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Dog Word of the Day: Teacup Puppies

At some point or another, dog lovers may stumble on the word "teacup puppies." Most likely, there was some flashy ad on the Sunday newspaper advertising "teacup puppies" for sale, or there may have been a first-person encounter with one. As cute and innocent as the word teacup puppy may seem, there's really a lot to become aware of before falling into the temptation of getting one. The saying "knowledge is power" can help make a difference between getting a healthy puppy or a sickly one that can bring on many heartaches and considerably lighten the wallet.

dog teacup

What are Teacup Puppies? 

As the name implies, teacup puppies are very small dogs which are meant to fit inside a teacup or coffee cup.

Also known as micro dogs or pocket-sized dogs, these small dogs often weigh considerably less than the standard weight set forth by the American Kennel Club or other breed club.

For example, generally, teacup Yorkies will be weighing less than 4 lbs when fully grown, when the breed standard for this breed is 7 lbs maximum.

The term "teacup" is not considered an official term nor is it endorsed by any major breed registries. Teacup puppies may belong to different breeds.

Wondering about teacup dog breeds? Common teacup dog breeds include teacup Yorkies, teacup Chihuahuas, teacup Maltese, teacup Pomeranians, teacup pugs, teacup poodles, teacup silky terriers and teacup shih-tzus.

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How are They Created?

When breeders selectively breed small dogs, they may occasionally stumble on runts of the litter.

While a reputable breeder will sell these smaller than average pups with spay and neuter contracts so that these dogs produced by accident cannot reproduce, an unethical breeder instead may intentionally breed two undersized dogs to produce litters of smaller than average puppies.

These puppies are then called "teacup puppies" and breeders ask a premium price for them marketing them as valuable. How much does a teacup puppy cost on average? A teacup puppy may easily cost anywhere between is $750 to even $2,000!

Did you know? The American Shih Tzu Club clearly states that an ethical breeder will not advertise a runt as a tiny teacup but would sell it as a pet quality puppy meant to be exclusively kept as a companion.

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Problems With Teacup Puppies

dog pain goes away at the vet

Being below the breed standard's size, comes with several potential problems. There are several reasons therefore why teacup dog breeds aren't everyone's "cup of tea."

Producing smaller versions of dogs, that are already small to start with, risks magnifying the chances for health problems raising their ugly heads.

What health problems are likely to happen? Hypoglycemia (rapid drop of blood glucose in the blood), larger moleras, hydrocephalus, liver shunts, heart problems, lowered immune function, seizures, teeth problems and fragility due to small bones are just a few.

Due to their fragility, teacup puppies are also not a good match for families with small children as they may inadvertently injure these petite dogs in play. Teacup puppies also often require more frequent feedings due to their fast metabolisms and risks for low blood glucose.

Discover More

puppy in the grass

Are Puppies Born With Parasites?

Whether puppies are born with parasites is something new breeders and puppy owners may wonder about. Perhaps you have seen something wiggly in your puppy's stool or maybe as a breeder you are wondering whether you need to deworm mother dog before she gives birth. Veterinarian Dr. Jennifer Masucci shares facts about whether puppies can be born with worms.


Ask the Vet: Help, My Dog Ate Donuts!

If your dog ate donuts, you may be concerned about your dog and wondering what you should do. The truth is, there are donuts and donuts and there are dogs and dogs. Some types of donuts can be more harmful than others and some dogs more prone to problems than others. Veterinarian Dr. Ivana shares whether donuts are safe for dogs and what to do if you dog ate donuts.


Do Dogs Fall Off Cliffs?

Yes, dogs fall off cliffs and these accidents aren't even uncommon. As we hike with our dogs, we may sometimes overestimate our dog's senses. We may take for granted that dogs naturally know what areas to avoid to prevent falls. However, the number of dogs who fall off from cliffs each year, proves to us that it makes perfect sense to protect them from a potentially life threatening fall.

Of course, there are exceptions to the rule, and there may be healthy teacup puppy specimens, but buyers should be aware about the extra care these dogs may require when it comes to their general health and well-being. To make things more insidious, many health issues mentioned above may not be immediately apparent to new puppy owners but may only pop up later on.

"Micro dogs weighing three pounds or less at adulthood are more prone to serious health problems and generally live shorter lives." ~Dr. Marty Becker


Why are They so Popular?

The market of selling puppies is often shaped by current trends and fads. The teacup puppy fad has been alive and well for some time and unethical breeders take advantage of this so to place a high price tag on teacup dogs.

The term "teacup" is therefore a buzzword meant to attract buyers, a strategic marketing ploy. While teacup puppies aren't endorsed by any reputable breed registries, celebrities are often to blame for the popularity of these small dogs.

Carrying a pooch in a pink handbag may be cute and trendy, but dogs are not fashion accessories and shouldn't be treated that way. Many pups that are purchased on a whim by impressionable people who are prone to copy their favorite celebrities, sadly end up later on in shelters because, when purchased impulsively, people fail to realize the amount of care and money involved in meeting the needs of these small dogs.

"The terms "imperial" or "tiny teacup" should be regarded as what they really are.... A MYTH often used by unethical breeders to create a market for dogs that do not conform to the breed standard." ~American Shih Tzu Club

How to Get One


Where to buy a teacup dog breed or a teacup puppy? For prospective dog owners who want a teacup puppy, their best bet is to avoid breeders who purposely breed them and ask a hefty price for them.

Pet stores should also be avoided as they are often supplied by puppy mills. A better option is purchasing a toy dog that is of normal weight and size for the standard or asking around as reputable breeders sometimes unintentionally end up with smaller-than-average puppies.

A reputable breeder breeds for sound health, good behavior and longevity and will provide buyers a contract with a health guarantee.

Other places to look at are rescues or shelters who often have an abundance of small dogs in desperate need of caring and loving homes.

Did you know? It' against the Yorkshire Terrier Club's code of ethics for breeders to use terms such as "teacup", "tiny specialists", "doll faced", or similar terminology to advertise their puppies.

warning caution

The Chihuahua Club of America does not endorse nor condone the use of terms such as "teacup, Pocket Size, Tiny Toy,or Miniature and cautions perspective puppy buyers to not be misled by them.


  • Vet Street, by Dr. Marty Becker, 5 Toy Breeds That Worry This Vet the Most, retrieved from the web on May 4th, 2016
  • American Shih Tzu Club, Imperial Shih Tzu, retrieved from the web on May 4th, 2016
  • The Yorkshire Terrier Club of America, Code of Ethics, retrieved from the web on May 4th, 2016
  • Chihuahua Club of America, Teacup Statement, retrieved from the web on May 4th, 2016

Photo Credits:

A Teacup Yorkie, by Swatjester, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

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