Teacup puppies are incredibly trendy, because of their small size and cuteness.
Teacup dogs tend to be significantly smaller than their full size counterparts, and keep that child-ish adorable look, and they’ve been deliberately bred to be tiny pups and have recently surged in popularity across the united states.
Their adorable looks are not the only reason that you might want one of these tiny teacup puppies. They’re potentially much cuter than their full size counterparts, such as being more able to fit in a small apartment, or be much easier to transport.
The American Kennel Club doesn’t recognise “Teacup” as a specific group of dogs or a specific breed. Larger breeds, like a german shepherds, golden retrievers and labradors, don’t tend to have ‘teacup’ varieties.
So, let’s dive into teacup puppies!
What is a Teacup Puppy?
Teacup puppies are versions of small breeds (usually toy dog breeds) that have been bred to be as small as possible, typically five pounds or less when they’ve reached their full maturity. There are no official breed standards for teacup puppies, so the actual size may vary when they’re grown, as just because they’re the smallest puppies from their litter, does not mean that they’ll be small at full grown.
A variety of breeds have been bred to have a toy version, but popular teacup breeds include teacup Poodles, teacup Yorkies, and teacup Pomeranians. Teacup puppies are also referred to as toy breeds or miniature breeds because they’re smaller versions of common breeds.
Teacup puppies are bred by using the smallest animals from a given litter, often called the “runt.” The breeds have grown in popularity in recent years, and they’re typically bred for their cuteness factor—not any other breed benefit.
Because of this, teacup breeds often have significant health risks, this is primarily because they’re being bred to meet demand of people, and not necessarily doing it with responsible breeding practices in mind. Consequently, they often have a laundry list of health problems, behavioral issues, and don’t necessarily adhere to any of the breed standard.
Typically, it’s a red flag when a breeder breeds specifically for a size or trait that forsakes the quality of life of the puppy in the future, so please be extra diligent when you’re looking for a teacup puppy to ensure you’re selecting a high quality breeder.
How Much Does a Teacup Puppy Cost?
Because the teacup puppy breeds are so popular, there are many unethical breeders, also called puppy mills, that sell puppies for low costs.
If you’re committed to buying a teacup puppy, buying from a reputable breeder will improve your puppy’s quality of life and give you more insights into their health and future, but it means the costs of your puppy will be higher.
The average price of a teacup puppy from a reputable breeder will depend on what type of teacup breed you’re looking for. A teacup Pekingese puppy, for example, will likely cost less than a teacup Yorkshire Terrier.
Here are a few of the average price ranges you can expect for a variety of teacup puppies, and typically, it’s a hefty price tag…
- Teacup Beagle: $1,500 – $2,500
- Teacup Brussels Griffon: $2,500 – $4,000
- Teacup Cavalier King charles: $1,200 – $3,800
- Teacup Chihuahua: $3,000 – $7,000
- Teacup Dachshund: $6,000
- Teacup French Bulldog: $5,000 – $10,000
- Teacup Japanese Chin: $1,500 – $2,500
- Teacup Maltese: $3,000 – $6,000
- Teacup Maltipoo (Maltese x poodle): $2,500 – $5,000
- Teacup Morkie (Maltese x Yorkie): $2,800 – $4,500
- Teacup Pekingese: $750 – $3,000
- Teacup Pomeranian: $5,000 – $8,500
- Teacup Pomsky (pomeranian x siberian husky): $1,000 – $3,000
- Teacup Poodle: $5,000 – $6,800
- Teacup Pug: $1,900 – $6,000
- Teacup Russian Toy: $1,200
- Teacup Shih Tzu: $3,500 – $9,000
- Teacup Silky Terrier: $1,800 – $5,600
- Teacup Yorkshire Terrier: $4,500 – $10,000
Just like any industry, the price of a teacup dog breed is always driven by demand, and often because these are small litters of toy breed dogs, these all contribute to the much higher price sought by teacup breeders. Then, because of the usual poor breeding, they’ll likely need extra care for medical conditions that they’ve gained from poor breeding.
Why are Teacup Puppies Often Poorly Bred?
Teacup puppies are adorable, so it’s easy to see why these breeds have become so popular in recent years. They also seemingly have the advantage of being a better size for dog parents who live in small apartments or those with size restrictions.
Unfortunately, that popularity comes with a cost. Many irresponsible breeders have opted to breed teacup puppies to capitalize on the demand at the cost of the puppies’ health, commonly incurring anything from respiratory problems to heart defects – all for that teddy bear look and smaller size…
These breeders will breed the smallest dogs (usually the runts of the litter) from litters of already small dogs, often choosing to inbreed within the same litter, in the hopes that it will produce an even smaller puppy. In some cases, the breeders may also restrict the puppy’s nutrition to help stunt their growth.
