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Old 11-17-2016, 06:02 PM
Interrobang!? Interrobang!? is offline
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Why aren't there any "miniature" cat breeds?

My sister-in-law and her family recently got a new kitten.

In the middle of discussing just how cute that widdle kitten is, oh she's so cute, someone wished the kitten could just stay that size forever.

And then my sister-in-law wondered: Why aren't there any tiny cat breeds? The equivalent of toy dogs. The chihuahua of cats.

My initial thought, which is really just a guess, is that most dog breeds came about because people wanted that breed for a purpose. I don't get the impression that most cat breeds came about the same way, just given that cats aren't trainable the way dogs are.

But ... I don't really know. Why aren't there any miniature cat breeds —by which I mean, a breed where the full-grown cat would be about the size of a normal housecat's kitten?
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Old 11-17-2016, 06:11 PM
John DiFool John DiFool is offline
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Cats and their DNA are much less "plastic" than dogs are.

I'll wait for the experts to chime in and provide more details.
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Old 11-17-2016, 06:13 PM
Qadgop the Mercotan Qadgop the Mercotan is offline
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There are miniature cat breeds.
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Old 11-17-2016, 06:14 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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My initial thought, which is really just a guess, is that most dog breeds came about because people wanted that breed for a purpose.
Then again, for most miniature dog breeds, the purposes was "Oh, wouldn't it be cute if this dog were teeny-tiny?". Like, the original poodle was a hunting dog bed for retrieving game from cold water, but miniature poodles aren't any good at that (or much of anything else, really).
  #5  
Old 11-17-2016, 06:15 PM
Flyer Flyer is offline
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There is a very real sense in which house cats are already the miniature cat breed.

A Chihuahua weighs about 3-6 pounds, compared to a Great Dane which weighs 120-200 pounds. A house cat weighs 8-20 pounds, compared to a tiger which weighs 220-675 pounds.

Using the average figures, dogs have a 1:35.6 range of weights; the cat family has a 1:32 range.
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Old 11-17-2016, 08:12 PM
LSLGuy LSLGuy is offline
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Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
... but miniature poodles aren't any good at that (or much of anything else, really).
Whaddaya mean no good?

The can shed, poop on the carpet, and barf in your bed as well as any other breed. And they're better at ankle biting than are taller dogs like Dobermans.

Last edited by LSLGuy; 11-17-2016 at 08:13 PM.
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Old 11-17-2016, 09:59 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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Flyer, why are you comparing tigers to housecats? They're not the same species (or even the same genus). The proper comparison is housecat to the African wildcat (Felis sylvestris).
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Old 11-17-2016, 10:07 PM
harmonicamoon harmonicamoon is offline
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Maybe because they are already puurfect.
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Old 11-17-2016, 11:07 PM
Sailboat Sailboat is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John DiFool View Post
Cats and their DNA are much less "plastic" than dogs are.

I'll wait for the experts to chime in and provide more details.
See here.

Specfically this part for synopsis:

Quote:
Dog's are unique because their genes contains repeat DNA so that if a mutation occurs and would result in the loss of an important protein the dog DNA has a back up copy so it wouldn't have to go without. This also allows for dogs to survive frame shift mutations more readily and thus get a series of gene alterations at once without fatal consequences. Therefore it is easier to see greater diversity over a short period of time.

Dogs DNA repeats so that this allows for a bit of a safety net for detrimental DNA errors. Simply put dogs are better at mutating so that is why we see such variation.
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Old 11-17-2016, 11:59 PM
nearwildheaven nearwildheaven is offline
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Cat breeds don't vary all that much in size, but they sure do vary when it comes to ear shape, fur configuration, tails, etc.

In other words, a Sphynx definitely does not look like a Himalayan.
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Old 11-18-2016, 01:04 AM
Flyer Flyer is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
Flyer, why are you comparing tigers to housecats? They're not the same species (or even the same genus). The proper comparison is housecat to the African wildcat (Felis sylvestris).
I don't know about you, but I've gotten really good, close-up views of tigers in the zoo. Let me assure you, they ARE cats.
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Old 11-18-2016, 06:24 AM
LSLGuy LSLGuy is offline
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Why not tigers?

