include crippled legs and messed up jaws. I do not think a lot of people realize the risk involved in breeding teacup miniature horses.
Dragon_Lily on August 07, 2010:
PIGGY!!! i want one so bad we r going to go to a bigger house and i have researched a lot about Royal Dandies and if any of u know a cheap priced breeder for these pigs pleasee coment and say! thank you!
bd160900 from San Diego on July 17, 2010:
that picture is too cute. Love it. thanks for the great post
Piglet owner on July 15, 2010:
Hi Stacey. He did fill out like he should have, but he is far from overweight. Perfect if you ask me. All he did was grow a little taller and of course got a bigger pot. I don't have an exact weight on him at the moment but he weighs no more than 15 lbs. When I hold him in my arms he is the same size as my full grown cat. Hope this helped. (see link for Millie the pig. She is a similar size and also a dandie extreme)
stacey on July 09, 2010:
piglet owner, did your dandie extreme grow alot bigger? if so, what is his weight etc? thanks
Piglet owner on May 14, 2010:
Hello all. I have a dandie extreme piglet that I got from Patty. She was always really nice and helpful when it came to information and pictures about the pig before I bought him. when I got him he was cute and smaller than i thought he would be. He didn't have any mange or worms at all and his vet exam came back with no problems at all. He is VERY stubborn and could have been a naughty pig if I didn't spend the time I spent with him. It takes me numerous hours to break him of habits that I don't want him to do, but eventually he catches on and is eager to learn and please. If you can't spend time with a pig, and I mean more than when you come home from work or school or in-between holes in your schedule... then this is not the pet for you.
I personally like that you can order the food right from the website so that you know your pig is getting all that he neeeds... and if it gets too fat, that is your own fault lol. A pig has nothing to tell him to stop eating so he will eat and eat and surpass estimated weight. If he's too fat it's simple. Cut his food back. Watch him and pay attention. The breeder is there for nothing but to get the pig to you. After that it is up to you. My pig is very happy, and totally happy. I can't believe people have so many complaints.
belliott on April 11, 2010:
My husband and I have about 10 acres and have been thinking about getting a few mini Herefords for beef and for the fact that they are supposed to be very easy to handle. Thought the grandkids would be able to help with chores when they visit without risking life and limb. The miniature beef cattle are also suppose to convert meat well on grass pasture without excess graining and produce an excellent quality of meat. You could raise organic meat with the mini breeds. Enjoyed reading your hub.
pigmom on January 14, 2010:
I'm also going to have to advise on the Royal Dandie. Ours is a good 40 pounds over the guaranteed weight, and the breeder asked if we wanted to "send her back"? Yea right.. just.. give up my animal? She is sweet when she chooses to be, but also very headstrong. If you think that having a pig will be anything like having a dog.. you will be sorely mistaken. It's also irritating to have to buy the food and whatever else from only one source.
Persians on September 18, 2009:
Yes the mini Persians are getting popular, I myself own one.
Sarah on July 19, 2009:
You missed the mini Persians - very, very popular, not dwarf (i.e. not disproportionate of limb) but miniature forms of Persian.
Miniature cats and dwarf cats are different, your article suggests they are the same thing. Miniatures are proportioned like regular cats, dwarf cats have short limbs, but regular length bodies.
jacob on July 12, 2009:
i think the pigs are the cutest but i heard you can nly get them from patty is that true? i am very interested but it would be great to know all i can before i buy
Karen N from United States on July 12, 2009:
Very interesting hub, and that miniature pinscher is just adorable!
annvans on June 27, 2009:
How cute, I just love miniature animals. We have a little chahuahua, she is not really small, but six pounds. They are so cute being that small. Great hub!
livewithrichard on June 11, 2009:
i liked the mini pig i always thought all pigs were huge now i dont i just wish i could squeeze them all day
Richard Bivins from Charleston, SC on May 17, 2009:
Great hub Whitney. My ex neighbor had a couple miniature pinschers that were so tiny they could walk right through the links on our chain link fence separating our yards. Tiny dogs with huge attitudes. My Rottweiler, Buttkiss, would play with them chasing each other up and down the fence line but when one of the miniature "beasts" would come through the fence, my 89lb chicken would run to the back corner and hide until the little guy would leave the yard. Funniest thing I had ever seen with dogs.
