All About Marie

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Animal Files columnist of the Orange County Register; Emmy Award winning producer of Educational Television Programming; Host of "The Pet Place Radio Show" heard world-wide at; click the player below to listen. Producer/Director/Editor of "The Pet Place TV Show" during the 18 years it ran on KDOC TV in Los Angeles and Orange Counties; Wife, Mother of five kids, Grandmother of one baby boy, and pet parent of three cats, two dogs, and a cockatoo.

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Thursday, December 4, 2014


Dear Marie:
Recently, a local news program aired a segment featuring “Pocket Pets.” These are tiny pets that fit in the palm of your hands. What I am interested in is the Munchkin Dog, or they called it “Toy Munchkin.” They said it costs about $5,000.00 (Not that I can afford it); but they didn’t tell anything else about the dog. If you can tell me more information about it, I’d appreciate it.

Dear Vivian:
Breeders of the Toy Munchkin, and there are very few, state that this tiny dog was originally bred by Vikings. During the Middle Ages, Munchkins were traded in Europe for goods and services. They were much larger at that time and have been bred down over several hundred years to their current three to five pound weight. They literally are not much bigger than a rootbeer float.

Munchkins are affectionate, happy-go-lucky, mellow dogs who are loyal and good with kids. They are not at all like typical small breed dogs who usually tend to be nervous and prone to biting strangers and children. Rather, they are sociable and playful; but snuggling in their master’s lap is their favorite activity. They are described as intelligent and are easily trained to do just about anything...including how to use a litter box!

Breeders claim that these little dogs do very well in apartments and even enjoy long walks. They are quite capable of keeping up with their masters and walking in the “heel” position. Apparently, Munchkins accompanied Royal Families of the past on strolls through palace courtyards.

Toy Munchkins are not “barky” dogs, though they will alert their families to any danger that may be close. They do not seem to realize how truly tiny they are and assume the duties of “watchdog.” They form strong bonds with everyone in the family and are not considered a “one-person-dog.” Nevertheless, they do usually have a “favorite” human who has the perfect lap for snuggling!

These dogs resemble Chow Chows that have been shrunk to a fraction of their size. Originally, this breed of dog came in one color...white. However today, Toy Munchkins are bred in almost every color. They have a thick fluffy coat which is usually groomed and cut to give a lion-like appearance.

Toy Munchkins also possess a sweet face that always seems to be smiling. Because they remain small, they retain a puppy look that makes them especially endearing. They are extremely hard to come by; thus their high price-tag.

Now that you know this basic information, consider this: the “1978 Guinness Book of World Records” lists the Sharpei as the rarest dog breed with only 60 individuals gracing the planet during that year. Today, animal shelters and humane societies regularly house abandoned, discarded, and unwanted Sharpeis and Sharpei mixes.

Why did this happen? There are many reasons. Having the most unique dog on the block is always fun. The opportunity to make a lot of money by breeding is also very enticing. There may even be a sincere love of the breed.

None of these reasons seem very important when you examine the tragic consequences of indiscriminate and irresponsible breeding. The 1978 Sharpei price was at least that of the Toy Munchkin. Today, it’s hard to give away a Sharpei. I sincerely hope we humans don’t repeat this disastrous breeding cycle with Toy Munchkins; however, I imagine we will. I hope I’m wrong.

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