Imperial Shih Tzu
Teacup Shih Tzu

Imperial Shih Tzu is a term often used in describing undersized Shih Tzu's. Also known as Teacups, these controversial dogs are generally bred by unethical and irresponsible breeders. If you are thinking about buying an Imperial, please read on to find out exactly why you shouldn't purchase one.

The Truth About These Dogs

First of all, this isn't a recognized breed by the American Kennel Club (AKC) or the American Shih Tzu Club (ASTC). If this is not a major warning sign, we are not sure what is! According to the AKC, a Shih Tzu is supposed to be between 9 and 16 lbs and height between 8 - 11 inches. This standard is not only regulated by the AKC but also by many other purebred dog registries worldwide which have based their standards according to the Peking Kennel Club of 1938.

Imperial Shih Tzu - The Facts

Imperial or Teacup breeders will normally start off by obtaining a normal sized Shih Tzu, breed the dog and then select the smallest puppy from the litter. This small puppy, also known as the runt, will be allowed to reach sexual maturity and then it will be crossbred with runts from other litters, thus creating Imperial Shih Tzu puppies. These pups are then advertised as being rare, designer dogs with special "imperial genes". This type of marketing allows the breeders to charge hefty prices for each puppy.

According to the American Shih Tzu Club, this whole Imperial thing is just a myth. In essence, there is no such breed known as an Imperial Shih Tzu. This is just a term that was invented by unethical breeders trying to make big profits at the expense of the innocent "standard" Shih Tzu.

By purposely downsizing the Shih Tzu, which is already a toy breed to begin with, these breeders are reducing the inherent characteristics of the breed which took centuries to develop and perfect. This is an extremely poor practice and should never be condoned.

Imperial Health Issues

Imperial and Teacup Shih Tzu dogs are also prone to numerous health issues. These problems include but are not limited to:

1) Prone to illnesses and allergies - Imperial Shih Tzu's usually have suppressed immune systems which can lead to the dogs developing serious illnesses easily.

2) Poor eye placement: Because the heads of these Teacup Shih Tzu's are so small, there is hardly enough space for proper eye placement. The result of this is an animal with bulgy eyes, excessive eye whites and a somewhat disfigured appearance.

3) Hypoglycemia: Also known as low blood sugar. This can cause confusion, lack of energy, loss of balance and even seizures in the dogs.

4) Open fontanel: A fontanel is the soft spot located on the top of the head. Many times, an Imperial's fontanel never hardens. This means that if the dog ever bumps himself hard enough in the wrong place, this could be the last mistake he will ever make.

5) Prone to Hydrocephalus: This is a condition where there is a build up of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain. This can lead to an early death in severe cases. In mild cases, the effects are still quite bad as it reduces the ability of the dog to learn (making housebreaking difficult, for example). He/she might also suffer from vision problems, seizures, abnormal behavior and more.


Based on the facts above, is it really an ethical practice to purchase an Imperial or Teacup Shih Tzu? Is supporting the creation and trade of these animals right? No, it isn't. By supporting these breeders, we would only be perpetuating a cycle which would cause more suffering to the beloved Shih Tzu breed.

If you do desire to purchase a small Shih Tzu, what you can do is find a reputable, responsible Shih Tzu breeder and inquire about the runts of their litters. It is common for most litters to have a runt.

Another option is to look at another smaller breed that fits your size specifications like the Chihuahua, Pomeranian, etc. We urge you to make the right choice.

More Interesting Pages...

Shih Tzu Health Problems

Shih Tzu Breed Information

Shih Tzu Puppies

Imperial Shih Tzu Comments

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What Other Visitors Have Said About Imperials

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They wouldn't do it if it wasn't profitable! we make our own problems. 
Any breed will suffer when it is altered. But wait a minute... hasn't man been altering breeds to match his needs for hundreds no thousands of years? …

Teacup Shih Tzus ... Don't feed into it! 
I have run a all breed rescue for a long time now and my wife and I have fallen in love with the Shih-Tzu breed. When we met I had two giant great Pyrenees …

This information is incorrect 
The information given on the site is incorrect. There are too many people breeding improperly. There are many breeders that breed properly and HEALTHY …

Interested in Shih Tzu sizes... 
I entered my yorkie tzu on your site, and I mentioned she is Imperial size. My other shih tzus are also that size, but I notice you use the term alternatively …

This is dog cruelty 
I was looking to buy a dog like this but when i read about the problems they have I think it is very cruel to breed them. I had a shih tzu that weighed …

New thoughts on imperials.... 
I think some reputable breeders are starting to use the term imperial for their normal sized dogs. They are trying to compete with the irresponsible breeders …

Chanel - Imperial Shih Tzu 
I have an imperial with papers, she is beautiful and weighs about 8lbs. She has a smaller bone structure than the full size shih tzu and a different personality. …

Little Tea Cup Shih-Tsu 
My wife has fallen in love with the Shih-tsu breed and we now own 4. Two of regular size and two of the tea-cup size, all are rescues. Our two large ones …

My views on the 'imperial' shihtzu 
I think it's a fake and they're making money off lying. Any body can breed runt to runt with any breed to get a smaller dog. It's the same breed, same …

I own 4 imperial shih tzu all under 5lbs. two of those are under 4 lbs...they are perfectly healthy and i had no health problems with them at all and they …

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