Because if we're talking about domestic dog breeds, we're talking about various flavors of genus https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canis

The corresponding thing for domestic cat breeds is genus https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felis

Which doesn't include anything nearly as large as a tiger of genus https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panthera

The largest Felis is https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jungle_cat topping out at 30-some lbs = about a twentieth the max weight of a tiger at around 600 lbs.


Admittedly the human-imposed taxonomy of family, genus, and species has some artificiality to it. But it's not total bunkum.

Last edited by LSLGuy; 11-18-2016 at 06:25 AM.
  #13  
Old 11-18-2016, 06:34 AM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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All dog breeds are not only the same genus, Canis, but the same species, C. lupus. And even, if you attach any weight to the concept of subspecies, the same subspecies, C. lupus familiaris.
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Old 11-18-2016, 07:32 AM
lazybratsche lazybratsche is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sailboat View Post
See here.

Specfically this part for synopsis:
That quote sounds... wrong. The whole post seems to have mixed up several genetic concepts. Off the top of my head, copy number variants, genome duplication, frame shift mutations, and variable length repeats are very different things that are all mushed together into a not entirely coherent explanation.

I've always heard that the ancestral dog population had particularly diverse genetics, which when selectively bred leads to tremendous phenotypic diversity. IIRC, new mutations have a fairly minor contribution after domestication, and especially after "purebreeds" became more common.

But I'll have to brush up on canine genetics to give a better explanation. I believe there have been some recent papers that have revealed a lot about the modern and ancestral genomes of dogs.
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Old 11-18-2016, 08:02 AM
watchwolf49 watchwolf49 is offline
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Why are there toys breeds? That's an interesting question ... as we know, hygiene wasn't exactly great in Europe not so long ago ... and it was discovered that fleas greatly prefer dogs over humans ... the typical nobility wouldn't want fleas themselves so they bred a toy sized dog to keep on their person and keep the fleas off of themselves ... they'd all jump on the lil' dog ...

Elegant solution?

Dogs have been selectively bred for usefulness since perhaps before antiquity ... whereas cats were already useful and so they didn't need to have certain traits selected for. My understanding was that the whole concept of cat breeds came about during the Victorian Era, industrialization brought about the wealth and luxury needed to pursue a hobby that was entirely cosmetic.

My citation for my claims about cats actually puts this selective breeding even later, in current neo-Elizabethian Era ... "The Ascent of Cat Breeds: Genetic Evaluations of Breeds and Worldwide Random Bred Populations" -- Genomics -- January 2008 {non-paywall site} ...

Quote:
The small subset of domestic cats that have undergone intensive artificial selection is the pedigreed (purebred) cats, which were bred to maintain or alter purely aesthetic traits. Of the 41 breeds recognized by the Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA), sixteen “natural breeds” are thought to be regional variants that predate the cat fancy. The remaining breeds were developed over the last 50 years and are usually defined as simple, single-gene variants derived from the natural breeds. This is in stark contrast to most other domesticated species that have undergone millennia of intense selection for complex behavioral, performance or production traits involving complex gene interactions.
House cats are really good at what they do for humans, always have been ... take an apartment building severely infested with mice and rats ... rent all the units to Crazy Cat Ladies ... and in very short order the building will be free of such vermin ... as long as you don't mind your own bed being infested with these Crazy Cat Ladies ...
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Old 11-18-2016, 11:32 AM
Mister Rik Mister Rik is offline
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The documentary, The Lion in your Living Room on Netflix is a good watch.
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Old 11-18-2016, 12:59 PM
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What about giant cat breeds? The ancestors of dogs were not Great Dane or Mastiff sized. If there's a question about toy cat breeds, there is the corresponding question about large cat breeds.

