The Difference Between Teacup and Toy Chihuahuas

Chihuahuas are a beloved and popular pet in many American households. The American Kennel Club (AKC) describes the Chihuahua as a “tiny dog with a giant personality.” Initially bred in Mexico, these tiny dogs are well-loved and known around the world. Their sassy personality and affectionate nature are a major reason for their popularity. The Chihuahua breed is easy to recognize due to its small size, large eyes, and upright ears.

If you want to adopt a Chihuahua, you’ve heard names like toy and teacup Chihuahuas. We will discuss the differences between these two types of Chihuahuas and other information you need to care for your future pet.

Size Definitions

While the AKC recognizes the Chihuahua as one breed, breeders use the words “miniature,” “teacup,” and “toy” to differentiate pups by size. There is no officially recognized “teacup” category of Chihuahuas. Some breeders still advertise or charge higher for a “teacup” Chihuahua. A fully grown teacup Chihuahua could be small or normal-sized.

Due to the high demand for smaller Chihuahuas, breeders often selectively breed the smallest of Chihuahuas. While this ensures that the newborn Chihuahua is relatively small, these puppies are prone to many health issues. Smaller, weaker Chihuahuas used for breeding result in teacup Chihuahuas with multiple health issues.

Teacup Chihuahua generally refers to dogs that fit in a teacup when grown. Toy Chihuahuas are also quite small but usually larger than those considered teacup Chihuahuas. In any case, the AKC does not recognize toy or teacup Chihuahua breeds. These size definitions apply to other dogs but are only descriptive terms in the case of Chihuahuas. With that said, your Chihuahua will have unique needs regardless of size.

Caring For Your Chihuahua

Whether your Chihuahua is supposedly a teacup or toy, his exercise and nutritional needs will differ from other dogs. Their small size results in many breed-specific differences that affect their needs. If you want to adopt a Chihuahua, consider the following:


The Chihuahua is an affectionate and devoted lapdog with a unique personality. While some love their antics and assertive nature, they are certainly not for everyone. the Chihuahua breed stands out among other dogs with their quirky, comical character. There are many generalizations about their temperament and personality, but it varies from pet to pet like any other breed. Genetics also plays a significant role in determining your Chihuahua’s temperament.

In general, Chihuahuas are alert and loyal, making them excellent watchdogs. They can be standoffish to strangers and are generally aggressive towards other dogs. Chihuahuas usually become attached to a single person, so it is best to avoid adopting a Chihuahua if you have a large family. They also struggle to adjust to a multi-pet household, so it’s best to adopt one if it is your only pet.

Chihuahuas are very affectionate towards their owners but don’t get along with other pets or children. Supervise any time young children spend with your Chihuahua because their bodies are very fragile.

In any case, training and socialization are also important determinants of a Chihuahua’s personality. Chihuahua puppies are much easier to train than adult Chihuahuas.


Training Chihuahuas is not difficult since they only need to learn a few commands. Most Chihuahua puppies are easy to train, but some can be stubborn. Chihuahuas are easier to train when young, but adult Chihuahuas can stubborn and harder to train. Teaching your Chihuahua what No means is very important to stop them from barking excessively or being aggressive to other dogs.

Two big challenges when training a Chihuahua are housebreaking and bark training. Chihuahuas are prone to barking excessively, so you need to train them to prevent this behavior. You can train your Chihuahua to bark less using positive reinforcement strategies. Another way to train a particularly persistent barker is using a spray collar. We advise avoiding collars with a shock function as Chihuahuas are very small and sensitive. Regardless of how you train your Chihuahua, patience is key.

Chihuahuas enjoy their personal space, so socialization is essential to make your Chihuahua friendlier. You certainly don’t want your pet to bark whenever the doorbell rings, growl at your friends, or pick a fight with other dogs. To train your Chihuahua to be friendlier, start the socialization process early. Introduce your Chihuahua to other people and dogs under your supervision.

If your Chihuahua is a puppy, it will be easier to train him. However, if your Chihuahua is an adult dog, you might need the help of a trainer. Chihuahuas can be stubborn, so exercise patience and consult a professional if necessary.

