Toy poodles are literally just small poodles; they are technically of the same breed as standard poodles. Toy simply indicates the size of a particular individual within the breed, and this size has been achieved by breeding smaller and smaller individuals over several generations. They were bred down from the standard size in the 18th century, particularly to satisfy French royalty, who preferred the smaller size.
Selective breeding is the part of the process controlled by humans, but we often don’t see what is happening at the genetic level, only the end result. Although we have not pinpointed exactly what genes are making toy poodles smaller, it is likely that toy poodles still have the same genes as other, larger dogs. I suspect that the most likely explanation is that the gene that produces the poodle’s natural growth hormone has been muted so that poodles only produce small amounts of growth hormones while they are puppies. If you are interested in reading more on genetics, here is some of the current research:
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