How do they breed "miniatures"?

I am interested in miniature Shar-pei’s, and I don’t understand how the bred them to be “miniature”. Anyone have the Straight Dope on that?

(Bonzai doggies, maybe?)

Zette

AFAIK, with dog breeding, you just keep selecting for the desired traits. So they would breed a naturally small Shar-Pei with another naturally small one. And they would breed the smallest of those offspring with the with other small ones…and so on and so on. Eventually, you have a branch of the breed that is smaller than the main breed, with enough breeding stock to keep it going and to continually reinforce the smallness trait.

Excellent info, GB. I figured that was the case, but in the future if I get one, I wanted to make sure I wasn’t supporting some cruel practice. Thanks for the info!

Zette

Zette, you may not be supporting an outwardly cruel practice, but then again you might.

Breeding specifically for one trait (size, color, features, etc) can produce animals with marked health and behavior problems, and has been blamed in the past for allegedly “dumbing down” certain breeds (collies come to mind- bred for the long nose, but bred out the brains!). Be sure to see several animals from your dog’s line when you are with your breeder, especially the dog and bitch which produced him/her.

Sometimes minis are the result of the breed-a-runt-with-a-runt process, but sometimes they breed the desired dog with a smaller breed. You could, for example, breed a shar-pei with a pug.

An AKC dog judge once told me that shar-peis in the USA are inherently inbred, because they all are descended from the same four shar-peis originally imported here. A veteranary dermatologist told me, “If you buy a shar-pei, you can count on seeing me frequently.” (I had asked him what breeds would have the most skin problems.) My dad’s shar-pei had to have eyelids surgery because his eyelashes had turned inward toward the eyeballs, and he had a button tumor removed from his snout.