Teacup Yorkie – The World’s Smallest Dog
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The Teacup Yorkie is simply a Yorkshire Terrier who has been bred to be significantly smaller than normal.
Teacup Yorkshire Terriers usually weigh between 2 and 4 pounds, but can weigh up to 7.
Unfortunately, these extra tiny pups can have some size-related health issues, like fragile bones, bladder problems, and more.
Small dogs and toy breeds have been popular with dog lovers for a long time. Over the past decade, even smaller mini, micro or ‘teacup’ versions of these breeds have become increasingly popular.
- How Expensive Are Teacup Yorkies?
- What Is the Life Expectancy of a Teacup Yorkie?
- What Health Problems Do Teacup Yorkies Have?
The size of these dogs has even inspired some great dog names!
What Is a Teacup Yorkie?
A teacup Yorkie is a Yorkshire Terrier bred to be significantly smaller than the standard for the breed.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) Yorkshire Terrier breed standard states that a Yorkie should weigh no more than seven pounds.
Many pet Yorkies weigh a bit more than the standard but are still, relatively speaking, tiny dogs.
When an already small toy breed like the Yorkshire Terrier is miniaturized, it becomes a very small dog indeed.
Why Call Them ‘Teacup’ Yorkies?
Some mini Yorkies are so small that they can fit inside of a teacup, which is where the term comes from.
These dogs are likely to weigh between two and four pounds.
Teacup Yorkies are not a recognized breed on their own but are usually pedigree Yorkshire Terriers bred to be much smaller than average.
Teacup Dogs Controversy
Teacup Yorkshire Terriers are not a new or separate breed of dog. If the mini Yorkie puppies you have your eye on are pedigree, they are registered as Yorkshire Terriers the same as any regular-size Yorkshire Terrier.
Teacup dogs are not restricted to the Yorkshire Terrier breed, other toy breeds have been miniaturized too.
This makes a lot of people unhappy and some people quite angry.
If you are thinking of buying a teacup puppy, you should probably know why teacup Yorkies and other teacup dogs are controversial.
Not just because you may find yourself the target of criticism for your choice of puppy.
But because it is important to be aware of the challenges and downsides of miniaturizing dogs before you decide to own one.
We’ll look at the teacup dog debate, but first, let’s consider why so many of us adore tiny dogs.
What Is the Appeal of Mini Yorkies?
Why do we love tiny dogs? And why do we want them to be even tinier?
There are a couple of key reasons. One is the human need to nurture a baby animal. The other is perhaps a little more complex.
We’ll look at our nurturing instincts first.
The retention of baby-like features in an adult animal is called neoteny, which means “youth extended.”
Neoteny in Dogs
If neoteny means having baby-like features, you can see why a tiny dog might be more appealing than a big dog.
Baby animals of all species are small and have large heads in proportion to their bodies. When we see a dog that is especially small, our urge to love and protect it springs into action.
This doesn’t mean we are soppy or stupid. It is programmed into our basic biology, this drive to protect babies and baby-like creatures.
Miniaturization isn’t just about neoteny though.
The Magic of Miniaturization
The idea of shrinking a character to tiny proportions is nothing new.
The idea of a giant alien world that awaits a miniature personality has had sci-fi appeal for generations. Not just in modern cinema. Think of the Lilliputians of Gulliver’s Travels.
Like many other children of my generation, I was transfixed by stories like The Borrowers. And fascinated by tiny Shetland ponies and Chihuahuas.
Later, I watched my own children’s enchantment as we immersed ourselves in The Indian in the Cupboard or enjoyed pygmy hippos at the zoo.
Miniaturization is simply fascinating, magical even. There’s no escaping it.
With a powerful fascination for miniaturization and natural nurturing instincts for tiny animals, it is no surprise that we’ve used our power over dogs to create smaller and smaller dogs.
How can something as tiny as a teacup Yorkie still have the character and characteristics of a dog? It’s extraordinary and even thrilling, isn’t it?
Micro Teacup Yorkie – How Small Is Too Small?
Of course, we humans love a challenge. You’ll find people scouring the internet for ever smaller versions of the teacup Yorkie.
You may even see people offering micro teacup Yorkies for sale. Presumably, these are even smaller.
There is no official standard for these terms, so the people who breed and sell tiny dogs use them however they choose.
Just how small can we make our canine friend while maintaining the qualities that make him a living, breathing, barking, tail-wagging dog?
Have we reached the limit yet? Or can we go further?
These are some of the questions that must pass through the minds of those involved in breeding miniature dogs.
And is there a downside to this process?
Is it possible that this miniaturization experiment that we are carrying out on dogs could be harmful to the dogs?
