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Nicole Cosgrove

mi-ki puppy

The Mi-Ki is a small toy dog bred in the USA using the Japanese Chin, Papillon and Maltese to be a companion and lap dog. It is much loved because of its smallness and because of its long flowing coat which makes it stand out. It is an intelligent and affectionate dog and unlike a lot of small dogs is usually calm and has a personality unique to its breed. It is an enchanting dog with a life span of 13 to 15 years and has been used successfully in service work, as a therapy dog and does well in conformation shows and agility.

The Mi-Ki at a Glance
Name Mi-Ki
Other names Miki
Nicknames None
Origin USA (with possible beginnings in Japan)
Average size Toy
Average weight 5 to 10 pounds
Average height 10 to 12 inches
Life span 13 to 15 years
Coat type Can get it in two coat types, smooth and long
Hypoallergenic Yes
Color White, brown, black, black and tan, tricolor
Popularity Not a registered member of the AKC
Intelligence High
Tolerance to heat Average
Tolerance to cold Low – will need a coat if going out in the cold
Shedding Low – not a lot if any hair will be left in the home
Drooling Low – not prone to slobber or drool
Obesity Low – not especially prone to obesity but it is a good idea to measure food, track treats and make sure it is exercised well still
Grooming/brushing Low to average – brush once or twice a week
Barking Rare – not a yappy dog but some yodel or titter at you
Exercise needs Moderate – easy to meet requirements due to small size
Trainability Easy to train
Friendliness Very good – social dog
Good first dog Very good to excellent
Good family pet Very good with socialization
Good with children Good to very good – really it needs protecting from the children due to its smallness rather than the other way round
Good with other dogs Very good with socialization
Good with other pets Very good with socialization
Good with strangers Very good with socialization
Good apartment dog Excellent due to size and not being a vocal dog
Handles alone time well Low – can suffer from separation anxiety
Health issues Quite healthy but a few issues can include Patellar luxation, eye problems and respiratory problems
Medical expenses $435 a year for basic medical needs and pet insurance
Food expenses $75 a year for a good quality dry dog food and dog treats
Miscellaneous expenses $460 a year for basic training, toys, miscellaneous items, license and grooming
Average annual expenses $970 a year as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $1,500
Rescue organizations American Mi-Ki Club Rescue, South Paw Animal Rescue and also check local shelters and rescues
Biting Statistics None reported

The Mi-Ki’s Beginnings

The Mi-Ki has several possible beginnings, some along with the Miki Club of America say it comes from Japan and came over first from there in the 1980s. It has the Maltese, the Japanese Chin and the Papillon in the mix. Others support the claim that a Micki Mackin in the US developed the breed but kept poor records so what amount of each dog went in the mix is not known. Here it is suggested that as well as the main three dogs used in the Mi-Ki’s development there was also the Yorkshire Terrier and the Shih Tzu.

However it came to be its appearance in the US in the 1980s then led to several decades of development there with the purpose of creating a companion and lap dog that was gentle, calm and hypoallergenic and not yappy. It was also developed to have two different coat types, smooth for people who preferred short coated dogs and long for people who liked something more unique. As a result of the differing beliefs though there are several breed clubs with slightly different standards.

New Lease on Life

The Mi-Ki may have disputed beginnings and even disputed status over whether it can claim to be a breed of dog or whether is is a designer dog but it is popular. It is a charming dog, happy, affectionate and sometimes coined the sweetheart of toy dog breeds. It is not though recognized by the AKC, the UKC or any major kennel club. However the two main Mi-Ki registries, the American Mi-Ki Registry Association (AMRA) and the International Mi-Ki Registry (IMR) are working on stricter breeding programs with profiling of DNA to get that kind of recognition.

The Dog You See Today

The Mi-Ki is a toy sized dog weighing 5 to 10 pounds and standing 10 to 12 inches tall. It is an elegant looking dog, balanced with a rectangular shaped body as it is a little longer than tall. It has a level back and a chest of medium depth and a medium length neck. The tail is set high, plumed and curves over its back and its feathered legs are straight with dewclaws usually being removed. Its feet are thin, long and hare like and are shaved and has a little webbing. The head is carried high, rounded and it has a wide and short muzzle. Its has large and round eyes that are well set apart. Mostly dark eyes are preferred but there can be blue eyes too. Its nose is medium with wide nostrils and is black in color. The ears can be either dropped or erect and are very expressive with feathering.

This dog has two coat types, smooth and long and both are single coats. The smooth coat is close to the body, short and the ear and tail fringing is shorter too and there is no facial hair. The long coat is straight, fine and silky with ears and a tail that have long feathering and it has a beard and mustache. Solid colors are rare and prized. It can come in a variety of different colors including white, brown, black, black and tan and tricolor.

The Inner Mi-Ki


The Mi-Ki is an intelligent dog and friendly dog able to get along with everyone being charming, social, playful at times but calm the rest of the time when raised well. It loves its family and owners, is very loyal and devoted to them and needs them around for companionship. It does not like being left alone for long periods as a result and can suffer from separation anxiety. It is therefore best in a home where owners are retired or there is a stay at home owner or one that works from home sometimes too. Its even temperament and friendly nature make it great as a therapy dog, it is friendly even with strangers.

Another great thing about this breed is its adaptability, it can be happy in a variety of living conditions. It is a cheerful and intuitive dog. It is alert and can be a good watchdog who will bark to let you know of an intruder. It is otherwise a fairly quiet dog, it does not bark a lot but owners say it can be chatty and when happy can make yodeling or twittering noises. It can also be quite catlike in some of its habts and mannerisms. It likes to sun itself on a window sill, it climbs to high places to observe from, chases and swats at toys and even grooms itself like one.

