The teacup Maltese is an even smaller version of the Maltese breed. They aren’t an official breed, but instead a description of a dog that is less than the breed standard as an adult. They will usually be less than 7 inches tall and under 6 lbs when fully grown. Although they are incredibly portable, charming and brilliant companions the methods used to shrink down an already tiny breed come with some serious potential health complications.
The teacup Maltese is often not a purebred Maltese but a mix. The Chihuahua, Yorkie and Pomeranian Maltese mixes are all sometimes known as Teacup Maltese. Despite having one parent that isn’t Maltese at all!
How To Shrink A Tiny Dog
The Maltese breed is already a very small dog. Their origin can be traced back thousands of years, where they were commonly seen adorning laps and pillows in Asia. This origin makes it a popular go-to choice for dog owners looking for a laidback, snuggly companion.
Micro Maltese are not actually a separate breed. Instead, they are merely smaller versions of the ordinary Maltese.
These teacup Maltese are bred through one of three methods. Mixing a standard Maltese with a smaller breed, introducing the dwarfism gene, or repeatedly breeding runts. Each of these methods has it’s drawbacks.
Teacup Maltese Mixes
One way to make the Maltese smaller is to mix it with even smaller dogs. This can be somewhat challenging since the Maltese are already so small anyway. However, teacup Maltese who are bred using this method could be healthier than others, due to a phenomenon known as hybrid vigor.
When two different dog breeds are mixed, the likelihood of genetic disorders and predispositions being passed down to the offspring is low. This genetic mixing can create a healthier dog.
On the other hand, this mixing of genetics also means that the puppies will not look exactly like a Maltese. Instead, they will likely have traits from both parents. The puppy could look exactly like a miniature Maltese. Or it could look nothing like one.
Another way breeders create the miniature Maltese is through the introduction of a dwarfism gene. The dwarfism gene is usually a random mutation. But, some breeders might breed two dogs with the gene to create more dwarf puppies.
While this is a simple way to create a miniature Maltese, it can also lead to quite a few health problems. There are many types of dwarfism genes. Each one creates a different kind of dwarfism and appearance.
Dwarfism usually creates short legs, large heads, and long bodies. This can create structural difficulties in dogs, including disorders such as heart abnormalities, spinal problems, and aggression.
Luckily, the Maltese only very rarely exhibits the dwarfism gene. So you do not usually have to worry about this defect in any standard Maltese. This rarity also makes this method somewhat tricky. After all, finding two rare dogs to breed together is very difficult.
Teacup Maltese Runts
Breeding from runts can also create miniature Maltese. If you breed two smaller parents together, their puppies are almost always smaller as well. While this might seem like a fool-proof strategy to creating smaller dogs, runts are usually runts because of health problems or other disorders.
Maltese are prone to congenital heart problems. It is not uncommon for runts to be born with a heart condition. Many Maltese are born with these problems, but they might go overlooked until they are much older. This gap gives them time to breed, allowing them to pass on the disorder to their puppies.
Drawbacks of Miniaturization
Although small dogs can be a great thing for some people, there are lots of cons to creating dogs as small as the teacup Maltese. Firstly, these dogs are very delicate. They have fragile bones, and are really vulnerable to a lot more things. They can easily be hurt if they are handled roughly, or even if they fall from something.
Lots of bad breeders have jumped on the trend of tiny dogs to make a profit. So, it’s also common for teacup dogs to be really unhealthy. It’s more important than ever to choose a reputable breeder if you’re getting a mini Maltese.
Teacup Maltese Health
As well as all issues that affect the Maltese breed in general, there are problems that all teacup dogs suffer from. It’s important to research these in detail before bringing home a tiny dog like this.
We mentioned this a moment ago. Tiny dogs like the miniature Maltese will be very fragile. This means easily broken bones. So, if they get under your feet or if they aren’t handled as gently as possible they can get really hurt. For this reason, teacup Maltese dogs and any other mini dogs aren’t good for families with very young children.
Teacup breeds more often suffer from cranial and brain problems. For instance, soft spots are common on miniature dog skulls.
Hydrocephalus is another common problem. This is when fluid is present on your pup’s brain. It can lead to symptoms such as seizures, enlarged skull, blindness and more. Treatment is very specialized and expensive.
Teacup breeds are likely to suffer from chronic stress. And another study used the C-BARQ questionnaire to find that owners more often viewed their small dogs as being badly behaved.
It’s important that any dog, especially tiny ones, are getting enough mental and physical stimulation.
Tiny dogs have tiny bladders. So, they are often harder to potty train. But this isn’t necessarily the fault of the dog. Commit to consistent, positive reward training from a young age. Just because teacup dogs are small doesn’t mean they are toys. They have the same needs for good mental health as any size dog.
Small dogs tend to have overcrowded teeth. This means they are prone to developing dental diseases. Problems include periodontal disease, retained, deciduous teeth, loose teeth, and more.
Yet another issue that small dogs can suffer from is heart problems. Be aware of defects such as heart murmurs, enlarged hearts, and cardiomyopathy.