Teacup Dog Breeds Vs. Toy Dog Breeds

These days, small dog breeds are all the rage, from the already small toy or miniature dogs to even smaller teacup or micro dogs. They offer some advantages over their bigger counterparts which are mainly due to their size. But what are the differences between toy and teacup dogs, and which ones are better?

The main difference between teacup and toy dogs is that teacup is a term used by breeders to classify dogs that have been selectively bred to be extra-small. Teacup is not an actual classification that is recognized by any significant classification organizations like the American Kennel Club.

However, teacup dogs weigh two to five pounds and are less than 17 inches long. In contrast, toy dog is an actual classification of dogs used by these organizations and refers to dogs that weigh less than 15 pounds. 

When it comes to which type of dog is best, it would have to be toy dogs. However, teacup dogs are surrounded by controversy. Some breeders employ devious tactics to breed and sell these extra small dogs. Furthermore, teacup dogs are more susceptible to a wider variety of health risks due to their size.

As you continue to read this article, we will be discussing all of the differences between teacup and toy dogs. Furthermore, we will explain why teacup dogs are more prone to additional health risks when compared to toy dogs. Finally, we will give you a shortlist of both teacup and toy dogs that fit a variety of homes and lifestyles. 

What Are The Differences Between Teacup And Toy Dogs?

When it comes to the classifications of dogs, there are some things you will need to know. Firstly, teacup is not an actual classification used by recognized dog organizations like the American Kennel Club. Instead, teacup originated from dog breeders who successfully bred extra-small versions of dogs that were already small to begin with. As a result, most teacup dogs are toy breeds bred to be as small as humanly possible. 

Breeders call dogs teacups when they weigh around two to five pounds and have a shorter length than 17 inches when fully grown.

However, toy is an actual classification of small dogs used by reputable dog organizations like the American Kennel Club. A toy dog refers to a small dog that weighs less than 15 pounds. Therefore, according to the toy classification, it technically would also classify “teacups” as toy dogs. 

How Are Teacup Dogs Bred?

The way breeders breed teacup dogs is precisely why they are surrounded by tons of controversy. Breeders need a way to produce a lot of teacup dogs due to their rising popularity and use in social media. Some breeders will use underhanded tactics to get the desired teacup size to keep up with these demands.

For example, breeders will take the two smallest runts from the same litter and inbreed them in hopes of creating even smaller dogs. Unfortunately, this has many detrimental side effects. Firstly, inbreeding in dogs has a much higher chance of having inherited genetic disorders from their parents. This chance further increases with each liter of inbred puppies.

Furthermore, some breeders will take this further and neglect newborn puppies by not allowing them to feed as much as they need to, effectively malnourishing them. Doing this will result in the puppies having stunted growth and severe issues with their digestive, nervous, and skeletal systems. Teacup puppies treated this way have a much shorter life span than others.

Some teacup breeders are also known to straight-up lie and scam buyers. For example, these breeders will tell their customers that the dogs they are selling are weeks older than they actually are, which will lead to the adopted dogs being much bigger than they initially expected. 

While this is not the case for all teacup breeders, which use much more conventional breeding tactics, which results in teacup dogs that are much healthier than others. These breeding techniques are time-consuming and cause these teacup dogs to be much more expensive.

What Are The Health Risks Associated With Teacup Dogs?

Teacup dogs are also more prone to the health risks associated with their breed, mainly because of how they are bred. Furthermore, teacup dogs are also prone to additional health risks which are associated with their size. Thus, while all dogs are susceptible to their own breeds, common illnesses teacups are doubly so. 

Some of the more common illnesses that come with teacup dogs being so small include:

  • Hypoglycemia: This is a condition in which your blood sugar (or glucose) is lower than average. This is very common in teacup dogs due to their brain size when compared to their body weight. It is so common in teacup dogs that it is very rare to see a teacup without hypoglycemia. This means that every teacup dog needs to be carefully monitored by feeding them consistently throughout the day. Missing even a single meal can spell disaster for your teacup dog, causing them to shiver and shake at best or have fatal seizures at worst. 
  • Fragile Bones: Anything as small as a teacup dog has just as small and fragile bones. Because their bones are so small, they are more susceptible to breaks and fractures when compared to larger dogs. Teacup dog owners must be constantly aware of their dog’s location. Accidentally stepping on their feet or allowing them to jump from great heights can easily break their bones and require them to go through a challenging vet visit and potential surgery.
  • Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis (HGE): HGE is a condition that is mainly seen in smaller dog breeds and is even more common in teacup dogs. The most common signs of HGE are bloody vomit and diarrhea, lethargy, and decreased appetite. What’s worse is that the cause for HGH is wholly unknown and is extremely hard to treat.
  • Intervertebral Disk Disease (IVDD): The spinal cord comes into contact with the cushions between each vertebra. When these cushioning discs press against the spinal cord, pain, nerve damage, and even paralysis can occur.
  • Pancreatitis: A disease that can afflict any dog but is particularly common in puppies and tiny dogs. Your dog may have a fever, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, and abdominal discomfort if the pancreas gets inflamed. Pancreatitis can be triggered by various factors, including obesity, infection, trauma, metabolic problems, and even an unexpected occurrence.
  • Homeostasis imbalance: Temperature extremes are difficult for teacup dogs to tolerate. Because teacups have limited insulation and a small surface area, rapid exposure to cold weather can cause them to lose a lot of body heat. On the other hand, going out on a scorching day might lead them to get overheated. When taking your dog out in bad weather, you must exercise extreme caution; this can be fatal for small breeds.

