Over the last few years, there has been a growing trend for so-called teacup dogs, bred so small they can fit into your handbag! Much of their popularity is down to celebrity owners who flaunt these tiny pups in public like fashion items.
There is no doubt that miniature dogs are extremely cute, but they are surrounded in controversy. If you wish to buy one, many facts need considering first. Unfortunately, miniaturisation can often mean misery for these petite animals and large vet bills for you.
Teacup dogs are downsized versions of traditional small dog breeds, also known as mini dogs, micro dogs and pocket dogs. As their name indicates, they are smaller than average and weigh far less than the approved standard weight for their breed.
These miniature dogs are not recognised or endorsed by any official canine associations or breed registries, so there are no regulations. Unofficially, a teacup dog generally weighs four pounds (1.8 KG) or less and is less than 17 inches (43 CM) in height.
Some of the most popular miniature dog breeds are:
There is no great mystery for why teacup dogs are becoming more and more popular as pets. After all, small means cute and who wouldn’t want a dog that stayed puppy-sized for life?
It is human nature to want to nurture and take care of a small and vulnerable baby animal. Miniature dog breeds appeal because they retain their juvenile looks and behaviour into adulthood, a term known as neoteny, derived from the Greek words neos (young) and teinein (extend).
Owning a dog so tiny has its advantages as they are easier to handle and maintain, making them ideal for seniors. More people than ever are now moving to urban areas, living in apartments and small houses which means having a miniature pup is more practical due to space restrictions.
These tiny breeds only require short walks and, as they are so light, are very portable, transported easily either in your arms, handbag or dog sling or on your lap when travelling by bus or train. Smaller dogs are more acceptable in many establishments and are also cheaper to keep compared to larger dogs regarding feed and accessories.
Miniaturisation is often achieved using unethical breeding practices which can lead to many serious health issues for these tiny dogs. As there are no regulations for miniature breeds, this has, sadly, created a market for puppies that do not meet the breed standards by unscrupulous breeders. Quite often, a breeder either sells the runt of the litter, claiming it is a teacup, lies about a puppy’s precise age or stunts the growth by not providing enough nourishment to their puppies.
There is always a runt within a litter of puppies. The most common way of creating a teacup is to breed the smallest dog with another small dog of the same breed, often resorting to inbreeding practices. This method can take a few generations to achieve the size considered as a miniature.
Although the traits of the original breed may be retained, runts tend to suffer from various health problems, due to their tiny size, making it difficult to produce healthy offspring. It also dangerous for the mother, who may only produce two puppies at a time, so is continuously bred from and risks birth complications.
Because of their tiny size, teacup dogs suffer from numerous health issues and frequently have crippling birth defects which can go undetected for some time. Their fragile bones make them more prone to fractures than any other breed. Owners need to remain vigilant as it easy to tread on one, and a fall possibly fatal. Therefore, it is not suitable to have a mini pup with small children who could easily harm this delicate pet.
The organs of a teacup dog develop inadequately, and because these small dogs have continuous stress, this places more pressure on the heart and lungs. They risk heart and breathing problems as well as digestive issues. Their tiny livers are unable to flush out toxins and liver shunt is extremely common in these micro breeds.
Teacup dogs need feeding four to five times per day to avoid hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar), which can lead to seizures, coma or even death. Their tiny bladders mean they are prone to incontinence, so it may be necessary to provide a dog litter box inside the home.
Miniature dogs have problems keeping their bodies warm during cold weather, which is why you see many wearing sweaters. Because of their low body temperatures and low blood sugar, operating on these tiny animals under anaesthesia holds many risks as well as veterinary equipment not always being small enough.
Despite being tiny, teacup dogs are high maintenance, and every small health issue is a possible life or death situation. Frequent and expensive visits to the veterinary clinic are necessary. Many of these tiny dogs have short, painful lives and do not have the same lifespan as the standard size for their breed.
A teacup is not a type of dog or breed, but a term used by breeders as a marketing ploy to sell these tiny pups, demanding high prices. After all, the word runt does not exactly have the same appeal. Miniaturised breeds are undersized and underdeveloped puppies, and any breeders advertising teacup dogs for sale is a red flag which needs avoiding. On our Pets4Homes website, we do not allow advertisers to advertise dogs with the word teacup"" in the advert.
It is unnatural for dogs to be so small and treated as toys or fashion accessories. Many of these tiny dogs die from illnesses or go blind within a few weeks of purchase, leading to much heartache for new owners.
Proceed with care if you decide to buy a miniature dog and when looking for a dog online, only go to a reputable breeder who allows you to visit their premises, see both parents and who is happy to answer any questions you may have. They should provide health tests for genetic conditions and offer you a contract which includes a one-year health guarantee. It is a good idea to have your vet check the puppy first as well.
If it is a small dog you desire, it is better to buy a toy dog breed that is officially recognised within the Kennel Clubs ""Toy Dog"" category or view tiny dog breedswithin the Pets4Homes ""Tiny Dog Breeds"" category, and which is likely to be far healthier. There are some lovely varieties available with many of these dogs in shelters looking for a forever home, so please take time to view the Pets4Homes ""Dogs for Adoption"" category.