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Tiny Shih-tzu in a tea cup

The small stature and portability of teacup dog breeds can be very appealing for potential pet parents. Their small size means they look like forever puppies, which makes them a hot commodity. A teacup dog is so-called due to its much smaller size than the average breed standard. One important thing to know about these very small dogs is that they’re not a distinct breed or group type. There are a number of dog breeds which can produce teacup dogs, which are made by breeding the runts of the litter. Teacup breeds are not recognized by the American Kennel Club, but are instead simply considered smaller versions of already established toy dog breeds.

1. Teacup Chihuahua

In the popular Reese Witherspoon movie Legally Blond, the iconic purse dog Bruiser is a teacup Chihuahua. Teacup Chihuahuas have also been made popular by celebrities such as Paris Hilton. These highly intelligent pups are very affectionate, intelligent, and loyal, but tend to have a more nervous temperament. While they have small statures, a Teacup Chihuahua is known for a big personality. Teacup Chihuahuas do best in a home without young children. Pet parents to this small dog breed can easily cart these pint-size pups around town in a fashionable dog carrier.

White Chihuahua resting on the floor

Facts about the teacup Chihuahua

2. Teacup Yorkie

Another of the American Kennel Club’s toy breeds, the confident and lovable teacup Yorkshire terrier is every bit as popular as their pint-sized buddies the teacup Chihuahua. Like the Chihuahua, teacup Yorkies also do best in a home with no children, and they tend to do best in a home where they are the only pet. They can be possessive of their owners, as well as very vocal and require plenty of exercise. Even though their small bodies only weigh between 2 and 3 pounds, these little pups have a lot of energy and need plenty of positive reinforcement training. The teeny teacup Yorkie is adaptable in both the big city or a suburban neighborhood and does well in apartments.

If you’re interested in a similar breed with a bit more color in their coats, consider the Biewer terrier, originally bred from the Yorkie.

Yorkie puppy terrier on a window seat

Facts about the teacup Yorkie

  • Breed groupToy group (AKC)
  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — Often
  • Life span — 11-15 years

3. Teacup poodle

Whether it’s a standard, miniature, or toy poodle, poodles are known to be one of the smartest dog breeds around. The teacup poodle, a small version of the toy variety, is a great dog for a first time pet owner. They are easy to train, adaptable in any environment and a great dog for families. Teacup poodles only weigh in around 4 pounds, and are low shedders, but brushing and grooming them does require some technique and a weekly time commitment. These tiny dogs may also be prone to health issues and are more physically fragile than a regular toy poodle.

White toy poodle and teacup poodle together.

Facts about the teacup toy poodle

  • Breed groupToy group (AKC)
  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — Often
  • Life span — 10-18 years

4. Teacup Shih tzu

The silky, long hair of a teacup Shih Tzu is perfect for decorating with adorable bows. This highly popular type of teacup dog looks like permanent puppies all through their lives. They are great apartment dogs and love lounging on the couch and cuddling with their humans. They’re an excellent dog for pet owners with children and other animals. However, these micro dogs can be prone to medical conditions such as respiratory problems and experience troubles regulating body temperature due to their flat faces. Pet parents of a teacup Shih tzu should be sure to have plenty of sweaters and jackets to keep pups warm in the colder months.

Shih tzu running outside.

Facts about the teacup Shih tzu

  • Breed groupToy group (AKC)
  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — Moderate
  • Life span — 10-18 years

5. Teacup Maltese

Both highly loyal to their humans and very affectionate, the teacup Maltese is a sweet and loveable pup to bring into your home. Weighing in between 2 to 4 pounds, these teensy puppers love to snuggle with their humans. They do great in homes with older children and can be highly energetic. They may need help with training to curb excessive barking, but on the flipside the teacup Maltese makes an excellent watchdog.

Teacup Maltese in the grass

Facts about the Teacup Maltese

  • Breed groupToy group (AKC)
  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — Frequent
  • Life span — 12-15 years

6. Russian toy

Unlike other teacup dogs who are created by breeding the runts of the litter, the Russian toy is a specific breed of dog. Weighing in at only 6 pounds, this tiny pup is a natural teacup dog. The Russian toy is playful and lovable, and keeps their puppy-like spirit all through their adult life. These adorable little dogs are a great breed for single pet owners or families. While many purposely bred teacup dogs are prone to a variety of health issues, the Russian toy is considered a healthy breed that can live over 15 years.

Black Russian toy dog being held by a person

Facts about the Russian toy

  • Breed groupToy group (AKC)
  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — Moderately vocal
  • Life span — 12-15 years

Things to know about teacup dog breeds

Although teacup variety dogs are adorable forever puppies, many responsible breeders and veterinarians advise potential parents to avoid them. Because they are bred with the runts of the litter, many teacup pups sadly don’t survive adolescence. Responsible breeders know from generations of breeding that breeding the smallest pups of the litter is not a normal breeding situation and can often lead to genetic disorders. Those that do are often prone to health risks throughout their lives, and have shorter lifespans as a result.

Common health problems among teacup dogs include heart failure, certain respiratory issues, digestive and liver diseases, eye issues and blindness, low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), seizures, and others. If your heart is set on one of these tiny pups, make sure to always follow the advice of your veterinarian when it comes to the health, wellness, and nutrition of your small furry friend.


What breed is a teacup dog?

There is no such thing as a true teacup breed when it comes to dogs. While there are many toy or small dog breeds, teacup dogs are simply smaller versions of established breeds. Teacup dogs are often defined as a small breed dog that was bred with the runts of the litter to create an even tinier dog.

What is the smartest teacup dog?

While many teacup dogs represent intelligent breeds, thanks to their ancestor’s renowned intelligence, teacup poodles are considered to be among the smartest types of teacup dogs.

How long do teacup dogs live?

A teacup dog’s life span varies by the breed of dog, but on average most healthy teacup dogs live between 9-15 years.

Why shouldn’t you get a teacup dog?

Dog lovers may steer clear of teacup dogs, as they are bred with the runt of a litter and  predisposed to significant health conditions from the moment they’re born. Reputable breeders are unlikely to breed these dogs at all. Research shows that issues including birth defects, heart and respiratory problems, seizures, blindness, and liver disease are just a few of the potential problems teacup dogs can have.