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Breed Guide: Teacup Yorkie

By Stacy Painter
February 16, 2022 • 6 min. read
teacup-yorkie-dog-in-grass-1
Reviewed for accuracy on December 9, 2021 by Jennifer Coates, DVM

yorkie dog play bow in grass

Introduction to Teacup Yorkies

Teacup Yorkies are sometimes referred to as the smallest dogs in the world, typically weighing in at just two to four pounds. Rather than a true breed, this type of dog is a subset of the Yorkshire terrier dog but just a smaller version of it. They are considered to be miniature or toy breed dogs and are absolutely adorable canine companions. They’re called “teacup” Yorkies because they are so small that they could potentially fit inside a teacup. But despite their tiny size, teacup Yorkies can be a handful to take care of because they are bold, full of mischief, need frequent grooming, and prone to certain health issues. It’s important to be prepared for what you’re getting into when you bring a teacup Yorkie into your life, so here are some details to know if you choose to purchase or adopt one!

Size of Teacup Yorkies

Size is what really sets teacup Yorkies apart from other dogs and what makes them so unique. Although teacup Yorkies can reach up to six pounds in weight, they are almost always between two and four pounds. The dogs reach this full adult weight within a year. By comparison, a standard Yorkshire terrier weighs about seven pounds, so to be considered a teacup, there needs to be a substantial weight difference. To get dogs this small, breeders commonly breed two tiny Yorkies to create a small-sized litter of puppies. However, this type of breeding can lead to health problems, and the practices involved can even be unethical unless you find a responsible breeder that truly takes great care of the dogs. You may also be able to find a teacup Yorkie in need of a home through local shelters or breed rescues. There are only very small differences in weight between male and female teacup Yorkies. Here’s how big you can expect your teacup Yorkie to get when fully grown.
Weight Chart2 months4 months6 months12 months
Male and Female Teacup Yorkies12-23 oz.21-41 oz.19-53 oz.2-4 lbs.

Characteristics of Teacup Yorkies

small shaggy yorkie dog in grassPeople love teacup dogs because of their high “cute factor” and the human desire to be nurturing toward a baby animal. Even as adults, teacup Yorkies have baby-like features such as big eyes, heads that are proportionally larger than the rest of their bodies, and a cuddly nature. It is common for someone to get a teacup Yorkie if they live in a small space without enough room for a larger dog or if they want a “portable” dog that can ride along in a purse out in the world. As you get to know a teacup Yorkie’s personality, here’s what you can expect based on their breed characteristics.
Breed CharacteristicLevel (High, Medium, Low)
Affectionate with PeopleHigh
Good with KidsLow
Good with PetsLow
Need for ExerciseLow
Energy LevelMedium
Intelligence LevelMedium
Able to Be TrainedMedium
Amount of BarkingHigh
Amount of SheddingLow
Teacup Yorkies are affectionate and become very attached to humans. This means that you shouldn’t leave a teacup Yorkie alone for long periods and separation anxiety can be a real problem. These are energetic little dogs that are playful and friendly. However, they are delicate little creatures that shouldn’t be around any larger pets or young children who might handle them too roughly. Teacup Yorkies are known to bark frequently, but they can improve on that behavior with good training. It’s easy to pamper these dogs because of their cuteness and tiny size, but they still need firmness and consistency if you don’t want a tiny pup to take over all aspects of your life!

History of Teacup Yorkies

The history of the teacup Yorkie dates back to the history of the standard breed of Yorkshire terrier in the late 1800s. Between the 1860s and 1880s, Yorkshire terriers were established as a breed, introduced to North America, and registered with the American Kennel Club. The teacup version of these dogs has only been gaining in popularity in very recent years, especially among celebrities, fashionistas, and city apartment dwellers. They have been commonly known in society since the 1990s, although smaller-than-average Yorkshire terriers have been around for much longer than that.

Teacup Yorkie Standard Information

Since the teacup Yorkie is not an actual breed that is recognized by an official registry organization, such as the American Kennel Club, there is not established standard information for these types of dogs. In fact, teacup Yorkies are bred to not comply with the breed standard for the Yorkshire terrier and intentionally be quite a bit smaller. However, there are still certain physical characteristics that teacup Yorkies commonly share and that make them identifiable and distinguishable from other types of teacup dogs. The general appearance of a teacup Yorkie should resemble that of a full-size Yorkshire terrier, such as having standing V-shaped ears and a silky coat. The coat of a teacup Yorkie can have shades of brown, black, gray, gold, silver, and blue. However, these miniature versions of the dog have smaller heads, shorter legs, and a lesser weight.

