Petite Pups Trendy, but Problematic in Japan
The craze for miniature dogs isn't limited to American celebrities. The petite pets are popular in both Australia and Japan, although in Japan, the intensity of the interest in the trend is pushing breeders to try to meet Japanese desire for ever-smaller and ever-cuter puppies. And that is leading to some real problems for the animals. Inbreeding has led to crippled or deformed animals and puppy mills are producing more animals than the public can handle.
The most popular breeds at the moment are ones that are naturally small, such as chihuahuas. It is especially popular to get them in exotic colors, like the blue-grey puppy pictured. These unusual colors are recessive traits and repeatedly breeding for them, often using the same couple of dogs and their offspring because they are known to have the genes, is what causes the dogs to have unfortunate genetic defects. Many are killed at birth, but others lack limbs or are prone to deafness, eye problems and nervous disorders.
A prized puppy can go for as much as $10,000, making it worthwhile for some breeders to pursue these dogs in spite of the risks to the dogs themselves. Breeders are left to self-regulate, but as long as the demand is high, so will the temptation for unscrupulous breeders.