I think in general, dogs are a special case. For one thing they've been domesticated for far longer than any other animal. And for another, you don't have toy cattle breeds or giant chickens either. So probably it's better to ask not "why don't we have toy/giant cat/cow/pet snake breeds?" but "why are dogs so incredibly varied in size?"
  #18  
Old 11-18-2016, 01:04 PM
OldGuy OldGuy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LSLGuy View Post
[Miniature poodles] can shed, poop on the carpet, and barf in your bed as well as any other breed. And they're better at ankle biting than are taller dogs like Dobermans.
Actually miniature poodles don't shed. That, along with being very smart, is one of the biggest selling points for poodles. The advantage of miniature breeds over their larger cousins are obvious if you have small living quarters.
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Old 11-18-2016, 02:18 PM
Trancephalic Trancephalic is offline
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Originally Posted by DrCube View Post
What about giant cat breeds? The ancestors of dogs were not Great Dane or Mastiff sized. If there's a question about toy cat breeds, there is the corresponding question about large cat breeds.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maine_Coon

Anecdotally, we had a cat of allegedly Maine Coon descent that didn't grow much larger than a Guinea pig.
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Old 11-18-2016, 02:36 PM
LSLGuy LSLGuy is offline
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I sometimes think Maine Coon is the "part Cherokee" of the cat world. Everybody except the purebred purists wants to claim some MC ancestry for their mongrel cat.
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Old 11-18-2016, 02:49 PM
watchwolf49 watchwolf49 is offline
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... everybody's German Shepherd is 3/4's wolf ...

Just yesterday I had a neighbor swear up-and-down one of my cats was a Maine Coon ... now this cat is a little smaller than average and all I could say was "he's just a mutt" ...

Last edited by watchwolf49; 11-18-2016 at 02:52 PM.
  #22  
Old 11-18-2016, 03:19 PM
gnoitall gnoitall is offline
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Originally Posted by Trancephalic View Post
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maine_Coon

Anecdotally, we had a cat of allegedly Maine Coon descent that didn't grow much larger than a Guinea pig.
Was this cat a girl? Maine Coon females are smaller; on the small side, they're almost petite. But a male MC can get YUGE. My son's cat Chompers' mom was a smallish pure Maine Coon; his father was some anonymous tabby. Chompers is humongous, as are his brothers; his sisters are all petite. They look like Maine Coons to varying degrees. Chompers' fur doesn't look very MC-like; he looks like a MC dressed up as brown-and-black shorthair tabby.
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Old 11-18-2016, 03:55 PM
Hilarity N. Suze Hilarity N. Suze is offline
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Hm, I had a female Maine coon cat, and she was a big cat.

My most favorite MC feature of hers was her very long, very fluffy tail. When she was about 16 she got cancer on the end of her tail and had a couple of inches amputated, and it was STILL a long tail.

But no one would ever have called her "almost petite." Granted a lot of her apparent big size was hair.
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Old 11-18-2016, 04:13 PM
watchwolf49 watchwolf49 is offline
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I've been poking around Wikipedia and came up with a large Maine Coon is the size of a small bobcat ... interesting that the small side of both for the females is about 8 pounds ... the cat size my vet calls "very well taken care of" ...

One of the distinctions of the Maine Coon as a specific cat breed is it's large size, and it looks like they come in something of a variety of markings ... and loooooooong ... up to four foot ... so if you find yourself with 16 pounds of feline muscle and fitness purring your lap up ... you've got a Maine Coon ...

Last edited by watchwolf49; 11-18-2016 at 04:14 PM. Reason: Posting approved by Kit ...
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Old 11-18-2016, 04:40 PM
DrCube DrCube is offline
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Originally Posted by Trancephalic View Post
That's awesome, but not exactly what I was going for. Dogs can be anywhere from 2.5 ounces to 250 pounds. There's nothing like that wide range in the cat world, or any other species for that matter. Dogs really seem to be a special case.
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Old 11-18-2016, 04:48 PM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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Which dog breed is 2.5 ounces?
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Old 11-18-2016, 05:34 PM
DrCube DrCube is offline
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I guess I was wrong. I saw a show that purported to show the largest and smallest dogs in the world. The bull mastiff was close to 250 lbs, and I swear the teacup chihuahua was under a quarter pound.

