There oh so tiny, and oh so adorable. The Teacup Chihuahua is a tiny little munchkin that is bursting at the seams with a bubbly and sassy personality. The Teacup Chihuahua holds up to their name well and are the smallest dogs in the world with the smallest coming in at 3.8 inches tall and weighs only a pound.
But while smaller dogs are often easier to take care of, the Teacup Chihuahua is a special dog and their size brings a unique approach and a lot of care. This, of course, then brings up the ethical concerns with breeding dogs that are so tiny they see substantially more health issues.
Today, we are talking about all that and more, including their personalities, if they’re right for you, and how to care for your Teacup.
Is The Teacup Chihuahua Right For You?
The Teacup Chihuahua has a strict set of requirements and owners will need to be prepared to constantly care for these dogs. We threw together a list of things you’ll want to be comfortable with and prepared to handle.
- No roughhousing
- No young children
- Provide them frequent bathroom breaks
- Can afford costly medical bills (thousands)
- Constant care (They need 24 hr monitoring)
- No medium or big dogs
- Can provide a low stress household
- No cold and potentially no mild climates
Defining the Chihuahua and Teacup Dogs
Technically, there is only one official Chihuahua breed and it includes all purebred Chihuahuas Unofficially, however, there are five different variations of the Chihuahua.
-Sheds less / grooming
-Long velvety hair
-Coat takes 3-4 yrs to fully grow
-Popular for dog shows
-Eyes protrude more
Deer Head Chihuahua
-Elongated narrow snout
-Healthiest variations / less genetic issues
-Longer body and legs
-Smallest (can’t weigh over 5 pounds or be taller than 9 inches)
A Teacup Chihuahua can be any of the above as they are not a unique breed or variety. Instead, a Teacup Chihuahua is defined as any Chihuahua that is no more than 5 lbs and 9 inches tall. They may be the runt of a litter or bred to be as small as possible.
So breeders pick the smallest Chihuahuas in the litter and advertise them as teacups since it’s likely they will stay under the size restriction. That means you may buy a dog advertised as a Teacup Chihuahua since they are small, but it’s completely possible they’ll see a growth spurt and grow to regular size.
Even when the breeder places two adult Teacup Chihuahua, there is no guarantee the puppies will be as small or Teacups when full grown. Since the Teacup Chihuahua is not an official breed or even a variety, there are several unofficial names we call such small dogs. We put a chart together for you.
Name Chart for “Teacup” Dogs:
- Micro Pocket
The origins of the Chihuahua is muddled in the unknown. However, we do believe their origins can be traced to Mexico where they may have descended from the Techichi dog. They share a name with a city in Mexico and while they likely existed in the 16-century or earlier they weren't recognized until 1904 by the American Kennel Club (AKC). They may have been seen as a delicacy at different points in their history and we’ll stop at that.
The Teacup Chihuahua, itself, is a rather new dog on the town and has only been around for about 20-30 years. We don’t know who first coined the term, but we do know it happened sometime in the 90s.
Teacup dogs, like the teacup chihuahuas, face a litany of health issues, and you will need to be prepared to spend time and money to keep them healthy. Their small size brings along numerous issues:
- Bone Fractures
- Collapsing Trachea
- Digestive Problems
- Dental / Gum issues
- Heart Disease
- Heart Murmur
- Liver Shunts
- Joint Problems
- Patellar Luxation (Sliding Kneecap)
In general, the smaller their size the more likely they will see health issues. It’s pretty much impossible to see a Teacup dog that doesn’t face several of the issues above.
Providing extra care tip: You want to closely monitor their body temperature as it can drop quickly. You can pretty easily find specialized Teacup Chihuahua clothes and other accessories for them.
Small dogs like the Teacup Chihuahua do best with frequent small meals. For Teacup dogs, this is even more important as their miniature size means a missed meal can lead to a diabetic shock. Now you need to be careful feeding them so frequently because you don’t want to give them too much food. Expect to only give them a ½ cup of dog food at most each day — depends on if it’s wet or dry dog food.
We recommend that you consult your veterinarian and work with them to come up with a diet that works best for their needs. As well, they can help show you how to monitor their ribs and stomach for optimal weight.
If you have a teacup dog, expect to have a close relationship with your veterinarian regardless due to the increase risk of health problems.
Temperament / Behavior
Despite their small size, or because of it. The Chihuahua is a dog with a big personality that’s a bit sassy, loaded with stamina, and ready to bark down dogs whose mouths they could fit in.
You want to properly socialize these pups when young or you’re going to have a dog that drives people and other pets up the wall. This is going to be trickier with such a small dog that can’t really rough house, and even them slipping out of your hand can result in heartbreak.
