Making things miniature seems to be popular in today’s world. It seems that we’re all a little fascinated by objects that are smaller than the standard. Take travel-sized toiletries, for example, we all love a tiny tube of toothpaste. Also, how can you not think a toddler-sized suit is adorable? The same seems to be true with our dogs. Miniaturized versions of popular dog breeds are all around us with new ones popping up all the time. It gets even crazier when you take an already small or toy breed and make them mini. That’s the case with a Teacup Chihuahua.
What Makes a Teacup Chihuahua a Teacup?
There are many breeds of dogs where some are arbitrarily considered teacups. This is just a catchy way of saying smaller than normal and could fit in a teacup. Basically, a Teacup Chihuahua is just a smaller version of the standard size Chihuahua, which is already small. They aren’t a breed in and of themselves. The confusing part, however, is that there is no set guidelines for what makes a Teacup Chihuahua a teacup. The American Kennel Club show standard for Chihuahuas is under six pounds. This puts them in the toy category. There is no minimal weight requirement. That means that a two pound Chihuahua is still considered to be within the breed standard.
A standard Chihuahua measures in between 5-8 inches in height at the shoulder. Again, there can be some variation between individuals but no set bar that a Teacup Chihuahua needs to walk under in order to be called a teacup. Teacups also tend to be finer boned with smaller features like smaller mouths and ears.
That being said, where do you draw the line and say a Chihuahua is a teacup? This comes at each breeder’s discretion. They can say that the runt of the litter is a teacup in order to make them sound more appealing and cute to potential buyers. However, there are also breeders that are selecting for these tiny characteristics and actively breeding smaller Chihuahuas to smaller Chihuahuas in hopes of producing a teacup litter.
Where Did the Teacup Chihuahua Come From?
To answer this question we need to first learn a bit about the standard Chihuahua’s origins. The Chihuahua is one of the world’s oldest dog breeds. Their roots can be traced back to ancient Mexico when the Toltecs people bred dogs with Chihuahua like features called the Techichi. Once the Toltecs were defeated by the Aztecs, they refined the Techichi into a smaller version more like today’s Chihuahua.
When the Aztecs fell to the Spanish conquistadors in the 1500s, the Techichi dog was everywhere. Commonly used as a food source, these dogs were bred and sold at Aztec marketplaces. They also held significance in death as each Aztec body was cremated with a dog to accompany them to the other side.
When the Spanish took over the Aztec nation, the breed was thought to be lost forever. They were kept alive in remote villages across the region, mainly in Chihuahua. Americans became interested in these dogs and made them a registered breed in 1908. Chihuahuas have since become popular due to their role in movies and as ‘purse dogs.’
The Teacup Chihuahua is a much more recent version of this historic breed. Since there is no real written-in-stone standard for what makes a teacup, there is no real way to say when the name was first used.
What Are a Teacup Chihuahua’s Characteristics?
Since Teacup Chihuahuas are just smaller dogs within the Chihuahua breed, they share the characteristics of a Chihuahua, just miniaturized. We all can recognize the distinctive ‘apple’ head that is the hallmark of the breed. Having a large rounded forehead and protruding, almost popped out eyes are characteristics that the Teacup Chihuahua shares. They also have the erect, triangular shaped ears. Teacup Chihuahuas can have a long or short hair coat that comes in a variety of colors like black, fawn, red, brown, white, cream or a combination of these.
Another major quality that the Teacup Chihuahua shares with the standard Chihuahua is temperament. They tend to have short tempers and usually do not tolerate small children. Since Teacup Chihuahuas are smaller and more fragile than the standard, they can be a bit more skittish in larger groups of people or with children in fear of getting hurt.
Teacup Chihuahuas also tend to be one person dogs and will pick favorites within your family. They prefer lots of lap time and will snuggle in blankets or under the covers. Keep in mind that personality can be somewhat affected by the owner and the Teacup Chihuahua’s exposures as a puppy.
Teacup Chihuahuas make up for their small stature with a big personality. Don’t be surprised when they let their presence be known by barking loudly and often. They also hold onto a pack mentality and prefer to live with other dogs, especially other Teacup Chihuahuas.
How Do You Care For a Teacup Chihuahua?
Nutrition is important for Teacup Chihuahuas just like it is for any other dog. Since Teacup Chihuahuas prefer to be lap dogs, they can be prone to obesity. Teacup Chihuahua owners tend to give lots of treats and table scraps since their pup is with them most of the time. These tiny dogs don’t require a lot of calories, so even the smallest amount of human food can be deleterious. Find a quality dog food meant for small breed pups and feed the recommended amount. Limit the treats to training time only and refrain from sharing your meal with your Teacup Chihuahua. It’s important to keep in mind that Teacup Chihuahuas have tiny little stomachs so they can’t hold very much at one time. Because of this, it is best to feed small frequent meals every 2-3 hours or let your pup graze throughout the day if they can do so without eating all the food at one time.
