Teacup Yorkie

Breed Overview

Breed Type

Toy Breed

Care Level

Intermediate

Size

Very Small

Untitled design (52)(1)-svg

Trainability

Highly trainable

Sociability & Friendliness

Intelligence

Strength

Family Dog

Physical Exercise Needs

Mental Exercise Needs

Guard Dog/Protection Instincts

Suitability For Dog Sports

Health & Longevity

Grooming Needs

Shedding

Apartment Dog

Suitable For First-Time Owners

Yorkies are already very small dogs. According to the AKC, a “normal” Yorkie only weighs 7 pounds at the most. That’s much smaller than most dog breeds out there. 

However, some breeders are now selling and advertising “teacup Yorkies,” which are a smaller version of the regular Yorkie. Despite how they are often advertised, the existence of this breed is somewhat complicated. They are not recognized by any official kennel club, and there may not actually be many differences between a “teacup” Yorkie and a regular Yorkie. (Some of them might not even be smaller!)

Many breeders and the Yorkshire Terrier Club of America point out that breeding these extra-small dogs raises some ethical concerns. 

If you’re looking for an extra-small Yorkie, then you’ve wandered to the right article. We’ll take a look at what exactly a Teacup Yorkie is, as well as what it’s like to own one.

Table of Contents

teacup yorkie and a cup
teacup yorkie on pink background

Appearance

Generally, teacup Yorkies are exactly like normal Yorkies, except they are a bit smaller. They usually have rounded skulls and a decently short muzzle. However, they are not flat-faced like some other breeds. Their eyes are relatively small and do not pop out like some other toy breeds. 

They are usually quite compact and sturdier than they look. While they are technically toy dogs, they were originally bred for working purposes. Therefore, they tend to be a bit more solidly built than other small dogs. Their legs are quite short. 

Technically, the Yorkie weighs 7 pounds at the most. However, they can weigh anything below this and still be considered a Yorkie. It isn’t odd for Yorkies to weigh as little as 4 pounds. Where exactly the Teacup Yorkie begins varies. Some breeders may sell anything under 4 pounds as a Teacup Yorkie, though technically, many of these dogs could easily be considered an average Yorkie.

Some breeders only sell Yorkies that are under 4 pounds as Teacup Yorkies. Because there is no official teacup version of this breed, it can significantly vary from one breeder to another. The expected height is no more than 5-7 inches in most cases. 

The Yorkies can come in any of the normal colorations. This includes blue and gold, blue and tan, black and gold, and black and tan. Any colors besides these are not recognized by the AKC or any other kennel club. It is not recommended to seek out puppies that have different colors from these. The difference in color may be the result of a genetic defect that may affect the puppy’s health. A breeder should never promote unusual colors as being desirable. 

This includes parti-colored Yorkies. Yorkies do not have the gene for white markings, and, therefore, no purebred Yorkie will have white markings. 

History

The Yorkie was developed as a ratting terrier. The details of its exact development are scarce, so we don’t know exactly how it came to be. However, we do know that this breed likely developed from three distinct dogs: a male and two females. The Paisley Terrier was used early on to give them longer coats. The Maltese might have been used as well, along with a variety of other small dogs. 

The breed wasn’t established firmly until the late 1860s, though it existed during earlier times. This terrier was first introduced to North American in 1872. The first Yorkshire Terrier wasn’t registered with the AKC until 1885. The breed’s popularity dipped during the 1940s but then quickly become popular again after WWII. 

Teacup breeds have become highly popular in recent years, and the Teacup Yorkie is no exception. Apartment owners and city dwellers appreciate the small size and lower exercise needs of breeds like the Teacup Yorkie as well as his cousins, the Teacup Chihuahua, Teacup Pomeranian or Teacup Shih-Tzu.

teacup yorkie on white background

Personality and temperament

Yorkies are known for having very large personalities. Teacup Yorkies are no different. These dogs are often affectionate and very people-oriented. They are confident and often act far larger than they actually are. They can be very attention-seeking with their own people. However, they can be quite cautious of strangers as well. 

They are known for having isolation anxiety. This causes them to become anxious and fearful when they are left alone. They don’t necessarily care who they are with, as long as they are with someone. 

