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The Truth About Miniature, Tea Cup & Imperial Shih Tzu Dogs

Their is only 1 Shih Tzu breed dog. The dog weighs between 9 and 16 pounds (4.08 to 7.25 kilograms). Why do so many people believe that there are also Imperial, Miniature or Tea Cup Shih Tzu dogs?

Many times, when a breeder breeds for dogs on the lower end of the weight scale (closer to the 9 pound weight), they will use the term of Imperial, Teacup and so forth.

What is not acceptable, is if a Shih Tzu is bred down to a size much smaller than the breed standard. Dogs who are 3, 4 or 5 pounds may have a high degree of health issues.

This is a 7 month old Shih Tzu, severly small and dubbed an "Imperial" Shih Tzu... .a breed that does not exist. This dog is tiny because of unethical breeding and will most likely be much more prone to having health issues.


So many people love tiny dogs. There is a great market all over the world of people wanting a very small dog. There is a false belief that if a person is able to obtain a miniature version of a dog breed, that they truly found a special dog. However, to have a healthy dog, that dog should fit very close to the weight specified in the breed standard.

To appease the public, who keeps hearing the terms of Teacup and so on, some Shih Tzu breeders willl have a breeding program in which they will breed dogs to produce puppies who fall on the lower end of the weight scale.

If the Imperial Shih Tzu is Not Real, What Are These Dogs?

The term Imperial, Teacup, Toy and Miniature are not nouns. These words are verbs. Each means "Small". Therefore, an Imperial Shih Tzu is one who is on the small end of the accepted weight.

What About Dogs who are Much Under the Accepted Weight

Purposely breeding for puppies who fall much under the accepted weight is unethical. While Mother Nature has the final say and all ethical, loving breeders will sometimes have pups who are smaller than their will not want to obtain a Shih Tzu puppy who is 2 or 3 pounds fully grown. These very tiny dogs are so fraglie and usually have a lifetime of health issues. The lifespan of these dogs is usually much shorter, as well.

Are Tea Cup, Miniature or Imperial Shih Tzu Dogs Healthy? Is it Okay to Purchase One?

If a Shih Tzu is unnaturally tiny due from unethical breeding, the dog can have many health issues. If the pup's mom was denied food and nutrients, both mom and puppy will suffer the consequences. This will cause calcium deficiency. Vital internal organs will be affected. This can cause everything down the road from liver failure to heart disease. Premature Shih Tzu dogs will often have health issues such as breathing problems and eating problems. Any dog that is unnaturally tiny will have issues with their organs that are unnaturally tiny. Great care must be taken.

What Do I Do if I Already Purchased a Shih Tzu who is Far Under the Breed Standard Size?

Getting to your dog's veterinarian must be the first priority. Careful testing should be done to check for any health issues or pending health issues. A dog that is much smaller than nature intended will need special care. Most importantly, careful monitoring of food intake. Usually food must be introduced slower than usual to a "Miniature Shih Tzu". If food is not tolerated at all, your dog's veterinarian may prescribe a formula for you to give to your puppy.

These "too tiny" dogs are usually very sensitive to temperature. These dogs often have difficulty adjusting to temperature changes and care must be taken to protect the dog when outside in the cold, just as putting dog clothes on the Shih Tzu. They may also overheat more easily.

Bones are usually fragile. Care must be taken so that the puppy or dog does not fall. Using ramps to help the dog get off and on furniture is helpful. Socialization with larger dogs is dangerous, as they may be injured very easily in what should be normal dog play.

Keeping regular checkups with the veterinarian is most important. Catching health issues in the beginning stages will be the best strategy for battling any health issues.


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Frequently asked questions about Shih Tzu

What do I feed my new puppy?

I wean my puppies starting at about 4 weeks of age. This is when they start getting their teeth and the moms are ready to let them eat some on their own. I soften the dry kibble with warm water the first few weeks. As an infant puppy they seem to like soft food better. Spoiling a baby puppy should be the least of your worries. Getting your puppy to eat is more important than what they eat at this stage in their life. Switching over later on is not a problem.

Let your puppy eat as much dry food as he/she wants as often as he/she wants. Always leave dry food down for your puppy. A young puppy will not eat on demand. They eat when they want to so there has to be something down whenever they decide to eat. Start with 2 heaped tablespoons. You can adjust the amount when you see how much your puppy eats at a meal. At 12-16 weeks of age, you can pick up the water bowl at night to aid in potty training but have dry kibble accessible always until you see a pattern of your puppy's eating habits. Then you can feed your puppy when you know they usually want to eat. A particularly small puppy make need a supplement of canned food until 3 or 4 months of age. At that time you should be able to switch to puppy dry kibble until 8 months of age. Then you can switch to adult.

