A purse dog has two definitions. The first is a purse made in the shape of a dog, often a whimsical carrying case for young girls and teens. You can get a variety of stuffed animal, plush, breed dog types made into a purse, and these tend to reflect a Hollywood trend relating to the second definition of purse dog.
The second definition refers to a number of small dogs that are small enough to fit in purse sized carrying cases. These dogs are popular and you often see young celebrities carrying their toy sized dogs at red carpet events or just out on the town for the night. Since American life can reflect Hollywood trends, some people may want to acquire a purse dog of their own.
Usually these dogs are specific breeds and weigh no more than five pounds (2.27 kg). A few breeds fall naturally into this category, though some can exceed the five-pound weight. Teacup sized toy poodles, Yorkshire Terriers, Maltese dogs, Bichon Frise dogs, and Chihuahuas or the Spitz dog are all possible choices. Though the teacup toy poodle is easily less than 5 pounds, some breeders specifically select their smallest dogs for breeding to bring down the size and weight of further generations.
While a purse dog may look cute, there are some inherent problems with breeding a dog to be small, specifically as a fashion accessory. First, bladder control is a major issue for most of these dogs, as they have tiny bladders that won’t hold liquid for long. Dog owners, this writer among them, often wonder how many times purses have to be replaced if you’re carrying a tiny dog around for long parties or events and forget to give it ample opportunities to urinate.
Second, as breeds get smaller, reproduction gets more challenging. Tiny dogs usually have to have cesarean section deliveries of young, which is more risky for both the mother and her pups. Further, there are unfortunately many unscrupulous breeders who attempt to breed very small puppies and do so in unsafe or unhealthy ways. Puppy mills frequently produce purse dogs, and allow larger dogs that don’t fit size requirements to languish without proper care.
It is certainly not the case that the purse dog is an unloved animal, and this fashion is not exactly new. Being accompanied by dogs as a kind of fashion statements has frequently been the province of the wealthy. Patrician Roman women often carried Maltese breeds in large sleeves and perhaps invented the first purse dog as a sleeve dog. Yet since this is a trend, people may attempt to copy it in as inexpensive a way as possible, and this can lead to the support of puppy mills.