Guinness crowns new “World’s Smallest Dog”

“Miracle Milly” (left) may have the title of Smallest Living Dog, but she may have some competition from Poppet (center) and Angel (right). (Photo credit: Guinness; The Argus; Bernard Weil/Toronto Star)

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the world’s tiniest living dog lives in Puerto Rico.

Guinness judges recently gave the title “World’s Smallest Dog” to a teeny-tiny brown and tan Chihuahua named Milly. At almost 2-years-old, Milly, or “Miracle Milly” as her owner, Vanesa Semler, calls her, is only 3.8 inches tall and only weighs about a pound.

In comparison, Guinness’ Tallest Dog in the World is a Great Dane named Zeus, who stands 44 inches tall.

“People are amazed when they see her because she is so small,” Semler tells NBC News of Milly. “And she has a big personality. People love her.”

When Milly was born in December 2011, she was so tiny she had to be fed through an eye dropper every two hours. As a puppy, Milly slept in a doll crib next to Semler’s bed so her concerned owner could check in on her often.

Despite her unusually small size, Milly’s signature is probably her famous camera pose. Whenever a photographer snaps a picture of the elfin Chi, she sticks her tongue out.

Sure Milly has taken the cake in this year’s Guinness race, but there are a couple of dog owners on both sides of the Atlantic who say their miniature canines could take the coveted title in the future.

East Sussex, England resident and Chihuahua breeder Nikki Barnes thinks her pint-sized black and tan Chihuahua, 3-year-old Poppet, could give Milly a run for her money. Standing less than 5 inches tall, Poppet is certainly on track to be the smallest dog in the United Kingdom, says Barnes.

“Poppet is absolutely tiny,” Barnes tells Express. “If you put a can of coke or lemonade on the floor, it’s bigger than her shoulder.”

Though Poppet weighs in at just 30 ounces (roughly 1.9 pounds), making her about one-third the size of the average Chi, she has no qualms about confronting dogs more than 100 times her size.

“I have never seen her scared or back down from anything,” Barnes says of Poppet. “She always barks at other dogs — it doesn’t matter how big she’ll try to take them on.”

Neighbors love to watch petite Poppet scamper down the sidewalk, and Barnes says her pooch often draws large crowds. In fact, Poppet has proved to be so popular she will soon appear on a new British television show starring Scottish actor and comedian Ronnie Corbett.

The Guinness judges will only consider dogs who are 1-year or older for their “World’s Smallest Dog” award, so 5-week-old Yorkshire Terrier puppy Angel of Alliston, Ontario, has a bit of growing up to do before she will be in the running for the title. But at only 163 grams — a miniscule .36 pounds — tiny Angel is proving she might have a shot at Guinness gold in the future.

Angel’s veterinarian, Dr. Tashfeen Abbasi, tells the Toronto Star in his 16 years of practice he has never, ever seen a puppy as small as Angel.

“I expect maybe we’ll have the smallest puppy,” he says, confident Angel will one day dethrone current record holder Milly — if she can stay healthy, that is.

The smallest dogs, sometimes called “tea cups” for their abnormally tiny size, often suffer from serious and life-threatening health problems. In fact, these “tea cup” pups are sometimes small precisely because they are unhealthy.

Dr. Abbasi was initially concerned Angel, at only a quarter the size of her littermates, had a congenital abnormality, but as the weeks go by the Yorkie pup is getting stronger and stronger, finding her balance and developing good sensory responses. He says if she manages to make it through the next four weeks or so, she has a good chance of survival.

Owner Kim Passero is up day and night with Angel, making sure the mini Yorkie is eating properly. Passero says Angel has recently graduated to eating mushed up dog food, but she used to have to feed the pup nutrient-rich formula from a syringe.

A small scale, self-described hobby breeder and Yorkshire Terrier enthusiast, Passero says she doesn’t breed for “tea cup” sized dogs like Angel, but it does happen occasionally.

“I’m sure there are people out there who are doing it for all the wrong reasons, for the money,” Passero explains. “We’ve done it from our heart, whatever happens, happens.”

Sources: Toronto Star, Express, NBC News, Guinness Book of World Records