Sounds adorable, doesn't it? "Teacup puppy" - tiny, sweet, delicate. The pictures are all adorable too - bright eyes, fuzzy faces, sitting quietly on pink, satin pillows with cute, little bows in their hair. Unfortunately, the reality of the teacup puppy and eventually the teacup dog is quite different. Yes, they are tiny and appear to be quite sweet. However, although the puppy and the dog will weigh seven or eight pounds or less, depending on the original breed, you will still have a wolf in beanie-baby clothing to train and live with.
The Truth About Teacup Health
Health risks are top of the list of problems with teacup puppies. In-breeding to achieve the small size can cause a multitude of problems - any genetic issues in the smaller ancestors (seizures in poodles, for example) will be passed on to tiny decedents which will be passed on to the teacup puppies.
Further, the tiny bones may not survive a simple jump off the sofa, let alone the rough play of children or other pets. In some cases even handling the dog, for grooming or training, can result in broken bones. Teacup puppy's mouths may not be large enough to accommodate adult-sized teeth. Tiny dogs tend to have a shorter life span as well.
In some cases teacups are puppies who were actually born prematurely, and there are additional health problems you, your dog and your vet will be forced to face: hypoglycemia, heart problems, joint problems, seizures, digestive difficulties and liver problems.
Additionally, a bitch under five or six pounds may be too small to safely carry and give birth to a litter of puppies.
The Truth About Teacup Breeders
Teacup breeders are breeding for sales and for the suckers who think they want a small dog who'll be more manageable. These breeders are willing to put the mothers and puppies at risk through difficult pregnancies, births and early development. Even other breeders speak out against the practice of breeding artificially small dogs ("The 'Teacup' Myth", by Gloria Haynes).
The Truth About Teacup Behavior
Because teacup-sized puppies aren't (generally) bred by reputable and responsible breeders, they don't always receive the proper pre-natal and post-natal care every dog needs and deserves. One of the most important things responsible breeders give their puppies is good socialization - proper socialization is something an irresponsible breeder doesn't understand and doesn't care to invest in.
People adopt teacup puppies under the misapprehension that the little darling will be more easily managed than a full size dog. Nothing could be further than the truth. Teacup puppies turn into teacup dogs, just as a poodle puppy turns into a full grown poodle or a Mastiff puppy turns in to a 150 pound monster. If you don't train your Mastiff puppy, you won't have a well-behaved Mastiff dog, and the same is true with a teacup puppy.
And because these delicate little creatures don't understand that they aren't "proper" dogs, they won't understand rough and tumble play isn't meant for their fragile little bodies. They may harm themselves just through normal dog behaviors.
The Truth About Teacup Registration
The American Kennel Club doesn't recognize the teacup size, so what little protection is offered by the "AKC Registered" label isn't available for the these micro dogs. If you're considering paying top dollar ($4,000 to $5,000 or more) because the breeder claims the puppy is registered, think again. There are even accusations of really unscrupulous breeders falsifying paper work, passing a puppy off as a much older, fully-grown dog.
(While the AKC doesn't speak out on the issue on their website, the Yorkshire Terrier Club of America does in "An Important Message About 'Teacup' Yorkies", by Gale Thompson. The Poodle Club of America has similar feelings, as does the Chihuahua Club of America.
Just because a dog is small doesn't mean they are any more easily managed than a dog twice or ten times their size. The teacup puppy and teacup dog may be small, but the attitude and the instincts are the same - unfortunately, the teacup's fragile bodies are often unable to survive the teacup's big-dog agenda. All of the requirements a normally sized dog are requirements of a teacup puppy. Exercise, training, grooming, playtime, regular feeding and vet bills are all required for even the smallest of dogs. If you're looking for a smaller dog, consider a well-bred puppy from a reliable breeder - or better still, adopt a fully-grown adult rescue dog. Avoid the marketing hype of the "teacup" label.