You’ve seen them being carried in their owners’ fancy handbags with some so small that they can fit right into the front pocket of a shirt. Yet these miniaturized dogs are not really an entirely different breed, regardless of how some breeders and some online canine resources tell you. The Teacup Chihuahua is nothing more than a Chihuahua that has been carefully bred to achieve its ridiculously small size that it can fit – well – in a teacup, so to speak. So before you become a victim of unscrupulous breeders who will be robbing you of your hard-earned money (they have a knack for jacking up the prices of these really small dogs), make sure to read this article first.
History of the Teacup Chihuahua
The Teacup Chihuahua is nothing more than a gimmick by some Chihuahua breeders to create demand for something that is unusually rare. Everybody knows that the Mexican dog is undisputedly the world’s smallest breed. When some of these dogs eventually got even smaller, one can easily be lured into thinking that the Teacup Chihuahua is an entirely different breed. Again, this early, we want to remind you that the Teacup Chihuahua is nothing more than a way to describe the size of this particular Mexican breed.
To give you an idea, aside from Teacup, these dogs are also known as Toy, Tiny, Miniature, Mini, Micro, and Pocket-sized Chihuahuas. They all mean the same thing. They are smaller than your average-sized Chihuahua that typically stands at least 5 inches tall, but should never be taller than 8 inches. Its weight should also not exceed 6 pounds. These are the standards set by the American Kennel Club and adhered to by almost every other major kennel organizations around the world.
The FCI or Federation Cynologique Internationale, on the other hand, requires the Chihuahua to be between 3.3 and 6.6 lbs. However, the organization also recognizes and allows even smaller versions of Chihuahuas such as the Teacup in the show ring.
Another interesting point that will show just how fragmented canine organizations are when it comes to classifying the Chihuahua is the recognized types of the breed. The AKC recognizes only two types: Long Coats and Smooth Coats. However, the Kennel Club of the UK categorizes these as two separate breeds.
We tried searching for information from the major dog organizations in the world if there is such thing as a Teacup Chihuahua, whether it is a different breed or a sub-type or sub-breed of the Chihuahua. We couldn’t find any. This only bolsters our suspicion that the Teacup Chihuahua is nothing more than a breeder’s way to make more money.
Think of it. The conventional notion of a Chihuahua is that it is small. But, if you can get it to grow even smaller, then you’ve got all the right to say that it is one-of-a-kind. And it truly is. We’re not saying that it isn’t. However, if the breeder insists that this is a different breed, then obviously he doesn’t have a clue as to how breed recognition is achieved.
We can only guess how the Teacup Chihuahua evolved into such a small size. Everyone knows that the breed traces its origins from the Techichi of the Toltecs in ancient Mexico. No one knows where the Techichis came from. They only knew of this dog from archeological finds that somehow depicted the dogs as closely resembling that of a modern-day Chihuahua. As archeologists began unearthing many Mayan artifacts in the Yucatan Peninsula, they discovered drawings of very small dogs that ‘looked like’ Chihuahuas.
Records show that 16th-century Conquistadores mentioned having found many of these nearly-hairless dogs in that part of Mexico that is now called Chihuahua.
Okay, so how did the Teacup Chihuahua come to be?
It has something more to do with genetics, unfortunately. Each organism – man, dog, whatever – have very specific sets of genes that tell the cells how they should build the body. During the mating process, 50% of the mother’s genes and 50% from the father are combined to produce the puppy. Of course, this is an oversimplification.
Now, it is possible that during one of these breeding processes, a relatively small Chihuahua was mated to another small Chihuahua. Since both parents are small, there is a possibility that 50% of the puppies will also be very small. If you breed this already-small Chihuahua with an even smaller Chihuahua, then you will also be producing really small dogs.
It is for this reason that we believe the Teacup Chihuahua has undergone a selective breeding process. Breeders will only choose puppies that are really small and mate them with other small Chihuahuas when the right time comes.
Of course, this is just our guess. We’re not geneticists in any way.
The question most people ask at this point is if the Teacup Chihuahua was bred selectively, does it mean it is a different breed?
