When you see a miniature pinscher sitting next to a Doberman pinscher, the min-pin looks like a "mini-me." Add a teacup miniature pinscher to the picture, and it's like looking at a row of Russian nesting dolls, each one smaller than the next. Pinscher parents who opt for the smaller breeds may do so out of necessity, such as having a small home or yard, or they might just like the little guys' intelligence, spunk and energy. When it comes to the teeny-tiny pups, it's useful to know the difference between a "teacup" and "regular" miniature pinscher.
The "Teacup" Term
When referring to mini pinschers or any dog breed, the term "teacup" is used to convey that the dog is extremely, even abnormally, small. For a toy breed such as the mini pinscher, that can mean a tiny puppy small enough to sit in the palm of your hand.
Not an Official Designation
Although you may see the term "teacup" used frequently to describe a mini pinscher puppy, it's not an official breed or designation recognized by the American Kennel Club or any other official dog association. The AKC's newsletter states that there are no teacup breeds. Reputable kennels and breeders don't promote teacup litters. Spruce Valley Kennel gets requests for teacup miniature pinschers and responds with this reply: "There is no such thing as a 'teacup' miniature pinscher." Typically the teacup designation serves to attract customers who want a uniquely tiny dog, unaware they're perpetuating the breeding of potentially unhealthy lines.
Teacup vs. Regular Mini Pins
The markings and temperaments of extremely small miniature pinscher pups are the same as those of regular-size mini pins. They should have short, smooth coats that are red, black or chocolate, either solid or with contrasting markings of those three colors. In the personality department, mini pins are active, curious and spirited. The biggest difference you'll find between a "teacup" mini pin and a regular miniature pinscher is size. Since the teacup mini pin is not a breed, there is no official standard. The AKC standard for mini pins doesn't include weight requirements, but any miniature pinscher who stands less than 10 inches at the highest point of his shoulder blades could be considered abnormally small and, therefore, a teacup.
Teacup Parents Be Cautioned
If you're thinking about adopting a teacup miniature pinscher puppy, you should be aware of some of the problems that could arise. Breeding runts to runts can result in dogs with poor immune systems and other weaknesses. Teacup puppies are prone to health issues such as liver shunts, collapsing trachea, digestive problems and seizures. The AKC points out that puppies smaller than the standard may be too delicate to handle life the same way normal-size dogs do. A teacup min-pin will be more fragile than a regular mini pinscher, for instance, with fine bones that can more easily be broken. It's best if you understand your tiny dog's special needs as well as his predisposition for health problems from the start.
Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.