The Teacup Maltese - A Popular And Non-Existent Breed
The Teacup Maltese is certainly an adorable little dog. Its coat is white, long, and silky, hanging straight to the ground. The dog typically weighs around 5 pounds. It is in all respects a toy dog.
Is It Or Isn't It A Special Breed?
I've just given a description of the Teacup Maltese, yet in the title inferred that there is no such breed. A bit of an explanation would seem to be in order. The breed I described is a Maltese. The Maltese is indeed a toy dog, an even-tempered, though somewhat fearless little fellow, that makes a very good pet for children and adults alike, and except for the need for frequent grooming to keep its long hair tangle free, is a low maintenance little guy. Still, there appear to be many more advertisements for the sale of Teacup Maltese dogs than for Maltese Dogs. A true Teacup Maltese just happens to be a dog that is smaller than your typical Maltese. It's still a Maltese, but goes by a different name. The birth of a truly tiny Maltese is a seldom occurring event. If smaller is indeed more charming, and it often is, this would explain the demand for the Teacup variety. The problem is, that most Teacups are the way they are because of questionable or downright shameful breeding practices.
The Maltese breed is a very old European Toy breed, dating back several thousand years, and well known in Roman times. Its origin is thought to be either the island of Malta or the island of Sicily. Under Roman influence, the breed spread throughout Europe during the Middle Ages, and was well known in Britain by the 16th century. The Teacup Maltese, also called the Mini Maltese and several other names, is a more recent creation. The creation being in the name only, the breed remains unchanged.
What To Watch Out For
If you plan on purchasing a Teacup Maltese, there are several things to consider. First, recognize that the breed you are buying is a Maltese. Second, if the dog has been properly bred but just happens to be on the small side, which can happen, the breeder may call it a Teacup Maltese to enhance its salability. There is nothing inherently wrong with that, as long as you know the Teacup designation is a description, and that the dog is still a Maltese. Finally, take a good hard look at your future pet, and any of its siblings that might still be around, to see if they are healthy little animals. The Teacup may be an unethically bred dog. Breeders of this stripe have been known to starve puppies when very young to stunt their growth, or to breed two runt dogs in the hopes of producing more runt dogs, selling them as Teacups. You do not want to purchase a pet that will have chronic health problems, no matter how adorable it appears. In purchasing such a pet, you only encourage the breeder to continue the practice.
Even A Properly Bred Teacup May Have Problems
Now you might happen upon a Maltese that has been normally bred and raised, and fits the Teacup Maltese description to a T. That being the case, you still need to take into consideration the possibility that, due to its somewhat smaller size, there could be underlying health issues. It's not that the dog is sickly, but it may need some special care. Very small Maltese dogs sometimes have bone structures that are weaker than normal, are therefore more prone to injury, and have to be handled a little more carefully. Taking this possibility into account, it would be perfectly all right to purchase the "Teacup". The breeder has done no wrong, and the little guy deserves a good home.
In summary, it's OK to be on the lookout for a Teacup Maltese, Mini Maltese, or Tiny Maltese, if that is what you want. Just remember these are not specific breeds, they are all Maltese. If a smaller than average Maltese fits the description, and the breeder has a good ethical background, check to see what, if any, special care might be needed, and go for it.