The Baby-boomers are leading the charge in this new phenominum, with an estimated 1 million dogs in the United States have been named the primary beneficiary in their owner’s will. According the Nielsen group’s research U.S. consumers now spend more for dog food than baby food.
The research shows up other surprising statistics as well. Where as about thirty nine percent of pet owners say they have more photos of their pet than of their spouse or significant other. Only 21 percent say they have more photos of their spouse or significant other than of their pet.
So children are on the out (and perhaps spouses soon to follow), dogs are queuing up to take their place. It is not only the dogs who are reaping the rewards of this new trend, their owners are cashing in on health benefits. Pet owners, on average, live longer and experience less stress and heart attacks.
Dogs can also have remarkable health alert abilities.Scientists have discovered that dogs can sense the presence of autism in children. There are also ‘Seizure Alert’ dogs, which can warn their owners up to an hour before the onset of an epileptic seizure.
Although the popularity of dogs in general is on the increase, it seems that the small dogs are getting more than their fair share of the cake. With there being a drive toward living “green” which involves downsizing houses and cars, now pets have also come under the shrinking trend. This may be because of the lower maintenance costs involved in smaller dogs, or it may be because they are this years fashion, or it could even be just a practical issue of what fits in a modern apartment, but the trend is definitely toward miniature pets.
The Chihuahua is the smallest breed of dog recognized by the American Kennel Club. Standing six to nine inches at the top of the shoulders and weighing two to six pounds the Chihuahua may not have an imposing physical presence, but in terms of longevity it takes out the record for the longest average span amongst dogs. Named for the region of Mexico where they were first discovered in the mid-19th century, the Chihuahua can live anywhere between 11-18 years [i-pets.com].
A growing problem in today’s search for designer dogs is the trend toward Teacup, Miniature, and Imperial breeds. These trendy sounding names and cute little dogs hide a plague of serious problems. The following warning is an excerpt from pet-facts.info.
The Truth About Teacup Dogs
In order to understand how many continue to breed smaller and smaller dogs, one must understand that it means playing around with genetics. In most cases, teacup dogs are not just small examples of the breed but are, instead, either dwarfed animals that are the results of recessive genes, or they have been crossed back and forth with their relatives, in a process known as inbreeding. While inbreeding can often result in very tiny “typey” dogs, it is a very dangerous practice because, not only can it strengthen the very best of the line and achieve desired results (such as the tiny size), but it also strengthens the very worst of the lines. Line-bred or inbred dogs tend to have an increased risk of heart, liver, and kidney defects, as well as being very susceptible to a host of genetic diseases and disorders that can range from blindness to outright deformities.
There are similar problems with dogs that carry the dwarfism gene. Very popular in the Chihuahua breed and often disguised as the teacup or apple-headed Chihuahua, dwarfs are very tiny dogs, often with larger heads and very short and stocky legs. While dwarfism does occur naturally in the wild, in various animals, these offspring usually don’t survive into adulthood and are often plagued by many serious genetic diseases and defects. While human intervention can help these tiny dogs avoid predators that they might face outside of the home, there is very little that can be done to protect them from the genetic defects that cause these puppies to suffer a host of health problems and live much shorter lives.
Be warned that buying into this trend may cost you thousands in vet bills and a lot of heart ache as your beloved puppy develops crippling health problems and succumbs to premature death. You may also be required to spend months acting as nurse maid to your sick pet. Unfortunately there are people out there who knowingly breed animals that will experience poor quality of life, just so they can sell them at inflated prices to unsuspecting fashion pet seekers.
Many of these problems can be avoided by buying only from reputable breeders, or by choosing more mainstream breeds. Remember, with pets living longer your commitment to the animal is greater. It makes sense to spend some extra time researching exactly what pet suits your lifestyle and living arrangements (thinking also how you will be living 10 or more years from now).
Children be warned – your days are numbered! Choosing Miniature Dog Breeds