17 Too-Cute Teacup Dog Breeds

These teensy-weensy teacup dogs are too cute for their own business! But there's a lot you should know before you bring one of these sweet angelic faces home.

It’s not rocket science why breeders created teacup dogs: We’re kind of wired to fall in love with cute and tiny things. It activates a nurturing role that compels us to feed, love, and protect—whether it’s a human baby or one of the cutest dog breeds, like the trendy teacup dog. Back in the day, the smallest pup of the litter (runt) was often cast aside. Potential health and aesthetic issues meant the pup was probably given away instead of being sold or removed from the gene pool.

That changes as, “somewhere along the line, someone realized that these little runts are actually quite cute, and people like—and will pay for—cute,” says Matthew McCarthy, DVM, veterinarian and founder of Juniper Valley Animal Hospital in Middle Village, New York.

By and large, teacup breeding is considered unethical and cruel. Virtually all small dog breeds have health issues that pop up now and then, but tiny teacups are vulnerable to a host of health problems such as hypoglycemia, respiratory problems from underdeveloped lungs, heart defects, fragile bones, and more. The American Kennel Club (AKC), a not-for-profit all-breed registry and advocate of responsible dog ownership, doesn’t endorse teacup breeders nor recognize teacups as an official breed.

Still, if you decide a teacup dog is for you, find a responsible breeder. “Visit the breeding facility and meet the mother and father dog,” advises veterinarian Alena Abens, DVM, and medical director of VCA Chicago North Animal Hospital. “Ask the breeder about their breeding history and the veterinary history of the mother, father, and puppiesAsk for references from dog owners of previous litters.” Take your pup to your veterinarian for evaluation before bringing it home.

The teacup’s breed, location, and breeder determine how much a teacup dog costs. Typically they fetch $750 to $2,000. Make sure you’re up-to-date on the most and least expensive dog breeds.

What is a teacup dog?

“Most breeders consider teacup dogs less than 4 pounds and standing less than 17 inches tall. Given these standards, there are six true teacup breeds; teacup Chihuahua, teacup Maltese, teacup poodle, teacup Pomeranian, teacup Yorkie, and teacup Shih Tzu,” explains Dr. Abens. “We do see teacup pups that seem to come from somewhat responsible breeders,” adds Dr. McCarthy. “These so-called ‘hobby breeders’ do it because they love the breed and do a reasonable amount of genetic testing and follow up with owners to see how the pups do.” Unfortunately, the majority of teacup dogs come from the unscrupulous breeders of puppy mills.

French bulldog in the grassDavid Navarro Azurmendi/Getty Images

How are teacup dogs bred?

“Teacups come from the smallest puppies from a litter of toy breed dogs,” says Dr. Abens. Not all breeders are responsible. “Some breeders get teacup puppies from breeding sick dogs or dogs that were the runt of the litter.” This can cause health issues in newborn pups and future generations. “If breeders continue to breed dogs with congenital issues, it can cause issues with the gene pool in that particular breed,” explains Dr. Abens.

Breeders may also choose the smallest puppies (runts) from other groups, such as a Dachshund from the hound group or even a Siberian Husky from the working group. Teacup breeders may breed the runts with other runts and some runts with their own brothers and sisters or parents. Inbreeding can raise the stakes for genetic disorders and other health issues.

Puppies may also be born prematurely and later bred to create tiny teacups. Worse, breeders purposely underfeed the pups to stunt their growth. In contrast, breeding two healthy dogs that aren’t known to be related typically produces healthier and stronger litters. New genetic material can fortify the next generation’s overall physical vitality, structure, and temperament.

What are the common health concerns?

Some dogs are prone to specific health problems common to their breed. Teacups are prone to medical issues due to their size and/or being born prematurely. “I have seen so-called teacup pups that are, in fact, either prematurely born puppies, or just a lot younger than their listed age,” says Dr. McCarthy. Also, treating tiny teacups can be challenging for dosing medicines and things like placing an intravenous catheter. If teacups are born without issues and have proper nutrition and regular veterinary care, they can live up to 15 years, Dr. Aben says.

Here are some other common health concerns with teacup dogs:

  • “Liver shunts can cause puppies to be small because they are unhealthy and cannot thrive. This can cause major issues later in life and decrease the lifespan of the dog,” says Dr. Abens.
  • Teacup dogs have very fragile bones that can break easily. “Since they are small, you may not see them and accidentally step on them. If they fall, they are also very prone to injury,” explains Dr. Abens.
  • “Teacups are more susceptible to infectious diseases given their immature immune system,” adds Dr. McCarthy.
  • Teacups are also prone to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar),” says Dr. Abens. “They need to eat four to five meals per day.”
  • Being so young, these pups are less likely to know how to eat, hence their poor appetites and failure to thrive, explains Dr. McCarthy.

