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Miniatures

Miniature Chihuahuas

The Truth Behind Mini Chihuahuas
 
There is no such recognized breed as the teacup Chihuahua, miniature Chihuahua or any other name that suggests that the Chihuahua is smaller than the "normal" breed.

The only genuine and accepted breed is simply the "Chihuahua".

There are two instances in which this term is used:

1) As a marketing ploy

At some point, owning a very tiny dog became a status symbol - mostly hyped by certain Hollywood celebrities. It took off as a fad and continued on as a very real advertising strategy.
Since the words tiny, teacup and miniature succeeded in catching the attention of a throng of puppy buyers, breeders around the world would label dogs as such - even if the puppies met established breed standard size.

Of course, misleading the public is unethical and is a gauge of one's moral compass. With that said, there are some reputable breeders who will use the term. 

There are 2 reasons for this.

The first has to do with competition. Before 1990, it was word of mouth that helped a breeder establish his or her reputation. A person's name would be circulated around the show ring and little if any advertising was needed.

Other, less reputable breeders - puppy mills in particular - would simply sell puppies to pet stores. Once the Humane Society of America and other organizations worked relentlessly to stop the formation and existence of puppy mills, this lead to many pet stores limiting their merchandise to supplies and no longer included puppies that the public was - rightfully in most cases - led to believe originated in mills.

While a breeder may indeed gain a solid reputation in the show ring, the socially driven, website world that we live in today dictates that a business needs to have an online presence. Even if that business is a small at-home breeder.

Keeping this in mind, one aspect of ranking where the potential puppy buyers will find you is by having certain words appear on your site. We do this here; you'll notice that the term 'miniature Chihuahua' appears many times
Chihuahua in a teacup
This is of course, because we are discussing the matter, but also so that you were able to find us. Breeders do the same thing; therefore knowing that there is a percentage of people who are looking to purchase a so-called teacup (even though it does not exist) that terminology will be placed on the breeder's website to attract customers.

Some will only have AKC registered puppies that meet the breed standard (or CKC if in Canada, KC if in the UK, etc.) there are also others that will purposefully breed for smaller than standard sized dogs… And that brings us to the 2nd instance in which the term miniature or teacup Chihuahua will be used. 

2) To describe a puppy or dog that is smaller than the standard.

In every litter there is a chance that a pup will be smaller than expected. This pup is often referred to as the runt of the litter; though that wording does sound a bit harsh. 
With the Chihuahua breed, the smallest of the litter may end up being the largest adult since growth during the first year can be so staggered.

With this being said, there are far too many breeders that are working diligently to purposefully produce Chihuahuas that are smaller than nature intended. 

Let's keep in mind the size of a standard sized Chihuahua:

AKC - No more than 6 lbs. (2.7 kg)

UK - 2 to 4 pounds is preferred (.9 to 1.81 kg)

CKC (Canada) Up to 2.7 kg (6 lb.), with 1.8 - 2.7 kg (4 - 6 lb.) preferred

FCI (Europe) - 3.3 to 6.1 lbs. (1.5 to 3 kg)

As you can see, this is a very small breed and the Chihuahua is in fact the smallest of all purebred dogs in the world. Miniature Chihuahua dogs - when purposely breed to be super tiny - will be smaller than 6 lbs. (2.7 kg) as adults. This gives us adult dogs that are only 2 to 5 lbs. (.9 to 2.26 kg). The puppies will range from just mere ounces to 1 or 2 lbs. (.45 to .9 kg).

It is an understatement to say that these miniature Chihuahuas will have a host of health problems and will be extremely vulnerable to injury.
Health Problems with Miniature Chihuahua Dogs 

Hypoglycemia - This describes a rapid drop in blood sugar levels that can lead to coma or even death if not quickly and properly treated. All toy dog breeds are very prone to this and in particular, it will affect young puppies under the age of 4 months. Mostly, this is due to their very small size. It can also develop if a dog does not eat on a regular basis.

With a very undersized miniature Chihuahua puppy, the odds of the puppy developing this dangerous medical condition soar through the roof. Signs of this are: Weakness, sleepiness and dizziness. Since young puppies sleep a lot and many are still finding their footing and balance, it can be difficult to stop this in enough time to seek successful treatment.

Treatment involves rubbing honey onto the gums at home to deliver a quick sugar rush to the bloodstream, followed by immediate medical care at the closest animal hospital or veterinarian's office. The puppy being treated will often need IV intervention.
Stress related problems - Tiny, teacup Chihuahuas have very little fat reserves to regulate body temperature which can cause the puppy to be constantly cold. Shivering and shaking nearly all of the time places the pup under undue stress.

This may be a lifelong issue that does not resolve, since miniature dogs will never each a healthy size.
 
Teacups may have digestive troubles, issues with keeping food down, metabolism problems and a host of other conditions that put stress on the body, including the heart.

Injury - The 2nd leading cause of death for the Chihuahua breed (16.8%) is trauma. 
Tiny Chihuahua puppy
This involves falls, being dropped, being stepped on and being hit by a car. These are all hazards that are fatal to small, normal sized Chihuahua that weigh roughly 6 lbs. ( 2.7 kg) therefore, the risk of injury and fatal injury rises exponentially for miniature Chihuahuas.

With very tiny, fragile bones a teacup Chihuahua has a much greater chance of being terribly injured if dropped, stepped on or even sat on by accident. This tiny dog will be at risk any time that a child plays with it, when being carried, when in the car and more.

Issues such a collapsed trachea are seen more often with miniature Chihuahua. This is rarely fatal, however it causes breathing difficulty, coughing and pain.

In severe cases, a dog will need to be euthanized due to very low quality of life. While a dog can have a genetic predisposition to developing this, it can be triggered or caused by injury. The most common injury scenario is when a leash is connected to a collar as opposed to a harness. Pressure from a taunt leash applies all force to the neck and rings of cartilage collapse inward.
Caring for a Teacup Chihuahua

There are many owners who were not aware of the marketing schemes and/or potential health issues when purchasing a Chihuahua and now find themselves with an undersized dog that needs extra care and attention. There are steps that you can take to help keep a miniature Chihuahua happy and healthy:

1) Keep in mind that normal exercise requirements will need to be adjusted for an undersized dog. Standard Chihuahuas do well with 20 to 30 minutes of walking per day. A teacup Chihuahua should be taken for shorter walks - about 10 to 15 minutes - 1 or 2 times per day.

2) Be very aware of temperature changes, particularly the cold. What may seem comfortable to you may cause a mini Chihuahua's body struggle to regulate temperature. Clothing for Chihuahuas is often necessary. You will find that an undersized dog does much better when wearing a shirt, vest or sweater. Raincoats are good for the rain and a parka or other type of warm coat should be worn in the winter.
3) Instead of 3 meals for puppies and 2 for adults, a teacup Chihuahua should have smaller, but more frequent food throughout the day. The goal will be to almost continually provide small amounts of fuel that the dog's small body can handle. 4 small meals for puppies, plus needed snacks and 3 meals for adults work best.
4) Use a collar for ID purposes only and a harness any time that the dog is on leash.

5) Teach all children in the household proper handling techniques and only allow youngsters to be involved with care once they have proven themselves to understand the fragile nature of the teacup Chihuahua. 

Tiny dogs are often startled and do best when approached from the side, at their level, before being picked up. 

Two hands should always be used, with one under the rump and one supporting the chest.

6) Be extremely aware at all times that this is - more than ever - an 'under the foot' dog since even half-stepping on a miniature Chihuahua can cause severe to fatal injury.   
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