The way we understand the process of breed recognition is that the breed should have many qualities that are highly distinct from the breed that it is being differentiated from. And when you look at the Teacup Chihuahua and other Chihuahuas, the only difference is obviously its size. What would you call a midget if not a person, too?
We leave that up to you to decide. For now, what we can say is that the Teacup Chihuahua is just a breeder’s way of describing a really small Chihuahua; nothing more, nothing less.
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Despite the very obvious gimmickry to their name, one cannot deny the fact that this type of Chihuahua is so adorable and lovable that it would be a sin not to take one. But, with a name that doesn’t do justice to its true nature, the Teacup Chihuahua has been continuously exploited to advance some breeders’ personal agenda. Here are some facts you should know just in case you’re thinking about getting a Teacup in your life.
- A Chihuahua is considered a Teacup if it is no taller than 5 inches and weighs between 2.5 lbs and 3.3 lbs, although it is possible that it can weigh even lighter. However, we really don’t advise you to go for really small dogs. If small is what you want, maybe a gerbil or even a Peruvian hamster will be much better. We do recommend, however, getting an adult Teacup since getting a puppy doesn’t automatically mean you’ll get the desired maximum height and weight of a Teacup. For all you know, you might as well have a standard Chihuahua than a Teacup.
- Teacups can have a lifespan that is essentially the same as ‘standard’ Chihuahuas, typically around 15 to 20 years. Again this depends on their overall state of health and barring any untoward incident or accident.
- Like the standard Chihuahua, the Teacup can come in either Smooth Coat or Long Coat.
- Longhaired or Long Coat Teacups typically have featherings on the area of the ears, neck, feet, and the tail.
- Teacups can be chocolate, silver, white, black, fawn, gray, brindle, merle, spotted, or in tricolor.
- Chihuahuas can also be classified by the shape of their head. Some are shaped like a deer’s head while others are more like an apple (rounded).
Things You Should Know
Just because the Teacup Chihuahua is small doesn’t mean it is already very easy to care for. On the contrary, it takes a special kind of person to nurture this little giant into a well-rounded dog.
Most folks have this notion that little dogs don’t need training. This is the number 1 mistake that newbie dog owners make. The Teacup may be small, but it has a very big ego that you need to control from the very start. You need to show who’s the boss around the house. If not, your Teacup will be more than willing to boss you around.
Housebreaking is an all-important aspect of training dogs. As a matter of fact, even before you bring home the Teacup, you should already have plans on how to execute its housebreaking. Basic obedience training is also necessary. This little Napoleon should learn to follow your commands. When training the little hound, it pays to play to its weakness. Chihuahuas love to entertain. Praising it and giving it rewards should get you the results you need.
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You might think that since the Teacup is small, you will not have any problems feeding it. Think again. This hound is prone to hypoglycemia. What this means is that it has a very rapid metabolic rate that it can easily use up its calorie reserves in a few hours. This lowers their blood sugar levels so they may become weak and suffer other consequences. The best way to feed a Teacup is to give it calorie-dense dog food at more frequent intervals. Instead of adhering to a twice-daily feeding, you’ll do better if you feed it 3 to 4 times every day.
Teacup Chihuahuas require not only calorie-dense dog food; they also need high-protein diets to help in the maintenance of their muscles. Chondroitin- and glucosamine-enriched dog foods can also help especially since this dog is prone to joint problems. Healthy fats are necessary for skin and coat health while antioxidant-rich veggies and fruits should help keep inflammatory disorders at bay.
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Teacup Chihuahuas don’t really need plenty of exercise for as long as you let them play inside the home. However, care should always be taken whenever playing with these dogs. Their small frames mean they are very susceptible to injuries. This is especially true when playing with children.
There is another reason why Teacups don’t really need plenty of exercises. They have very rapid metabolisms, making them susceptible to hypoglycemia. Strenuous exercise can further increase their metabolic rate, putting them even more at risk to hypoglycemia. A 15-minute casual walk should be fine.