Teacup dogs

There’s isn’t an official breed standard or temperament guide for teacup dogs. We referred to the weights, heights, and temperaments of the AKC breed standards of the parent breeds as a reference for the following 15 breeds with teacup varieties.

Small Pomeranian sitting in the streetzhao hui/Getty Images

1. Pomeranian teacup

A bright-eyed, smiling, foxy face already makes a Pomeranian irresistibly cute. Underneath that posh exterior lies a bold and confident pooch. It’s not unheard of for a pom to harass a bigger dog. Their bark is usually enough to drive away a rival for your attention. Adoring fans call them poms or pom poms. At just 3 to 7 pounds and half a foot tall, pom poms are already on the teensy-weensy side.

2. Maltese teacup

Who wouldn’t want to dote on this darling little angel? Regular size Maltese top out at about 7 pounds and seven to eight inches tall. Those strikingly big black eyes and gumdrop nose lure you into a puppy coma you never want to wake up from. But you should, because Maltese don’t like riding solo. They’re the happiest spending all their free time with you, and that could be for a long time. Look for these telltale signs to know if your dog is happy.

3. Poodle teacup

Per the AKC, poodles come in three sizes—toy, miniature, and standard. The toy size is most likely to be the parent breed of a teacup because it is already pocket-size at 4 to 6 pounds and less than 10 inches tall. Toy poodles are currently the seventh most popular dog breed out of the 197 dog breeds the AKC recognizes. No matter the size, they are so versatile they fit in with just about anyone’s lifestyle. They’re enthusiastic and curious about whatever you are doing and ready to go with you wherever you’re going. It’s not uncommon for a toy poodle to live into its late teens.

teacup yorkshire terrier sitting outsidedoptoon/Getty Images

4. Yorkie teacup

This teacup variety comes from Yorkshire terrier parents. Even though Yorkies are actually classified as a toy breed and not a terrier by the AKC, they are true terriers at heart—independent, fearless, stubborn, and brave along with a heaping dose of face-licking and snuggling companionship. Their weight and height share the same number—seven.

5. Shih Tzu

The Mandarin phrase “Shih Tzu” translates to ‘little lion,” a misnomer given the Shih Tzus register between 9 to 16 pounds and are just under 11 inches tall. Teacups dogs are even tinier. The Shih Tzu doesn’t share any fast and furious traits of a lion either, although it will probably stalk you like a lion, always wanting to be near your side and hopping into your lap to ask with its adoring eyes for some pets. It is a dog that wants nothing more than to love and be loved and cherished. Do you know the other things your dog actually wants from you?

6. Pug teacup

It’s just ridiculous how cute pugs are! The wrinkles, irresistible. The snorts and snoring, adorbs. Their chunky belly, cherubic. The standard pug is robust for a toy breed, at 14 to18 pounds but just over a foot tall. It’s an ideal breed for people who prefer loafing around and sharing laughs and giggles with this witty pint-size wonder. And you wouldn’t want your pugster to get winded. The short snot makes it prone to breathing problems and overheating, so be sure to recognize the warning signs of heatstroke in dogs.

 A teacup chihuahua dog smiling outside Evgeniya Shihaleeva/Getty Images

7. Chihuahua teacup

The Chihuahua’s saucy and brazen personality is well-known. Sure, they can be nippy and cranky, but gosh darn it, they are so tiny and have the sweetest eyes and face, and delightful long or short coats. They’re likely showing their teeth to compensate for their slight size. (The standard size is 5 to 8 eight inches tall and about 6 pounds.) Truth be told, Chihuahuas are fiercely devoted to their family and expert watchdogs. It couldn’t be much easier to travel with a Chi. These items are paws-itively essential for your next road trip with your pupster.

8. Beagle teacup

If things are just too quiet and you’re craving a talkative and cheerful furry friend, the beagle might be the perfect match. There are two beagle varieties: one is under 13 inches and under 20 pounds, and the other is a couple of inches higher and weighs between 20 and 30 pounds. Beagles are pack dogs. They’re like lost souls and will convey their sadness with howling if they’re not with other dogs or humans. Their curiosity is scent-driven, and the urge to explore consumers them. Luckily, a teacup dog probably won’t get too far due to its size, but you’ll need to keep them in your sights.

9. French bulldog teacup

That precious wrinkled mug, comical bat ears, and robust and compact little body are so stinkin’ cute. It’s hard to refrain from not picking one up and snuggling their chunkiness. The standard French bulldog is already on the smaller side, as height goes. It’s just about a foot tall. Weight is another matter. The Frenchie is a solid cutie at just under 30 pounds. Their not athlete’s by any means but still need daily exercise and mental stimulation. They’re not much for conversation, preferring to watch and listen instead of bark. That puts the Frenchie as a favorite for best apartment dogs.