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Chihuahuas require a moderate amount of grooming. Grooming will vary by coat type, and Chihuahuas come in two coat types: smooth and long. Smooth-haired Chihuahuas have a soft, shiny coat that fits closer to the body, while long-haired ones have a fluffier coat.

Long coats will require more brushing compared to short coats. Brush gently but deep enough to stimulate the natural oils on your pet’s skin. These give the coat a healthy appearance and maintain skin health.

If your Chihuahua has a short coat, brush through the coat at least once a week. Brush the coat three times a week for long-haired Chihuahuas to remove any dead or loose hair. Since long coats are prone to developing tangles, you should also regularly trim the coat. In case you find a tangle in your Chihuahua’s fur, use canine conditioner and gently brush through the tangle.

Bathe your Chihuahua once in three to four weeks. Avoid excessive bathing that can cause skin problems. Do not use human shampoo or conditioner since a dog’s skin has a different pH balance. A high-quality canine shampoo and conditioner is the best option for your Chihuahua.

Grooming your Chihuahua is more than just brushing his fur; bathing, nail trimming, and cleaning its eyes and ears are also part of grooming. It is up to you whether you want to do it at home or consult a professional groomer. A professional groomer’s expertise can make the grooming process easier and less stressful for your pet.


There are many factors to consider when choosing the best diet for your pet. You should be aware of the nutrients your pet needs from their diet. Chihuahuas are small and fragile dogs that need a proper diet. A small-breed formula packed with nutrients would be the best choice for your Chihuahua. When choosing dog food for your pet, consider the following:

Caloric Needs

Since Chihuahuas are small dogs, they need a calorie-dense diet. A recipe that provides more calories per pound is ideal. Depending on your Chihuahua’s size and activity levels, he will need between 225 to 350 calories a day. The source of calories is just as important as their number.

A biologically appropriate diet rich in proteins and healthy fats is the best choice for your Chihuahua. Any dog food that contains an excess of starchy ingredients like potatoes, corn, and sweet potatoes can cause your Chihuahua to gain weight. These fillers are indigestible and cause health issues in the long term.

Nutritional Needs

The role of each ingredient in your Chihuahua’s diet matters — too many fillers or unnecessary ingredients and your pet will not receive the nutrition it needs. You should avoid certain ingredients, while others are important for overall health. Opt for meals rich in protein, healthy fats, and fiber.

The best dog food for your Chihuahua should contain meat as the first ingredient, followed by carefully chosen fruits, vegetables, and grains. Supplements such as fish oil, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants are also beneficial.

You should avoid foods that contain potential allergens and an excess of carbohydrates. These cause digestive upset and do not provide ample nourishment. On the other hand, probiotics, Glucosamine, Chondroitin, Taurine, L-carnitine, and Omega Fatty acids are the nutrients that should be present in your pet’s food.

Health-Related Needs

Like other breeds, Chihuahuas are prone to certain health issues and concerns. Genetics plays a role in the health of your Chihuahua, but a healthy diet and exercise can help prevent their development.


Despite their small size, Chihuahuas are very active dogs. You will constantly see them running around, wagging their tail, sniffing, and exploring. Unlike a large or medium breed, Chihuahuas don’t need much space to exercise. However, you should ensure they get at least thirty minutes of exercise daily. It is better to split this time into two short walks. Exercise is necessary for your Chihuahua to release his energy. Pets that get little to no exercise can develop behavioral problems.

Mental stimulation is just as important as physical exercise. Chihuahuas are intelligent dogs who can get bored easily. You have to keep them entertained with games and training exercises. Puzzle toys and obedience training should be enough to keep your Chihuahua engaged.

The Chihuahua’s exercise needs also vary by age. If you have a puppy, it is best to refrain from over-exercising him. Playing fetch is a great way to exercise a Chihuahua puppy. If your puppy is too young to get his shots, exercise indoors rather than outdoors. An unvaccinated puppy is vulnerable to all sorts of diseases. As Chihuahua puppies age, you can walk them outdoors for short periods.

