Are you considering adopting a Teacup or Tiny Toy size puppy? If the answer is yes, please take time to read this page to find out what size range each term represents, how adult size predictions are made, the truth about health concerns in teacups, and what types of homes are not suitable for a teacup or tiny toy size puppy.
So what's all this talk about size? Toy, Tiny Toy, Teacup.....what do all these terms mean? Better yet, do they really exist or not? According to AKC and CKC, there is no such thing as a "teacup" Yorkie or Maltese. There is simply one breed for each and they are considered toy breeds. Tiny toy and teacup are simply terms used by many breeders and buyers to indicate that a puppy is expected to be smaller than average. Most Yorkies and Maltese average around 5-7 lbs as adults. Notice I said "average". Some Yorkies and Maltese may get a little bigger than average, and others may be smaller than average, regardless of parent sizes. Generally, when breeders use the term "teacup", they are referring to a puppy who is expected to be 4 lbs or less as an adult. When they say "tiny toy", the are referring to a puppy who is expected to be 4-6 lbs as an adult. When they say "toy" or "standard", they are referring to a puppy who is expected to be over 6 lbs as an adult.
How are these size predictions established? The most common misconception is that a puppy's adult size can be based on the parent sizes. This has proven to be untrue time and time again. I can't tell you the number of times I get asked the question, "How big are the parents?". Examples of how unreliable this method is in our own kennel include a male puppy we kept from two of our smallest Yorkie parents (a 3 lb male and a 4 lb female) who matured to be 7 lbs, and a male Maltese puppy we kept from two of our bigger Maltese parents (a 6 lb male and a 7 lb female) who matured to be only 3 lbs. Just like children, a puppy's size may be influenced by genetics from many generations back. The most reliable (and really the only) tool that breeders have to estimate adult weight is a growth chart. These are abundant online and may be called "Yorkie Growth Chart", "Maltese Growth Chart", or "Universal Toy Breed Growth Chart", but they all use basically the same formula and reflect the same information. They take the puppy's current age and weight, and based on the current rate of growth, predict what the size they should be at maturity.
How accurate are these charts? While they are generally a pretty close estimation, there are sometimes exceptions to the rule. Just like a pediatrician could look at a 5 year old child and determine that based on the child's current height and weight (what percentile they are in), they will probably be around 120 lbs at 18 years of age. This will most certainly be true if the child stays in the same percentile until they are 18, but what about growth spurts? What about nutrition and exercise? You see there are more variables that may influence the final result that must be considered. In short, while these growth charts are the best and only tool available to breeders to make adult size predictions, they generally get pretty close, but there is NEVER a way to guarantee the adult size of any puppy.
What about health? Some sources warn against increased health problems in the smaller size dogs. From our experience it all depends on how they are produced. Some breeders intentionally breed for teacup or tiny toy size puppies by breeding related bloodlines (line breeding) to strengthen the probability of producing teacup puppies. However, anytime two related dogs are bred together, there is a higher chance of recessive diseases/health problems. Given the fact that purebred dogs generally are at risk for more health problems than non-purebred dogs in the first place, this is much too risky and is not an ethical practice. However, occasionally a teacup or tiny toy size puppy occurs naturally in a litter of average size puppies and are the offspring of two average size, unrelated, healthy parents. In this instance, they generally don't suffer from any additional health problems than average size dogs. This is the ONLY type of breeding we practice here at Tailwaggers. Due to their tiny sizes, however, they may be more prone to hypoglycemia (which all Yorkie puppies are somewhat prone to, regardless of size) until they reach 4-6 months of age, and then they tend to outgrow this risk. Their tiny bone structure must be considered as well, so they may suffer from injury easier than larger puppies and should not be adopted by families with small children or larger pets.
Is a teacup or tiny toy size for you? Here at Tailwaggers, we don't intentionally breed for the tiny size ranges, but from time to time we do have naturally occurring teacup or tiny toy puppies available. Teacups and tiny toys are more expensive because they do require more care and a closer watch when they are babies, and breeders generally must keep them a little longer before they are ready for their "forever" homes. Also, as with any business, the prices are based on supply and demand. Because we don't intentionally breed for these sizes, they occur much less frequently and are in high demand due to their popularity. While we are glad to meet the requests of individuals who desire the smaller sizes, our first priority is always to ensure that our puppies go to loving "forever" homes. Since there is NEVER a way to guarantee the adult size of any puppy, we want to ensure that all buyers are educated about the facts. This will ensure that in the rare instance that a puppy grows larger than the growth chart predicted, it will still be loved and treated as a family member regardless of size.