10. Papillon teacup

“I’m ready. Where’s the party?” These honey-pies always look like they are eager and ready to go with their feathery, perky ears and alert eyes. As a toy breed with spaniel-like coat and markings, they’re lightweights at 5 to 10 pounds and 8 to 11 inches tall. Dainty, yes. Fragile. Not a chance. Papillons might look like a one-person lap dog, but they are extroverts and like to mingle. Funnily enough, they excel at dog sports and obedience competitions.

Happy sausagedog puppyzhao hui/Getty Images

11. Dachshund teacup

In the Dachshund breed, there are two sizes and three coat types to choose from—smooth, wirehaired, or longhaired. The standard is around 9 inches tall and can weigh that ranges widely between 16 to 32 pounds. The miniature weighs up to 11 pounds and stands under 6 inches tall. The AKC assigned them to the hound group for their scent-o-riffic ability to sniff out tunneling animals, such as rabbits. Or when a squirrel catches their eyes.

12. French bulldog teacup

That precious wrinkled mug, comical bat ears, and robust and compact little body are so stinkin’ cute. It’s hard to refrain from not picking one up and snuggling their chunkiness. The standard French bulldog is already on the smaller side, as height goes. It’s just about a foot tall. Weight is another matter. The Frenchie is a solid cutie at just under 30 pounds. Their not athletes by any means but still need daily exercise and mental stimulation. They’re not much for conversation, preferring to watch and listen instead of bark. That puts the Frenchie as a favorite for best apartment dogs.

13. Papillon teacup

“I’m ready. Where’s the party?” These honey-pies always look like they are eager and ready to go with their feathery, perky ears and alert eyes. As a toy breed with spaniel-like coat and markings, they’re lightweights at 5 to 10 pounds and 8 to 11 inches tall. Dainty, yes. Fragile. Not a chance. Papillons might look like a one-person lap dog, but they are extroverts and like to mingle. Funnily enough, they excel at dog sports and obedience competitions.

Portrait of Pekingese dog on a grasskosobu/Getty Images

14. Pekingese

The Pekingese is cute and compact, weighing up to 15 pounds and hovering around 6 to 9 inches tall. How much of the weight is due to all that luscious fur? Who knows? Underneath all that fur is a notoriously confident pupster. Its roots can be traced back to the ruling classes of ancient China, where it enjoyed a regal life of luxury. The entitled attitude hasn’t been lost over the years, but it balances out nicely with their charming devotion to their human. Time to reciprocate—are you showing your dog enough affection?

15. Brussels Griffon teacup

You’ll always gauge the mood of a Brussels Griffon. Their face is undeniably cute, whether it’s the trademark sweet, grumpy face, the inquisitive one, or the guilty, “I-just-ate-your-slipper” face. Compact and portable, the Griff packs a lot of human-like personality into its standard frame of 8 to 10 pounds and height of 7 to 10 inches. Their coats can be smooth or rough (think Schnauzer). Though displaying an air of self-importance, they’re unabashedly stuck to their humans like glue.

16. Husky teacup

Brawny, zoomie-loving, blue-eyed, brown-eyed (or one of each), the Siberian Husky is a gorgeous dog. Standard size is between 35 to 60 pounds, and males are on the heavier side. They stand between 20 to 24 inches tall. There are miniature husky dogs (not recognized by the AKC) that are smaller at 25 to 35 pounds, reaching 14 to 17 inches in height. Still, teacup dogs of the husky variety won’t likely fit in a teacup or an oversize mug, for that matter, but they will be more petite.

17. Bichon Frise

Who wouldn’t want to have a gregarious and joyful little fluff ball that lavishes unbridled affection on you? And their velvety, plush coat is relatively hypoallergenic, cutting down on the achoo! factor, allergy suffers. Standard size stats register between 12 to 18 pounds and 10 to 12 inches tall. Bichons prefer to be busy in lieu of sofa patrol. They make friends easily with humans and other pooches at the dog park or happily exchange smiles with strangers walking down the street.

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Lisa Marie Conklin
Lisa Marie Conklin is a Baltimore-based writer who writes regularly about pets and home improvement for Reader's Digest. Her work has also been published in The Healthy, HealthiNation, The Family Handyman, Taste of Home, and Realtor.com., among other outlets. She's also a certified personal trainer and walking coach for a local senior center. Follow her on Instagram @lisamariewrites4food and Twitter @cornish_conklin.