Teacup Puppies pictureFlickr/michaelmata

Teacup puppies are an unofficially named miniature size of breeds like poodles, Maltese, chihuahuas and terriers that weigh between 2 and 5 pounds when they are fully grown. These puppies are awfully cute -- and who wouldn't want a pet that could fit in the palm of their hands! -- but because the breeding of teacup puppies is unregulated, these animals can have some serious health problems. So before you head to your local pet store or call a teacup breeder there are a few things you should know about picking up a teacup puppy.

- Because there is no official breed standard of teacup puppies, these dogs are bred by trial and error to be very, very small. This process leads to bones so tiny and fragile that they may be susceptible to breaks when your puppy so much as jumps off of the couch.

- Teacup puppies may have had less time to develop in the womb than the rest of their litter, resulting in a smaller birth size. This arrested development can lead to respiratory and other organ failure problems later in life.

- Teacup puppies' tiny size makes them more vulnerable to stress-related diseases like hypoglycemia. (You would be too if the whole world were bigger than you.)

- Because teacup puppies may not have gotten enough nourishment in the womb, their cranial bones may not have developed fully, leaving them with a permanent soft spot in their skull that makes it dangerous for them to play with other animals. 

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