Do males or females make better pets?

Everybody has a different opinion on this question! Some feel that males are much more loving and get more attached to you than the females do. The main factor in people choosing a female over a male is that they worry about a male dog lifting their leg on things as they get older. Indeed, it is true that if a male is left unaltered and around other dogs that they do tend to want to mark their territory. This is a natural instinct and is not the dog's fault! If a male is neutered early enough, this generally does not happen. In fact, if they are neutered by 6 months of age, most never even lift their leg and squat like a female to pee. They don't have the slightest idea what marking territory is about. Most people who have a problem with males lifting their leg after they have been neutered, have usually waited until they are adults or are already marking their territory before altering them.

What about vaccinating and worming?

Our puppies are wormed on a regular basis starting shortly after birth. All puppies are born with worms no matter how worm-free their mother may appear to be under the microscope. Canines have the residual of worm infestation embedded in the lining of their stomach. This has been passed down for umpteen years and apparently can't be gotten rid of. Therefore they pass this along to all offspring who shortly find themselves with a worm in their tummy. Every puppy MUST be wormed. Continue deworming your puppy on a monthly basis until 4 months of age. Have a fecal exam done regularly until 1 year of age, then annually when time for vaccinations. Check with your vet, their schedule may vary.

I start my puppies with a vaccination and pet examination at 6 weeks of age. They are then given boosters at 9, 12, and 16 weeks. Revaccinate annually. Always keep your puppy away from strange dogs, their urine and feces, until your puppy has completed their series of vaccinations. When going to the vet, never let your puppy down on the floor. Do not let anyone in the office pet your puppy until all vaccines have been given. That is how parvo and other diseases can be transmitted. Bring your own towel or blanket to place on the examining table. If you would like to give your puppy other vaccinations such as Lyme if they will be exposed to ticks, Giardia if they are exposed to bad water or Bordetellosis if they are kept in a kennel care while you work or walked by a dog walking service.

What kind of care does a Shih Tzu require?

Things to watch in the Shih Tzu are eyes, ears, teeth and skin.

Skin Care - Shih Tzu require brushing and combing at least 3 times a week. To maintain a full coat, weekly baths and blow drying are a must. For the short clipped coat pet, they still require regular brushing and baths every two weeks. Shih Tzu should not be shaved to the skin. This opens them up to developing more skinirritaions and allergies. Shih Tzu can have sensitive skin. If you notice your pet scratching a lot during the day and you have eliminated fleas and your vet sees no rash, redness nor obvious skin problems, you might need to check your food ingredients. Shih Tzu can suddenly develop a condition to an ingredient that they have previously been eating with no problems. Choose a food with a proper balance of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. If necessary, you can give a supplement of Fish Oil, 1 teaspoon, 1-2 times a week. If the coat is still dull and dry, have your vet check for tapeworms. You will need to bring in an entire stool, not just a small sample. You can't see tapeworms under a microscope. The vet will look for segments of them around the outer part of the stool. But just because you don't see them, doesn't mean your dog doesn't have them. Even with a good topical preventive, all it takes is to swallow one flea for them to develop tapeworms.

Dental Care - Crooked teeth and/or baby teeth that refuse to fall out are common in this breed. Have your vet check their teeth at every visit. Daily brushing is also recommended. Your vet or groomer can show you how to do this.

Ear Care - Shih Tzu grows fine soft hair in their ears which should be removed to prevent ear infections and to maintain good health. Therefore, a trip to the groomer at least every 1-2 months is required if you can't do this yourself.

The long floppy ears of a Shih Tzu make them more susceptible to ear infections. This trait is also a favorite breeding spot for ear mites. Birds bring in mites and leave them in your yard so they can be easily picked up by your Shih Tzu and doesn't mean you have a dirty place. Check their ears often and keep them clean. Before you begin, ask your veterinarian for advice on ear care, cleansing solutions and frequency of use.

Step 1: With your dog lying on his side, apply an ear-cleaning solution to the inside of his ear.

