All about the Term: “Teacup Yorkies” The good, the bad, and the truth.

Understanding Teacup Yorkies: Debunking Myths and Recognizing Realities

Teacup Yorkies are an adorable, pint-sized version of the beloved Yorkshire Terrier that have captivated dog enthusiasts with their small stature and playful personalities. However, the term “teacup Yorkie” is not officially recognized and often leads to confusion. Different people have varying interpretations of what “teacup” size means, and this ambiguity raises several concerns about the health and wellbeing of these tiny dogs.

A beautiful Yorkshire terrier that is a great example of the set standard and historical look of the Yorkshire terrier

The Undefined Standard of “Teacup”

The term “teacup Yorkie” does not adhere to any official breed standard. While the American Kennel Club (AKC) recognizes Yorkshire Terriers, it does not categorize any subset as “teacup.” This lack of official definition means that what one breeder considers a teacup Yorkie might differ significantly from another’s interpretation. Generally, teacup Yorkies are those that weigh significantly less than the AKC standard for Yorkshire Terriers, which is typically around 4 to 7 pounds. Teacup Yorkies often weigh between 2 to 4 pounds, but this range is not fixed and varies based on individual perceptions and marketing strategies.

Health Concerns: Distinguishing Genetic Size Traits from Health Issues

The health of teacup Yorkies is a major topic of concern. While some people worry that their small size indicates underlying health problems, it’s important to differentiate between dogs that are naturally small due to genetics and those that have stunted growth due to health issues.

What size Yorkies does Harrington Yorkies have? Do we Breed “Teacup Yorkies”?

Here at Harrington Yorkies, we breed on the small side of the standard size as set forth by the AKC “up to 7 lbs” Most of mine are 3-6 lbs as adults. Personally, 4 lbs or less would be considered Teacup Yorkie size. We frequently have less than 4 lb Yorkies for sale. Occasionally we do get some 2.5 lb full grown weight Yorkie babies. We are extra careful to ensure that the small size is not a symptom of a health issue. We see many breeders breeding 7-8 lb females to 2 lb males. That type of breeding practice for multiple generations creates unpredictable charting. I prefer to breed 4-5 parents for generations and cement a more dependable size in my lines. Health always comes first but we do understand that many clients are highly concerned with size. 

Genetically Small Yorkies:

Some Yorkies are naturally small due to their genetic makeup. These dogs can live healthy, long lives just like their standard-sized counterparts. Their small stature is a natural variation within the breed, not a result of any medical condition. When bred responsibly, these genetically small Yorkies can be robust and healthy, enjoying an active lifestyle without significant health issues related to their size.

Health Issues Leading to Stunted Growth:

On the other hand, some health conditions can cause stunted growth, resulting in smaller-than-average Yorkies. Two major health issues that can lead to this are hydrocephalus and liver shunt:

  • Hydrocephalus: This condition, also known as “water on the brain,” can cause neurological issues and often leads to smaller size due to developmental impacts on the puppy. Symptoms can include an enlarged head, frequent seizures, and difficulty in coordination.
  • Liver Shunt: A liver shunt is a serious condition where the blood bypasses the liver, leading to toxin buildup in the bloodstream. This can severely affect the dog’s growth and overall health, manifesting in symptoms such as poor growth, lethargy, and neurological issues.

It’s crucial for potential owners to be aware of these conditions and ensure that their teacup Yorkie is healthy and not suffering from any medical issues. Reputable breeders will test for these conditions and provide a health guarantee for their puppies.

Responsible Breeding and Care

Given the potential health issues associated with extremely small Yorkies, responsible breeding practices are essential. Reputable breeders will prioritize the health and wellbeing of their dogs over the appeal of smaller size. They will screen for genetic conditions, provide proper veterinary care, and educate potential owners about the unique needs of teacup Yorkies.

Owners of teacup Yorkies should also be prepared to give them special care. Due to their small size, these dogs can be more prone to injuries and require a safe, gentle environment. Regular veterinary check-ups, a balanced diet, and careful handling are crucial to maintaining their health.


The term “teacup Yorkie” remains a subjective and unofficial classification within the Yorkshire Terrier breed. While these tiny dogs can indeed be healthy when they are genetically small, it’s vital to distinguish between natural small size and stunted growth due to health issues. Prospective owners should seek out reputable breeders and be prepared for the unique care needs of these petite pups. With proper attention and responsible breeding, teacup Yorkies can lead happy, healthy lives, bringing joy to their families with their charming personalities and diminutive stature.

Check our sources for this article below:
 historical look of the Yorkshire terrier aka yorkie
 historical look of the Yorkshire terrier aka yorkie
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