"Toy" and "teacup" are terms used to describe the size of certain types of dogs -- but they shouldn't be used interchangeably. Toy breeds belong to a group of dogs recognized by the American Kennel Club. "Teacup" dogs, however, are the unofficial name simply given to very small dogs, and though nothing is wrong with the term per se, it is often used by unscrupulous breeders.
The toy group consists of small, sometimes tiny, dogs who are considered to be perfect companion pets for smaller homes. Because of their size, the toy breed is often the choice of city dwellers or those who live in apartments. Some examples include Yorkshire terriers, shih tzus, poodles, Italian greyhounds and Chihuahuas.
Teacup dogs are not recognized by the AKC, which only sanctions various breeds covered by the toy group. However, breeders refer to teacups as any pups who are extremely small in stature. As a general rule, adult teacups are 4 pounds or less.
Handle With Care
Due to their delicate bone structure, toys and "teacups" are more prone to injury. Certain small breeds, like Yorkies, can be more prone to hypoglycemia, although they often outgrow the risk as they age. Finally, if you must buy a pup from a breeder, make sure the breeder is reputable and treats their dogs very well, and only uses healthy bloodlines. Better yet, we encourage you to consider adopting one of the many toy and teacup dogs which end up in shelters on a daily basis -- many of which are healthy, up to date with their shots, and eager to enter into loving homes.
By Debra Levy
About the Author
Debra Levy has been writing for more than 30 years. She has had fiction and nonfiction published in various literary journals. Levy holds an M.A. in English from Indiana University and an M.F.A. in creative writing/fiction from the Bennington Writing Seminars.