But this website claims the smallest dog weighs 1.4lbs, which is still a pretty huge range. But I was wrong. Must have misremembered that show.

http://www.petvr.com/index.php/pages...allestDog.html
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Old 11-18-2016, 05:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrCube View Post
... I think in general, dogs are a special case. For one thing they've been domesticated for far longer than any other animal. And for another, you don't have toy cattle breeds or giant chickens either. So probably it's better to ask not "why don't we have toy/giant cat/cow/pet snake breeds?" but "why are dogs so incredibly varied in size?"
Correct. Dogs are the special case.
Quote:
Imagine if some adult humans were the size of giants and others were the size of two-year-olds. That's the weird kind of world that dogs live in.

People just aren't that different when it comes to size. Most adults are about the same height – 5 to 6 feet.

In fact, most species are roughly the same size. Except for dogs. ...

... The best correlation was found near the insulin-like growth factor (IGF) gene. ... A breed's IGF type predicted the average dog size of the breed. Within a breed, the percent of dogs that had the small IGF allele predicted how small that dog breed was.

So this one gene, IGF, is a major contributor to dog size. ...
Well that's the what is different within the species Canis ... the why it is for them and not for Felis is really just that domestic dogs have been subjected to much more controlled selective breeding than have cats (for various characteristics including size and attributes related to various functions they serve, as working breeds or as novelty items), in particular over the last several hundreds years. Cats utilitarian function was mouser and the typical housecat size works well for that. Cats have comparitively not been selectively bred to any significant degree because there has been no sustained large market for cats with selective features.

Pretty much only dogs have been under such prolonged artificial selection pressure to fill so many different niches as part of human societies.
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Old 11-18-2016, 05:57 PM
RivkahChaya RivkahChaya is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LSLGuy View Post
I sometimes think Maine Coon is the "part Cherokee" of the cat world. Everybody except the purebred purists wants to claim some MC ancestry for their mongrel cat.
Great post.

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Mace View Post
Which dog breed is 2.5 ounces?
My Pit/GSD cross encountered a Teacup Chihuahua puppy once, which I swear was the size of a hamster, and even though it was a warm day, couldn't stop shaking. My dog kept sniffing around like she was thinking "I smell a dog, but I don't see a dog."
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Old 11-18-2016, 06:03 PM
Trancephalic Trancephalic is offline
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Well, not _that_ special; ants of the same species vary far more wildly in size within a colony. All the more impressive that they're all sisters.
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Old 11-18-2016, 11:16 PM
nearwildheaven nearwildheaven is offline
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Originally Posted by Mister Rik View Post
The documentary, The Lion in your Living Room on Netflix is a good watch.
Did you mean this movie? I just watched it a couple weeks ago. You are right; it's very good, and also suitable for somewhat younger viewers because it contains no on-screen violence or profanity.

http://theelephantinthelivingroom.com/
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Old 11-18-2016, 11:21 PM
nearwildheaven nearwildheaven is offline
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Anyone remember the story a couple years ago about the male Westie that mated with a female Rottweiler?

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...new-breed.html

Until I read this story, I didn't know that the mother rejected her puppies.
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Old 11-18-2016, 11:44 PM
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Trancephalic, caste-based size polymorphism within social insects that are members of the meta-organism of the colony/hive is indeed interesting, but "far more wildly" it aint. Size polymorphism in ants within the colony is typically something like 5 mm for minors to 8 mm for majors with a few species having slightly wider ranges. Red driver ants seem to be the outlier with a fourfold size differential (1.5 to 9 mm). The range of size within the species Canis is larger.
  #34  
Old 11-18-2016, 11:45 PM
Mister Rik Mister Rik is offline
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Originally Posted by RivkahChaya View Post
My dog kept sniffing around like she was thinking "I smell a dog, but I don't see a dog."
A comedian I saw years ago had a bit in his routine about tiny dogs. He wrapped up with the statement, "If I can yell loud enough to kill it, it's NOT A DOG!"

