Dogs referred to as Toy dogs, and dogs found in the Toy Group of breed registries, may be of the very ancient lapdog type, or they may be small versions of hunting dogs or working dogs, bred down in size for a particular kind of work or to create a pet of convenient size. In the past, very small dogs not used for hunting were kept as symbols of affluence, as watchdogs, and for the very important health function of attracting fleas away from their owners.
The Fédération Cynologique Internationale has established common nomenclature to ensure that pedigrees are mutually recognized in all 84 member countries. The following breed groupings (Sections) are recognized by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale in Group 9, Toy and Companion dogs.
Not including the colour and size varieties, breeds categorized by Fédération Cynologique Internationale members as Companion and Toy are listed here. Those with flags are also recognized by the non-member countries indicated by the flag.
Registries within individual Fédération Cynologique Internationale members, such as the Australian National Kennel Council, may use a slightly different nomenclature, depending on the country. Non-member countries use other terminology, but the term Toy is only used to group dogs for show purposes.
The Kennel Club (UK) places breeds marked in the Toy Group:
The Australian National Kennel Council recognizes breeds marked in Group 1 (Toys):
The New Zealand Kennel Club places breeds marked in the Toy Group:
The Canadian Kennel Club recognizes breeds marked in Group 5, Toys:
The American Kennel Club places breeds marked in the Toy Group:
In addition, these national organizations also recognize the following breeds in their Toy Group:
The major national kennel club for each country will have its own list of breeds that it recognizes as Toy. In addition, some new or newly documented rare breeds may be awaiting approval by a given kennel club. Some new breeds may currently be recognized only by their breed clubs. Some rare new breeds have been given breed names, but may only be available from the breeder or breeders who are developing the breed, and may not yet be recognized by any kennel club.
In addition to the major registries, there are a nearly infinite number of sporting clubs, breed clubs, and internet-based breed registries and businesses in which dogs may be registered in whatever way the owner or seller wishes.
The diminutive Yorkshire Terrier is in the Toy Group of many breed registries. The Australian Terrier is one of the smallest terriers, but is usually listed in the Terrier group. In some registries, however, the Yorkshire Terrier is listed in the Companion Dog group. Some registries do not recognize a Toy category.
The use of the word "toy" to describe small dogs that belong to a toy breed is redundant and also incorrect, suggesting that the breed comes in different sizes—there is no such thing, for example, as a "toy Chihuahua"; all Chihuahuas are categorized in the Toy Group. Some breeds do come in different sizes, such as Poodles, which come in standard, miniature, and toy varieties. The size varieties may all be placed within one group, as with the German Spitz breed under the Fédération Cynologique Internationale rules, or the smallest varieties of a breed may be placed as a separate breed in the Toy Group or some other group. The exact categorization varies between registries and countries.
Another area of contention is the idea that toy dogs are only companion animals, slow moving, with little need for exercise and with low endurance. Papillons give lie to this; although dainty and small they are quite capable of taking long walks with their owners and often excel at the energetic sport of dog agility. Maltese are another example of very robust daintiness. The United Kennel Club (US), which does not recognize a Toy group, defines Italian Greyhounds as having been bred exclusively as pets; the American Kennel Club states that these dogs were bred as gazehounds, dogs that hunt by sight, and are quite fast and hardy, but they are nevertheless place them in their Toy group.