Maltese_mom on April 12, 2009:
I have to agree with everything Sheltiebrat said, especially when it comes to teacup dogs. To be perfectly clear, there is no such thing as a teacup dog and no respectable breeder would use that term. Every AKC recognized breed of dog has a standard that addresses what size a dog should be. The Yorkie and Maltese standard say "not to exceed 7 pounds", the Chihuahua standard says "6 pounds" and the Poodle Standard says any Poodle under 10 inches is is a Toy Poodle. So there are no minimums. A 1 pound Yorkie/Maltese/Chihuahua is still standard sized and so is a 3 inch Poodle. A good breeder knows the standard for their breed. Also many people selling "teacup puppies" are either selling sick or underage puppies or they are flat out lying. I've seen many dog that were sold as teacups that grew to be over 10lbs. Tiny dogs can have liver or heart defects (without expensive and risky surgery these are fatal), hydrocephallus (can cause seizure and death), luxating patellas (slipping knee caps, which require surgery costing $1000s per knee and anesthesia can be very risky for tiny dogs) and/or suffer from hypoglycemia (can also be fatal if not caught quickly). They can also break bones from something as simple as jumpin off furniture. B/c their bones are so small and fragile, surgery is required to fix them. Again this is risky and expensive and sometime euthanasia is the only option. You are much better off contacting a reputable breeder, through a breed club.
Christie on April 10, 2009:
I currently have 2 miniture vietnemese potbelly pigs and they are both ADORABLE! Otto, my male, was attacked by a dog a few months ag and almost died. His legs still have the scars but he's ok. Ivory, my female, is pregnant so BIG she is about to pop. I know she would be able to have the max litter. They are both so loving and Otto will eat out of your hand even after being so traumatized. I would love to show both of them in shows if anyone can help me find some. I live in GA so anywhere near there. Thanks!
Kippy on March 19, 2009:
I am interested in getting a Royal Dandie or Dandie Extreme. But, after reading the post I am concerned with using www.royaldandie.com. Sonya, do you know the name of the breeder your friends used?
lafenty from California on March 14, 2009:
I had a pot bellied pig several years ago and it was the sweetest pet. I was living in Phoenix, AZ at the time and she would spend the hot summers sitting a kiddie pool. She was also best friends with my dog. They would sleep together. Thanks for the interesting hub.
sonya on March 05, 2009:
I agree with pig lover please be aware thie breeder Patty at royal danie is a very rude person, she dont care about the pigs just the high price she makes by selling you a sickyl wormy mangy pig, I was so diasapointed and she could care less, I have a friend who purchased one from another breeder and it was awesome I am goin to buy one from the same lady, the royal dandie I have is mean and aggressive, even after 2 months it still wont come around. it is a lot uglier than my friends pig as well. not worth the money at all,ppl do your research and find a nice breeder you can trust/ Patty also wont show anyone a picture of her so called dandy full grown, wonder why cause its huge lol good luck people
Piglover on August 07, 2008:
I also have a Royal Dandie and I love him but not the breeder. We just got him in May and he's infested with worms and mange. The breeder couldn't care less. He'll probably stay small but I'm not counting on it. Beware of dealing with this breeder.
dindin from Texas on May 01, 2008:
Yorkie owner here!That piglet is the cutest thing I've ever seen.
Lisa on April 30, 2008:
I just wanted to tell you that I have a Royal Dandie Miniature Pet pig and she is the greatest pet I have ever had!
She is 5 1/2 years now and weighs 29 lbs. The breeder is wonderful and will answer any questions you might have as long as you have your Dandie.
She has all the special feed for these little guys on her website for sale also so I know I am feeding it properly.
Miniature animals are wonderful as long as the breeder is responsible.
