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Teacup Puppies - Runts sold by unscrupulous breeders?

Updated on March 6, 2010

As a result of so much controversy on this topic, many people fail to understand what a teacup puppy or dog actually means. As with everything, there are people who abuse the term teacup but there are also genuine people who have these wonderful miniaturised dogs/puppies that are perfectly healthy as well as having long lifespans. I hope that this article will be able educate people on all aspects of the teacup dog or teacup puppy.

What does teacup mean?

Teacup simply means a size so small that it can fit in a cup. Some breeders use it as a way of marketing and selling their puppies as the puppies look so cute when sitting in a teacup or mug. I don't see anything wrong with using props to capture cute photos as long as the puppy is clearly not distressed or in pain. As cups can be of any size, there is no definite size of a teacup and most puppies will be born a teacup size anyway, most newborn pups will be able to fit in a cup. Most people will agree with me and say that an adult dog at the maximum weight of 4lbs/2kg can be considered teacup. A dog at 4lbs in weight is quite small and personally i would consider an adult dog up to 5lbs as teacup also, but i would term it a large teacup.

What is a true teacup then?

A true teacup is an adult dog at the weight of 3lbs or less. A dog of this size is extremely small and I would not recommend anyone getting a dog of this size. Sure, a lot of heads will turn when they see you out with a dog so small, but your motives for wanting one so badly will be questioned. No female bitch of this size should ever be bred from, as she is likely to miscarry as her womb will be so small and will probably only be able to accommodate one puppy which will most likely need a caesaran. Adult teacup male dogs will be difficult to breed or stud out as they will not be able to mount a female as he will be too small.

Are true teacups different from your average size dog apart from size?

Yes, and they are hard work! Having a smaller stomach and shorter digestive tract, they HAVE TO to be fed 4-5 meals a day. This also means that they will need to toilet 4-5 times a day which is not always possible, so there will be accidents. True teacups are so fragile that if you were to drop it from a short height, their bones can break and you also have to be so careful about where you tread on the floor to make sure you don't step on it. The true teacup cannot go out off leash in the park as other dogs may play rough with it and hurt it. Walking it on the leash may be pain stakingly slow if their stride is short. They also tire out easily and cannot go for walks longer than an hour.

So why do people want teacups?

Most of them will tell you it's because it's undeniably cute! They eat less, exercise less, need less space to live in and they are everything a dog can be because they are still dogs!

Do they have any health problems?

Yes and no.  If bred properly, they should not have any health problems.  BUT because of their small size, they are unable to sustain enough sugar levels in their bodies if they are not fed regularly and often.  This could mean that if you missed a meal, they could be unconscious a few hours later, especially with really tiny teacups.  This is why you should never ever forget a meal, and make sure you have someone that can go and get your teacup dog from your house should anything happen to you if you are out.

What do I do if it is unconscious?

Quickly put any sugary liquids on its gums.  As it is an emergency, you can use apple juice, fizzy drinks with sugar, squash...anything sugary, but do it quickly!  Make sure you also keep them warm. 

How to pick a teacup from a litter?

Choose a teacup that is from a litter that was self whelped (natural birth) and the mother and littermates are healthy.  If the mother has had caesarean, make sure the mother is also neutered as no dog should have to undergo caesarean again, otherwise you should avoid as the breeder is not reputable enough and is being cruel to allow the female bitch to breed again.  Avoid if the puppies look ill and have abnormally big bellies as they are filled with worms.  Make sure the breeder is worming and fleaing the puppies, and also has taken them to the vets.  Vaccinations for teacups should start at the age of 12 weeks or older, not under as they have a higher chance of being allergic or dying due to the vaccine otherwise.

Where can I find a teacup?

Look around online.  Often they are not advertised as teacup, so you will need to ask the breeder how heavy the parents are.  If they give you a satisfactory answer, then you should go view the pups.


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    • profile image


      3 years ago

      What's the breed

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I had a teacup but died but i don't know why it died it died today ; (

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I got a teacup but she was just a little runt of a litter, she's not as fragile as they make them out to be.

    • Dubuquedogtrainer profile image


      6 years ago from Dubuque, Iowa

      Interesting. I feel sorry for these puppies. They are very cute, but as you pointed out, fragile and susceptible to health issues. I saw a teacup chihuahua in the nursing home visiting as a therapy dog recently and it shook the whole time due to nervous system disorder.


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