Not only are these breeding methods hard on the teacup puppy, but they’re hard on the mother as well. Because the mother is already so small, she can only have a few puppies at a time, and even those puppies can cause further complications during the birthing process.
How Do I Find a Well Bred Teacup Puppy?
While there are many unethical teacup puppy breeders that are taking advantage of the demand for these breeds, there are reputable breeders out there—you just have to know where to look and where to avoid.
In short, to make a good choice in dog breeder, other than the purchase price, you’re going to want to ensure they have;
- AKC registration where appropriate
- OFA Health testing specific to the breed(s) making up their normal size counterparts
- Puppy culture & early socialisation
- Full vaccinations
- A Mother/father with titles (or similar)
- a mother/father clear of behavioural issues (from a fear of thunder to seperation anxiety)
- Inbreeding coefficient
- See where parents were kept
Finding a well-bred teacup puppy is important for many reasons:
- Your puppy is likely to be healthier with more documentation on their medical history (i.e. OFA tests for their main breed)
- Your puppy will likely have a better temperament
- You’ll know they were bred compassion, care, and strict, humane practices
To find a well-bred teacup puppy, you’ll need to deep dive into researching breeders in your area, but you want to avoid a simple Google search. Any breeder, reputable or not, can make a website or a social media profile, so avoid places like Google, Facebook, next door and Craigslist for your research – oh – and heaven forbid a street sign!! Avoid them like the plague.
Instead, look to industry professionals in your area. Find local breed clubs that can offer recommendations, or look for teacup breed events in your area to meet other people who have and work with teacup breeds. This way you can vereify that what the breeder is producing is good stock and that your new best friend isn’t going to be riddled with a host of health issues.
Once you have a list of potential breeder options, you need to question each one to better understand their breeding practices and ethics, and then find one that suits your needs as a dog parent. It will be a good sign if the breeder is being just as picky as you are. If they’re just asking about the money? That’s probably a red flag.
Ask the breeder for any information they have on the parents of the teacup puppy. Get to know the parents’ lineage, their health records (including their OFA testing, and sometimes even Embark tests), and don’t be afraid to ask more questions about why the breeder chose those two particular parents.
A reputable breeder chooses their breeding pairs based on strict criteria and the knowledge of the dog’s temperament, health, and lineage. They should be passionate about their choice, and able to tell you exactly what makes the pair special, and makes their puppies great for your home.
You will want to meet both parents in an ideal world, so you can get a sense of their temperament in person, as well as seeing what the breeding conditions for the parents are like – because a stressed or neglected mother can be just as problematic for the future behavior of the litter.
A responsible breeder adores their dogs, and makes sure they are well-cared for and comfortable at all times. They should only have a few breeding females at a time, and there will likely be a wait for puppies as well.
If a breeder seems to always have puppies available for sale, they’re likely a puppy mill that’s trying to make as much money as they can as quickly as possible – please don’t support these, even though it is tempting to bring home your puppy right now. In the long run, you’ll be thankful you waited (and you can take that from someone who made that mistake!!)
Meeting the parents also gives you the opportunity to verify their breed. Because teacup breeds are so popular, some breeders will go to elaborate lengths to make money, including selling puppies that aren’t actually teacup breeds. Instead, they will sell you an underdeveloped puppy that looks small, but will eventually grow into a regular-sized breed.
Be Diligent, Be Fussy, Be Responsible.
It’s really hard to be patient when it comes to bringing home your new family member, but try to remember that good things come to those who wait, and a well bred dog definitely falls under this. Especially if you’re paying these sorts of price tags, you really dont want to have to pay for liver shunts and digestive problems along with it.
If this has put you off of buying a teacup puppy, I won’t say I’m disappointed, because I’ve yet to see a responsible, ethical teacup breeder – instead, go for the full size variant! I promise you they’ll be just as fun, if not more so because you won’t be dealing with the stresses (financian and emotional!) a Teacup often comes with.
If you want to discuss the breeder or a puppy you might be bringing home, and want someone to check that for you? Why not get my insight into it? Get in touch and let’s make sure you’re bringing home the best dog for your family.
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Author, Ali Smith
Ali Smith is the Positive Puppy Expert, dog trainer and is the founder of Rebarkable. She is passionate about helping puppy parents get things right, right from the start. To help create a puppy capable of being a confident and adaptable family member and keep puppies out of shelters.
Ali has won multiple awards for her dog training, and has had her blog (this blog!) rated as 2021 & 2022 worlds’ best pet blog!