Like most smaller dogs, the Yorkie is a bundle of energy and can become very excitable. They need a bit more exercise than you may think, as they were originally bred to hunt rats all day. They have a very strong prey drive because of this. However, their small size means that they will not see many things as prey. They often get along with cats simply because the cats are often larger than they are. 

The Teacup Yorkie is known for being very loud and yappy. This can be fixed somewhat with proper training. However, this dog’s excitable nature and independence mean that you likely won’t eliminate the barking altogether. We highly recommend only adopting these dogs if you plan appropriately for the level of noise they tend to make. They may be small, but they have a very large voice.

teacup yorkie training

Training and exercise needs of a Teacup Yorkie

These dogs are somewhat territorial, especially if they are not socialized properly. They can easily become anxious and aggressive around new people and dogs. Early socialization can prevent this to some extent. For this reason, we highly recommend puppy classes for this breed. They may be small dogs, but it is still important to ensure that they are friendly and well-behaved. 

Socialization is going to be the main focus of your training. These dogs need to be introduced to many different people and dogs. Puppy classes are a great place to start, but it is important to continue this socialization as your dog gets older. You can never really stop socializing these small dogs. 

With that said, these dogs can be somewhat difficult to socialize due to their small size. You have to be careful around puppies and other dogs, as they are easily injured. They also aren’t the best dog for long walks in the park, as there are many common obstacles that are simply impossible for them. 

While you may be tempted to spend much of your time holding these dogs, this is not recommended. Dogs may not learn how to socialize properly with people and other dogs unless they are given the opportunity to actually interact with them. They can’t do this if you are holding them constantly. 

While these dogs are often considered lap dogs, that doesn’t mean that they’ll simply lay around all day. These dogs require regular and consistent exercise. They were originally bred for an active purpose. Unlike some other toy dogs, they were not simply bred to sit there and look pretty. However, their small size also means that a short walk for you is a long walk for them. 

Therefore, these dogs may act like they need a lot of exercise, but they tend to run out of endurance very quickly. They are really a good option for those that want to take their canine on long hikes unless you plan on carrying them. 

Health and care

The Yorkie is not a terribly unhealthy dog. Their small size does make them prone to some health conditions. However, these are typically rather minor and don’t affect all dogs. Many breeders are very careful about breeding healthy litters. Therefore, if you purchase your dog from a qualified breeder, you’re more likely to end up with a high-quality puppy.

With that said, Teacup Yorkies tend to be prone to many health problems simply because they are so small. According to the Yorkshire Terrier Club of America, these tiny dogs are more prone to hereditary and non-hereditary problems. This includes birth defects, though these may go a long time before they are noticed. These dogs simply aren’t mean to be this small. 

They are more likely to be sensitive to anesthesia and potentially die from it. They are simply so small that most medical equipment won’t work for them, and the dosage of certain medications is very difficult to get right. They are also more likely to be injured due to their small size. They can easily become seriously injured from falls, other animals, and children. This can result in very high vet bills. 

Common health issues

Yorkies are prone to a variety of health problems, mostly due to their smaller size. 

Their smaller face often causes more teeth crowding, which can lead to dental disease. They are more likely than other dogs to have problems with their teeth because of this. Usually, these problems start with tartar buildup on the teeth and slowly turns into gum infections. While this often progresses slowly, without treatment, it can cause damage to your dog’s major organs and joints. Damaged gums are a direct route for bacteria to enter the bloodstream. 

Teacup Yorkies are likely to have even bigger problems with their teeth than regular Yorkies. Therefore, it is important to keep your dog’s teeth clean at home through regular brushing, especially since teeth cleanings at the vet may be impractical. 

Because of their extremely small size, these dogs can be particularly harmed by obesity. This might not show up well on a scale, which can make the problem difficult to notice. Even a gain of a few ounces can be a serious problem for a dog that only weighs 3 pounds!

There are also several genetic conditions these dogs may get. These include distichiae, which occurs when eyelashes appear in a strange place in the dog’s eye. These must be removed as they can irritate the eye, causing tearing, inflammation, and abrasions. 

Hypoplasia is common, especially in smaller Yorkies. This occurs when their vertebra does not form properly, which leads to spinal cord damage. This will lead to neck pain and usually paralysis. 