Quote:
Originally Posted by nearwildheaven View Post
Did you mean this movie? I just watched it a couple weeks ago. You are right; it's very good, and also suitable for somewhat younger viewers because it contains no on-screen violence or profanity.

http://theelephantinthelivingroom.com/
Nope, different documentary, purely about housecats and their history.
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Old 11-19-2016, 08:20 AM
Zsofia Zsofia is offline
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Horses, also, have a wide human-bred variance. Draft horses vs. miniature horses are a pretty big size difference.
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Old 11-19-2016, 02:35 PM
DSeid DSeid is offline
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Just looked it up. Miniature horses 86 to 97 cm tall at the withers and Clydesdales 163 to 183 cm. Yes, while nowhere near as big of a spread as within domestic dogs a pretty big difference. Visualizing them I am surprised the spread is not more.

If anyone is interested here is an article about the genetics of height in domestic horse breeds.
Quote:
Horse body size varies greatly due to intense selection within each breed. American Miniatures are less than one meter tall at the withers while Shires and Percherons can exceed two meters. The genetic basis for this variation is not known. We hypothesize that the breed population structure of the horse should simplify efforts to identify genes controlling size. In support of this, here we show with genome-wide association scans (GWAS) that genetic variation at just four loci can explain the great majority of horse size variation. Unlike humans, which are naturally reproducing and possess many genetic variants with weak effects on size, we show that horses, like other domestic mammals, carry just a small number of size loci with alleles of large effect. Furthermore, three of our horse size loci contain the LCORL, HMGA2 and ZFAT genes that have previously been found to control human height. The LCORL/NCAPG locus is also implicated in cattle growth and HMGA2 is associated with dog size. ...
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Old 11-20-2016, 12:07 PM
Sunny Daze Sunny Daze is offline
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For a little more perspective on horses, I did a little digging.

The American Association of Miniature Horses states that minis should be no more than 34" at the base of the mane when grown. AMHA.

At the other end of the spectrum, we have draft horses. The tallest recorded was a Shire, at 7'2" at the shoulder. The minimum height for draft horses is 6' at the shoulder. TBH, 6' is not an uncommon height for any number of horse breeds, including those used for dressage, racing and dressage, so I tend to think that heights over 6' are closer to accurate for draft horses.

Modern ranges for recognized breeds are then something like: 34" to 6 feet. Not too much different from what DSeid turned up. I think part of what isn't captured in that is the overall physiology. A mini is dainty and a draft horse is decidedly NOT.

Another species that now has a lot of difference in size is pigs. Consider the teacup pig, darling of, well, someone, and the HOG. That's a range of a something that weighs under 10 pounds when grown to animals that can weight a 1000 pounds or more.

Last edited by Sunny Daze; 11-20-2016 at 12:08 PM.
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Old 11-20-2016, 12:45 PM
DSeid DSeid is offline
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There is in fact no breed of "teacup pig". The closest may be the Yucatan Miniature Pig bred for laboratory use and they average 83 kg full grown, not under 10 pounds.

The main applied breeding pressure was to select for domestic pigs that grew faster and bigger than their wild stock origins.
  #39  
Old 11-20-2016, 01:31 PM
LSLGuy LSLGuy is offline
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Originally Posted by Sunny Daze View Post
..
TBH, 6' is not an uncommon height for any number of horse breeds, including those used for dressage, racing and dressage, so I tend to ...
"You said dressage twice."
"I like dressage!"*

With apologies to Mel Brooks.



