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What Are Teacup Dogs?

May 05, 2022 | 3 min read

Updated May 05, 2022

By Sarah Milton

Published: May 5, 2022
Updated: October 10, 2022

Summary: If you’re wondering what a teacup dog is, in this blog, we learn just that. What are teacup dogs? How are they bred? How long do they live and how much do they typically sell for…? 


What Are Teacup Dogs?

Teacup dogs are bred to be as small as possible, usually from the toy dog group category. These include Yorkshire Terriers, Miniature Dachshunds, Maltese, Toy Poodles, Chihuahuas, and Pomeranians. A teacup dog usually weighs less than 5lbs in weight. 

Teacup dogs became popular after celebrities like Paris Hilton carried their dogs in their handbags. However, they are also seen as a perk for those living in apartments, those with restricted pet size in their living facilities, or those who have less time or ability to provide long walks (teacups dogs don't need very much)!

How Are Teacup Dogs Bred?

You breed a teacup dog by mixing the smallest pups of the litter with one another. However, the runt of a litter usually has more health issues or birth defects which make them so small so these issues may then be genetically passed to their pups. 

Choosing to breed from the two smallest of two litters is not the normal breeding situation and is considered an unnatural practice by most veterinarians. It simply exists because the aesthetic and size of teacup dogs are popular. Breeding for looks only in dogs can come at a costly price, and giving birth can be an incredibly tough job for a tiny dog to go through too.

a brown minature poodle lies in a yellow bed with a giraffe patterned toy

If a pup is the smallest of their litter, they are more likely to be predisposed with significant health conditions like:

  • Heart disease
  • Sliding kneecaps (which can then bring on arthritis)
  • Breathing difficulties 
  • Dental issues
  • Gum disease
  • Digestive issues
  • Hypoglycemia  (low blood sugar)
  • Hydrocephalus (a brain deformity which can cause seizures and visual impairment)
  • Liver shunts (where the liver struggles to flush through toxins)

These dogs also find it difficult to keep their body temperature at an optimal level, so often need sweaters or coats during the colder months. 

Missing a meal could be incredibly detrimental to a teacup dog's blood sugar levels, so pet parents have to remain mindful of this too. 

Additionally, teacup dogs are generally more fragile and more prone to bone breakage so owners have to be extra vigilant with their day-to-day activities as well.


Teacup dogs usually sell for thousands of dollars. But, the cost can be so much more if the pup has inherited health conditions because of their size and parentage in veterinarian bills. This can also be emotionally costly on a pet parent too. 

Life Expectancy

A teacup dog’s life span will completely depend on whether they develop a health condition and the vigilance of care provided by a pet parent. If you’re interested in purchasing or adopting a teacup dog, it’s imperative you do your research, source from a trusted breeder who can provide authentic documents regarding the genetic history of the dog, and understand the commitment needed to care for a teacup breed.  


“What Is A Teacup Dog?” Blue Cross, Sep. 09 2019

Author Travis, Helen-Anne “The Truth About Teacup Dogs” Pet MD, Apr. 03 2017

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Thanks for reading


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Sarah Milton

Authored By

Sarah Milton

Comes from a family of animal lovers and got to grow up with a menagerie of pets! I believe owning a pet is a privilege and I love researching and creating informative, fun content for fellow pet owners to help their furry friends have the happiest and healthiest lives. When I’m not writing blogs, you can find me sharing a walk with my pet dachshund or at a yoga class!




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The information contained within this site is not intended as a substitute for professional medical or veterinary advice. PetLab Co. is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If your pet has, or you suspect your pet has any medical condition, you are urged to consult your veterinarian. Medical conditions can only be diagnosed by a licensed veterinarian. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Results May Vary. Not intended for human consumption. Please consult your veterinarian regarding any change in treatment or supplementation.
*In Amazon Pet Health Category in 2022