How are teacup dogs bred

The animals are so small, their suffering is so great: the difficult fate of the teacup dogs


The dogs that are shared on social media using the hashtag #teacuppies are so small that they can fit in teacups. And that is exactly their problem.

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  • Tiny dogs are very popular on social media.
  • The teacup dogs are torture breeds.
  • They would not be viable without round-the-clock care for people.

They are tiny and fluffy. And if they didn't move, most people would think they were not dealing with a living being but with a stuffed animal. We're talking about the so-called teacup dogs (see box), which are literally staged on social media under the hashtag #teacuppuppies.

This is not an official breed of dog. Rather, the teacup dogs are the result of deliberate small breeds of well-known dwarf dog breeds. These include, for example, the Chihuahua, Miniature Pinscher, Yorkshire Terrier or Toy Poodle.

First problems often already at birth

In order to breed their miniature versions, the smallest and weakest animals of a litter of these breeds are selected and specifically paired with one another. The offspring resulting from this mating are then particularly small and light. Often they don't even weigh 1.5 kilograms.

Small breeding brings with it a whole range of problems, as the World Animal Protection Society writes on its website: "Even at birth, the mother animal can have difficulties." Despite the small size, the heads of the unborn puppies are often so round that they cannot fit through the birth canal and a caesarean section is necessary. The bitch and puppy may not survive the birth.

Legally, the matter is clear: In Switzerland, dogs that are lighter than 1.5 kilograms are not allowed to be bred. The Swiss Animal Welfare Ordinance also prohibits the breeding of miniature dogs, because animals with extreme deviations from the normal form, which could not survive without human help or which therefore cannot be kept according to the regulations, are considered torture breeding in Switzerland.

Epilepsy and severe pain

But even after that, the Teacup dogs continue to suffer: "The animals usually have a sad life," says Julika Fitzi, veterinarian and veterinary advisor at the Swiss Animal Welfare Service STS. The animals are often degenerated and particularly susceptible to disease. It is precisely the characteristics of the smallest breeds that many perceive as cute - a disproportionately large and round head with large, protruding eyes, for example - can cause serious health problems for the animals.

"If the skull is so cultured as water-headed, the brain often has no more space and then slips towards the spinal cord," says the expert. Sooner or later, this leads to problems in the back and neck.

Headaches and epileptic seizures could also result, which have an impact on the life expectancy of the animals: "If we find epilepsy, veterinarians are forced to give very strong medication - and these often have severe, life-shortening side effects."

Popping out eyeballs

Because the eye sockets are not deep enough, the eyeballs of such mini dogs would often pop out in accidents, says Fitzi. "They are then only held by the optic nerve." Corneal injuries and eye infections are also common at teacups.

According to the veterinarian, such small cultivars are not resistant at all: "They freeze quickly, have energy problems and are often hypoglycemic." The latter can be caused by a missed meal, quotes Lisa Hoth from the German Animal Welfare Association. "And that, although the underlying breeds are actually well equipped in terms of health and can also get old," says Fitzi, especially Chihuahuas, Miniature Pinschers and Yorkshire Terriers.

Hotel heiress Paris Hilton triggered the first teacup dog boom in the USA with her mini Chihuahua Tinkerbell. When "Tinky" died, Hilton mourned her like a family member (see photo gallery). According to Julika Fitzi, it is logical that such small dogs are extremely practical from a jet setter's point of view: "They are easy to carry, fit in a handbag and, since they weigh well under eight kilograms, they can fly in the passenger compartment." But the price the animals pay for it is high.

Even jumping off the sofa can be life-threatening

Due to the unnatural selection of breeding animals, the animals can never be allowed to roam freely outside. "You have nothing to oppose normal-bred and larger dogs," explains the expert. "Letting them run free outside is problematic." On the contrary: the miniature dogs are often dependent on round-the-clock care.

But there is also danger in your own four walls, because many animals have a glass-bone-like structure. "It can have dramatic consequences if you jump off the sofa." Fitzi has already seen with his own eyes how quickly the bones of the tiny ones break when a specimen mingled with people at a dog show and broke both forelegs in the process.

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