Go to royaldandie.com and check them out. They now have an even smaller version of the Dandie called an "Extreme Dandie". I may have to purchase another piglet!!!!
Glen from Australia on April 20, 2008:
Cool! You have information on Nigerian Dwarf Goats!
And thanks for the Australian link for miniature goats.
stourt1 from New Market, MD U.S.A on March 22, 2008:
That's really cool
Pets Videos on March 01, 2008:
What an excellent page. I've never seen the minature animals pictures you show in the page.
I found some great funny videos in the URL I show you guys. You can find more miniature animals by just searching.
Congrats again for this page of yours.
jay on February 24, 2008:
i want a whole farm full of these beautiful midgit animals
emmabalmer on February 10, 2008:
Thanks for the interesting post. I have a miniature Sardinian donkey. He contrasts perfectly with my huge draft horses (much like the above photo). I don't know where I'd be without my animals!
Stephanie Marshall from Bend, Oregon on February 02, 2008:
Lots of interesting information. I mostly just knew of the mini dog breeds. Wow. Great Hub.
Kat07 from Tampa on January 25, 2008:
Whitney - pics of the miniature cats would be great, I've never heard of them and would love to see what they look like! All of our cats are SO BIG!
jim on January 23, 2008:
l've got a mini pony and a mini cow and wouldn't sell them for anything
Krista 07 from Europe on December 04, 2007:
I just can't stop reading this! = ]
trakker14 from franklin on November 29, 2007:
adorable and eye opening hub. I personally have to Shelties and they are soo smart.
TIFFANY on November 09, 2007:
MY UNCLE IS A VETENARIAN AND I ASKED HIM HE SAYS THAT GOATS HAVE WAY MORE PERSONALITY!!! HE HAS 2 AND HE BREEDS THEM IN SCOTTLAND!!!! AND HE SAYS THEY R THE MOST LUVABLE THINGS ON EARTH! THEY FOLLOW U WHERE EVER YOU GO!
Whitney (author) from Georgia on October 31, 2007:
That's cool Eliya! I think the Mini goats and horses are cute. Which have more personality?
Eliya on October 31, 2007:
Very interesting. I have had a Miniature horse and currently raise MiniNubians - a smaller goat (22-28 inches at the shoulder) with long floppy ears. I LOVE these goats!!! I don't particularly like the smaller breeds of dogs that I have met - I like the giant breeds best - especially the Great Pyreneese!
You can see pictures of MiniNubians on our website at http://greengablesfarm.tripod.com/about_mininubian... I have lots of pictures of them on the site.
Zsuzsy Bee from Ontario/Canada on October 27, 2007:
Super Hub! It makes me want one of each... maybe not the pigs but then why not. Thanks.
I did have the goats years ago on my farm. The kids named the Momma Tina and the baby Turner. They were a lot of fun. Again great Hub.
Marye Audet on October 26, 2007:
great hub! We raise Nigerian Dwarf Goats..they are about the size of a large Golden retriever. For milking they are the only mini-goat that is recognized as a dairy animal by the registries and associations...the other breeds really aren't that good for milk.
Whitney (author) from Georgia on October 25, 2007:
Yes. Miniature dogs are much more fragile than other pet dogs, as they can average less than 5 pounds. Usually more along the lines of 1-3 pounds in weight. They aren't the best pet for small children.
kpyang from Singapore on October 25, 2007:
Great Hub, I like both your layout and content. You deserved to be the flagship.
tuxedoxpress from Deep South on October 25, 2007:
Excellent article! Must mention though that many miniatures, especially miniature dogs are very fragile. Unlike their bigger "rough n' tumble" versions, tiny dogs can easily be fractured or killed with too much pressure application, such as the hug from a young child. This is not true in every case, but it occurs frequently enough to be disturbing. Thus the warning!
ForTheLove from Godforsaken, Iowa on October 25, 2007:
Great work on one of the first flagships! :)
I might prefer the larger breeds, but I can't say I don't love their smaller cousins, too!
Lela Davidson from Bentonville, Arkansas on October 24, 2007:
Convenient, yet disturbing...