Have you ever wanted a pug but wished it was a lot smaller than its usual size? It actually has a teeny-tiny version and it is called the teacup or pocket pug. The teacup pug came from runts or the two smallest pugs of the litter. If you are curious about this little fur baby, you better continue reading.
What is a Teacup Dog?
Before anything else, it is important to know that a teacup does not refer to a breed but to a size of any dog breed. Pugs are just among the many breeds used to make teacup versions of. People only buy them due to their cuteness. These types of dogs are usually bred in puppy mills and not by reputable breeders.
The teacup pug’s origin is not well-documented because it is not recognized by major kennel clubs like the American Kennel Club. But if you are wondering where the Pug itself originated from, you should know that it came all the way from China back in 400 BC. The standard pug started receiving its recognition from the AKC back in 1885.
The pocket pug is not approved by canine organizations because it does not pass many of the breed standards of a Pug. Breeding teacup pugs are even considered unethical. Many vets and animal welfare groups condemn the breeding of these dogs because they are prone to a number of serious medical problems.
A teacup dog is bred by pairing the runts of a litter. A runt is considered the weakest or the smallest pug of the litter. They are the smallest of the litter because they either have a medical condition or they have a birth defect. There are only runts in a litter if the breeder is not responsible. This means these pups did not get enough supply of nutrients from their mother during pregnancy.
Due to their size and weakness, it will be difficult for them to compete with their siblings. This is true especially for runts that belong to a large litter. This means a breeder needs to be extra hands-on to ensure the runt gets enough attention from the mother, given that the pups depend on her during the first few weeks of their life.
Teacup dogs, in general, are subject to controversy. They are very small but they cost thousands of dollars. Critics believe that selectively breeding dogs so they will look cute is not acceptable. In 2017, a teacup dog was dumped by its owner to death after learning that it has severe neurological problems that were too expensive to treat. The dumped puppy was only 14 weeks and already had a number of health complications.
The teacup pug has a compact yet tiny body with a deep chest. It is barrel-shaped and has relatively short legs but does not have fully developed muscles. A full-grown teacup pug grows more or less 10 inches and weighs a maximum of 5 pounds. It is way lighter than the average full-grown pug, which grows to 14-18 pounds and 17 inches on average. The females are a bit narrow and smaller than male pugs.
Like a typical Pug, the teacup has a short and dense coat that is either fawn or black. Fawn teacup pugs have melanistic masks which make them appear as if they are wearing a black mask. This type of coat pattern happens when the face is not colored by the pheomelanin but by the eumelanin pigment.
Teacup pugs should not be mistaken for a miniature pug, which is a popular crossbreed between a Chihuahua and a pug. It is also called Chugg or the Pughuahua. It has the built of a Pug but it has many similar traits to the Chihuahua. You will see that their muzzles are long instead of short like a Pug’s. They weigh 3-10 lbs. on average.
They have a brachycephalic skull or a flat face like any Pug and button ears which are folded with the front edge against the side of their head. The tail may have one or two loops and has the thumbprint.
A teacup can be as loving and sociable as any Pug dog. In general, pugs possess the quality of being a good family pet because of their gentle nature. They are good around children and will not scare them because they are so tiny. They are usually charming and will please their owners because they crave human attention. They love to be cuddled and babied by their humans.
The only bad side about pugs is they have the tendency to be envious. They will depend on their human for everything and that dependency is higher in the case of teacup dogs. If you devote your time and attention to other humans or other pets, they could be jealous. That could be the cause of their mischievous trait because most pugs tend to be stubborn at times.
Contrary to popular belief, pugs are not really lazy as some people assume. They just enjoy lots of time resting or sleeping, which is just normal for most dogs. In the case of teacup dogs, it will be difficult for them to move around especially if they are going through something. They usually have a lot of medical issues that need to be addressed so they are able to grow and be happy.
In general, teacup dogs have a shorter life span compared to a dog within the breed standards. While the standard pugs live 13 years on average, teacup varieties are expected to live only 6 years. However, it is rare for them to live longer than that because of their vulnerability to a range of disorders. Some of them only survive for a few months or less than a year after they were bought. Take note of the following conditions associated with teacup pugs:
- Bone problems – Dogs with bodies smaller than the standard for their breed are prone to bone problems. Their bones can break easily and they have a fragile bone structure, so the owners should be cautious in handling them. They should not be given to kids, especially those who were not trained to handle pups. Because they are taken away from their mother when they are sold, they will not get the milk they need to grow. The best alternatives for them are goat’s milk formula or any milk intended for puppies.
