I love teacup breeds and enjoy educating others about these dogs.
What Is a Teacup Dog?
There are many differing opinions on the subject, some of which are completely opposite of each other, but the general idea is that a teacup dog is a dog which is small enough that, at birth, can fit into the interior of a teacup. So, in other words, a really, really small dog.
The different opinions on the matter are ones that state that teacup dogs in fact don't even exist; they are instead just a different name for the already established miniature dogs, toy dogs, and pocket-size dogs. It is believed that the name teacup dogs is just a marketing ploy to sell more of the toy dogs, which have recently started to become unpopular.
In earlier centuries, toy dogs were seen as a status symbols. The average temperature of a toy dog, or teacup dog for that matter, is around 100 degrees Fahrenheit, so many kings and lords would have these tiny dogs as a means to stay warm in the winter. And, of course, they were expensive.
The truth is that it's half and half. Half of the teacup dogs you see advertised today are just normal toy dogs or, in some cases, a runt version of the normal breed. The other half, however, are actually teacup dogs. So how do you know the difference?
You just need to have the right information.
Yes, teacup Beagles are a breed of teacup dog, albeit they are a tad controversial. But they do exist; you can, if you really want to, get a mini Beagle walking around your house. You should, however, know a few things about them first.
1. Breeding. Teacup Beagles are bred in two unique ways.
- The first technique is called Inbreeding, or inbreeding continuously. What this means is that runts of two litters of Beagles will be bred together in hopes that their litter will be much smaller; then this process will be repeated with the new litter and so on and so on, until a litter with 'teacup' Beagles exists. The major downfall with this technique is health issues—by breeding the runts, the unhealthiest and weakest puppies of the litter, you are going against nature itself. The chances of passing down bad traits is much higher with inbreeding.
- The second technique isn't as common and is harder to pull off. It is called cross breeding and it is when you take a beagle and cross breed it with a much smaller dog; for example if you bred a beagle with a Pomeranian, you are likely to have a litter that is much smaller than a beagle but bigger than a Pomeranian. This is more of a science and isn't as sure of a process as inbreeding, although it has been found that, if successful, there are much fewer health problems.
- Beagles will eat a lot. Be wary of what kind of food you have laying around the house.
- Love to walk; need a lot of exercise.
- Don't like cats (what dog does?)
- Difficult to house train, but if trained properly, they are amazing pets.
Teacup Boston Terrier
The teacup Boston Terrier also exists as a teacup dog breed. It is bred the same way the teacup Beagle is bred—which was mentioned above. They are usually a smaller teacup dog than the Beagle, as well as a much healthier and longer-lived dog. This unusual strength and durability makes them one of the most popular teacup dogs.
- Very intelligent.
- May become very stubborn if not trained at an early age.
- They are a very malleable dog; train them and they can be whatever you want them to be. Guard dog, solitary companion, it's all possible.
- If not housebroken properly, they may develop what is called the Napoleon Complex. This entails that they may think they are bigger then they actually are, resulting in some unnecessary fights.
- Tend to bark at anything.
Remember what I was saying earlier about the differing opinions on if teacup dogs exist? Well here is a prime example of where that line is drawn. The Maltese is a very, very small dog; it falls under the toy breed that only a few dogs exhibit. It doesn't ever reach a weight of over 10 pounds, and it's rarely taller than your ankles. It is naturally more prone to health problems than other dogs; it's life expectancy is actually a few years less than average.
What is a teacup dog again?
You can call the Maltese breed anything you'd like, but the truth is they are both a teacup dog and a toy dog. The name is interchangeable; if you want a really small dog to keep you company, a dog that won't shed as much as normal dogs, but a dog that is likley to be more prone to health problems, then the teacup or toy Maltese is for you.
- Very playful.
- A very teachable dog.
- Like to please their master.
- A very trusting dog that will never run away.
- May bark excessively if not trained properly.
- Need a lot of socialization.
- A spirited animal.
The teacup Pomeranian is just like the teacup Maltese in that there is gray area in how you want to classify them. A Pomeranian, like the Maltese, is already a very small dog. It's physical specifications—if you want to call them that—fall right under what a teacup dog would be. They are very small, not very tall, and very light dogs. They, in fact, have many of the same traits a teacup dog usually has.
The big difference between a teacup Pomeranian and other teacup dogs is that they don't require any special breeding, like, say, the teacup Beagle and teacup Boston Terrier. They are bred naturally small; or, you could say, they are a naturally bred teacup dog.
- Are eager to learn at an early age.
- Need to train carefully; may develop bad habits.
- Are very attentive to their surroundings.
- Be stern and strict when training them.
- Need a lot of grooming.
