Buying a teacup dog

Whether you’re looking to buy what is described as a ‘teacup’ puppy, or adopt a ‘teacup’ dog, there are a number of things that you should know before you buy from a breeder or visit a rescue centre near you.

What is a teacup dog?

Teacup dogs are bred to be as small as possible. Small dogs, such as popular toy breeds, including Chihuahuas or Yorkshire Terriers, are often used, but the term ‘teacup’ simply means that a dog is smaller than average. Teacup breeders often use the very smallest dogs for breeding, which may not be the healthiest dogs or offer the best breeding prospects. Although some may attempt to breed these dogs responsibly, it will often mean only breeding from the runts of the litter. These dogs may be smaller and weaker than other puppies and may initially struggle to survive without help. Breeding from these dogs can cause health issues during pregnancy and also for any puppies produced. Other breeders may use unethical techniques to stunt the puppy’s growth or try to sell puppies that are younger than 8weeks old to pass them off as being smaller.

How long do teacup dogs live?

Teacup dogs are more likely to live significantly shorter lives than other dogs and may have an increased risk of developing a number of painful or unpleasant health issues.

Do teacup dogs have any health issues?

Breeding from the runts of a litter can have health implications for any puppies born. This can have a long-term impact on the quality of a dog’s life and may be accompanied by expensive vet bills.

Health issues in teacup dogs may include:
  • Breathing problems
  • Fragile bones
  • Joint problems
  • Heart issues
  • Stomach problems

How much do teacup dogs cost?

Your puppy shouldn’t cost any more than other dogs in the breed. 'Teacup' dogs can be very fashionable, so just make sure the breeder cares about the puppy’s health and future, and not just your money.

Finding a breeder

The Kennel Club does not recognise any teacup breeds and will not record dogs as being teacup on its register. There may be breeders who take care and breed a smaller than average dog responsibly, or who mistakenly use the term teacup to describe a small dog, but we advise puppy buyers to take care if considering buying a dog advertised in this way.

Any puppy that you buy should always be bought from a responsible breeder; someone who registers their dogs with The Kennel Club, who does everything they can to make sure that the dogs they breed are happy and healthy, such as an assured breeder. You need to visit the puppy at home and meet their mum, just as you would with any other puppy.

Your puppy’s health and happiness

Your puppy’s mother and father (Sire and Dam) should be health screened for the same conditions as any other breeding dog of the same breed. Their health and temperament should always be more important than their size.

Each breeds recommended health schemes can be found in our Breeds A to Z.

Be vigilant and do your homework!

Be sure to do your research before you buy any type of puppy. To find out more about a breed speak to your local breed club or refer to our Breeds A to Z.

Never buy from anyone you think hasn’t taken every step to make a puppy’s health their priority. If you suspect someone is a puppy farmer, please report them to the RSPCA, the police or your local authority.