teacup dogs

Should You Really Own a Teacup Dog?

Paris Hilton and her dog
Source: Instagram

The Gist About Teacup Dogs

If you are Paris Hilton or just a certified dog-lover, you would know what teacup dogs are. The past two decades have been a time for “designer dogs” to be on-trend. You might be familiar with terms like “Maltipoo,” “puggle,” or “labradoodle.” All these dog breeds are “designed” to exhibit a specific type of look to appeal to some people. Teacup dogs are another prime example of a “designer dog.”

A teacup dog is a term given for dogs bred to be as small as possible. That is, they can literally fit in a teacup! They are also sometimes referred to as toy dogs, miniatures, and micro dogs. Usually, a dog that is at least a year old qualifies as a teacup dog if it measures no more than 17 inches. Depending on maturity, they also generally weigh around 4 pounds. However, these numbers are unofficial, and no mandatory size is set since teacup dogs are not considered an official breed. The usual favorites include Shih Tzus, Chihuahuas, Yorkshire terriers, and pugs.  

They may look adorable, but the growing trend for teacup dogs is causing deformities and illnesses like canine dwarfism, just to name one of the many. Although teacup dogs are popular in South Korea and America, breeders are found to produce smaller dogs than what is healthy. This trend of acquiring teacup dogs has become so intense that it has turned into a competition of who can own and breed the smallest dog.

Teacup dogs have turned into a symbol of fashion, wealth, and social status.

Breeding a teacup dog is quite simple, with breeders mating the smallest dogs from a litter breed with other small dogs. They wait for genetic modification to occur in breeding small dogs to achieve their desired size. Why do they do this? No other reason aside from purely commercial purposes. 

Popular Teacup Dog Breeds

If you are interested in getting a teacup dog, there is a wide variety of kinds depending on your personal taste:

Source: PxHere

1. Shih Tzu

This breed is often a preferred choice since they have a long, beautiful coat that doesn’t shed. Regular grooming is needed for Shih Tzus since they have a fast-growing coat. If you choose this breed, you must be prepared to spend more money on maintenance. A Shih Tzu is alert, loyal, outgoing, and affectionate. Sometimes, though, they can also be a little stubborn, so it is advised to socialize the dog early to prevent bad behaviors. 

2. Chihuahua

This is the smallest dog breed, with different sizes, colors, head shapes, and even coat lengths. Chihuahuas are divided into two varieties: the short-haired and the long-haired type. Regardless of the type, Chihuahuas have erect ears, a large rounded skull, and large round eyes. This breed is very loyal and protective to its owner. They are also known to have a “clannish” nature since they prefer to interact with others of its kind. Their temperament is also primarily influenced by their owners, which can either be good or bad. 

3. Yorkshire Terrier

A Yorkshire possesses a coat which can grow long but won’t impede their movement. The color, texture, skin, and quality of this breed are some of the best among others. Due to its long hair, it requires regular brushing and grooming. Yorkshire Terriers are usually fond of attention, are very curious, and are overprotective. They tend to long for emotional security and mental soundness with the aid of their owners. 

4. Poodle

Poodles can either be Standard or Miniature. Standard Poodles are used to retrieve ducks and hunt birds. Miniature Poodles served as hunters for Truffles because of their keen sense of smell. They even served in the military during World War 2. This breed is well-proportioned, elegant, and has a coat that is dense and naturally curly. Poodles are best known to be active and intelligent dogs. 

Teacup dogs can cost from $800 to $1,000. If bought from a reputable breeder, prices can go up to as much as $1,200 to $1,500. A teacup dog can be quite expensive, so any interested dog owner must be prepared to shell out a hefty amount of money. 

So, what’s the tea on teacup dogs?

Yorkie
Source: Pixabay

Sure, teacup dogs may look super cute and the practical choice to flaunt in your purse, but did you know that these dogs are not naturally-occurring? Teacup dogs are genetically-modified dogs, much like the dinosaurs in some Jurassic Park movies. Teacup dogs are practically a human intervention, and this poses a lot of severe health problems than you think. We already have naturally small dog breeds like the Maltese or the Chihuahua. But as always, humans weren’t satisfied and decided to go a step further into creating more modest versions of these breeds. 

The thing about general inbreeding, even outside of teacup dogs, is it reduces a dog’s lifespan drastically. As with teacup dogs, the severe breeding techniques applied by breeders make them increasingly prone to many health issues that might just lead to a miserable life for them.

