If you’ve ever wondered what a “teacup Yorkie” is compared to just a regular Yorkie, the main difference is the weight of the dog. These miniature dogs only weigh around 2-3 pounds when fully grown (usually between 12-18 months of age), compared to the standard Yorkshire Terrier, which is between 4-7 pounds. If you’re not very familiar with Yorkies (or other dogs belonging in the toy group), then you might be surprised to learn that Yorkshire Terriers do not have a “teacup” classification, although many unskilled—and usually unethical—breeders would have you believe otherwise.
For a purebred Yorkie, The American Kennel Club requires that the breed standard fall within the range of 4-7 pounds as an adult. Anything outside of this limit generally spells bad news for the dog in terms of health issues. Breeders who advertise “teacup Yorkies” are typically selling dogs that will not exceed 3 pounds and stand no more than 5 or 6 inches tall, which would not be accepted by the AKC.
If the breeder is a reputable one with respected breeding practices, then your Yorkie should fall within the 4-7 pound weight range. That being said, each breeder has their own specific guidelines about how they will respond to a puppy that does not conform to breed standard (which can occur when larger dogs are bred together, or if there is a mixed heritage somewhere in the line).
Breeders who use the tagline “teacup” often just want to charge a higher price for a puppy, but in actuality, you should pay less for this undersized dog because it does not conform to breed standards and will inevitably cost you hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars in vet bills. Online breeders attempt to play on the emotions of buyers with the undersized dogs and sometimes charge two or even three times the amount more for these dogs than the standard size Yorkie.
To ensure that your dog will conform to breed standards, be wary of breeders promising dogs that “have papers” without producing them firsthand. Often, these papers don’t exist, or they are for a registry that is questionable in terms of authenticity. If you are searching for purebred Yorkie, it’s best to find a reputable breeder approved by the AKC.
Estimating Puppy Growth
If you are concerned that your Yorkie is not the correct size, consult the breeder.
Most breeders are able to give a fairly accurate estimate shortly after the puppy’s birth as to their estimated adult weight. This Toy Yorkie Puppy Growth / Weight Chart gives a fairly accurate estimate of how large a dog will be based on their birth weight. So before you purchase your pup, be sure to consult a chart like the one above to determine if your dog will fall within the appropriate weight range once he is full-grown.
Under and over-sized Yorkies
If your Yorkie is under or over-sized based on his age, the first course of action would be to ask your veterinarian if your Yorkie is in good health. It is very easy for toy breed dogs (especially those that don’t get a lot of exercise) to become overweight. If this is the case, your vet will give you tips (and possibly a recommendation of a certain dog food) to get your Yorkie on the right track.
If, however, your Yorkie is in good health and still over the standard 7 lbs, then it is a possibility that your Yorkie has a mixed heritage somewhere in the line. The first step would be to consult the breeder and express your concerns. Many breeders have health guarantees (although these usually concern the death of the dog in case of genetic disease).
If your Yorkie is undersized, however, there may be severe health issues present. While they seem adorable and cute, Yorkies bred for this dangerously small “teacup” size are vulnerable to birth defects such as a portosystemic shunt (a circulatory problem of the liver) which usually doesn’t present until after 6 months of age—after your breeder is long gone with your cash in hand. This genetic defect can have symptoms such as the inability to gain weight and vomiting, but it can also lead to symptoms usually associated with liver failure such as seizures, depression, and confusion. Small kidneys may also be an issue with undersized Yorkies, which can lead to kidney stones or even diabetes.
While the health issues listed above are often treatable, they are very expensive to deal with, especially when surgery is required. And speaking of surgery, broken bones are one of the most common injuries that occur in teacup-sized dogs. Since the animal is simply not meant to be that small in size, their fragile bones can often not stand activities that healthy dogs enjoy such as running, jumping, and playing.
If you are on the lookout for the tiniest dog available, then the standard Yorkie is probably your best bet: born only weighing a few ounces, even when they are full grown they rank among one of the smallest breeds of dogs in the world. A full-grown Yorkie can easily travel in a dog tote carried on your shoulder so you can take your pup around town with you, or if you travel often, they are even small enough to fit a special dog carrier that will slide under the seat in front of you on an airplane.