If someone offers you a “teacup” or “princess” type dog, think hard or better yet, run. You’re about to fall for a marketing ploy and chances are, you’re about to get a dog that has a bundle of health issues.
First things first, there is no such thing as a teacup dog, much less a teacup schnauzer. I get queries about this all the time, and it breaks my heart that even very educated people have fallen for this marketing ruse. Teacup dogs were simply bred to be really small. Princess is another marketing term. The most common breeds are yorkies, poodles, schnauzers, maltese, shihtzus and Pomeranians. Usually, they are the runts of the litter, and may be small because they have a medical issue.
Recently, while I was walking at an airconditioned, pet-friendly mall in Quezon City, a woman panicked because her tiny yorkie started having seizures after a short walk. It was exactly the same experience a friend had after taking his teacup poodle for a walk around the block. My friend had the dog checked, and it turns out that it had turned hypoglycemic just from that short bout of exercise.
Let me quote this article by Helen Anne Travis from PetMD, who talked to Los Angeles-based veterinarian Dr. Patrick Mahaney.
Doctors say common health issues for teacup dogs include hypoglycemia, heart defects, collapsing trachea, seizures, respiratory problems, digestive problems, and blindness.
The breeding practices can also lead to an increased risk for liver shunts, says Meeks. Liver shunts are often congenital birth defects in dogs that affect the liver’s ability to flush out toxins. Treatment for liver shunts can cost up to $6,000, and some types of shunts don’t respond well to therapy regardless of the cost.
Many small dogs are also predisposed to developing dental and gum issues, says Mahaney. Their baby teeth don’t always fall out on their own, and it’s not uncommon for doctors to remove all the baby teeth when the animal is spayed or neutered.
Another size-related health problem is patella luxation, or sliding kneecap, which can affect a teacup dog’s ability to walk. The condition also often makes the animal more prone to arthritis.
In addition, teacup dogs may also be predisposed to developing hydrocephalus, also known as “water on the brain,” says Mahaney.
If the dogs miss even one meal, their blood sugar levels could drop dangerously low and cause seizures and even death, says Meeks. They also have trouble keeping their bodies warm in cooler weather, which is why you see so many teacup dogs in sweaters.
The dogs’ small bones can break easily, which means owners have to be on alert not to step on them or allow them to jump from too-high surfaces.
Heartbreaking, isn’t it?
Next time you are tempted to get a very small dog, think hard and do your homework. Check out the FCI and the American Kennel Club to know the breed standard of your chosen breed, paying attention to size. In the end, you may be saving yourself and your dog from lots of heartbreaks.