Teacup Dog Physical Health Issues

Hypoglycemia

This medical illness is caused when blood sugar levels suddenly drop. This condition causes weakness, lethargy, shivering, and even comatose for some. Since teacup dogs have smaller stomachs, they also need to eat at least every three hours because of the small amount of food they consume. Once their feeding schedule is not strictly observed, hypoglycemia is a top risk for them.

Heart Defects

Congenital diseases are more likely to develop in teacup dogs because of the highly aggressive techniques employed to make them achieve their small size. The chronic valvular disorder can easily occur in almost half of the teacup dogs. Other congenital issues like an enlarged heart or a heart murmur can also develop.

Collapsing Trachea

This congenital condition is defined as the airway obstruction in dogs and is regarded to be genetic. Tracheal collapse can cause intense coughing and breathing troubles, as well as a blue color in their gums. Less severe than other issues, this can be treated with antibiotics but can still cause discomfort and pain. 

Seizures

Seizures may accompany hypoglycemia and can also be a warning sign of other conditions like portosystemic shunts or hydrocephalus.

Breathing Issues

Conditions like dyspnea and tachypnea can occur in teacup dogs. Dyspnea can happen because of the respiratory system overworking. Some signs of this condition are noisy breathing, nostril-flaring, coughing, constant panting, and restlessness. On another hand, tachypnea is described as having fast and shallower breathing compared to normal. 

chihuahua
Source: Pixabay
Digestive Problems

A teacup dog’s internal organs will also be much smaller than usual, given their tiny size. This makes it common for their livers to acquire problems when flushing out toxins.

Liver Shunts

Digestive problems are the reason why liver shunts can happen in dogs. This congenital disease will eventually cause malnutrition, weakness, and dogs becoming underweight. 

Gum Disease

A teacup dog’s first set of teeth may have trouble falling off on their own. When this happens, inflammation in the gums and teeth may occur and cause extreme pain. 

Patella Luxation

Also called a “sliding kneecap.” This defect can negatively affect the teacup dog’s walking and can make them more prone to arthritis. 

Hydrocephalus

This condition is a brain deformity wherein the cerebrospinal fluid is found in the dog’s skull. This leads to pressure in the brain, blindness, seizures, and a dome-like head. 

Weak Bones

A teacup dog’s bones are extremely fragile. Because of this, the onset of osteoporosis and mineral deficiency is more likely to fracture them later on.

Teacup Dog Psychological Health Issues

Source: Wikipedia
Stress

Teacup dogs have more fragile hearts; hence, they are not able to manage stress well. This stress is only reinforced by the usual practice of their owners just carrying them around all the time, and they do not get to live the natural way they should. Furthermore, life change, isolation, and rough playtime can trigger even more physical health issues. When left alone too long, teacup dogs can suffer from separation anxiety and incontinence. 

Behavioral Issues

The overall proportion of a teacup dog can directly affect its behavior. Teacup dogs are more prone to develop psychological problems like aggressiveness and feelings of inferiority. That is why it is essential to highlight the fact that chronic stress can cause them to defend themselves less.

Learning Difficulties

Excessive exposure to humans and not enough socialization with other dogs make teacup dogs a prime victim of learning difficulties. The owner may need to make better efforts to teach them proper habits and prevent aggressive behavior.

But how do they breed teacup dogs anyway?

More aggressive breeding techniques have been developed since the demand for teacup dogs increased over the past years. Many teacup dog breeders do not even have the proper license for breeding in the appropriate conditions. A large number of teacup dogs are found to be produced in intensive breeding farms that hardly meet quality sanitary requirements. The breeding mothers are also impregnated during the end and the beginning of their menstruation cycles. This situation means teacup dogs may be born prematurely.

Source: PxHere

Once the puppies are born, they are subjected to malnutrition. Then, they are sold before they are even eight weeks old. These eight weeks are a crucial time they need to spend with their mother. These stressful conditions cause puppy deaths because of multiple deformities and illnesses. Online teacup dog sales do not guarantee where they are bred, how they are bred, and if their breeder is certified. This is the reason why several animal advocate groups and organizations promote dog adoption instead of supporting the breeding industry. 