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Exercise is also necessary because it can reveal any health issues your dog could be experiencing. Issues such as limping and lethargy usually show when your pet exercises. Inactivity can also promote obesity, a health issue that is very harmful to a dog as small as a Chihuahua.

Health Problems

While most Chihuahuas live long, healthy lives, they are prone to many health issues. Some health issues are genetic, so you should inquire about your future pet’s family history. Even if a Chihuahua is predisposed to developing an illness, it doesn’t necessarily mean he will. Most health issues are easily preventable with a nutritious diet and enough exercise. The most common Chihuahua health problems are:

Luxating Patella, or patellar luxation, is a condition in which the kneecap temporarily slips out of place. This disease is inherited and symptoms can show in puppies as young as four months. Chihuahuas suffering from patellar luxation may limp or avoid using the affected leg. Patellar luxation is usually not painful, but it is best to consult your veterinarian about the best way to manage it.

Hip Dysplasia is a condition where the two parts of the hip joint do not align properly, causing the joint to pop out of place, which is quite painful. Chihuahuas suffering from hip dysplasia develop arthritis as they age. Feeding your Chihuahua puppy a well-balanced diet is important to prevent this condition. An excess of calcium during the puppy years can also cause hip dysplasia.

Hydrocephalus is a condition where spinal fluid builds up around the brain. All Chihuahua puppies are born with a small, soft spot on their head called a molera. If the molera is too large, the skull can fill with spinal fluid. Chihuahuas with hydrocephalus experience seizures, poor motor coordination, and other neurological symptoms.

Chihuahuas can also develop Dental issues due to their small jaws and overcrowded teeth. Their teeth can be difficult to clean, causing plaque build-up. Regular brushing and dental check-ups are necessary for your Chihuahua’s dental hygiene. Chew toys can keep your pet’s teeth clean between brushes.


Chihuahuas can live as long as 15 to 20 years despite their health issues. The world’s oldest Chihuahua, Megabyte, lived 21 years before passing away in 2014. Many small-breed dogs have a longer lifespan than large or medium-sized breeds. Be mindful that this might not be the case for every Chihuahua since many factors affect their lifespan.

A well-balanced diet and exercise is the best way to ensure your Chihuahua lives a long, healthy life. A high-quality diet can prevent various health issues for your pet. Consider getting your Chihuahua spayed or neutered; it can prolong their lifespan.

Other Considerations

Taking care of a Chihuahua is no easy task, but they make some of the most loyal and affectionate companions when cared for properly. In addition to the information above, there are some special considerations for the Chihuahua breed.

Chihuahuas have small bladders and are also prone to submissive urination. Since their excitement levels are so high, they can eliminate frequently. Toilet train your Chihuahua well, or it might develop the habit of peeing all over the house.

Since Chihuahuas are so small, they have trouble delivering puppies and usually need a C-section. Unless you are getting a pedigreed Chihuahua that you plan to breed, spay or neuter your dog to prevent the overpopulation of pets.

Chihuahuas have small stomachs, so they need calorie-dense meals. Feed your Chihuahua small meals throughout the day to prevent Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. Small Chihuahuas or puppies can suffer from Hypoglycemia if not fed properly.

It is important to keep your Chihuahua warm. Please do not take them for outdoor walks in winter without bundling them up. Since they are small, they have trouble maintaining their body temperature. If your Chihuahua keeps shivering, it is because he feels cold. Many assume Chihuahuas shiver due to excitement, but they are usually feeling cold.

Chihuahuas are small dogs who can get overwhelmed easily. Meeting too many people at once can be very stressful for your Chihuahua. Chihuahuas are prone to anxiety due to their cautious nature, so avoid exposing your pet to situations that can cause stress or anxiety.

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Susan Dorling

I am a pet expert with years of experience working with a variety of animals. From dogs and cats to birds and exotics, I have a deep understanding of their unique needs and behaviors. I am dedicated to helping pet owners provide the best care for their furry friend.

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