Caring for Teacup Yorkies

Taking care of a teacup Yorkie might initially sound easy because of their tiny size, but they demand attention and need a lot of affection and care every day. These dogs can be nervous around new people and animals, which can bring out their aggressive side – something that might come as a surprise considering their size. Here are some general tips for taking the best care of a Teacup Yorkie. Best Living Environments:
  • Small apartments in cities
  • Frequent interactions with affectionate people
  • Away from young children
  • Never leave the dog unsupervised in the outdoors
Type of Exercise:
  • Running around inside a house or apartment
  • Not the best dogs for off-leash dog parks or long walks
  • At least 20 minutes of light exercise, like walking on a leash, per day is recommended
Mental Enrichment:
  • Consistent interactions with people throughout the day
  • Playtime with small toys
  • Food dispensing toys when left alone
small yorkie dog tongue out on benchTraining Strategies:
  • Walk with a harness instead of a leash around the neck
  • Train early to curb unnecessary barking
  • Use positive reinforcement because these are people-pleasing dogs
  • Start potty training by the age of two months
  • Socialize by introducing various people, places, smells, and noises
Grooming Tips:
  • Most teacup Yorkies enjoy being groomed
  • Brush the coat daily to prevent matting
  • Keep the coat shorter for easier grooming
  • Inspect the dog’s nails each month and trim as needed
  • Bathe every month or so
  • Brush teeth daily

Common Health Problems of Teacup Yorkies

Breeding unusually-sized dogs comes with many health risks, and this is certainly true for teacup Yorkies. Tiny pups have tiny bones and can suffer severe injuries from falls and other accidents. It is very possible to accidentally step on a teacup Yorkie while not noticing it is underfoot. These dogs do not live as long as many other toy dogs because of these health problems and have a life span of around 12 years. Here are some of the most common health issues that arise with Teacup Yorkies:
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes disease (malformed hip joints)
  • Patellar luxation (a type of knee problem)
  • Collapsing trachea
  • Dental problems
  • Heart disease
  • Portosystemic shunt (blood flow problems affecting the liver)
  • Progressive retinal atrophy (a degenerative eye disorder)
  • Hydrocephalus (water on the brain)

Diet and Nutrition for Teacup Yorkies

It is very common for a teacup Yorkie to be a picky eater, as these dogs have a taste for the finer things in life. They love treats and may prefer to eat treats instead of their more nutritious regular dog food. These small dogs need to eat more frequently than big dogs to prevent their blood sugar levels from dropping, particularly as puppies. Therefore, you may need to feed your teacup Yorkie puppy five small meals per day and keep the meals about four hours apart to prevent hypoglycemia. Adults generally do well with two to three meals a day. Most adult teacup Yorkies will thrive when eating a high-quality, nutritionally complete and balanced adult dog food. Puppies should eat puppy food until they are around nine months old. If you feed your teacup Yorkie homemade dog food, make sure you are working from a recipe that is designed by a veterinary nutritionist and that is appropriate for your dog’s age and health status. Feed the amount of dog food needed to keep your pet slim. You should be able to see your teacup Yorkie’s waist and feel (but not see) the ribs without having to press too hard. In general, puppies need more calories per day than do adults, but a dog’s needs will vary with their activity level and other factors. Don’t leave food out all day for a teacup Yorkie to graze on. Talk to your veterinarian if you have any questions about your teacup Yorkie’s diet or health.
yorkie dog inside by couch

Photo by Jorge Gardner on Unsplash

Where to Adopt or Purchase Teacup Yorkies

There is a lot of controversy surrounding the breeding of teacup dogs, including the teacup Yorkie. Many people believe that dogs should not be intentionally miniaturized because of unethical breeding practices and the high risks of health problems in these tiny dogs. Pet parents of teacup Yorkies may face confrontations from angry dog lovers who judge them for having a teacup Yorkie. However, many teacup Yorkies already exist and need loving homes and patient people to take care of them. Therefore, you may be able to adopt a teacup Yorkie from a shelter or rescue group. These are often dogs that have been handed over by someone who thought the dog was irresistibly cute but was ultimately unable to care for it.

Related and Similar Breeds

The teacup Yorkie certainly isn’t the only kind of teacup dog that exists, especially as miniaturization has caught on in different places around the world. Here are some other teacup-style dogs that you may be interested to learn more about if you are looking for a very tiny companion:
  • Teacup Chihuahua
  • Teacup shih-tzu
  • Teacup Pomeranian
  • Teacup poodle
  • Teacup Maltese

Pet Insurance for Teacup Yorkies

Because of the potential for health issues with teacup Yorkies, it is a smart idea to get health insurance for your pet as early as possible. Healthy Paws offers pet health insurance plans for teacup Yorkies and other teacup-type dogs so that you can be proactive about these concerns and take the very best care of their health. Request a pet insurance quote on our website today so you can start planning for your teacup Yorkie’s future. Pet parents trust us to help keep their teacup Yorkies happy, healthy, and thriving.
Stacy Painter profile
By Stacy Painter

Stacy has always been an animal lover and has worked in the pet industry for over a decade. As a writer since early childhood, content writing for a pet insurance company was a natural career path to combine her two passions. She currently lives in Florida with her boyfriend and Taiwanese rescue dog, Kaya.

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