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While training is necessary to exert some form of control over your little giant, socialization is needed to temper its tendency to become highly suspicious of other people and other pets. This dog has the tendency to be quite aggressive even to dogs that are many times larger. Strangers are also off-limits to the owner of a Chihuahua that was never socialized. You don’t want this hound to ruin your social life.
Bringing them to places where there are plenty of dogs and other pets to interact with should help. Inviting other individuals into your home should also acquaint them to the idea that you are not the only person in the world. As for kids, they should be taught how to be gentle with a Teacup. It may be a feisty dog, but its small frame can be easily manhandled even by a small child.
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Grooming the Teacup is not really easy since you’re dealing with a relatively small dog. It can squirm and resist attempts at grooming, brushing, or combing which can increase the risk of injuries. As such, it is best to train it as early as possible so you can groom it with relative ease.
Longhaired Chihuahuas need to be combed at least twice a week while shorthaired ones will do fine with weekly brushing. Monthly bathing is also recommended and you should always use a shampoo that’s formulated for dogs. Daily brushing of the teeth is ideal, although it wouldn’t hurt to brush its teeth twice a week. The same is true with cleaning and inspecting the ears. As for its nails, trimming it every 3 to 4 weeks is ideal.
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This is one aspect of the Teacup Chihuahua that often presents as a major concern. While these little hounds can be as robust as their bigger brothers and sisters, they are more prone to injuries owing to their relatively small size. This is especially true if their owner simply doesn’t know how to handle such a small dog. Injuries can also occur because of rough playing with kids who may be clueless about the fragile nature of the Teacup’s small frame.
There is another point that one has to understand the health of such small dogs. They’re small, but their metabolic rates are some of the highest in the dog world. This means they can use up their energy stores a lot sooner or faster than other breeds. This can make them susceptible to hypoglycemia. Some say this is because they have a poor diet or even skip meals. But the little hound has a hefty appetite. Unfortunately, it just burns them so quickly that its glucose levels in the blood can drop abnormally low in just a matter of hours after a meal.
Patellar luxation is also quite common among Teacups. This is usually caused by a genetic anomaly whereby the kneecap doesn’t attain its normal anatomic position, leading to its dislocation. And as rambunctious as Teacups are, this condition can be worsened by trauma to the affected joints.
Other health problems that the Teacup may face include tracheal collapse, skin problems, eye problems, and liver shunting. Hydrocephalus among puppies is also quite common.
A Teacup Chihuahua might be suitable for you if you…
- Strongly believe that training and socialization are crucial to a dog’s optimum development
- Know how to properly care for a very delicate dog
- Have more than sufficient time to play and cuddle with it
- Don’t have kids who can be trained or taught to handle the Chihuahua with the utmost care
Forget getting a Teacup Chihuahua if you…
- Think they don’t need to be trained
- Are only after their small size
- Don’t think they need to be socialized
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Teacup or not, Chihuahuas are very adorable dogs. They always have this spunkiness in them that can literally turn them into the life of the party. The quintessential purse puppy, Teacups are little Napoleons, though through fault not of their own making. It has a super-sized personality that belies its small frame. It is a little dog that doesn’t know the meaning of facing off against a dog more than 10 times its size. However, it is its unquestionable loyalty that has endeared the Teacup to its people. Unfortunately, this can also come at a cost. They’re called armpit piranhas for the sole reason that they can get overly protective of their owners that anyone who decides to get close to them can be met with the nasty growl of a little doggie piranha.
Despite its bossiness, the Teacup, as are other Chihuahuas, is extremely affectionate. It is highly energetic which can, again, pose some real concerns, especially with its diminutive frame. They’re feisty and come with a very self-confident, all-important attitude that borders on arrogance. The main issue is not in the dog itself, but rather in the owner who simply failed to socialize and train the little hound as a puppy.
Teacup Chihuahuas may be the apple of your eye right now, but given the fact that it has a rather delicate body, you’d have to be prepared to take care of it in a really special way. Socialization and training are important for the Teacup. It’s the only way you can ensure it doesn’t turn out into a really nasty yapper in your home.
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