Teacup or miniature Labradors are adorable. They are very small, but ideally have the same looks and personality of their full size counterparts. Teacup labs seem like a great idea, but there’s a lot to know when considering these tiny pooches.
Despite their adorable appearance and big personality, they can have serious health issues.
Teacup/Miniature Labrador Facts
A teacup or miniature Labrador is a smaller version of a standard Labrador retriever. There are a few ways they are created.
Breeding Runts for Miniature Labradors
One way to create miniature or teacup labs is to breed the smallest standard sized Labradors, known as runts, together. You may have heard the term runt before. A runt is the smallest dog in a litter of puppies.
When runts are bred together, their genetics makes it more likely that the puppies will be smaller. Over time, this process can create Labradors significantly smaller than standard Labradors.
This process is often used to create miniature Labradors.
Creating Teacup Labradors
Teacup Labradors are usually created using other methods. One of these is to breed a Labrador with a much smaller breed. The mixed breed puppies will be smaller than a full-blooded standard-sized Labrador.
These two processes may also be combined. A breeder may breed runts to create smaller labs, and then combine this smaller version with a toy breed to get a teacup lab.
The last, and most concerning way that teacup labs are produced, is through dwarfism. Dwarfism can occur accidentally during breeding, because the genes for dwarfism are recessive.
However, unethical breeders will breed Labradors with dwarfism to intentionally create dwarf labs. Labradors with dwarfism are prone to many health issues, and should not be bred intentionally.
Teacup Labrador Appearance
The appearance of a teacup Labrador will vary based on the breeding method used.
Purebred Teacup Labs
Teacup labs that are created through dwarfism or breeding runts will look like Labradors, only much smaller.
They may not be proportional, however. Dwarf labs often have disproportionately short legs. It’s also possible for them to have deformities.
Generally, these mini labs will have the signature droopy ears and medium length snout of a labarador.
When it comes to their coat, it can be yellow, chocolate, or black. They are a double-coated breed. This means they have an insulating undercoat, and a short but dense topcoat.
This keeps them warm, and it also acts as waterproofing. Their coat allows Labradors to retrieve game from frigid waters and brave the elements.
Mixed Breed Teacup Labs
Mixed breed dogs are essentially a gamble. They will have traits from both of their parents. Even mixed breed pups from the same litter can have very different appearances, because they typically resemble one parent more than the other.
You can expect a mixed breed teacup Labrador to have some characteristics of a Labrador, along with features of the other parent. Generally, their coat can be like the coat of either parent.
Is a Miniature Labrador the same as a Teacup Labrador?
Teacup and miniature Labradors are technically a bit different from each other. Miniature labs are smaller than standard labs. However, teacup labs are even smaller.
Generally, a dog is considered teacup sized when it is under 17 inches tall, and weighs less than 5 pounds.
Most breeders consider a Labrador miniature if it’s 2 to 3 inches shorter than the average Labrador. They typically weigh 20 to 40 pounds less than full size labs.
It’s important to note that both miniature and teacup labs are at a higher risk of health issues. However, teacup labs are much more likely to have serious health problems than miniature labs.
This has to do with how they are bred, and the size difference.
Teacup Labrador Price
It’s difficult to determine the price for a teacup Labrador, because they are quite rare.
Standard Labradors usually cost between $800 to $2,000 for a registered Labrador puppy. The average price for an AKC registered lab pup is $1,200.
Teacup Labradors can cost more or less than this range, depending on the breeder.
Teacup Labrador Rarity
Teacup Labradors are rare. They are very controversial, because of the health issues associated with their tiny size. Most reputable breeders don’t breed teacup labs because of this, which makes them very hard to find.
Teacup Labrador Life expectancy
A standard Labrador has a life expectancy of 10 to 12 years. Generally, smaller breeds live longer than large breeds, so you may expect a teacup lab to have a longer life expectancy.
The truth is, it depends. Teacup labs are at risk of many health issues that don’t affect their full size counterparts, which can shorten their lifespan.
Their lifespan and health will vary based on how they were bred. Mixed breed teacup labs are more likely to be healthy and live longer than purebred teacup labs.
Generally, you can expect a teacup Labrador without serious health issues to live 10 to 12 years, and potentially longer. However, if they have inherited health issues, their lifespan will be shorter.
Teacup Labrador Size and weight
Standard Labradors are 22 to 25 inches tall, and weigh 55 to 80 pounds.
Miniature labs are typically about 18 inches tall, and weigh 30 to 40 pounds. As you can see, they are significantly smaller than a full-size lab, but they are not tiny pooches.
Teacup labs are smaller. It’s unlikely you’ll find a lab small enough to fit into a teacup, but they are very small compared to full size labs. How small will depend on how they are bred.
They are 17 inches tall or under. They will weigh less than 30 pounds. It’s very difficult to get a lab, even a mixed breed lab, down to the tiny 5 pound weight that is technically considered teacup size.