The one thing you’ll really want to watch out for is small dog syndrome. This is where small dogs will make up for their pint-size by becoming snappy and aggressive. But the bigger factor that plays into their syndrome is how the owner neglects to discipline their bad behavior. You treat them like you would a 100+ lb dog that’s acting badly. Whether they are growling around food or snapping at people.
The Chihuahua has gotten a bad rap, with some people just straight up despising them. They are no worse than any other dog. If someone hates your Chi Chi because they are aggressive, snap, bark, etc., then that’s all on you, not the dog.
The Chihuahua is a moderate shedder and will need brushing once to twice a week. Fortunately, their small size means they don’t have a lot of hair to shed all over the place and grooming is quick and easy.
You’ll want to pay attention to their nails as most Teacups don’t spend a lot of time on surfaces that will wear down their nails. Bathing is pretty easy since you can give them a bath in your sink. Make sure to pet shampoo to keep them safe.
Teacup Chihuahua Lifespan
The average Chihuahua lives anywhere between 15-20 years. There is no hard number on the Teacup Chihuahua’s lifespan, however. Looking around it appears that many do live past 10 years of age, but hitting 15 or more seems unlikely.
Veterinarians are pretty much in agreement that breeding dogs that fit the Teacup size requirements is dangerous and puts dogs in unneeded harm’s way. The AKC and the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) have taken similar stances.
When breeding for teacup status, breeders will continue to pair the runts of the litters together. What’s happens is a cute dog on the outside that is seriously struggling inside.
Birth defects are high with one of the most common being Liver Shunts where the dogs can't flush out the toxins. It costs around $6,000 to treat, and some dogs don’t respond well.
Teacups can see their blood sugar plummet after missing just one meal, their bones can shatter easily, they have trouble maintaining internal body temperature, and every accident is a major one. Stories of them jumping off a couch and shattering both legs requiring amputation are more common than you think.
We’re not going to criticize anyone that gets a teacup animal; it’s a personal decision. We are a pet health company that wants to see animals' health everywhere improve. By default this means breeding practices that don’t hurt a pet’s health in name of achieving a look.
We recommend against buying Teacups from private breeders because we don’t want to see breeders continue to push a dog’s health to its limit because people continue to buy them. As well, many of us at Innovet Pet have seen devastating veterinarian bills and we don’t want to see any owners in that position. Again, sometimes small dogs in a litter just happen, but a good breeder won’t advertise them as a special variety or charge more for them then others in the litter.
Adopting is a great way to help out a dog in need and won’t promote unhealthy breeding practices. As well, teacups always look like puppies so you won’t miss out on that adorable phase if you find an adult teacup. You can check out adoptapet.com or search for “Teacup Chihuahua for adoption”.
Buying From A Breeder
You need to be careful. Unfortunately, there are people out there using the “teacup” craze to sell regular Chihuahuas who are just smaller at extremely higher prices. By all accounts, that pup can easily grow up to be bigger than a Teacup. There’s no real way of knowing, even if the parents are small. You just shelled out hundreds to thousands more for no reason at all. Fortunately, the pup will likely be healthier since their internal organs aren’t squished.
The “teacup” is not an official breed, but that hasn’t stopped bad breeders from selling them as such. Even worst, you’re paying more for a dog that is going to be sicker the smaller they are. This goes for all teacup dogs from the Teacup maltese to the Teacup Pug.
When buying a Teacup Chihuahua from a breeder, the breeder should tell you this. If they claim that Teacups are a unique breed . . . run. If they claim that without a doubt, the pup will 100% never grow to regular size . . . run.
They’re are reputable Teacup Breeders out there, and while they can be hard to find in the wave of grifters, finding them has to be your goal. This is a dangerous game we are playing with their health, so please find a breeder that runs everything by the books. This means you shouldn’t expect to find a Teacup within your first week of looking. It could take a year, but it’s worth it. Both for you and the health of small dogs everywhere.
If you want a teacup Chihuahua, it’s a billion times easier and better to look for regular size Chihuahua pups and take the smallest of the litter.
Who thought such a tiny and adorable thing could be so controversial. Remember, a teacup dog is not a unique breed and is simply a dog that came out smaller than the average size of their breed. Which can happen due to them being the runt or purposely bred to be small.
A Teacup dog like the Teacup Chihuahua has blessed many owners houses and can be a wonderful pet. Expect to potentially spend thousands on vet bills, to have a dog whose life expectancy is shorter, and to watch them at all times. If you can, please rescue.
The truth is simple, the vast majority of teacups see way more health issues than they’re regular size counterparts. Purposely breeders dog to achieve the teacup size is dangerous, irresponsible, and in the eyes of many dog owners, most vets, and dog organizations the practice is unethical.