If you've always wanted a small, snuggly companion who's also smart and sweet-tempered, a teddy bear dog might just be the perfect fit for you. Bred to be adorable, loving and hypo-allergenic, teddy bears started out as therapy dogs but appeal to just about anyone they meet.
Teddy bears are "designer dogs," hybrids of two or more breeds. Most commonly, their parents are Shih Tzus and bichon frises or bichon-poodle mixes, although breeders continue to experiment with adding other dogs, such as schnauzers, to the gene pool. Because of their small size and sweet nature, teddy bears can be perfect pets whether you live in an apartment or a large house.
Teddy bears joined the canine world pretty recently, around 2000. Initially, they served as therapy dogs for handicapped children. Unlike the stereotypical small-dog temperament -- hyper, yippy and sometimes anxious -- teddy bears have mellow, loving personalities that make them perfect companions. If you encounter one, you might just fall in love -- and living with a teddy bear usually enforces that feeling.
Perfect for People with Allergies
Teddy bears are soft and cuddly, but they don't shed much or, in some cases, at all. They're also bred not to produce much dander, a very common allergen. While specific dogs' hair and dander vary a little, depending on their ancestry, most teddy-bear breeders focus on producing hypo-allergenic dogs. If you sneeze every time you're around canines, talk to a breeder about finding you a teddy bear you can live with.
Small Size and Smart Minds
Contributing to their resemblance to teddy bears, these dogs remain stuffed-animal size throughout their lives. As adults, they usually weigh between 8 and 16 pounds. That's not the only way they resemble their namesakes, though; they look a lot like teddy bears, with short noses, fluffy coats and big eyes. On top of their cute appearance, teddy bears tend to be smart, easy to train and extremely affectionate. They get along well with other animals and kids. Best of all, they aren't usually one-person dogs, so your teddy bear will probably adore you and your partner equally.
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images