What Are The Health Risks Associated With Toy Dogs?

Toy dogs are no exception to the health risks impeded on them by breeding them to be smaller. However, the breeding process to make them smaller was done over a very long time and mostly avoided inbreeding when possible.

For example, Pomeranians were a much larger breed years ago. They used to weigh up to 30 pounds and were over twice the size they are today. But through some of the same processes that teacup dogs go through, they are not only much smaller than they used to be but also genetically weaker. As a result, teacup Pomeranians are even smaller and weaker, weighing as little as 2 pounds. 

While toy dogs are more susceptible to health issues than they used to be, they are still genetically stronger and healthier than teacups. As a result, toy dogs are susceptible to teacups’ same common issues, but they are far less common.

What Are The Most Popular Teacup and Toy Dog Breeds?

When it comes to the most popular teacup and toy dog breeds, they are almost the same. There are only six true teacup breeds that are available from breeders, and they all have very popular toy counterparts. We will list the most popular toy and teacup dog breeds in this list and give a brief description while also telling you if you can get that specific breed as a teacup.

Toy/Teacup

  • Pomeranian

Available in teacup and toy sizes, the Pomeranians have a worldwide reputation as the go-to lapdog. Originally, they were used to herd animals and tow sleds. Pomeranian dogs used to weigh approximately 30 pounds in the past. They were developed to be smaller in the 1800s to be maintained as house pets rather than working dogs. Since then, Pomeranians have only gotten smaller.

  • Maltese 

The Maltese are available in both teacup and toy variants. The Teacup Maltese is a wonderful watchdog. Teacup Maltese, like their larger cousins, are not very tolerant of strangers. They will bark excessively if they hear a weird sound outdoors or notice a stranger approaching or passing by your house. This, however, might be viewed as a disadvantage. Despite the fact that they are attempting to defend themselves, you, and your property, their constant barking may be bothersome and often leads to false alarms.

  • Poodle

Poodles are available in not only teacup and toy but also standard and giant sizes. Poodles are second only to the Border Collie as one of the world’s most intelligent dog breeds. Poodles are incredibly flexible and can thrive in any environment.

These puppies are great for first-time dog owners since they are easy to train. The one drawback of Teacup Poodles is that they need to be groomed frequently by someone who knows what they’re doing. They also have all of the drawbacks that come with being a little dog breed, such as being fragile and having many of the health problems that small dogs have.

  • Chihuahua

Chihuahuas are the most popular toy and teacup breed in the world. They are adorable, but unfortunately, are one of the more nervous breeds. Chihuahuas get along great with cats and other small dogs but do not do well with larger animals and young children. With that said, Chihuahuas are very loving and hate being left alone. Chihuahuas are also very easy to train and are quite intelligent despite being stubborn. 

  • Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkies are available in both teacup and toy sizes. Other than the Chihuahua, Yorkies are the second most popular teacup dog breed in the world. Yorkies are incredibly courageous dogs with a larger-than-life attitude backed by their family’s loving and caring nature. 

They can live in almost any setting, including cities, rural areas, apartments, and houses without a yard. Yorkshire Terriers are a high-energy breed that requires a lot of play and exercise. In addition, to reduce barking, they will need to be trained. As a result, Yorkies are ideal for a dog owner willing to dedicate time and attention to a Yorkie.

  • Shih Tzu

Shih Tzus are available in both toy and teacup sizes and love to be pampered. They enjoy being brushed, and if you enjoy dressing up your dog in cute outfits, this is the dog for you. Shih Tzus have a gorgeous long coat and are typically low-energy dogs, so they don’t bark that much.

However, under that beautiful coat is a very physically fit dog. If it weren’t for the Shih Tzu’s flat faces, these dogs would be running around agility courses with ease. Furthermore, Shih Tzus get along exceptionally well with children and other pets. Just be sure that they know how to treat such a small animal properly.

Toy Only

  • Papillon

The Papillion was developed to be a constant companion to its owners, no matter what they were doing. Consequently, the Papillion is a little dog with a sharp mind, a robust, compact physique, and plenty of energy in a small package. When all of this comes together, you get a dog who is quick to learn new tricks and excels in agility, obedience, and flyball contests, displaying real enthusiasm after completing a new course.

  • Chinese Crested

Some folks do not want to deal with the cutting and grooming that comes with a large-haired puppy. Sometimes all you want is a dog that is as low-maintenance as possible, and few do it better than the Chinese crested.

The Chinese Crested is a small, nimble, intelligent dog with a strong desire to learn and please its masters. Regular baths are still required to maintain the Chinese Crested’s skin clear of dirt and accumulated oils. Still, they are far less time-consuming than weekly brushing or monthly grooming excursions.

  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

This tiny spaniel, one of the top 20 most popular dog breeds in the United States, encapsulates practically everything people love about dogs in a small package. They are bright, amiable dogs with long lives and mild dispositions that nevertheless have all of the athleticism of a sports dog. Their eloquent demeanor and long, silky coats have made them a favorite of royalty throughout history.

Final Thoughts

The differences between a toy and a teacup are minimal. However, when it comes to choosing which is better, the clear winner is toy breeds. Teacups are undoubtedly cute, but their petite stature makes them more susceptible to health issues than their larger counterparts.

Furthermore, teacup dogs are more expensive and come with a risk of being scammed by an unreputable breeder. Thus, leading you to have a dog that is not a teacup, or even worse, a poor puppy with an extremely short life span due to the breeders breeding practices.

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