Yorkshire terriers are small dogs weighing from 4 to 7 pounds. There is no separate breed standard for teacup Yorkies. Teacup Yorkshire terriers are standard Yorkies that have been bred to be at or below the smallest acceptable weight limit. These dogs can have a number of different health and safety issues that stem from their size.
Genetic Health Problems
According to the Canine Inherited Disorders Database, Yorkshire terriers of all sizes can develop a number of different inherited health problems. One is patellar luxation. This is a knee disorder that causes the knee cap to pop out of its natural groove when the dog walks around. This disease causes pain when walking and osteoarthritis as the dog ages.
Yorkies can inherit retinal dysplasia, which is a disorder characterized by folding, thinning or detachment of the retina. It usually becomes evident when the dog is still a puppy. The disease often leads to vision loss or blindness.
Many Yorkies also experience a narrowing of the trachea as they age. The trachea collapses when the dog breathes. This causes a dry, hacking cough that worsens when the dog gets excited or exercises. The symptoms of a collapsed trachea are worse in older and obese dogs.
Finally, the breed is susceptible to developing a disorder called portosystemic liver shunt. The blood is diverted away from the liver and is not cleaned of toxins. This problem can cause bladder stones, kidney stones and neurological diseases.
Toy and teacup Yorkshire terriers are susceptible to hypoglycemia, a condition where the dog's blood sugar level drops rapidly because of hunger, illness or environmental stress such as vaccinations or teething. The symptoms are more pronounced in puppies, but adult dogs can develop hypoglycemia also. The symptoms of a hypoglycemic attack are lethargy, followed by shaking or trembling. The dog may experience mental confusion or physical weakness, and its body temperature may drop. If the dog's blood sugar is not quickly brought up to a normal level, the animal may go into shock, lapse into a coma and die.
According to the Dog DNA website, teacup Yorkies often have stomach problems and may experience intermittent vomiting and diarrhea, especially if they are exposed to food that they have not had before. They may lose their teeth at an early age. These dogs also have a limited tolerance for anesthesia. In addition, teacup Yorkies are prone to environmental accidents such as falling from furniture or being stepped on. These accidents can cause injury, permanent paralysis or death. The Dog DNA site indicates that teacup Yorkies may have shorter life spans and often suffer from serious behavioral issues as well as physical problems.