What Are Teacup Dogs?

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Breeds By Meg Marrs 3 min read April 2, 2019 10 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 am so glad I read your article, I wanted 2 so badly I actually let myself get scammed so badly, it made my family so mad at me. I can’t say how much money I lost but it was 4 different breeders from 4 different states one was connecticut which I actually thought I could visit they were the worst . They seem to all be working for people in Cmooron Africa. Not only at the breeders a bunch of scammers but the shippers are far worse, I lost the most money with the shippers had to buy special air condition crates 950 each permits Dr, bills they just got me every way the could I did take it to our State troopers Nothing they can do DO NOT USE ZELLE I lost everything through Zelle and that bank of america would not do a thing for me they even have it where you can say you are sending money to family of friend or business I would say business, now if a business doesn’t provide you with what they had promised you should get your money back. most of the scammers changed their phone numbers and have some way they disguise their voice , one of the worst business deal I have ever made and I kept paying them I just want one so badly now after taking such a loss and reading your letter I am almost glad it didn’t work out I have a little maltipoo and she is a handful, one thing I can’t stand is them peeing on my carpets that would make me crazy my maltese runs into the walk in shower and gos she perfect or does circles in front of you telling you she has to go, we live in the country and I could never not watch her my German Shepard watches her but get board fast. Their are all kind of predators and my vet said watch out for the bald eagles they would just fly away with her she is five yrs old and I have put some weight on her but still she only weigh 12 lbs, I don’t know why I even considered another dog just something came over me they were so dam cute. But they might be registered but not by the AKC when we we younger we breed dog some dogs on the side always one at a time and in the house Red Doberman pinchers, Giant Schnauzer’s I could do the crop the tails beautiful the hair grew over and every tail was perfect but the ears were a problem some vets would do it but they are getting away for doing the ears which makes the dog look like a hound. Also had a run with chinese shar pie real wrinkly but people started wrecking the breed and they had problems with their eyes had to be tack up all my dogs left me well loved and taking care of by out local vet always had their shots basically never got one back and I have people calling me for another one I only had one litter of Schnauzers they were champion bloodline and really awesome. I waited until the mother was three yrs old before we decided to breed her we loved her so much just like a family member she had her own room and gave us 12 all black puppies with only lone male. I sat with her the whole time one of the we lost she kick it away my husband did mouth to mouth breathing on it but it was to late he did that to another one and it worked well. The next day I took her fir her shot from our vet and told him she was bleeding more then she should. He said is she feeding the puppies she was doing a great job I had to put color ribbon on them just to keep track .The mother continued to bleed and on new years eve I called the vet he said bring her right down, we rush her down she was bleeding out a blown out uterus as he did a biopsy on her just to find out what happend. He had to put her down with that pink needle which I so much dreaded, my son husband anI cried like babies all the way home, in the back of my head I was thinking I am going to lose the litter they were only 9 days old, Thank God my Parent were here and my mother kicked right in feeding each one with a bottle the vet gave us formula to hold us over until we could get some, what a job we didn’t lose one of them they were full of energy and poop the bigger they got I lined up a breeder to do the ears and roe nails she did something where there nails never grew long to this day no one knows what that was and I had done the tails within 5 days so mom hd time to lick them. A few nights when I would come home from work what a mess finally at 10 weeks we put a add for sale I wanted the ears to heal and what a perfect job all of them standing up and one was like houdini she could jump out of everything and get out of anything that was the one my son took of course we took the pick of the females she was a fabulous dog lived until 12 yrs old that whole thing put us right out of the breeding thing I had my female fixed but where we live their are no males around and his never came into heat,weird and she lived to be 13yrs what a ordeal that was with the grandsons. she was put into the doggie cemetery and they were crying and said prayers over her, my son and daughter in law kne the dog was dying, but when my husband went over to check on her she was gone which left us to burry her in this ricky soil not easy but we found a old wooden box she fit into and we dug until the box would fir in hole my girl we had cremated as it was Jan 1 and there was no digging but we di burry her ashes later on. we get to attached to the puppies the one Male we had was a beautiful big dog and the guy came up from Lake George in the middle of the night to see him, he took him on the spot a few years later we seen this guy walking a giant at an antique show and we ask him where he got him he said it was from us and he took a couple of championships in shows he put him in and you know he recognized us he started kissing me and giving my husband his paw, the guy said he wasn’t the most friendly dog he wanted him to be a fierce watch dog, even to this day you don’t see many giants my son went out and got another when his passed ordered it from California big tail that would wack you when ever you got close and big floppy ears she was not cool and dumb as a box of rocks. I guess she lived to be around 10yrs old and passed but some dogs do need to be docked ears done and dewclaws done I also did that On all my puppies. Now he just got a Wheaton terrier very sweet dog and cute just the right size to keep in the house he went and picked her out that is important I was buying teacups that everyone was sayin was a picture, the dogs don’t exists after reading your article it put my mind to rest even though I kept thinking why am I doing this sending gift cards to people I don’t know and not seeing the parents or the dogs I was so stupid, Thanks for reading this.

Ben Team

Hey, Lydia.
We’re sorry to hear about the ordeal with the breeders and the difficulties you’ve had with other doggos, but we appreciate you sharing your story.


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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