Teacup pets are miniature versions of popular pet breeds that are quickly becoming the hot new fad in pet ownership. Originating in Europe but quickly spreading throughout the United States, this obssession with tiny pets that are small enough to fit inside a teacup is driving animal breeders to change up their techniques and breeding methods. But at what cost?

What Are Teacup Pets?

Teacup pigs, cats and dogs are simply well-known breeds like potbelly pigs, shih tzus and persian doll faced kittens that have been purposely bred to be even smaller than usual. This is done to cater to pet buyers' desires for an extra small animal that they believe is more cute and possibly more economical. Although there's no denying that miniature or toy pets are cute, there are a number of misconceptions regarding whether or not they are ultimately "cheaper" to own than their full-sized counterparts. 

In fact, there are many ways that teacup pets can end up being more expensive for their owners. For one thing, medical issues specific to their small stature can often end up requiring complicated, protracted and therefore expensive treatment at the hands of a speciality veterinarian. 

So how did teacup pets come about, anyway? There is speculation that the trend can be traced back to Europe, where potbelly pig breeders were first inspired to cross domestic English pigs with exotic foreign breeds from Africa and South America. The red river hog, for example, is one specific foreign breed that pig farmers sought out for cross-breeding with their own stock in the hopes of harnessing some of the more desirable traits of both pig species. 

This is likely how the famous "painted pig" came about: the red river hog's unique colorations were passed along through cross-breeding to create a miniature pig hybrid that can exhibit colors as diverse as red or purplish hues in addition to white and black spotting. 

Today, people are more likely to use the term "tea cup pets" in common discourse to refer to a number of popular pet breeds of cats and dogs and even pigs that have been intentionally shrunken down to net a higher price in the pet buyer's market. 

What Are The Special Issues Related to Tea Cup Pet Ownership?

Would be mini-pet owners and their families should be careful to do their research before committing to one of these miniaturized animals. The unfortunate case is that some animal breeders will resort to nefarious means of shrinking their animals down to "teacup" sizes, and these methods can include everything from starvation and chronic malnutrition to keeping animals confined in unnaturally small areas to force stress responses that will result in smaller statures and stunted growth. Not pretty.

When you buy a teacup dog, for instance, you should first check the American Kennel Club's specifications to determine the "toy" versions of the animal that AKC recognizes. This professional association is concerned with the breeding and specification of dogs of all kinds, and those breeds that fall under "toy" distinctions will be considered stable from a health standpoint. 

Conversely, if you simply snatch up the first teacup pig offered to you by an independent breeder, you could be asking for trouble. For one thing, some pig breeders will simply call the animal they're selling you a "teacup pig". You'll begin to notice is was a loose term once your mini pig becomes a full-blown hoglet over the coming months. In this case, you may end up unknowingly violating city ordinances regarding the ownership of farm animals in residential areas. This is certainly not a snap decision you can make overnight.