Living with a Mi-Ki

What will training look like?

Training the MiKi should go very well as it is eager to please and smart. It is a good dog for new owners because it is not difficult to train and look after. Make sure you approach its training and socialization with consistency and firmness. Be very clear about the rules and don’t allow it to get its own way and spoil it. This is why many small dogs act out, you have to expect it to listen and obey. Use praise, treats and rewards to motivate it and avoid scolding or punishments. Small dogs that are snappy, destructive and vocal tend to be so due to small dog syndrome, something that happens when they are treated like pampered babies rather than dogs. House training should be done by setting a regular schedule and sticking to it. Some small dog owners are able to train their dogs to use a litter tray like a cat. Start socialization early so it grows into the best dog it can be. With socialization it learns from early exposure and experiences how to react appropriately to different places, sights, sounds, people and animals.

How active is the Mi-Ki?

The Mi-Ki is a moderately active dog but being small it is easy for any type of owner to give it enough exercise and mental stimulation. Some of its plays indoors will go towards its needs but it should also get a daily walk or two outside and some play time with you too, as well as some training or puzzle toys to get its mind working. Some dog parks have separate areas for toy dogs where it can safely run off leash and socialize so check that out. It can live in an apartment fine as long as it gets out each day but if there is a yard that would be a nice extra place to get some activity.

Caring for the Mi-Ki

Grooming needs

There are some advantages to choosing a Mi-Ki over some other toy dogs and one is that you get two coat types to choose from depending on your preference, and another is that it is ‘hypoallergenic’ so many people allergic to dogs may not react to this one. The type of grooming it needs depends on the coat type you have. The shorter coats are easier to look after and can be brushed once a week. The longer coat is more likely to have some tangling especially in the feathered areas so needs brushing at least twice a week. This dog is low shedding so not a lot of hair to deal with around the home if any. It should just be bathed when it needs one and only use a dog shampoo to clean it, anything else will damage its natural oils. As its show cut is distinctive and hair from the feet needs to be dealt with there may be a need for some professional grooming.

It will also need its ears taken care of, its teeth and gums taken care of and its nails kept to a short length. The nails must be dealt with carefully using a proper dog nail clipper. Cutting too low down can nick the part of the nail where there are blood vessels and nerves. This means it will hurt your dog and cause bleeding. Its ears should be checked weekly for infection – look for too much wax, discharge, or sensitivity. Then clean them once a week using a cleanser for dog ears and cotton ball or a damp cloth. Its teeth need brushing at least two to three times a week to prevent gum disease and tooth decay.

Feeding Time

A toy dog like this will probably only need to eat between ½ a cup to 1 cup of high quality dry dog food, made for small dogs. That should be split into two meals a day, not given all at once or there can be issues with Bloat. How much it needs to eat can vary from one Mi-Ki to another depending on things like its level of activity, age, well being, metabolism and size. Make sure it always has access to water that is regularly freshened.

How is the Mi-Ki with children and other animals?

MiKis get on very well with children especially with socialization and if raised with them but the real care has to be taken with young children who do not know how to touch and play carefully because of their small size. Therefore always teach children how to interact carefully with a dog like this and consider waiting till they are older and understand. It is also social enough to be happy around other pets and is not challenging or snappy around other dogs either.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

The Mi-Ki has a life span of about 13 to 15 years and is fairly healthy. It is small so fragility can be care should be taken with things like how you out it down, watching where you step and sit and such. Other health issues might include respiratory problem, eye problems, von Willebrand’s disease, patellar luxation and allergies.

Biting Statistics

In dog attack reports that look at incidents where people have had bodily harm done to them in the US and Canada over 35 years, there is no mention of the MiKi. It is not an aggressive or snappy dog, it is not a toy dog with attitude. However even the most easy going breeds can have an off day. While you cannot guarantee nothing will ever happen, you can raise your dog so that the chances are less. Socialize, train, give it enough attention, make sure it is mentally challenged and gets enough physical activity.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

The Miki is a popular toy breed and being a new and recent thing, part of a trend where toy dogs are more popular the price is high. For just a pet quality dog expect to pay around $1500 and that can go up dramatically. It is important to look for a trustworthy and decent breeder so be prepared to do some research. Avoid puppy mills, disreputable breeders, pet stores and back yard breeders. Another option is to consider adopting a dog as there are so many out there desperately hoping for a loving owner and new home. Adoption can cost between $50 to $400 but it may not be a MiKi that grabs your heart.

Once you have found the dog that has stolen your heart and you are ready to bring it home there are some things it will need. Bowls for food and drink, a crate, carrier, collar and leash for about $120. Then in those first few weeks you should make time for a vet visit where it can have a physical exam, blood tests, vaccinations, deworming, micro chipping and be spayed or neutered. These will cost about $190.

Then of course there are ongoing costs when you are a pet owner. Often smaller dogs are less expensive per year, but then they have longer life spans so you will be paying to care for them for longer. Basic health care like updating the shots, check ups, tick and flea prevention and pet health insurance is going to cost about $435 a year. Other miscellaneous costs like toys, basic training, license, grooming and miscellaneous items will be another $460 a year. Then feeding it will start at $75 a year for a good quality dry dog food and dog treats. This gives an annual starting figure of about $970.


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The Mi-Ki is a small dog that does not shed hardly at all, is hypoallergenic, easy to groom and care for, affectionate, charming and easy going. It is suitable for any age or experience level as its exercise needs are easy to meet but care should be taken with young grabby children. It will need lots of attention and while it might be a toy size dog it will win a giant sized part of your love.

Featured Image Credit: focus.n.develop, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.