Teacup Labrador Health
Standard sized labs are considered a healthy breed. However, they are at a risk of some health issues. Teacup labs are at risk of these same issues, along with several others.
Teacup or Mini Labs From Runt Breeding
Runts face a lot of issues after birth. They are at an increased risk of cleft palates and heart defects. They are more susceptible to parasites because of their smaller size, and can have a lowered immune system if they aren’t able to nurse right after birth.
Some of these issues will apply to miniature Labradors that come from runt parents as well. Their smaller size and lower birth weight can make the first few weeks of life more risky.
The good news is, a runt that survives the first 8 weeks of life is not at a higher risk of health conditions than their siblings. A runt is less likely to survive those initial weeks, but once it does, it is on solid ground.
It’s unclear if intentionally breeding runts can cause a higher incidence of lasting health issues, because it’s a relatively new practice.
There are some breeds with an established mini-size accomplished through this type of breeding, and they seem to be healthy.
The biggest concern with creating miniature dogs by breeding runts is the gene pool. The smaller the gene pool, the more likely the dogs will experience genetic health issues. These issues can take generations to become apparent.
Dwarf Teacup Labradors
Teacup Labradors that have dwarfism have many more health concerns. The symptoms of dwarfism can include short legs, bowed knees, enlarged joints, a low back, and enlarged head.
Dwarf teacup labs can have bone malformations or poor joints, which cause knee and joint pain. They may have limited mobility due to these conditions.
They are also at a high risk of back or spinal problems, including pain and disc disease.
They can have an abnormally shaped skull. This is more than a cosmetic issue. It can cause brachycephalic airway syndrome. This condition typically affects flat-faced breeds like English bulldogs. It can lead to snoring, difficulty breathing, and low exercise tolerance.
Lastly, dwarf Labradors have a difficult time whelping puppies, because of their structural abnormalities and small size. They may require a c-section delivery, instead of a natural birth.
Teacup Labrador Behavior/Characteristics
A teacup lab’s personality and behavior will vary based on the method used to create them. If they are purebred Labradors, they will have the lab personality and temperament. If they are mixed breed, however, their personality is difficult to predict.
Purebred Teacup Labrador Temperament
Labradors are the most popular dog in America today, because they make such excellent pets. They are great with children, and don’t mind strangers.
They are very intelligent, and always want to play. They seem to be joyous all the time, without being overly hyper as long as they get plenty of exercise.
They develop a close bond with everyone in the family. They need interaction with their favorite humans daily, as well as time to interact with other dogs. They are a very social breed, and will become lonely without company.
Mixed Breed Teacup Lab Temperament
Just like their appearance, a mixed breed teacup lab will inherit traits from both parents. However, they will usually get the majority of their temperament from one parent.
For example, if you breed a Labrador and a Chihuahua, you may have puppies that are laid back, energetic, and friendly, like labs. However, you may also have puppies that are nervous and scared or aggressive with strangers, like many Chihuahuas.
Their personality may even vary greatly from pup to pup within the litter.
How to care for a Teacup Labrador
When considering a teacup Labrador, you’ll need to consider whether you can take care of them properly. Teacup labs have the same basic needs as other dogs, but there are some differences between teacup and full size labs.
You should also consider the higher risk of health issues. Would you be able to afford to care for them if they have a serious health problem? What will you do if they need special care?
Even if a teacup lab seems healthy, you should be prepared for these risks.
Labradors are well known for their high energy levels. Full size labs need between 1 and 2 hours of moderate exercise each day.
Your teacup lab may also have high energy, and have similar exercise requirements.
However, if they have joint pain, back problems, or are brachycephalic, they will have a lower need for exercise. You’ll need to speak to your vet about what type of exercise is healthy and safe for them.
Labradors of any size are easy to groom. Their double coat does require brushing once or twice a week. They shed in the spring and fall, and need to be brushed daily when shedding.
Teacup labs, particularly dwarf labs, are also at a higher risk of skin problems and hair loss.
Keep a close eye on their skin and coat. Bath them when needed, usually no more often than once a month. You may want to choose a hypoallergenic dog shampoo.
How do you buy a Teacup Labrador?
Buying a teacup Labrador can be challenging for a few reasons. First, teacup labs are very controversial, with few breeders currently breeding them.
This makes them rare, which, of course, makes them hard to find.
However, that’s not the biggest concern when buying a teacup Labrador. The biggest concern is whether the breeder is ethical.
Ethical breeders will put the health and temperament of their dogs above any trends. If they breed for something like size, it will be secondary to being sure the dogs are healthy and well behaved.
It’s rare to find an ethical breeder who breeds teacup labs, because of the health risks associated with doing so.
If a breeder intentionally breeds dwarf labs, they are not ethical. If they breed runts to create miniature labs or breed labs with smaller dogs to create mixed breed teacup labs, they may be ethical.
However, you should ask plenty of questions. You should also visit the breeder and the dogs, to see their living conditions.