What is a Purse Dog?

wiseGEEK Writer

A purse dog has two definitions. The first is a purse made in the shape of a dog, often a whimsical carrying case for young girls and teens. You can get a variety of stuffed animal, plush, breed dog types made into a purse, and these tend to reflect a Hollywood trend relating to the second definition of purse dog.

The Maltese can be described as a purse dog.
The Maltese can be described as a purse dog.

The second definition refers to a number of small dogs that are small enough to fit in purse sized carrying cases. These dogs are popular and you often see young celebrities carrying their toy sized dogs at red carpet events or just out on the town for the night. Since American life can reflect Hollywood trends, some people may want to acquire a purse dog of their own.

Yorkshire terriers often are lighter than seven pounds.
Yorkshire terriers often are lighter than seven pounds.

Usually these dogs are specific breeds and weigh no more than five pounds (2.27 kg). A few breeds fall naturally into this category, though some can exceed the five-pound weight. Teacup sized toy poodles, Yorkshire Terriers, Maltese dogs, Bichon Frise dogs, and Chihuahuas or the Spitz dog are all possible choices. Though the teacup toy poodle is easily less than 5 pounds, some breeders specifically select their smallest dogs for breeding to bring down the size and weight of further generations.

Yorkshire Terriers can be small enough to fit in purses.
Yorkshire Terriers can be small enough to fit in purses.

While a purse dog may look cute, there are some inherent problems with breeding a dog to be small, specifically as a fashion accessory. First, bladder control is a major issue for most of these dogs, as they have tiny bladders that won’t hold liquid for long. Dog owners, this writer among them, often wonder how many times purses have to be replaced if you’re carrying a tiny dog around for long parties or events and forget to give it ample opportunities to urinate.

Second, as breeds get smaller, reproduction gets more challenging. Tiny dogs usually have to have cesarean section deliveries of young, which is more risky for both the mother and her pups. Further, there are unfortunately many unscrupulous breeders who attempt to breed very small puppies and do so in unsafe or unhealthy ways. Puppy mills frequently produce purse dogs, and allow larger dogs that don’t fit size requirements to languish without proper care.

It is certainly not the case that the purse dog is an unloved animal, and this fashion is not exactly new. Being accompanied by dogs as a kind of fashion statements has frequently been the province of the wealthy. Patrician Roman women often carried Maltese breeds in large sleeves and perhaps invented the first purse dog as a sleeve dog. Yet since this is a trend, people may attempt to copy it in as inexpensive a way as possible, and this can lead to the support of puppy mills.

Purse dogs began as a Hollywood trend.
Purse dogs began as a Hollywood trend.

You might also Like

Discussion Comments


I wouldn't subject any dog to such a life where they are carried around all day and cannot urinate when they wish.

If I were to put my dog in a purse it would be for no more than two hours and what's the big deal about letting them loose to relieve themselves and putting them back in? Doesn't seem like too big of a production to me.


BrickBack- I was looking for a dog carrier for my dog. I found this site called Doggie Couture Club that sells designer dog carriers that range from $140 to over $900. You can even shop by designer.


I also wonder how practical it is for a tiny dog to be kept in a carrier all day like that. I know that some of these pet carriers can also be expensive.

Most of the dog carriers range from $20 to almost $800. Pets Alley sells a wide variety of pet carriers and other accessories.

They also give you the dimensions of the bag and the maximum weight the bag will hold. It offers different pricing for teacup and small breeds.

Some carriers are made of straw, while other are made of leather. There is as much variety available as there is for ladies handbags in general.

Post your comments
Forgot password?