Step 2: Gently massage the outer ear for a minute or two so the solution can take effect.Step 3: Use a clean, solution-soaked cotton ball—never a cotton swab—to remove remaining dirt and wax near the opening of the ear canal. Clean the inside and outer folds of each ear.

Special hints: Check ears at least once a week. If you notice redness, swelling, discharge, crustiness or a foul odor—or if your dog often shakes his head, tilts it to one side, or scratches his ears—schedule a veterinarian examination.

Eye Care - The large eyes of a Shih Tzu make them more susceptible to eye infections. Their short muzzle makes it necessary for them to get their whole face very close to something in order to check it out, making them more susceptible to eye debris and injury.

Step 1: Put your dog in the sitting position and place one hand on the top of his head.

Step 2: With your free hand, use a moist cotton ball to gently clean the skin and coat around each eye.

Special hints: Tend to eyes at least once each week. Eyes should be bright, clear and free of matter and discharge. If they appear inflamed or the surrounding skin is overly red, contact your veterinarian.

Note: Some shih tzu have extra short muzzles with deep skin folds around their eyes that require extra care. Use a moist cotton ball to swab inside the folds and remove debris. Your veterinarian may recommend an antiseptic wash for this purpose.

The anal gland- Shih Tzu have a small gland right inside their anus that holds a brown colored fluid. This is not feces. Your groomer will empty this gland by squeezing it. It is a simple procedure called 'expressing the anal gland' and can also be done at home during a bath. Your vet or groomer can demonstrate how to do this.

Umbilical hernia- Sometimes a puppy may have a small opening at their belly button. This is called an umbilical hernia and is common in some short nosed breeds. Whether this is caused by the mom pulling too hard on the cord at birth or a genetic condition is not known with 100% certainty. An umbilical hernia that has no protrusion is not painful nor is it dangerous. They usually close on their own by the time they are grown but if not, having a stitch placed during the spay/neutering procedure will take care of it.

Shih Tzu Qualities

Shih Tzu has many admirable traits but it is perhaps the breed's temperament that is so remarkable. In fact, the breed standard for the Shih Tzu specifically mentions its temperament, stating that the breed must be "outgoing, happy, affectionate, friendly and trusting toward all."

The Shih Tzu may even be loving and trusting to a fault. They don't understand that someone may not like them or that something bad night happen to them. Also, they are slow to recognize aggression from other dogs or animals. They will walk up to any dog and go nose to nose, wagging their tails.

Another attractive Shih Tzu quality is that although they are small, they are tough and sturdy. They are a big dog in a small package but don't require a ton of exercise. Shih Tzu enjoy their walks but they don't 'require' a lot of activity. They are ready to play when you are, but they can amuse themselves. Even an older Shih Tzu will still love their balls, toys and other play objects.

This is not to say that the Shih Tzu can survive without any attention. The Shih Tzu 'lives' to be with its owner. If you don't like having a shadow, don't get a Shih Tzu.

Shih Tzu Care:

A Shih Tzu is not suitable for everyone's lifestyle. They do not realize the extra care that a Shih Tzu requires. Most Shih Tzus will never be able to jump on your bed without a stool. If they are put on a bed or couch as a puppy, they must be watched constantly so that they do not fall off, as they can break a leg or be seriously or fatally injured. Plus, as puppies, because of their small size, they cannot have the run of the whole house and must be confined in a small playpen etc. They are also not suitable for households with small children or even larger dogs, as they can be easily hurt, dropped, or stepped on.

The Shih Tzu requires a little more care than some other breeds, and potential owners who are looking for a low maintenance dog should probably choose another breed. The area around the eyes should be cleaned gently each day, with cotton and warm water. Providing the Shih Tzu with bottled water (or water that does not contain chlorine) helps to keep eye mucus to a minimum.

Most Shih Tzus enjoy exercising outdoors and, when exercised regularly, have plenty of stamina. Most enjoy a long walk, although they are also quite happy to run around the house. A dog whose coat is allowed to grow out needs daily brushing to avoid tangles; a short haircut avoids this extra level of care. However, since the breed is obviously adapted to a cool climate, letting the coat grow out for the colder seasons is appropriate. Shih Tzus are considered to be brachycephalic (snub-nosed) dogs. As such, they are very sensitive to high temperatures. This is why airlines that ship dogs will not accept them for shipment when temperatures at any point on the planned itinerary exceeds 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24C) Additionally, like many other breeds, the claws need close attention.

