If you open up your Twitter or Instagram feed, you will no doubt come across a video of a cute dog or a post about a dog doing something heroic sooner rather than later. On the ‘cuter’ side of these social media sites, there has been a growth in the number of accounts focused on teacup puppies – miniature dogs that can literally fit in a teacup.
It’s hard not to be enamoured by these tiny dogs but, unfortunately, like many things social media, this content often hides the harsh realities that these dogs face and the questionable practices that allow these dogs to exist. Some accounts are simply celebrating how cute these dogs are, but unfortunately most are dedicated to selling these puppies. This includes @rollyteacupuppies (above), @teacuppuppyboutique and @mytinypaws.
Teacup puppies are smaller versions of a variety of different breeds that are already very small, including Chihuahua, Pomeranian and Yorkshire Terrier. While at times these tiny dogs are the result of being the ‘runt of the litter’, it is more likely that these dogs are the product of intentional breeding using two undersized dogs. Given how cute these dogs are, it’s no surprise that they are in high demand and can sell for thousands. The large amount of money on offer means teacup puppies are often produced in ‘puppy mills’ – unethical breeders who will produce and sell puppies however they can.
For teacup puppies, this means dogs that are closely related may be used for breeding or the puppies themselves may have their growth purposefully stunted so they can remain their ‘cute’ size. As a result of these unethical practices, and the nature of being such small dogs, the reality for the dogs behind the Instagram posts is one filled with significant health problems and a lot of responsibility for their owners.
Due to their naturally small size, these dogs can be frail and can very easily be hurt by themselves or their owners. They face significant digestive issues due their small stomachs and may have to be fed multiple times a day. There can be heart and respiratory issues, as well as an increased risk of seizures.
If all this wasn’t enough, teacup puppies are not an official breed and their are no official regulations or guidelines to follow. People who want to buy these puppies may not be aware of the tremendous problems their dog will face or, given the fact that these dogs are almost exclusively bought over the internet, they may very well be scammed altogether.
Not every social media account that posts content with these dogs are puppy mills, and even some accounts that do sell these dogs are not unethical breeders, such as @rollyteacuppuppies. But, that doesn’t change the problems these dogs face. We must be mindful of the type of content that we are engaging with on social media sites as many people will not research the health problems that these dogs face or the unethical practices that lie behind their existence. They will see ‘cute’ and want it – even paying extortionate amounts to get it.
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying the videos and photos as, granted, it is not the fault of the dogs that they exist. But, like many unhealthy breeds, they should not exist and we need to remember that.
There are so many dogs that are in need of love and, as the RSPCA advise, can be visited in person and have their health or history be certified before they are adopted.