Are teacup chihuahuas real?
Many breeders advertise teacup chihuahuas for sale. Since the chihuahua is an extremely popular dog, due in some part to the fact that it is the smallest breed, a miniature version is highly desirable to many people. However, there is no recognized teacup version of a chihuahua, officially they do not exist. There are definitely some dogs in the breed that are smaller than others, just as with people some individuals are petite. There is nothing wrong with somebody selling or wanting to buy a small individual of an already small type of the dog, as long as the mini size occurs naturally.
No official standard for a teacup chihuahua
Officially the American Kennel Association (AKC) and their British equivalent, only recognize two types of chihuahuas, shorthair and longhair. There is no standard for what a ‘teacup chihuahua’ is. In the breed standard, there is no prescribed height, usually height ranges between 6-10 inches, although a maximum weight of 6 pounds is stated. That does not mean that heavier dogs don’t exist, just that they can’t be shown, they are perfectly good as pets. In British dog shows, a smaller size is encouraged, the standard specifies that weights under 4 pounds are preferred, and if two dogs equally fit the official standard, the smaller dog will win the competition.
Of course, since their is no officially recognized definition of what a teacup dog should weigh, anybody can advertise their puppies as being super small. The problem is compounded by the fact that people usually buy puppies, which in this dog breed are truly tiny, and at that stage do fit into a cup. There is really no guarantee what size the puppy will eventually reach. Although if the bitch and the sire are both smaller than average, I guess you would expect the pups to also grow up small.
Beware underfed puppies
The problem is that certain unethical breeders try to produce super small dogs by underfeeding their puppies. Just as people can be short because of genetics, but also malnourished will not grow to their full height, so dogs growth can be arrested by malnourishment. Obviously this is not good for the dog and you must be very careful that the teacup puppy you are being sold is healthy. Even if you are sure that the puppies you are buying are healthy, and have been fed properly, there is no guarantee that paying a premium price for a pocket-sized dog will get you anything special.
Health problems of the breed
Despite their diminutive size, chihuahuas can be quite ill-tempered and easily provoked to agression and ankle biting. They are generally not a dog suited to households with small children, and often don’t get along with dogs of other breeds. The average lifespan of the dog can range from 15-18 years, but it’s small size does present it with several health risks. Particularly small individuals, those that might be sold as ‘teacup’ dogs are probably more affected by these problems than those of more average size.
Chihuahuas are particularly prone to hypoglycaemia. This is caused by a drop in blood sugar level if they are not fed very regularly. Signs can include lethargy, unco-ordinated walking, unfocused eyes and spasms. If left unresolved it can lead to coma and death, and it is best prevented by regular feeding to help the little dogs maintain their blood sugar levels. Puppies and young dogs should be given meals every three hours during the day. Owners worried about hypoglycaemia often carry sugary treats, such as honey or syrup. In case of an emergency, these can be rubbed on their pet’s gums, to rapidly raise their sugar level.
On the other hand, even slight overfeeding can easily lead to obesity, because of the small size of the breed. Feeding just the right amount of a nutritious well balanced diet is important for all dogs, but really essential for the tiny breeds.
The small size of teacup chihuahuas also makes maintaining body temperature in cooler climates a challenge and hypothermia can be a concern. A big range of chihuahua clothing is available to protect them from the cold, and the dogs love snuggling in blankets.
aa lite (author) from London on September 11, 2012:
People will do anything for money, starve puppies, set up dog fights, kill the environment, start wars......it's a sad, sad world we live in.
LetitiaFT from Paris via California on September 09, 2012:
How can anyone intentionally starve puppies. It's sick. Laws should be more stringent, and especially enforced. And of course people must be made aware. That's what you're doing here. Raising awareness. I commend you.
Nathan Bernardo from California, United States of America on August 12, 2012:
Very interesting information. I always thought Tea Cup was an actual breed of Chihuahua, bred down to tiny size; interesting it's an individual characteristic. I also wasn't aware of the health concerns of Chihuahuas, although I've of course noticed how they seem a bit fragile. I found it an important point that some sellers let the pups go hungry to keep them small, an important point to keep in mind.
Joe Njenga from Nairobi Kenya on August 12, 2012:
Thank you for writing such a truthful and informative article. I know many people are misinformed about dog breeds out there and they fall prey to marketing hype. They end up buying dogs that are not what they excepted them to be.
Thanks for sharing