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Teacup dogs vie for 'World's Smallest Dog' title

Scooter the Maltese puppy may be the world's smallest dog

There was a time when being the runt of the litter was considered a bad thing. (Wilbur, the pig co-star of the title spider character in "Charlotte's Web," was almost killed for being a runt, as any children's literature fan will remember.) But nowadays, tiny dogs are fashionable -- as evidenced by the hotly contested Guinness World Records for smallest dog by height and smallest dog by length.

Scooter, above, is a 6-month-old Maltese whose owner, Cheryl McKnight of New Zealand, believes will one day hold the title of smallest dog by height. Scooter is just over 3 inches tall, measured from his feet to the top of his shoulder blade.  Although he's still a puppy, McKnight says he hasn't grown at all since he was 2 months old, and she believes he won't grow any taller -- certainly no taller than the current recordholder, an American Chihuahua. 

McKnight's sister breeds Maltese and gave Scooter to her as a gift. The tiny animal eats from an egg cup and apparently has his share of challenges as a result of his stature. "I can't take him for a walk or put a leash on him," McKnight told the New Zealand Herald.

Another diminutive puppy vying for smallest-dog status is Tom Thumb, a Jack Russell terrier-Chihuahua mix puppy from Scotland. Tom Thumb is even younger than Scooter, but his owners, Susan and Archie Thomson, are convinced he'll still be shorter than the current record-holder for smallest dog by length when he's an adult. At three weeks old, Tom Thumb measured less than 4 inches from nose tip to tail tip; Archie Thomson, a hobby breeder of Chihuahuas, told the Daily Mail he doubted the pup would grow "much bigger than an inch or two more." The current record-holder, another American Chihuahua named Heaven Sent Brandy, is fully grown and measures 6 inches long.

These tiny dogs are unquestionably cute -- but does cute come with a price?  The increase in popularity of "teacup" dogs -- extra-small poodles, Yorkshire terriers, Chihuahuas and the like -- has undoubtedly helped boost profits for puppy mills that churn them out as if they were products on an assembly line. 

And what of their health?  Scooter "weighs less than a block of butter at 400 grams -- and that is while he is wearing clothes," according to the New Zealand Herald.  He wears a brightly-colored sock as a shirt to make him stand out, presumably to prevent the inevitable injury that would result if his owner were to make a wrong step. Tom Thumb "can fit inside a teacup and cannot reach his mum to feed when she is standing up," the Daily Mail reports. 

According to Petside.com, as humans breed smaller and smaller dogs, "the dogs' teeth don't keep pace as well and many small breeds are troubled by teeth that are too big for their mouths." Tiny bones can break easily as well -- although it's also true that small dogs, on average, live longer lives than large ones. 

We're sure many teacup pups are in fine health and enjoy the attention they get for being cute, traveling about in purses and the like -- still, we can't help but wonder if we're doing them a disservice in the long run by making them just too small for their own good.

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Maltese puppy Scooter can easily fit in a teacup. Credit: Rebecca Grunwell / Associated Press

Comments () | Archives (7)

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Yes they are doing them a big disservice. I am glad at least that you did mention the Greeders cranking out the smallest dogs that they can. Articles like this draw attention to the small ones and then even more people want them. The puppymill Greeders will stop at nothing to line their pockets.
They have no care for the mother and father of these puppies that they are cranking out for the pet stores and to sell on pretty websites.

Although cute, I do find the fact that dogs are downsized to be horrible. We are trying to improve the breed and to breed out problems and here money hungry people are capitalizing on bringing dogs that are set up to have problems. Just to downsize and charge more for them. True breeders are not breeding for just the bottom line.

Scooter is so adorable. For me, the tiny dog is a lot easier to manage and physical limitations. In my younger days, I preferred big dogs because they are huggable.

this dog is so cute !!!!!!! i swear ill snag him. anyways im using him for my report im a reporter for my school newspaper.man i cant believe he stoped growing!my parents dont like anything and i showed them this now their talking about getting a dog!!!
jamie bacarella
p.s. i luv this dog

Comments like these are ignorant. We have so much disinformation flung around in the US by a bunch of greedy non profits who do not pay taxes. The term Puppy Mill has no legal definition It is more of a marketing term then the term Teacup. So much anger is thrown at people that have done nothing wrong. All these puppy mill stories do is scare away the good breeders who get sick of all this negative attention only leaving a bunch of lying greedy rescues and the real macoy the real bad breeders, who are not effected by name calling and can morph at will . Many of the bad breeders did turn rescue because that is the newest scam in America and the newest hot item a puppy mill rescue. No where else in the world are non profit org's allowed to interfere with commerce and replace legal licensed businesses with a bunch of greedy lying non profits. Do not support rescues. If you want to adopt a dog support the real rescue your county shelter. Most rescues now will even buy dogs just to have them on inventory like a pet store who does not pay taxes. nor be responsible if something goes wrong with the animal you paid good money for. The abuse has got to stop do not support rescues

P.S.I HATE H1N1!!!!

my poodles have produced a tiny perfectly formed pup that at 12 weeks is 6" high at the shoulder.
my vet says he is in excellent health.
I had to get a bootmaker to cut a puppy cllar in half and refit the buckle so I had a collar small enough for him to wear.


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