The Imperial Shih Tzu | Is it ethical to own one?

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The Shih Tzu is one of a kind, incredibly adorable dog that has become a favorite of many dog owners. It is solely bred to provide companionship. Hence it spreads happy, outgoing vibes everywhere it goes.

These little pups like nothing more than to follow their humans from room to room. Now imagine an even tinier version of this adorable dog, and you get the imperial Shih Tzu!

The breeding of the Chinese Imperial Dog or Imperial Shih Tzu began a long time ago, in the 1970s. The breeders actually chose the runts for their breeding sticks.

The practice is in practice even today. It is a mini lapdog, owing to it being a lot smaller in size than the original Shih Tzu.

Even though the Imperial Shih Tzu is basically a miniature version of the breed Shih Tzu, it has its own set of distinctive features.

Imperial Shih Tzu
Kang, an Imperial Shih Tzu

What Is An Imperial Shih Tzu?

This consciously bred type of Shih Tzu is smaller in size than the standard breed. The Imperial Shih Tzu category is already considered a part of the toy breed. Most kennel clubs classify this breed as a group of extremely small dogs.

The phrase a “toy” breed refers to a very small dog, one that weighs less than 15 pounds.

The Imperial Shih Tzu, weighing only 4-9 pounds, is quite a good fit for this group.

Furthermore, an additional characteristic that binds this dog to your breed is the short height of just about 9 inches. There are multiple more names for the Imperial Shih Tzu.

A Few Names Of Imperial Shih Tzu

  1. A Tiny Toy
  2. The Lion Dog
  3. A Miniature Shih Tzu
  4. The Micro Shih Tzu
  5. A Princess-Type The Tiny Teacup Shih Tzu

The Imperial Shih Tzu has been selectively bred to be small through multiple generations. The variability in a toy breed can be actually attributed not only to the dog’s size, but also to its type, appearance, and temperament. However, the dog does have a compact body that is well-structured.

The dog is a scaled-down version of the original breed but has a sturdy figure that is a bit lengthier than it is tall. The Imperial Shih Tzu has all the generic facial features of a Shih Tzu. The short square muzzle, brood nose, and will-open nostrils.

However, the color of the nose varies according to the coat they have. For instance, in a liver-colored dog, the nose, lip, and eye rims are liver. Also, the tiny dog comes with an energetic and playful temperament.

We have to keep in mind that dogs are canines, not humans. Therefore, as a dog owner, you have to ensure that they always identify their owner as the pack leader to avoid Small Dog Syndrome.

What Makes An Imperial Shih Tzu Different To A Standard Shih Tzu?

What Makes An Imperial Shih Tzu Different To A Standard Shih Tzu?
Choco, an imperial Shih Tzu

When the breeder intentionally breeds the dog on the lower end of the weighing scale, the term used for them is Imperial, Teacup, and so forth.

It is primarily where the difference arises between the standard Shih Tzu and the Imperial Shih Tzu. There is definitely more than what meets the eye than just the difference in size.

The teacup Shih Tzus are commonly the ones that stand around 6 inches tall. Their weight is ideally under the 7-pound line. It generally means they tend to be 3 inches shorter than the standard breed of the Shih Tzu. They are approximately 10minches tall and subsequently weigh a lot more.

A Shih Tzu dog is going to weigh around 9 and 16 pounds. It is equivalent to around 4 – 7.5 kilograms. In contrast, the Imperial Shih Tzu weighs way less than the normal requirement. Their maximum weight ends at nine pounds and begins at four only!

The Imperial Shih Tzu mainly falls below the original Shih Tzu dog’s standards by size. Other than this factor, the rest is the same dog that is immensely beloved by many across the globe.

The Imperial Shih Tzu is also seen in various colors and combinations. The multitude of colors this dog comes in spans from solid, two-color, or tricolor. AKC has widely accepted some colors of the breed.


  1. Black
  2. Black and White
  3. Blue
  4. Blue and White
  5. Brindle
  6. Brindle and White
  7. Gold
  8. Gold and White
  9. Liver
  10. Liver and White
  11. Red
  12. Red and White
  13. Silver
  14. Silver and White

However, a key point to be aware of is that the Imperial Shih Tzu is not an official breed.

It is essentially a marketing term that breeders normally use to create hype around the pet. They base their selling premise on the rarity of such a small Shih Tzu.

How Much Is An Imperial Shih Tzu?

How Much Is An Imperial Shih Tzu?
Kevin, An Imperial Shih Tzu Puppy

The accepted price range of the Imperial Shih Tzu is between $2,000 to $3,000.

However, the authenticity of the breed is highly dependent on the breeder and the parents that were primarily involved.

A Price Guide:

If we pinpoint the average price of an Imperial Shih Tzu dog, it amounts to the bulky sum of around $1990. It can expand, and they can sell for as much as $3,000.

There is a noticeable price difference when you come across an advertisement for an Imperial Shih Tzu on sale. Be aware of such sellers. This cute, mini form of the Shih Tzu has quickly become of the best breeds after the teacup breeds.

It has given rise to unethical breeding practices when it comes to teacups, dwarfs, many other small dogs, etc.

Breeders have developed a scheme of creating the idea that they are in possession of a rare breed. It can give them the leverage required to inflate the asking price.

As purchasing an Imperial Shih Tzu dog can be quite heavy on the pocket, it is important to do your homework. The breeder should be a reputable individual because it can cost thousands of dollars.