Luxating patella occurs when the Yorkie’s kneecap does not fit correctly into their femur. This makes it more likely to become loose. This condition usually has a genetic component. However, it can also be caused by injury and nutrition. Smaller Yorkies are particularly prone to this problem. Dogs with this condition often experience frequent pain and even lameness. Over time, the condition usually worsens as the bones rub together. Surgery is typically required for this condition, though this can be difficult for Teacup Yorkies. 

Portosystemic shunt is a common congenital condition in Yorkies of all sorts, including the Teacup Yorkie. This causes some blood to skip the liver and return to the heart and other organs without being cleaned. This often causes a buildup of toxins, which can cause issues with all the dog’s organs. Usually, it can be treated with surgery if it is caught early enough and the dog isn’t so small as to make anesthesia impossible to use. 

Like many small dogs, they are also prone to tracheal collapse. This occurs when the walls of the trachea slowly weaken. It is genetically linked, though smaller dogs and those walked on leashes are more prone to this disease as well. Over time, this condition will make breathing difficult, causing coughing and eventually death. 

All small dogs are prone to hypoglycemia. The smaller the dog, the more serious this condition is. Hypoglycemia occurs when there is not enough sugar in a dog’s blood. Because the cells use sugar for energy, this results in an energy deficit. Teacup Yorkies do not have the muscle mass required to store extra sugar, so they must instead be fed frequent meals.  Some may need to be fed up to five times a day. 

If a small dog is not fed for long enough, they can have a seizure and go into a coma. Often, medical interventions are required, as the dog may not be strong enough to eat on their own. Even if a dog is saved, these attacks can permanently damage their brain. Furthermore, regular bouts of minor hypoglycemia can make a dog more prone to infections and parasites. 

Legg-Calve-Perthes syndrome also occurs with some regularity in these smaller dogs. This is characterized by insufficient circulation in the hip joint, which leads to some of the bone dying. This causes pain, limping, and lameness. Surgery is possible, but it is often somewhat complicated. For this reason, most Teacup Yorkies will not be able to undergo this surgery. It may simply be too risky. 

Grooming

Yorkies do not shed very much. Teacup Yorkies shed even less due to their small size. They simply don’t have very much hair. Instead, their fur needs to be regularly trimmed in most home situations. Otherwise, it can easily get too long and become difficult to care for. In a show setting, these dogs typically have long coats. However, these require significant amounts of care and are generally not suitable for pet dogs.

Luckily, these dogs don’t take very long to groom, as they don’t have very much fur. You should plan on brushing their fur daily to prevent matting. The brush will also help remove any debris or dirt that builds up in the dog’s fur, elongating the time between baths. If the fur is kept short, less grooming will be required. 

Even if you don’t trim your dog’s fur, the fur in their ears and on their feet will need to be trimmed. This keeps the dog healthy and prevents ear infections. The fur on the bottom of their feet can easily become dirty and matted, which can cause serious problems. 

teacup yorkie and scissors
teacup yorkie lay down

If your dog has a longer coat, you may need to oil it and then wrap it lightly in tissue paper to prevent breakage. This adds a considerable amount of time to the dog’s usual grooming needs. The oil will need to be changed monthly by giving the dog’s a bath, and the wraps will need to be adjusted regularly to prevent them from breaking the hair. You may want to go to a groomer to learn how to do this properly, though it is often much easier for pet owners to simply trim their dog’s coat short. 

This sort of high-maintenance grooming has been around since the beginning of the breed. In 1878, a similar oiling routine was described by one of the dogs’ breeders. 

Despite some common misconceptions, these dogs are not hypoallergenic. In fact, there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog. Dog allergies are caused by proteins found in the dog’s skin, urine, and saliva. All dogs make these proteins; it doesn’t have anything to do with their hair. In fact, studies have shown that allergens are produced in similar amounts amount all dogs, no matter how much they shed.

Like all breeds, you should keep your dog’s nails trimmed to the proper length and brush their teeth daily. Dental hygiene is particularly important, as these dogs are prone to dental disease. 

Adopting a Teacup Yorkie

Most Teacup Yorkies are not produced by high-quality breeders. This is because there are many ethical concerns revolving around breeding very small dogs due to their higher risk for health problems. Most breeders will not breed a dog that they know is going to be unhealthy. Therefore, any dog under 4 pounds is typically not used for breeding. 

With that said, Teacup Yorkies do exist, and there are some people that breed them. It is extremely important to be very careful about who you adopt from, given that these dogs are so unhealthy to begin with. Improper breeding can quickly result in a very unhealthy puppy with a very short lifespan and high vet bills. 

