There are few things that can guarantee your Instagram popularity like a tiny dog, which perhaps explains the popularity of so-called "teacup" puppies in recent years. However, animal welfare charity the RSPCA has warned people to think twice before buying these tiny dogs online, The Telegraph reported. Teacup puppy "boutiques" are hugely popular on the internet, with some Facebook groups boasting more than 75,000 likes. They sell specially-bred mini versions of some of the cutest dog breeds, such as pugs and pomeranians, priced at around £3,000 to £4,000 – far higher than a typical pedigree puppy. The sellers promote the dogs as being smaller and lighter than is usual. One group recently claimed a pomeranian for sale would be "2.5 to 3 pounds [when] full grown" (1.1 kg to 1.3 kg), but an adult pomeranian usually weighs between 4.2 to 7.7 pounds (1.9 kg to 3.5 kg). The dogs are often shipped around the world, sometimes travelling as far as from South Korea to Spain, reported The Telegraph.
The RSPCA has warned against buying teacup puppies because the way they are bred to be small increases their risk of health problems, such as brittle bones and breathing problems. The charity also said prospective buyers should avoid buying dogs through services where the breeder and environment in which they have been raised are unknown. "It's very important when searching for a breeder and a puppy to do lots of research and take time over choosing the right dog for your family and circumstances," an RSPCA spokesperson told The Telegraph. "Use the RSPCA/AWF puppy contract online to avoid becoming a victim of the puppy trade."
It advised people to see the puppy with its mother before they buy, ask questions, check paperwork and documentation, and to visit more than once. "This is practically impossible to do if buying a puppy abroad or over the internet so, for that reason, we would advise buyers to be very careful," the spokesperson added. "There is more information on our website to help buyers ensure they are buying a happy and healthy puppy." However, before buying a new puppy the charity advised people to consider adopting one from a rescue organisation. "There are so many wonderful dogs patiently waiting for their home in kennels and foster homes."