Ethical teacup breeders will give you a fair deal.

They will ensure you end up with an animal that you are satisfied with. There is also an option to search for groups whose niche is rescuing Shih Tzus. Then you can adopt one from a shelter and give it a home.

Shih Tzus can be highly sensitive dogs, so when you make the decision to adopt one, go in with both feet in the door. The high cost and the substantial expense of care can make this entire endeavor quite heavy on the pocket.

Hence, an owner of the Imperial Shih Tzu should find this investment worth the effort.

Why Are The Imperial Shih Tzu’s So Expensive?

You will normally come across breeders who have a high asking price for an imperial Shih Tzu. A puppy of this breed would cost an arm and a leg figuratively. This cost is linked to the breeding expenses associated with the extra tiny animals with fragile bodies.

Breeders claim they have to provide more than normal care to these breeds. Imperial Shih Tzus do require more dedicated effort and attention. It is particularly essential in the first few days when the pup is born. At that time, the concern is their survival.

Although some callous breeders overuse and exploit these terms and increase their asking price under false claims.

What Is The Life Expectancy Of An Imperial Shih Tzu?

Though smaller in size, the Imperial Shih Tzu compensates for this characteristic.

The dog is a well-boned and highly muscled animal that has substance in proportion to its size.

Do your research when you intend to purchase an Imperial version of the Shih Tzu as your pet.

There are many factors that can determine how long this dog is able to sustain its life.

The life expectancy of an imperial Shih Tzu dog matches those of a normal dog. Giant dogs are generally expected to live for an average of 8 to 10 years. In contrast, large dog breeds live 10 to 12 years.

For Shih Tzus, the lifespan is generally shorter than other dogs. It is mainly due to the health problems that these tiny dogs face. The Imperial Shih Tzu has a life expectancy of about 10 to 15 years, give or take a year.

It is why the emphasis has been time and again on how important the responsibility factor is when it comes to pets. It is irresponsible to breed frail miniature dogs intentionally. The breeder places the dogs at immense risk and danger.

Furthermore, they are setting a precedent for the public that it is okay to delve into such acts with living things. The demands of society play an equal role in enhancing this situation alongside.

Whether you are an owner of an Imperial Shih Tzupresently or wish to be one, there is accountability. Responsibility is extremely vital when dealing with raising these types of dogs.

To allow these Shih Tzus to live up to their lifespans, you must devote more time, money, and energy to them. Their requirements may surpass those of normal dogs.

Health Problems For An Imperial Shih Tzu?

Health Problems For An Imperial Shih Tzu
A group of Imperial Shih Tzu Puppies Playing

The Chinese Imperial Dog has immensely sweet expressions. With its wide eyes and innocence, the dog immediately asks for the love and attention of a human being. Although due to its immensely small size, the Imperial Shih Tzu is highly susceptible to developing hypoglycemia.

The low blood sugar is due to them having smaller bodies. It, in return, reduces the size of their organs as well, resulting in difficulty in regulating blood sugar.

They tend to develop a stifle and spinal disc disease. It is mainly due to the existence of a long back with a combination of short legs.

Another key issue that can be a cause of concern for Imperial Shih Tzu dogs is their developing ear infections. They are also prone to eye problems, including cherry eye or early tooth loss.

Imperial Shih Tzus have been broadly noticed to wheeze when they snore. It can have certain respiratory concerns as well.

Owing to the highly specific body details of the Imperial Shih Tzu dog, they should have tailored diets. These dogs tend to gain weight quite easily. Therefore the practice to avoid here at all costs is to overfeed them.

Carrying these tiny little companions can be highly tempting. However, the Imperial Shih Tzu dog is active by nature and requires walks almost every day.

Playing with them can contribute deftly to their exercise requirements. Dogs that are not getting their required capacity for daily walks are likely to exhibit a range of behavioral issues.

Imperial Shih Tzus have consciously grown to be under 5 pounds, so they are likely to suffer from health concerns all their lives. A summary of these concerns comprises the following:

A Few Likely Health Issues That Can Occur In Imperial Shih Tzu’s

Like other miniature dog varieties, some Imperial ShihTzu health issues Include:

  1. Dental diseases
  2. Allergies
  3. Digestive issues
  4. Hyper or hypothyroidism
  5. Renal dysplasia

Final Thoughts On The Unique Imperial Shih Tzu

As with any other living thing, a size is just a number at the end of the day. We must look past the appearance to focus on the value the dog adds to our life. A Shih Tzu is generally considered an extremely smart dog.

They are kind and genuinely loving pets that love to spend their afternoons cuddling in their owners’ laps. Although a tad bit stubborn, this cute little puppy is a pretty amazing problem solver and will light up your life.

If you feel you cannot cope with the pressure, do reconsider providing a home to one. They have an amazing authentic personality that makes them great options for keeping as a pet.

The Imperial Shih Tzu combines all of these traits in a smaller package. As a dog owner of an Imperial Shih Tzu, you have to be aware of their natural instincts.

Make sure to take time out in your calendar for the daily pack walks they need to burn their mental and physical energy.

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I am the owner of Shihtzuadvice.com and the proud parent of two black and one gold Shih Tzu's. I belive that the Shih Tzu is the best all-around dog for anyone and want to share with you as much valuable knowledge as possible about this great breed!

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