Have you heard about Teacup dogs? They are a variety of dog breeds that are specially bred to be tiny, adorable and maintain their puppy appearance. But before you fall in love with one of these pups, do you know the big health problems of tiny teacup dogs?
I was recently introduced to a teacup Shih Tzu named Ginger that my cousins brought with them for a visit. She was a sweet little ball of energy who will weigh 4lbs. when she is fully grown. Ginger was also born with a heart murmur and a bladder so small she cannot make it through the night without using a pee pad.
Ginger’s size and health issues made me curious so I did some research about teacup dogs. I found these pups commonly suffer from fractures, osteoporosis, dislocated joints, heart defects and other life-threatening problems.
For those of us who work(ed) every day to get our disabled pet back to their natural state of health, I found it sad that the well-being of teacups puppies was put into jeopardy because people want a smaller than average dog. I know my posts don’t typically take sides on animal issues, but I couldn’t help how I felt about this topic.
I invite you to share your thoughts about teacup dogs at the end of this story.
Here is how the Teacup dog trend started
According to PetMD, teacup dogs are bred to be at least one pound smaller than the AKC standard weight for the breed. Generally, they weigh less than 5lbs and are bred from smallest (or runts) in a Toy breed litter. They are so small, they literally fit into a teacup.
People love them because they are tiny and keep their adorable puppy appearance. They also cost less to feed, require less exercise and you can take them everywhere. For many pet owners, teacup dogs appear to be the perfect puppy lifestyle fit.
Teacup puppies were originally made up of these six dog breeds:
- Shih Tzu
Today, the unofficial list has expanded to include: Beagles, Dachshunds, Boston terriers, Schnauzers, Pekingese and more.
We are calling it the unofficial list because the AKC (American Kennel Club) does NOT recognize any teacup breed. This is in part to their many health problems. The RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) also took a stand on the issue in 2016. They warned against adopting a teacup breed due to their “weak bones, fractures and dislocations.”
Why Teacup puppies have health problems
There are lots of reasons why these dogs are plagued with health problems, but their extreme small size accounts for many of them:
- Missing even one meal can make their blood sugar level drop dangerously low. Many suffer from hypoglycemia.
- Their small size makes it hard for teacup dogs to effectively regulate their body temperature. This needs to be monitored so they don’t get too cold or too hot.
- Teacup dogs are prone to seizures, hydrocephalus, respiratory problems, digestive problems, and blindness.
- Many are born with heart murmurs and up to 40 percent have chronic heart valve disease. Teacup dogs are susceptible to developing enlarged hearts that simply give out after time.
- The dogs have tiny bladders that make it difficult to stay dry all-night long. This can lead to repeated urinary tract infections and eventual incontinence.
- Their livers are too small to properly flush out toxins which can lead to a liver shunt.
- Many of the teacup breeds never lose their baby teeth so they must be extracted.
- By breeding them with other tiny dogs (runts) and stunting their growth even further, some teacup pups develop mineral deficiencies in their bones that lead to osteoporosis.
- Their small bones are fragile and can break from even a little fall. For some teacup dogs, a fall or minor traffic accident can be fatal.
- Their size makes them harder to treat when they become ill or injured. Veterinary equipment and supplies don’t always come in a small enough size to treat teacup dogs. Just inserting an IV can be difficult.
How do you feel about Teacup dogs?
Let’s start a discussion. I would love to know what your experience has been with a teacup dog. Do you think the benefits of having a tiny adorable dog outweigh the health risks?
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