=========
* For those who don't get the joke: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96DQspxu0jg
  #40  
Old 11-20-2016, 02:25 PM
Sunny Daze Sunny Daze is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DSeid View Post
There is in fact no breed of "teacup pig". The closest may be the Yucatan Miniature Pig bred for laboratory use and they average 83 kg full grown, not under 10 pounds.

The main applied breeding pressure was to select for domestic pigs that grew faster and bigger than their wild stock origins.
Well, someone thinks there are teacup pigs. Mainly teacup pig breeders. Weights are: 12lbs and up. They are animals bred to be pets. cite

Quote:
Originally Posted by LSLGuy View Post
"You said dressage twice."
"I like dressage!"*

With apologies to Mel Brooks.



=========
* For those who don't get the joke: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96DQspxu0jg
whoops. Yeah, I ride dressage. I meant to list racing, jumping and dressage (you could add stock work, police work and a number of other things). Oh well. One track mind.
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Old 11-20-2016, 02:55 PM
DSeid DSeid is offline
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Originally Posted by Sunny Daze View Post
Well, someone thinks there are teacup pigs. Mainly teacup pig breeders. Weights are: 12lbs and up. They are animals bred to be pets. cite ...
I think actually the people who think there are teacup pigs are the people conned into buying ones sold as such. Until their "teacups" grow to hundreds of pounds. My impression is that the breeders selling animals as such in fact usually know better.

It's a real problem.
Quote:
Online sellers offer teacup pigs for thousands of dollars, promising the animals will stop growing after age 1 and stay small if fed a restricted diet.

But the tiny pigs keep growing until age 4 and will starve if they aren’t fed properly with potbellied-pig food or a blend of vegetables, animal groups say. Once they grow too big to handle, people give them up.
Your linked cite gives all the signs of being one of those online sellers discussed in the articles.
  #42  
Old 11-20-2016, 03:15 PM
correlophus correlophus is offline
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There was no real reason for selective breeding of cats for size, so the size remains more or less the same in all breeds. Furthermore, an average cat is in the range of a smaller dog, so why do yu want something smaller? It is fortunate that too miniaturized cats do not exist, because such animals mostly develop health problems.
  #43  
Old 11-20-2016, 03:58 PM
Sunny Daze Sunny Daze is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DSeid View Post
I think actually the people who think there are teacup pigs are the people conned into buying ones sold as such. Until their "teacups" grow to hundreds of pounds. My impression is that the breeders selling animals as such in fact usually know better.

It's a real problem.
Your linked cite gives all the signs of being one of those online sellers discussed in the articles.
Ignorance fought.
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Old 11-20-2016, 04:08 PM
LSLGuy LSLGuy is offline
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@correlophus:
Yeah, but just think how effective they could be at mousing if they could slither inside the walls like the mice. No more mousey sanctuary!

Last edited by LSLGuy; 11-20-2016 at 04:08 PM.
  #45  
Old 11-20-2016, 06:33 PM
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There was that one time where a Great Dane and a Chihuahua were bred....
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Old 11-20-2016, 06:39 PM
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I don't know about the OP's experience but it seems like it's much easier to control the breeding of a dog than it is a cat.
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Old 11-20-2016, 07:27 PM
correlophus correlophus is offline
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If you want something to get into the walls to catch the mice, use a ferret.
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Old 11-21-2016, 12:39 AM
Interrobang!? Interrobang!? is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by correlophus View Post
Furthermore, an average cat is in the range of a smaller dog, so why do yu want something smaller?
Just for the record, I personally don't want a smaller cat. I don't think my sister-in-law actually does, either. I just got curious once she raised the concept.
  #49  
Old 11-21-2016, 06:35 AM
watchwolf49 watchwolf49 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by correlophus View Post
If you want something to get into the walls to catch the mice, use a ferret.
Indeed, the ferret is as domesticated an animal as any other domesticated animal ... and this was the reason ... although the ferret is good at catch and killing rats and mice ... they also spook the vermin out of their warrens and into the clowder of cats (or the backpain of dogs, whichever is handy at the time) ...
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