All animals, including humans, have intestinal bacteria such as E-coli. It's called intestinal Flora. Some are good bacteria and are necessary to eat up the bad ones. Maintaining a natural balance is essential for good health. When the bad out way the good, problems are present such as diarrhea. Stress induced coccidia is very common in young puppies. Something as simply as changing their environment can cause an outbreak.

If ticks are a problem in your yard please consult your veterinarian. How do I house-train my new puppy?

House-training means that you are training your puppy to urinate/defecate outdoors. Remember that your shih tzu wants to please you and will try its hardest to do just that. Your puppy will learn faster if you use positive praise and affection.

- When you are unable to be home (or unable to pay 100% attention to the pup) never give your puppy full access of the house before they are two years of age. They are still too immature at this time of their life. Confining them while you are away or busy (in room with child safety gate) is the safe choice as well as the best and easiest way to house-train.
- Feeding times need to be scheduled after 12 weeks of age.

- Accept that there WILL be accidents, your puppy’s body is still immature. A puppy doesn’t gain complete control of their bladder until they are 12 weeks of age. Reward him when he goes outside with lots of praise, and ignore the accidents. This attitude will speed up his learning.

After 12 weeks of age you can put the puppy on a schedule. You want to feed them at a certain time every day. Take them outdoors to urinate/defecate at the same times each day. First thing in the morning, before feeding them or even feeding yourself, let them out to urinate/defecate. Then, after you feed them in the AM, let them out to urinate/defecate again. Repeat this after each feeding and watering each day. Praise them once they have done their business outside! You puppy will learn much quicker with positive praise.

For a general gauge to go by: Puppies from 8 weeks to three months of age should have dry kibble accessible for the puppy all day, puppies 3 months of age to 6 months of age should be fed three times daily. When the dog reaches 6 months of age to 1 year of age, they should be fed twice daily. Then, when the puppy is over one year old, they can be fed either once or twice daily.

After he drinks, take the puppy outside to urinate/defecate (this means you will be bringing the puppy outdoors about 5 to 6 times each day).

2) Be sure that your puppy is given a proper diet. Before bringing your puppy home from the breeder, ask the breeder what they have been feeding the puppy and continue feeding the same feed (same brand and flavor, if applicable) as well as the same amount. If you wish to change feeds, be sure to do so gradually by adding a little bit of the new feed with the old each day (this change should be made over period of 7-10 days). Avoid giving your dog table scraps. By 12 weeks of age you can start feeding him at certain times. This way you will always know when to take him outdoors and will speed up housetraining.

3) The last water given to the puppy should be around 10:30PM, and yet another trip outdoors to urinate/defecate. . (This last trip outside is up to you - whatever time you normally turn in for the night, just keep it at the same time over the weekend as well)

4) The young puppy needs some area of confinement - they shouldn’t have complete run of the house, especially prior to housebreaking and during the housebreaking process! Confinement can be within the kitchen; it's a great choice since it usually has a hard floor and doesn't have wires or tempting remote controls laying around! Also, using a child safety gate helps keep them from running about the house and soiling other rooms. It also serves to save them from other dangers around the home as well.

Do Shih Tzu Get Along With Children?

Although he is generally outgoing and friendly, the Shih Tzu definitely has an attitude that cries to be spoiled. If you need help in realizing this fact, the dog will steer you in the right direction with his self-assurance that he should be treated like a king. Indeed, his strong sense of self makes him a poor choice in a household with babies or small children. He is often jealous of babies and toddlers and may snap if bothered by rambunctious children. However, he is a fine companion for older children, particularly those who enjoy combing his hair.

Shih Tzu are active and alert, qualities that make them good watchdogs. However, poorly bred dogs of the breed can be excitable, noisy, and snappy.

What About Training?

Shih Tzu are intelligent, and can be trained for obedience competition and for good manners around the home. They can be stubborn, so persistence and consistency are a definite plus in training methods. Punishment makes this dog shut down, so training should also be low-key and motivational.


Shih Tzu Breed Standard

General Appearance
The Shih Tzu is a sturdy, lively, alert toy dog with long flowing double coat. Befitting his noble Chinese ancestry as a highly valued, prized companion and palace pet, the Shih Tzu is proud of bearing, has a distinctively arrogant carriage with head well up and tail curved over the back. Although there has always been considerable size variation, the Shih Tzu must be compact, solid, carrying good weight and substance.

