What Are Teacup Dogs?

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Breeds By Meg Marrs 3 min read April 2, 2019 8 Comments

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teacup dogs

Have you ever wondered what a teacup puppy is? We’re giving you the full scoop.

What is a Teacup Dog?

Teacup dogs are the unofficial term for extremely small dogs – dogs that can fit in a teacup! Teacup dogs are also referred to as:

  • toy dog breeds
  • miniature breeds
  • micro dogs

How Small is a Teacup Dog?

Unofficially, a teacup dog is a dog that is at least a year old and measures at 17 inches or less. They generally weigh 4 pounds or less at maturity. However, there is no one mandatory size since teacup dogs are not a regulated or official breed.

Teacup Dog Types: What Breed is a Teacup Pup?

There are no specific breeds for teacup dogs, as they are not an officially recognized breed. However, popular teacup favorites include:

  • Shih Tzu
  • Chihuahua
  • Yorkshire Terrier
  • Pug
  • Poodle
  • Pomeranian
  • Maltese
  • Silky Terrier

 Danger of Teacup Puppies

There are several reasons why you should seriously avoid purchasing a teacup dog.

Teacup puppies are becoming a popular fad, but what many do not know is that “teacup puppies” are very often simply underdeveloped puppies. They are bred in order to create the smallest dog possible….at any costs.

Teacup puppies can be the result of intentional and unintentional breeding. Some teacup puppies are runts of the litter (in which case owners who dish out big bucks for these miniature dogs are being duped, as there is no guarantee a runt will not grow to become a regular-sized dog of its breed).

Other times, teacup puppies are the result of breeding two very small dogs of a certain breed. Breeding teacup puppies is extremely dangerous for the puppies and the mother. Because the mother is so small, she can only give birth to a few puppies, and there are often birth complications.

Even worse, because teacup puppies are in such high demand and can be sold for such exorbitant prices, breeders have a high incentive to develop teacup puppies by any means. Some breeders resort to inbreeding and some even purposely undeveloped puppies, inflicting stunted growth through methods like starvation. 

Teacup Puppies Health

Because of teacup puppies unnaturally miniature sizing, they often face a host of health issues. Their tiny tummies often are faced with tremendous digestive issues, resulting in the need to be fed small amounts, multiple times a day.

Teacup dogs’ tiny bladders mean accidents are virtually unavoidable – be prepared to purchase indoor potty matts that will be essential long past puppyhood.

Teacup dogs also often develop heart issues, respiratory problems, and seizures. They don’t live nearly as long as standard dogs. Since teacup dogs face so many health issues, taking preventive measures is essential, so you’ll be visiting the vet much more often (and paying much more) than you would with a regular dog.

It gets worse – because teacup dogs are so tiny, it’s not uncommon for them to be accidentally killed by owners. A small drop or fall can fatally injure these frail canines. Teacup dogs don’t know their tiny, so they will jump up on couches, and walk right underfoot with no warning. There are few experiences as traumatic as accidentally crushing a beloved pet.

In Short: Avoid Teacup Dogs

While teacup dogs are becoming more popular, they are often treated as accessories rather than living creatures. Teacup dogs often face short and painful lives, and their breeding should not be encouraged.

The teacup dog industry is ripe for scam artists, as there are no official guidelines or regulations. Distrustful breeders can simply claim a dog is a few weeks older than it really is, and charge an extremely high price point, with virtually no guarantee that the dog will grow to be a miniature.

Owners often end up with very sick, frail dogs and face tremendous heartbreak when these unnatural canines pass, often with difficult deaths.

If you absolutely have to have a teacup dog, be sure to go through a trusted, reliable breeder. NEVER buy at teacup puppy from a pet store. Always make sure to meet the puppies’ parents and demand a one year health guarantee from the breeder.

What are your thoughts on teacup pups? Share what you think in the comments.

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Written by

Meg Marrs

Meg Marrs is the Founder and Director of Marketing at K9 of Mine. She is a lifelong canine enthusiast and adores dogs of all shapes and sizes! She loves iced coffee, hammocks, and puppy-cuddling!


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I have a teacup breed dog and have not had the problems mentioned in the article as far as, taking to the vet often, accidents, or fear of accidentally killing it. They learn to get out of the way, the accidents is no different from a regular size dog and we have the luxury of taking her out often, she hasn’t had a host of digestive issues or eat more often than a regular dog. Do small people have to eat more often then normal size people? If you don’t like teacup sized dogs, don’t get one!

Ben Team

Hey, Angela.
It sounds like you got lucky with your pooch (and we’re happy for you both), but a lot of owners do experience these kinds of problems.
And as for your question about small people needing to eat more often than normal sized people, yes — in a vacuum. If you took the same person and magically shrunk them down a bit, his or her body would lose heat more quickly than before. So, he or she would have to consume more calories per unit time relative to his or her original size to avoid losing weight.
Thanks for reading!

madeline tully

I am interested in getting a tiny dog under 10 pounds that doesn’t bark alot. Please tell me where and what kind is a good indoor dog.

Ben Team

Hey, Madeline.
Check out our article on Indoor Dog Breeds! There should be one there you’ll love.


I had a 7 lb.. momma chihuahua her last litter 10 yes. Ago. I kept the little girl after 10 yrs she only weighs 3 lbs..n contrary to what’s posted her she or her parents never had any of thos problems… my mouse did have a low sugar prob but one drop of honey n she’s good after that she eats lots of veggies n fruit…fish n very little meat


I found the article extremely commercial, like instead of focusing on the brutality of the breeding of teacup puppies you seem more concerned about how someone would lose money over buying them. Request you write a better, sensitive and more informative piece, rather than a profit and loss one!

Myrna Medina

Hello humanitarian friend,I’m just fine out about the teacup puppies…this is pitifull, I’m wondering it is something we can do to stop this cruelty way of breeding and suffering for this poor creatures???,thank you in. Advance.Mia.

Ben Team

Hey, Myrna.
The most important thing we can do is to help educate others about the problems teacup puppies often experience.
Hopefully, over time, this will reduce the demand for them, which will discourage breeders from producing them.
Thanks for reading!


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