Teacup Chihuahuas – What you need to know!
What is a teacup Chihuahua?
A teacup Chihuahua is not a smaller breed Chihuahua. There is only one breed and that is simply a Chihuahua. Chihuahuas are the smallest breed of dog already. Although the AKC standard is that they should weigh no more than 6 pounds (for show dogs) a pure bred Chihuahua can weigh anywhere from 2 lbs. to 8 lbs. Size variations are normal within the breed. A tea cup, mini, or toy Chihuahua is like the mythical unicorn. There simply is no such thing.
So why is there so much confusion?
The smallest and the weakest of the litter used to be called “the runt” of the litter. The term “runt” pulls on people’s heartstrings. It makes us want to save and take care of them. Teacup is the most popular term used today, but you will also hear them called mini, minature, micro, pocket, or toy.
How did these terms become so popular that most people think they are a smaller breed Chihuahua?
In almost every litter there is a “runt”, or the smallest of the litter. This does not mean that they are unhealthy or weak. It’s just the smallest one of the litter. The smallest one was usually the most popular one for Chihuahua breeders. Those unscrupulous breeders that were only interested in how much money they could make began calling these smaller ones “teacup” and priced them higher than the other ones of the litter. Soon everyone wanted a “teacup” Chihuahua. These same breeders began breeding the “runts” together to produce smaller and smaller dogs and the prices went higher and higher.
If all that did was produce small dogs that would be fine, however that is far from the truth. Even healthy Chihuahuas are a risky pregnancy. The smaller the dog the greater the risk. This is a risk that these breeders are willing to take because of the high price that they bring. They don’t care that they are risking the mother’s life and many die in childbirth.
The high price that you pay for these tiny dogs is nothing compared to the price the puppies pay with their health. These poor puppies are often unhealthy puppies. Common health issues are:
- Ectrodactyly (split hand/split foot malformation)
- Trisomy (born with XXX sex chromosome rather than the normal XX, down syndrome)
- Hypoglycemia (see: How to recognize, treat and prevent Hypoglycemia)
- Heart Problems
- Very large and open soft spot on the skull (soft spots are normal, not very large ones)
- Collapsing trachea (see What is backward sneezing)
- Respiratory problems
- Digestive problems
- Limb deformities
The list goes on and on, many of which are life threatening and very expensive to treat.
Not all “teacup” puppies are a result of breeding very small puppies together. Some unethical breeders sell premature puppies as “teacup” and will lie about their age to make it appear that the puppy will be very small as an adult. Taking a puppy away from its mother too early creates all kinds of social problems as well as health problems.
The Truth about “teacup” Chihuahuas.
As already stated the Chihuahua is the smallest breed. They come in many different sizes. Although a two pound Chihuahua (if not bred to be small) can be very healthy, it is rare to find a Chihuahua under 4 pounds when full grown. (My little Pebbles weighs 4.5 lbs.).
Although an unscrupulous breeder may tell you that the puppy you buy will be 3 lbs. full grown a responsible breeder knows that there is no way to predict how much a puppy will weigh as a full grown dog. They can tell you that it probably will be about the weight of his or her parents, but even then there is always that puppy that will be much smaller or much bigger than their parents or grandparents.
So if you want a very small, but healthy Chihuahua, make sure that you find a responsible breeder that loves the breed. They will often work with you and if you are willing to wait, they can help you get a small Chihuahua without resorting to unscrupulous breeding practices. See our page: “Responsible Breeders” to find one.
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