- Hypoglycemia – teacups are prone to critically low blood sugar levels because they have not fully developed their capacity to control their blood glucose levels. A puppy with poor nutrition and no decent feeding will likely suffer from it. It is crucial to feed the pup on time to avoid their blood sugar from reaching a critically low level. A drop in their blood sugar level can be caused by missing a single meal.
- Heart defects – Pugs are not prone to heart problems unless they become overweight. However, in the case of teacups, it is possible they will have a heart problem mainly because they originate from the runts. The smallest dogs in a litter usually have issues in their circulatory systems that cause problems in the proper flow of blood in their body. A common sign of heart defect is a murmuring sound of the heart.
- Respiratory problems – these dogs often suffer from breathing problems because their respiratory systems are not fully developed. They could acquire upper respiratory tract infections that are quite difficult and costly to treat.
- Blindness – because they are pugs whose eyes are protruding, it makes them susceptible to injuries. If a teacup is diagnosed with blindness, you have to ensure that your environment is safe for your pet to get around.
- Digestive problems – these dogs usually suffer from digestive issues because they can be infected with worms that sap the nutrients from their intestinal lining. Keep an eye to any food you give them and as much as possible, stick to dog food. Don’t offer human foods because they could be too difficult for the dog to digest.
- Dental issues – most teacup dogs have baby teeth that do not fall out on their own. A dog’s teeth are supposed to fall out starting three months up to six months of age to allow the permanent ones to grow. If you are having a hard time brushing your pup’s teeth, consider taking it to the vet for professional cleaning.
- Portosystemic Shunt – it is a kind of congenital birth defect, wherein the liver lacks the ability to flush out toxins. Dogs suffering from this condition are subject to stunted growth and do not have good muscle development.
Teacup pugs are fragile so they should be handled with care. They can easily fall from a car and that is why it is important to fasten them well when you are in the car. They can easily get sick when exposed to cold and rain so avoid bringing them outside, especially when you are unsure of the weather. They can also be easily harmed when stepped on.
They cannot jump from too high surfaces so keep physical activities at a minimum. In fact, even walking will not be suitable for them because of their tiny bodies. They can easily get tired so they need more rest than exercise.
They pee and poop more compared to normal dogs. They also burn off calories faster than larger dogs so they could be easily hungry but they should not be overfed. They have tiny bladders, meaning they are more difficult to train than average dogs. Sellers usually deworm and vaccinate a teacup pup before selling it. However, keep in mind that it can have worms especially if you adopt it from an animal shelter.
The fact that teacup pugs are quite delicate means owners should be very cautious in grooming them. It is a tiny short-haired pup which means that gentle brushing will be enough to keep it looking at its best. Invest in a brush with very soft bristles. Because they can easily get sick, it is not advisable to bathe them. A dog wipe should be enough to clean their bodies.
Teacup dogs are not as healthy as the standard Pug. They require a special diet because the majority of them have sensitive stomachs. They are susceptible to low blood sugar so it helps to give them food that will counteract this condition. It has been said that karo or corn syrup is effective at counteracting low blood sugar in dogs. However, this should not be given as it is because it does not provide the adequate nutrition a puppy needs. It is much better to feed a teacup with puppy formula fortified with vitamins and minerals and high in protein to supplement their needs.
You might expect your teacup to be as playful as the typical Pug dog. Sadly, this is not the case. They are so fragile they should not walk or run fast. If you have an active lifestyle, you cannot take your pet with you because they are so vulnerable to disease. They should play no more than an hour per day as they actually need more rest than the average dog. You could find them resting more than 14 hours a day.
Buying a teacup is more of a status symbol because they are often bought by people just for their cuteness. It is not because of love for animals but for satisfying our own desires. People who truly care for the welfare of dogs will not consider buying a teacup pug. On top of that, a teacup dog is insanely expensive with prices around $4000-$6000. Not only that, but they are prone to serious medical problems that will cost thousands of dollars to treat. If you want a buddy that is intelligent, affectionate, and playful, stick to the typical Pug and you will not regret a thing.