Other Teacup Dogs
Do your teacup dogs exist? Are they a marketing ploy? The answer is up to you. The truth of the matter is that some teacup dogs that are advertised will in fact not be a teacup dog. This doesn't mean the dog isn't small, or has all the teacup dog specifications. It just means it's a toy or miniature dog, and not some new breed that has just come out of the woodwork.
Let me phrase that better. Perhaps it's better to think of teacup dogs this way. Teacup dogs are dogs that have existed for hundreds of years, sometimes by a different name, but they have always been the same physical being.
Some other teacup dogs are:
Carrie Cederholm on December 18, 2018:
Very bad article. Extreme traits are the result of inbreeding which results in poor quality examples of the breeds.
The AKC does not recognize "tea cup" breeds for that very reason.
Anna on February 26, 2013:
I want A teacup
kelly on January 05, 2013:
my friend got a tea cup yourkie and a normal yorkie the teacup one grew bigger !!!!
Jazzi480 on January 27, 2011:
Teacup is not a reconized size in ANY breed standard. Undersized dogs should never be bred. Breeding undersized toy breeds is dangerous for the dam and the puppies. Runts have many health issues if they even survive, hypoglycemia,unable to regulate body temperature just to name a couple. If you are looking for a toy breed then talk to a reputable toy breeder. Someone selling "teacup" is only looking to take your money and not trying to produce healthy, happy puppies nor are they operating in the best interest of the dam or the breed! There are many Toy breeds out there so do your homework and purchase a healthy puppy from someone that breeds to improve the quality of their chosen breed!
Lucy A. Green Ables on January 26, 2011:
I have a friend who wants a teacup Maltese. I told her they have dwarfism and have mny sicknesses but nothing can change her mind ;( please give me more facts about teacups so I can convince her!!!! Thanks
Marliza on January 25, 2011:
There are no such thing as tea cup dogs, I know this because I am a professional vet in California. Most breeders do this to their dogs, the breeder puts chemicals and make the girl dog starve so she becomes so thin and small, then they put this medicine (drug) so they could produce puppies in an early age so they become so tiny. The teacup newborn holds many viruses, and may die in just 2. Months of life, I recommend you people who want teacups do not get one, you could just get a standard. Thanks for reading
sactodawg on November 20, 2010:
Do your research people. Most, and I do mean MOST, people breeding dogs are unscrupulous.
If you wish to choose a companion, Rescue is ALWAYS the best option. Give a pup a chance. However, if you are deadset on a specific type of dog, research it very thoroughly.
Inbreeding, or Line Breeding, is DANGEROUS. Even an uncle a generation up can have an effect on immunity and genetics. Just take a look at how much cancer we have in our pets now. Do not take a chance on making that worse. You will hear how knowledgable these people are, and how safe these breeding practices are, but they ARE NOT!
Teacups are bred from the smallest of litters, unless the dog is the correct weight and size for the breed such as teacup poodles. Sometimes, not all times, SOMETIMES breeding the runts, places more health and genetic problems back into the line. BAD,, ALL BAD! And just for profit.
Don't be Fooled.
alexandruv on November 19, 2010:
Wow, interesting article. I had no idea about this teacup naming :) Cool.
Tirzah Laughs from USA on October 22, 2010:
I think it's more the continuation of the word 'teacup' as a designation. There is no such thing as a teacup breed of anything. A so-called teacup is usually a runt or a runt bred from two runts to be of an unusually small size.
Most dislike the use of the word teacup because it implies these are separate from the regular miniatures. Then breeders charge more for a dog that is undersized or on the smallest end of the size chart. No professional breeder of yorkies or Chi's would call them teacups because no such thing exists. It is either a yorkie or it isn't one.
vanchen (author) from British Columbia on September 22, 2010:
That was the point I was trying to make about he pomeranian, yorkie and the other small dogs - they are already small enough to be considered teacup size.
Whitney from Georgia on September 22, 2010:
There's no such thing as a teacup yorkie, chihuahua, shih tzu, or pomeranian.
These breeds average between 2-10 pounds, so a 2 pound yorkie is an average regular ole yorkie. a half pound yorkie would be considered a teacup, and that just doesn't exist. When breed standards range so low, there's just not such thing as teacup.
The term teacup is applied to dogs by backyard breeders so that they can jack up the price of their puppies.
By the way, the average dog temperature no matter 'teacup' or not is between 100.5 to 102.5. So a 'teacup' anything isn't going to do any different than a regular dog of any size- small or large.
Also, keep in mind that, it's not the information that you've provided that will help determine whether a dog is a 'teacup' but information on the breed that it's supposed to be a miniature of. Knowing the breed's standards will help determine a smaller breed, but even still runts and 'teacups'
can't really be differentiated as they're the same thing.