If you know nothing about dogs, know that the term “teacup” in front of any dog breed means something very little. The term is used to describe dogs that are much smaller than typical breeds, though it’s not an official breed name. For example, the teacup Maltese is a dog that’s not actually recognized as a breed. The phrase is used to describe a dog that is smaller than the normal size of the breed as it is recognized by the AKC (American Kennel Club).
Essentially, it’s considered a marketing term. Placing the word teacup in front of a breed tells society that it’s smaller. The term has developed a reputation as being more exclusive (imagine those dogs that celebrities stick in designer dog carriers or in their small designer bags and carry around as accessories) and more in-demand and, therefore, more expensive. Breeders can put a hefty price tag on a Maltese that has a teacup title, and people are willing to pay for that dog because they want one that’s going to stay very small forever, almost allowing them to keep that sweet puppy look and feeling for the duration of their lives.
Here’s what you need to know about a teacup Maltese; the Maltese is a breed that’s very small to begin with, and you very likely do not want one that’s smaller than the standard AKC size. According to the AKC, these dogs are supposed to be less than 7 pounds, though the preferred size is 4-6 pounds. Because they’re already so small, many breeders will place the terms teacup or toy in front of Maltese to increase their search results online so that they can sell their puppies. It’s usually just a marketing term, and while not always appreciated, your dog is likely going to be a healthy one. However, if you do see a breeder who has a Maltese that’s even smaller than this or promises that it will stay under 4 pounds steer clear. This is a dog that was bred incorrectly and could have a myriad of potential health problems.
In short; there is no such thing as a teacup Maltese. However, if you’re looking into this breed and you have read up on it and know all there is to know based on the AKC’s official guidelines, it’s time to ask yourself if living with a very small dog is right for you and your family. The Maltese is a very sweet dog with a wonderful personality. It makes a wonderful companion, and it’s going to become part of your family very quickly (and it’s so cute). However, if you’re not prepared to live with a small dog, you should consider what it means, what’s required and whether or not you think you are up for this kind of commitment.
According to the ASPCA, if you’re going to live with a little dog, you better get ready to deal with some barking. Now let’s be clear; not all little dogs bark maniacally, and not all big dogs are silent creatures who bark only in the face of danger. All dogs are different, all breeds are different and each individual dog is different. However, the ASPCA states that small dogs are a lot more vocal than large dogs, and you have to be ready for this. A Maltese is very likely going to go crazy anytime someone rings the doorbell, knocks, walks by, drives by or it sees a squirrel in the yard. It’s just par for the course with a dog like this. So if you’re not prepared for this kind of barking, living with a small dog might not be right for you (for example, you have new babies in the house and prefer silence at nap time).
Just because your new dog is small doesn’t mean you don’t have to train it. Many people tend to forget that small dogs need training for obedience reasons just as much as larger dogs. Just because they’re not as aggressive or ‘scary’ as larger dogs does not mean that they won’t become aggressive or misbehave. Size has nothing to do with that; and obedience has everything to do with it. You still have to teach this dog to listen, to obey and to behave properly. If you’re not up for the challenge, this is not the right dog for you.
You might think that a Maltese is not an aggressive dog, but you could be wrong. This doesn’t mean you are wrong; just that you could be wrong. They’re not aggressive by nature, but they can be taught to be aggressive. When you don’t take the time to train this dog properly by teaching it to respect and obey the rules, you probably just pick it up, manhandle it or even prompt the dog with your foot. Your kids probably cart it around, and the dog is probably mistreated in some way, shape or form that might make him become aggressive. He might not become a biter or a growler, but he might start urinating on children’s toys when they irritate him or treating people poorly. Being treated in this manner makes smaller dogs a little less friendly, a little less affectionate and a lot more of a problem. You absolutely must, must, must train and protect this animal, and not use your size vs. his size as a form of punishment.
If you’re not social, you might not want a small dog. They need just as much socialization as larger dogs, but they do need more supervision. Smaller dogs are more likely to end up hurt by kids or other animals, so your job is just to keep an eye on things when your dog is with other dogs or kids to ensure that all is well. By socializing your Maltese with other dogs and people, you will teach him not to fear strangers or become a loner. This will make it much easier for you to get the dog to behave on walks, in public and around other people.
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