Don’t get us wrong; teacup dogs do not cause danger to us humans. Instead, the danger lies for the dogs. Teacup dogs should be simply called for what they really are: underdeveloped puppies. They are bred to the smallest-size possible, no matter what the cost is. They can be the result of either intentional or unintentional breeding. Even worse, the exceptionally high demand for teacup dogs and the high price tag put on them gives breeders more reason to mate teacup dogs. Some resort to purposely underdeveloping puppies through immoral methods like starvation. 

How to Take Care of Teacup Dogs

As you may have noticed already, this article definitely encourages you on a prominent stand. However, if you are still very much adamant about getting a teacup dog (or if you want to adopt one and help it live a life as comfortable as possible), be responsible enough to know that they need extra love and care. 

Avoid Stressful Situations

Stressful events are too dangerous for a teacup dog’s fragile body. To avoid this, you should build a routine with your dog that puts special attention and playtime towards them. Teacup dogs should get at least 14 hours of sleep, so be sure not to overwork their body by allowing them to release their energy carefully and slowly.

Teacup Dog Diet

Dogs as small as these should be fed three to four times a day. Make sure that the dog food you get them is appropriate for their needs. Also, research on and add needed supplements to prevent hypoglycemia from happening. Their diet should also be rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals.

Veterinary Care

Look for a trusted veterinarian even when your teacup dog is not showing any signs of medical illness. Follow their recommended vaccination schedule and regularly go for a visit since you are never sure whether your dog already has underlying problems. Keep in touch with your vet from time to time, to be sure that you are on the right path in caring for your teacup dog. Better safe than sorry!

The Verdict:

No, you should not and do not need to own a teacup dog.

While teacup dogs can appear to be cute and irresistible, they are treated as accessories rather than actual living dogs. Often, they have short and miserable lives with a couple of health issues, further emphasizing that we should not encourage the breeding of these dogs. There are far too many scam breeders in the industry, and these malicious people can simply say a dog is older than it really is. Owners can also end up with very sick dogs and are burdened with enduring a painful feeling when their dogs pass because of a weak body.

Source: Pixabay

If you haven’t been convinced yet, here are five significant reasons why teacup dogs should be left alone:

1. Teacup dogs result from very questionable breeding practices.

Issues of teacup dogs start even before they are born. They naturally occur as so-called, “runts of the litter.” More than that, they are often the product of purposefully breeding two very undersized dogs. Since the mother is so small, she can only give birth to a few puppies at a time, and there are higher chances of complications. Simply put, teacup dog breeding is dangerous for both the mother and her puppies.

2. Teacup dogs suffer from an increased amount of health conditions.

It’s true, every dog breed is prone to medical illnesses and certain conditions, but the list is extra long for teacup dogs. Their health conditions result both from their unusually small size and the problems that come with improper breeding. With these to blame, teacup dogs do not generally live as long and as happy as normal-sized dogs.

3. Teacup dogs are just too fragile.

Imagine your normal-sized dog having trouble reaching the couch or doing simple tasks because it’s a little too hard for them. Now, imagine the same thing for teacup dogs. For them, our world is a hundred times scarier and daunting. Because of this, they are easily injured when jumping from even small heights. This makes it inadvisable for families with small children or big dogs to own a teacup dog.

Source: PxHere

4. This industry promotes pet homelessness.

Almost all teacup dogs are sourced from breeders, often sold in pet stores. With this, buyers never have the chance to see where the puppies come from. As a result, this industry continues the buyer’s ignorance. Buying dogs from pet stores help people who view them as money-making creatures rather than live animals. 

More importantly, buying dogs in stores keeps homeless dogs in shelters. There, healthy dogs are required to be put down to prevent issues of overcrowding. If more people adopt rather than shop, there will be fewer homeless dogs.

5. Teacup dogs are different from toy dogs.

Toy breeds are an actually recognized dog breed by the American Kennel Club, while teacup dogs are not. Toy dogs are meant to be companion animals to live and stay inside the house with their respective humans. Years of perfecting ethical breeding of toy dogs happened before the toy dogs we know today. However, there are no set standards for teacup dogs. 

If you still find the need to own a teacup dog, it’s best to talk to legal breeders, or better yet, adopt one from a shelter. If possible, request to meet the dog’s parents, so you know how they are bred and taken care of.

Here at The Furry Companion, we believe that no animal deserves to be treated as an accessory. If you are really a true animal lover, do yourself a favor and be responsible enough to research about the pets you wish to have.

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