People love the allure of teacup puppies. What’s not to love? An adorable little pup that is just ridiculously tiny… you sometimes can’t tell if it’s a dog or a stuffed animal! However, when it comes to teacup puppies, you should remember a few key facts.
Teacup Puppies and the AKC
The AKC (or American Kennel Club for short) recognizes a number of different “sizes” in certain breeds. Some of those sizes include “Standard,” “Miniature,” and “Toy.” However, the “teacup” size is not a member of that group because the AKC does not recognize teacup puppies as an actual breed standard.
Essentially, breeders promoting and boasting “teacup puppies” have one of two agendas. They are lying to you and selling a “toy” breed of dog with the “teacup” name just for added flair because of the popularity of the name. Or, they are selling puppies at sizes below the breed standard, such as “runts” of the litter.
You should proceed with caution in either situation, as both show a general disregard for the breed standards set forth by the AKC. A responsible breeder chooses to breed dogs that hold the best breed standards and the healthiest puppies, not to attract people with fanciful names or breed dogs who are the “runts” of their litter.
What is a Teacup Puppy?
So what do most people consider an actual “teacup puppy” in size? Any dog, regardless of breed, who weighs less than four pounds meets the “teacup” designation. Additionally, these dogs typically stand no taller than 17 in. at the shoulder.
Unfortunately, this extremely petite size lends these dogs more health problems and greater danger than most breeds. In fact, there are several different and important considerations for the health of these little dogs.
Fragile Bone Structure
Because of their size, teacup puppies have extremely fragile bodies. In fact, even as adults these dogs can suffer from broken bones much more easily than a breed-standard dog.
Their small size also leaves them prone to injury when they fall from furniture or when they are dropped. It also means that they are more difficult to see, and you can easily kick or step on them accidentally.
We already know that small breeds in general have smaller bladders, stomachs, and other internal organs than other dogs. This means they get full much more quickly than other dogs and must use the bathroom more frequently.
These considerations increase tenfold with teacup puppies. This is especially true when you consider that irresponsible breeding can also be associated with teacup puppies.
With tiny stomachs, you need to feed teacup puppies at a much more frequent rate than their “toy” or “miniature” counterparts. They simply cannot eat enough food in one sitting to sustain them for a large portion of the day.
Additionally, with their tiny bladders and digestive systems, they need to use the bathroom much more frequently. For this reason, many teacup puppy owners must use potty pads with their dogs.
Using potty pads can complicate your housetraining process and not all dogs thrive using them, which can potentially mean accidents in other parts of the house throughout the dog’s life.
Some Common “Teacup” Breeds
You can only find a handful of dog breeds which can meet the “teacup” mold. Most breeds simply cannot produce small enough puppies for the adults to remain under four pounds when fully grown.
Again, these little dogs have a number of health disadvantages and often come about as a result of irresponsible breeding practices, so use caution if you do decide a teacup puppy is the right choice for you.
Yorkshire terriers are one of the more popular teacup breeds. I bet you can picture one right now, perched in her owner’s purse, tiny little paws peeking over the edge, with a bright pink bow in her hair and a perfect blowout.
These little dogs certainly have spunk and charisma, but especially with teacup Yorkies, training is incredibly important. Many pet owners fail to properly socialize and train these dogs because they are so impossibly small. This can lead to a reactive and “yappy” dog.
Perhaps the most common teacup breed, people really hopped on the “teacup” bandwagon with Chihuahuas. Already quite small, owners loved the appeal of tinier and tinier dogs, and the Chihuahua certainly fit the bill.
We’re going to sound a bit repetitive here, but training is still an important part of a teacup Chihuahua’s life, and these little dogs can be prone to troublesome behavior if you do not train them properly. When left unsocialized, they can become aggressive and again rather vocal or “yappy.”
Speaking of yappy, people tend to choose the tiny, adorable, fluffy Pomeranian as a teacup-sized companion. Of course, even regular-sized Pomeranians need extensive work with barking, as they can be prone to vocal behavior. Their teacup-sized companions don’t differ from this path!
You can also find several other breeds in teacup sizes. Maltese, Shih-Tzu, and Poodle all have small enough sizes that breeders can reach that coveted “teacup” size with their dogs.
How to Responsibly Choose a Small Dog
When it comes down to it, we would generally recommend avoiding dogs with the “teacup” nomenclature. It is never a good idea to choose dogs bred irresponsibly and prone to health problems. However, that does not mean that you cannot choose a tiny breed of dog as your companion.
If you want to have a perfectly pint-sized dog, rather than choosing a breeder who uses the term “teacup,” you should research which breed has the most compatible temperament and care for you.
Once you’ve decided on a breed, find a breeder who has dogs on the lower side of the breed standard sizes, but doesn’t breed unhealthy and “runty” dogs. You could also choose an adult rescue of that breed or a small mixed breed rescue.
Regardless of what you choose, always make sure that you provide your pet with proper training and care. Use enrichment to keep your pup mentally stimulated, and train your dog so that you can prevent problem behaviors down the line!