All dogs should be screened for common health conditions before they are bred. You should ask for the parent’s CHIC number. If they don’t have one, they have not been properly health tested. This can result in a higher chance of genetic health conditions for puppies that are already at a higher chance of being sick. 

feeding teacup yorkie

You should also check to see if the breeders are engaging in other risky breeding patterns, such as breeding Yorkies with white markings. If a breeder is selling these patterns as “rare” or “premium,” they may be more interested in the money than they are in the dogs. 

We highly recommend reading through the Yorkshire Terrier Club of America’s guide to choosing a breeder before making your purchase. This organization sets the standards for professional breeders in America. 

It is recommended that you avoid puppy mills at all costs. These places often aim to produce as many puppies as possible for as cheap as possible, which often results in sickly dogs. They are usually overcrowded, and the dogs do not receive proper vet care. After all, vet care is expensive when your goal is to produce very cheap puppies. Dogs at pet stores usually come from puppy mills. 

Backyard breeders should also be avoided. While these breeders breed dogs for various reasons, they are usually not professionals and do not breed according to the strict standards professional breeders do. They are unlikely to perform the correct health testing or carefully match dogs together to produce the best litter. Often, the dogs they breed are simply the dogs that they happened to own (and they may not even check to see if they are related). 

teacup yorkie carries a leaf

Experience level for owning a Teacup Yorkie

We only recommend these dogs for experienced dog owners who plan on being home with the dog for much of the time. These dogs are prone to many health conditions and usually aren’t very healthy in most cases. They need to be fed often, or they may become hypoglycemic. This is especially true before they are full-grown, when they may need to be fed as many as seven times a day. Therefore, they are not suitable for those who will be at work for much of the day. You may come home to a puppy in a coma. 

Due to their very specific needs, these dogs can be difficult for many first-time owners to handle. You’ll need to be very careful in puppy-proofing your home due to their tendency to get injured, as well as keep the puppies on a specific eating routine. Even normal things, like baths, can result in health concerns for these tiny dogs. 

You’ll also need to be very careful in training and socializing these dogs, as they can be a bit territorial. Of course, due to their small size, they are not a danger to anyone else. However, they can easily be injured by other dogs – even accidentally. A larger dog can easily kick a Teacup Yorkie while running and seriously injure them. 

If the puppy does become injured, there is usually little forgiveness. They are sensitive to anesthesia, so repairing the injuries may not be possible. This is also true for any health conditions these dogs develop. Sometimes, a cure is available, but these dogs are simply too small to receive it. 

The line between keeping your puppy safe and ensuring that they socialize enough with other dogs is very thin. It can be challenging for even experienced dog owners to walk this line, which is one reason why the breed’s club recommends that these dogs aren’t bred at all. They are simply very challenging to keep healthy and happy. 

In fact, we generally recommend that people refrain from purchasing these dogs due to the ethical concern involved. There is a reason dogs this small don’t exist widely. They are unhealthy and difficult to are for properly. 

The bottom line

The Teacup Yorkie is often described as a “designer” dog. However, they are really the result of very small Yorkies being bred together. The smaller the dog gets, the more difficult it is for them to exist in a healthy way. Many of them will develop health conditions due to their smallness. Most health conditions the regular Yorkie is prone to are made worse when the dog is significantly smaller. 

Their small size also makes them prone to structural problems, such as skull malformities and spinal problems. As you might imagine, many of these deformities affect the health of the dog and can quickly result in 

It is also difficult to keep these dogs from getting injured. They are so small that even minor things can cause problems. It is hard for them to play with other dogs, as they are likely to become accidentally injured. It is very easy to step on them and cause serious problems. They are not recommended for homes with children or other pets due to their small size. 

On top of this, if something does end up wrong with your puppy, it can be difficult for it to be treated. Many medical interventions simply don’t work for these dogs because of their size. It can be difficult to get medicine dosages correct, and many of them may not wake up from basic anesthesia. Some fixes that are simple for other dogs may simply not be possible with this breed. 

While these dogs can make good companion animals for households with adults only, their health problems have caused many to call their breeding unethical. The Yorkshire Terrier Club of America even recommends against breeding them, making it one of their major ethical concerns.

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