The term 'teacup puppy' was coined by a Tokyo pet-shop owner selling miniature pooches. The puppies - tiny versions of toy dogs such as chihuahuas, Maltese, Pomeranians, pugs, shih tzus, Yorkshire terriers and poodles - are created through dwarf breeding techniques. Seoul kennel owner Jung Min-soo is among the first in South Korea to start experimenting with breeding teacup dogs, and says he now raises the smallest in the country. Each weighs between 800g and 1kg when fully grown. The 25-year-old used to sell standard puppies to US soldiers, but realised there was an unexplored market for mini pets after reading a magazine article about a Japanese teacup puppy breeder three years ago. 'It's difficult to breed teacup dogs - out of 10 litters, we get only two or three,' says Jung, who breeds only Maltese, Yorkshire terriers and chihuahuas. He has sold 1,500 such puppies so far, at prices ranging from US$950 to US$1,800. Maltese teacups are the most popular because South Koreans prefer their white coats and consider them the cutest. Jung keeps his teacup puppies at home instead of at his pet shop because they require close attention at first. A newly born teacup may be only 10cm long and weigh just 25-30g. Teacup puppies don't reproduce easily, and the selective breeding creates many genetic problems. By pairing the runts from each litter, breeders are able to reduce the size of the dogs, but at a price. With tiny bones, hearts and lungs, teacup dogs have delicate constitutions. Vet Hwang Ing-yun has treated many teacup dogs at his practice. 'Koreans think teacups are the best, but less than 30 per cent of them survive,' he says. 'This is mainly due to bad breeding and they often have weak lungs and brittle bones.' But the pocket pooches are a hot favourite with women obsessed with maintaining a fashionable lifestyle with brand-name clothes and designer handbags. 'Young women like to take care of small things,' Jung says. 'Teacups are like accessories. They're the size of cell phones.'