Is Miniaturization Harmful?
The questions many people ask are: Is miniaturization harmful? Should we be making tiny dog breeds even tinier?
These are tough questions. Our instinct when we see something unbelievably cute and attractive is to dismiss the negative and focus on the benefits and the appeal.
And there are benefits to owning a very tiny dog. We’ll look at the downsides in a moment.
But first, let’s look at some of the pleasures of owning a very small dog.
Benefits of Owning a Tiny Dog
Many of the downsides of dog ownership are well known.
Even medium-size dogs are messy and clumsy. They break and chew things and knock people over. Unless impeccably trained, they are difficult to take on public transportation or in public places.Does the dog in your life have a cat in theirs? Don’t miss out on the perfect companion to life with a purrfect friend.
And let’s face it, who has the time these days to train their dog to the level they’d like? Or to exercise a demanding full-size, four-legged dynamo?
The benefits of little dogs are that you can avoid most of these problems.
A More Portable, Manageable Dog
Smaller dogs are more portable and more manageable. They take up less space, shed less hair and generally have less impact on a home than a big dog.
A dog that can sit on your lap, or in your purse, is a convenient friend. While at the same time retaining that dog personality that we love so much.
But, it’s important to recognize that you don’t need to buy a miniature or teacup dog to get these benefits.
Many small toy dogs meet all these criteria. And there is a point when the disadvantages of tiny start to outweigh the benefits.
If you have set your heart on a teacup Yorkie, you probably don’t want to hear this next bit.
But please read on. It’s important to be well informed, especially if you choose to go ahead and get a teacup Yorkshire Terrier.
Health Problems in Teacup Yorkies
The list of health problems caused by miniaturizing our four-legged friends is sadly rather long.
- heart problems
- liver problems
- brain problems
- low blood sugar
- bone problems
- psychological problems.
A teacup puppy’s tiny heart is more prone to defects and diseases than those of a larger dog. When we make body parts smaller, they don’t always work well. This is true of the mini Yorkie’s organs, particularly its heart and liver.
In addition, many teacup dogs are created using suspect breeding processes, which we’ll look at in more detail later. This further increases the chances of a teacup puppy having serious health issues.
While the life expectancy for a Yorkshire Terrier is 11-15 years, life expectancy for a teacup Yorkie is shorter. It may be as short as 7-9 years.
Brain and Bone Problems
When we mess with the proportions that nature intended, things can go wrong. Teacup puppies can suffer from brain inflammation or a buildup of fluid inside the skull.
Teacup dog skulls may also have soft spots in them, like the fontanelle in a human baby. But unlike a human infant, the soft spot on a tiny dog’s head never closes. This makes them permanently vulnerable to injury and brain damage.
Teacup puppies suffer the added problems of poor bone health. Not just in the skull, but throughout the body. This means that they are more prone to fractures if they fall or are injured.
Teacup Dogs – Mental Health
A number of studies show mental or psychological health in dogs is linked to size. Psychology Today has produced an interesting report on this topic.
Being a small dog in a big world is probably quite stressful, so it is perhaps not surprising that tiny dogs have more than their share of emotional problems.
Caring for a Teacup Yorkie
Before you decide to go ahead and bring home a teacup Yorkie, you should think about what’s involved in caring for such a tiny dog.
Because your puppy’s bones are fragile, it’s vital that he doesn’t fall or get stepped on. You’ll need to prevent him from jumping on and off of high (to him) surfaces or playing with small children.
You’ll also need to be sure that you or someone else is around to feed him frequently. Hourly is not too often for some tiny dogs. They are not able to process enough food to keep their blood-sugar level stable unless they are fed often.
You’ll also need to accept that your tiny friend may be difficult, if not impossible, to house train. Bladder problems such as incontinence are common in teacup dogs, and it is hard to potty train a dog with such a tiny bladder.
Teacup Yorkie Breeders
Earlier, poor breeding practices were mentioned as a contributing factor in teacup dog health issues. The reason is simple.
To get a smaller than average dog, you have to breed smaller than average dogs. And in many cases, the smallest dog in a litter is less healthy than its larger littermates.
Instead of selecting dogs that will make the healthiest parents, some breeders select the smallest dogs without regard for health problems they might be inflicting on the next generation.
The reason, of course, is money.
In pursuit of the tiniest puppies to sell to those clamoring for teacup dogs, some breeders disregard health and think only of the money the puppies will bring fetch. Which brings us to cost.
Teacup Yorkie Price
Reputable breeders are not willing to compromise the health of their Yorkshire Terriers in order to satisfy the demand for tiny dogs.
And demand is unfortunately high.
That means teacup puppy breeders can charge a lot of money for their pups.