Short-coat Teacup Chihuahuas will only need the occasional bath and brushing while the long-coat variety will need frequent brushing to prevent mats. The long hair tends to be very fine and silky meaning it tangles easily. Since Teacup Chihuahuas are more likely to be carried than to walk by themselves, they may need frequent nail trims. Nail trimming may seem like the worst possible thing to some of these dogs and they can throw a major fit. To make nail trimming easier for you and your pup, handle his feet frequently especially when he is young. You may also try filing the nails rather than trimming them as some dogs will better handle this process.
Being a toy breed, Teacup Chihuahuas can have major dental issues. Teacups are especially prone since they are smaller than the normal Chihuahua size. This means their mouth is smaller too. They can have overlapping and retained baby teeth, both of which can lead to tartar buildup. Frequent teeth brushing and regular veterinary dental care can help prevent dental disease.
Even though they are small, Teacup Chihuahuas still need their exercise. Fortunately, walking around the house or apartment tends to be enough movement for their short little legs. Teacup Chihuahuas also like to play and may fetch or chase small toys or balls. They may also like to play with other dogs, but be careful that the play doesn’t get too rough for these tiny little pups.
How Do You Train a Teacup Chihuahua?
Teacup Chihuahuas respond well to positive reinforcement training. They are highly intelligent but can be stubborn. You need to establish dominance early on to prevent Teacup Chihuahuas from ruling the house and not being respectful of you. As said before, they have big personalities and can become quite bossy if you let them. Just set the rules early on and be firm and consistent with your training.
The two main areas to be sure to train your Teacup Chihuahua in are potty training and barking. Again, it’s best to let them know what is acceptable early on. Use positive reinforcement when they potty in the proper location and let them know when they potty in the wrong area. Being tiny dogs means that Teacup Chihuahuas also have tiny bladders so they may have to urinate more frequently than standard Chihuahuas. If you are having trouble with your Teacup urinating in the house, it may be because you aren’t letting her out often enough and she just can’t hold it any longer.
Barking inappropriately can be a big issue with Teacup Chihuahuas. Being so small, they may feel like they need to assert themselves in other ways, mainly through barking. Reward them for not barking when they shouldn’t and let them know when they do bark inappropriately. Always be firm and consistent.
What Health Issues Do Teacup Chihuahuas Face?
Teacup Chihuahuas may be more susceptible to some of the health issues faced by Chihuahuas due to their small size. One of the most common is dental disease which was discussed previously. Other conditions include hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, due to their small stomach size and need to eat more frequently. Low blood sugar can lead to seizures, muscle tremors, and fainting. Feed frequent small meals and keep some supplements like Nutri-Cal on hand to give in an emergency.
Hydrocephalus, or fluid on the brain, seems to be a more common problem in Chihuahuas. Ultimately this issue can lead to swelling of the brain and death. It may be more common in Chihuahuas because of their size and head shape or there may be a genetic component.
Having a small body means that the bones are small too, not just short, but also in circumference. Teacup Chihuahuas are also low to the ground and often out of our line of sight. All this adds up to traumatic bone fractures from getting stepped on or kicked. Just make sure you always watch where you are walking when your little dog is around. If you have kids or other dogs, make sure they don’t play too roughly with your delicate little Teacup Chihuahua.
Another condition more common in Teacup Chihuahuas is a persistent molera. A molera is a soft spot in the skull that helps the large round head to get through the birth canal. Most molera will close on its own but it can take up to six months. It’s important to be careful when petting your young Teacup Chihuahua puppy and to make sure they aren’t dropped or experience a head injury from something else during this time.
Teacup Chihuahuas have large protruding eyes and are low to the ground, so they are more susceptible to eye injuries. Things as simple as grass and weeds can cause scratches and ulcerations while dust, dirt, and pollens can cause watering and discharge. It’s important to see your veterinarian if your Teacup Chihuahua has any abnormal ocular discharge or abnormalities with their eyes.
As with other toy breed dogs, Teacup Chihuahuas can be more prone to a collapsing trachea due to incomplete formation or weakened tracheal rings. Dogs with collapsing trachea will have a ‘honking’ cough especially when excited. There is really no treatment other than to keep the pup calm and possibly anti-inflammatories for severe cases. Toy breed dogs can also develop luxating patellas, another developmental abnormality that allows the knee cap to slip out of place and lock the knee in a bent position. This usually requires surgery to repair.
Is the Teacup Chihuahua the Right Breed For You?
Before you decide if a Teacup Chihuahua would be a good dog to snuggle in your covers, you need to take a look at your household and make sure it isn’t too busy to have a tiny dog around. This means that you don’t have small children that could be rough with him or a lot of foot traffic where he could get stepped on. You will also need to factor in cost. Don’t fall for paying thousands of dollars as some breeders will try to charge due to the cute name Teacup Chihuahua. You shouldn’t pay any more than you would for a standard Chihuahua. Also, make sure to pick a breeder that isn’t trying to keep their puppies small by not feeding them adequately. Do your research beforehand.
Fortunately healthy Teacup Chihuahuas won’t cost you much in food and upkeep as they won’t eat a lot even though they can live well into their teenage years. Again, just make sure to find a reputable breeder or use a rescue that provides health screenings before each adoption.
Teacup Chihuahuas may be the perfect pet for someone that has a small living space and wants a pet that will snuggle and cuddle. Be aware that they can have an attitude if not trained properly and may come predisposed to some serious health issues.