Friday, March 25, 2011

Teacup and Miniature Pets

Many people think it is cute to have a miniature pet, these are also known as “teacup” pets. Sadly this trend is generally considered cruel, the pets are stunted through poor nutrition, poor genetics, and generally have shorter lifespans riddled with health problems.

Many people who own “teacup” pets become defensive, insisting that their pet is in the best of health. In truth they do not know what is going on with their pet internally (liver and heart problems are common) and many health problems related to being stunted do not show up until later in life – and most owners simply attribute these problems to old age, rather than poor breeding or a lack of proper nutrition in the animals growing stages.

As mentioned teacup pets are intentionally stunted in many ways, breeding genetically small animals, to genetically small animals, is one of these ways, as well many unscrupulous breeders cheat on feeding, giving the growing animals less food than they should have, and often wean the animals early to sell them extra young.

Buyers should be aware that buying extremely stunted animals supports these cruel practices, and may leave them with a pet that has huge veterinarian bills later in life.

“Teacup” dogs are probably the best example of this breeding practice, but it does occur in the exotic pet industry too, most often with pigs. Many people are fooled, unaware that pigs grow slowly, and their stunted animal will still get quite large.

photo source - These miniature horses are at a show, they are not as small as some breeders are striving for - and are being shown to prove they are healthy and worthy of being bred.  The extremely stunted miniature animals would never be able to win a ribbon in a conformation class (most have leg deformities).

Miniature horses have been so grossly stunted that many die when foaling (giving birth) and many cannot give birth without human help.

photo source - In contrast to the miniature horses further above, we see Thumbelina - and by looking at her you can see the deformities in her joints, and head.  Thankfully her owners are not planning on breeding her. She is actually a dwarf as opposed to being a miniature.

In general it is advisable to stay away from anyone marketing or selling “teacup” pets of any variety. If you want a small pet – get a hamster! 

Further Reading

Creatures Great and Small - breeding to extremes - a list of health problems


  1. Thumbelina has dwarfism, on top of being a miniature horse. She is not merely a result of overbreeding. Miniature horses are a legitimate breed, and it is possible to breed them responsibly.

    There is also a difference between "miniature," "toy," and "teacup" dogs. The first two categories are recognized by breeders, and there are many responsible breeders of healthy miniature and toy dogs. These terms merely indicate the size of the dog, and there are many well-established miniature and toy breeds (e.g., Chihuahua, Boston Terrier, Maltese). The category "teacup" is not recognized by breeders. If a breeder is advertising "teacup" dogs, it is a sign to stay well away.

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  3. Wow, this is sad! I did not know that breeders deliberately do this to animals :( Sounds like cruelty to me!

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  8. They are so lovely. People who own them should take care of them very well. You have such a good article in remind of us to always take care of our pets.

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