This lapdog is claimed by its promoters to have an ancient heritage, but there is no evidence that it is anything other than a recent cross-breed, or dwarfed breed, created speccally for the toy dog market. Whether it becomes established in the future, or remains a brief Ylash-in-the-pan’ gimmick, remains to be seen.
This controversial breed has appeared recent- [y in the United States and has caused a great deal of public interest. The facts surrounding it, however, remain obscure. It is thought to be either a cross between Pomeranians and Chihuahuas, or an example of unusually small Pomeranians. As yet, it is not recognized by any major canine authority, and has attracted criticism from some quarters. One author referred to the breed as the ‘Half Chihuahua/Half Pom: Out-to-Lunchkinr.
The acceptance of the breed will undoubtedly depend on its creators providing more information on its ancestry and the history of their breeding programme. At present they have said only that it ‘has a history that goes back several hundred years’ and that `the ancestors of these affectionate little dogs were the favourite companions of the Royal families’. The ancestral form was a larger and usually white dog that has ‘been bred down to its present size over a period of time’.
With a min’ imum height of 4 in (10 cm) and a min. imum weight of only 2 lb (900 g), this must be the smallest dog on earth. The average weight is about 3-5 lb (1.5-2.3 kg). There are no colour restrictions. It is usually seen in what is called a lion-cut’ that is to say, with its rear end shaved, except for the last inch (the last couple of centimetres) of its tail. Some owners prefer to leave the thick, dense coat in its natural state.
This is said to be an alert, eager-to-please, intelligent little dog which is not `yappy’ or hyperactive like some other toy breeds. Because of its size it is being recommended as the ideal apartment dog, and has the special advantage that it can be trained to use a litter box like a cat. When Munchkin-owners venture into the outside world, they can carry their minute pets in ‘designer purses’.
This dog appears to have been established by two breeders who sell only male puppies or sterilized females, making it impossible for anyone else to set up a breeding programme. At the end of the 20th century there were fewer than 100 examples of this breed in existence. Prices asked were up to $4,000 for each puppy, with the demand for them fuelled by appearances on American television talk shows, where they created a sensation.