Even though a toy dog, the Shih Tzu must be subject to the same requirements of soundness and structure prescribed for all breeds, and any deviation from the ideal described in the standard should be penalized to the extent of the deviation. Structural faults common to all breeds are as undesirable in the Shih Tzu as in any other breed, regardless of whether or not such faults are specifically mentioned in the standard.

Size, Proportion, Substance
Size - Ideally, height at withers is 9 to 10 inches; but, not less than 8 inches nor more than 11 inches. Ideally, weight of mature dogs, 9 to 16 pounds.

Proportion - Length between withers and root of tail is slightly longer than height at withers. The Shih Tzu must never be so high stationed as to appear leggy, nor so low stationed as to appear dumpy or squatty.

Substance - Regardless of size, the Shih Tzu is always compact, solid and carries good weight and substance.

Head - Round, broad, wide between eyes, its size in balance with the overall size of dog being neither too large nor too small. Fault: Narrow head, close-set eyes.

Expression - Warm, sweet, wide-eyed, friendly and trusting. An overall well-balanced and pleasant expression supersedes the importance of individual parts. Care should be taken to look and examine well beyond the hair to determine if what is seen is the actual head and expression rather than an image created by grooming technique.

Eyes - Large, round, not prominent, placed well apart, looking straight ahead. Very dark. Lighter on liver pigmented dogs and blue pigmented dogs. Fault: Small, close-set or light eyes; excessive eye white.

Ears - Large, set slightly below crown of skull; heavily coated.

Skull - Domed. Stop - There is a definite stop.

Muzzle - Square, short, unwrinkled, with good cushioning, set no lower than bottom eye rim; never downturned. Ideally, no longer than 1 inch from tip of nose to stop, although length may vary slightly in relation to overall size of dog. Front of muzzle should be flat; lower lip and chin not protruding and definitely never receding. Fault: Snipiness, lack of definite stop. Nose - Nostrils are broad, wide, and open.

Pigmentation - Nose, lips, eye rims are black on all colors, except liver on liver pigmented dogs and blue on blue pigmented dogs. Fault: Pink on nose, lips, or eye rims.

Bite - Undershot. Jaw is broad and wide. A missing tooth or slightly misaligned teeth should not be too severely penalized. Teeth and tongue should not show when mouth is closed. Fault: Overshot bite.

Neck, Topline, Body
Of utmost importance is an overall well-balanced dog with no exaggerated features.

Neck - Well set-on flowing smoothly into shoulders; of sufficient length to permit natural high head carriage and in balance with height and length of dog.

Topline - Level.

Body -Short-coupled and sturdy with no waist or tuck-up. The Shih Tzu is slightly longer than tall. Fault: Legginess.

Chest -Broad and deep with good spring-of-rib, however, not barrel-chested. Depth of ribcage should extend to just below elbow. Distance from elbow to withers is a little greater than from elbow to ground.

Croup - Flat.

Tail - Set on high, heavily plumed, carried in curve well over back. Too loose, too tight, too flat, or too low set a tail is undesirable and should be penalized to extent of deviation.


Shoulders - Well-angulated, well laid-back, well laid-in, fitting smoothly into body.

Legs - Straight, well-boned, muscular, set well-apart and under chest, with elbows set close to body.

Pasterns - Strong, perpendicular.

Dewclaws - May be removed.

Feet - Firm, well-padded, point straight ahead.

Angulation of hindquarters should be in balance with forequarters.

Legs - Well-boned, muscular, and straight when viewed from rear with well-bent stifles, not close set but in line with forequarters.

Hocks - Well let down, perpendicular. Fault: Hyperextension of hocks.

Dewclaws - May be removed.

Feet - Firm, well-padded, point straight ahead.

Coat - Luxurious, double-coated, dense, long, and flowing. Slight wave permissible. Hair on top of head is tied up. Fault: Sparse coat, single coat, curly coat.

Trimming - Feet, bottom of coat, and anus may be done for neatness and to facilitate movement. Fault: Excessive trimming.

Color and Markings
All are permissible and to be considered equally.

The Shih Tzu moves straight and must be shown at its own natural speed, neither raced nor strung-up, to evaluate its smooth, flowing, effortless movement with good front reach and equally strong rear drive, level topline, naturally high head carriage, and tail carried in gentle curve over back.
As the sole purpose of the Shih Tzu is that of a companion and house pet, it is essential that its temperament be outgoing, happy, affectionate, friendly and trusting towards all.


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