What Is An Imperial Shih Tzu? (Breed Guide)

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Teacup breeds are an excellent choice for people who want small dog breeds. A good example is the Imperial Shih Tzu.

But, before you bring home an Imperial Shih Tzu, it's always important to learn more about the dog breed. Get to know what an Imperial Shih Tzu is.

The Imperial Shih Tzu is among the smallest dog breeds worldwide. They are known as a teacup breed since they can fit in a teacup or the palm of your hand. The dog weighs only about 9 pounds and not more than 10 inches when fully mature. They are excellent pets as they have a friendly temperament.

Despite the small nature of Imperial Shih Tzu, these are adorable little creatures. Their curiosity and the fact that they can be adorable tend to rail you in. Plus, you won't have to worry about the dog being too high maintenance.

Read on and get to know all there is about Imperial Shih Tzu. These lovely little mutts make amazing house pets and tend to have a mellow temperament.

In this article

‍What is an Imperial Shih Tzu?

The Imperial Shih Tzus are a small dog breed the size of a teacup. Dog breeders ensure the dog maintains its small nature throughout its life. That is why people sometimes confuse mature Imperial Shih Tzu with small puppies.

However, it's not uncommon to come across an adult Imperial Shih Tzu weighing only 9 pounds. Some can even weigh less than 5 pounds and not exceed 9 inches in length. This miniature status is what attracts pet owners who prefer smaller dog breeds.

History of Imperial Shih Tzu

There's little known history about Imperial Shih Tzu's origins. However, the dog breed does appear in tapestries that are about 2000 years old. There's a possibility that the Lhaso Apso and Pekingese were bred to produce the Imperial Shih Tzu.

The Tibetan monks bred these dog breeds. They later gifted some Imperial Shih Tzu to the Chinese royals. However, some archaeological history narrates that the dog breed is much older, and archeologists have barely scratched the surface.

Still, it's a well-known fact that the royal courts at the time were fond of Imperial Shih Tzu. These dogs were treated as sacred and are still associated with the Chinese royalty. The Imperial Shih Tzu only belonged to the royal court back in the Ming Dynasty.

In 1928, the first pair of Imperial Shih Tzu arrived in Britain. The wife of the quartermaster of the North China command brought them into the country. Later in 1933, Mrs Hutchins introduced the breed in Ireland.

The action led to the formation of the Lady Brownrigg kennel. Thanks to successful breeding at the kennel, the breed spread to other parts, including the US.

How Big is a Mature Imperial Shih Tzu?

When you consider getting an Imperial Shih Tzu, note that these are tiny dogs. It's not common to come across one taller than 6 inches. Most mature Imperial Shih Tzus are only 4 inches tall and weigh no more than 9 pounds.

Their puppies tend to be even smaller, only weighing 5 ounces or less. Weight gain is gradual for this dog breed, and at 9 to 12 months, they peak as adults. But, depending on the diet, the Imperial Shih Tzu can gain more weight.

In terms of temperament, you'll find Imperial Shih Tzu quite friendly. The small state of their bodies means they're small bundles of energy. They love to run around and tend to tire themselves out quite easily.

So, it's not strange to see them excited and having lots of enthusiasm only for a moment. Immediately after, they find a comfy place and go right to sleep.

How Do Breeders Breed Imperial Shih Tzu?

They are not recognized as a dog breed on their own. Usually, they fall under the Shih Tzu dog breed. It's a common belief that the Imperial Shih Tzu resulted from unethical breeding practices to produce such a small dog.

According to the ASTC and the AKC, some Imperial Shih Tzu breeders use bad breeding tactics to produce small dogs. As a result, they often experience some health issues.

Usually, breeders will pick out the smallest mature Shih Tzu and breed them. As a result, they produce a litter of small dogs that won't grow more than a teacup size. The breeding method is becoming popular with the increasing demand for the Imperial Shih Tzu.

Are Imperial Shih Tzu Good Pets?

Imperial Shih Tzu has a good and friendly temperament, making them amazing pets. Many people who love small dogs tend to gravitate towards these miniature ones. They look so adorable and can live in harmony with other pets.

In addition, it’s an ideal dog for small homes. Perhaps you live in an apartment and don't have ample space for a big dog. Imperial Shih Tzu takes over little space and is ideal for homes in busy cities.

Plus, families with small children and other pets love Imperial Shih Tzu. They get along with kids, but it's better not to leave them without supervision. The dog breed is fragile, unlike the sturdy Shih Tzu.

How Much Do Imperial Shih Tzu Cost?

It’s an expensive dog breed whose puppies can cost anywhere between $2000 and $3000. As demand goes high, the asking price keeps increasing. Breeders specializing in Imperial Shih Tzu tend to sell puppies and make bookings in advance.

The high cost of Imperial Shih Tzu puppies is because it costs a lot of money to breed these small dogs. Imperial Shih Tzu puppies are even more fragile than their parents. They come out only weighing a few ounces and will need specialized care from day one.

You won't have to worry so much about Imperial Shih Tzu regarding food consumption. Even adults tend to consume small amounts, which brings down the food budget. However, these dogs are susceptible to health issues and might have you visiting the vet often.

Apart from buying Imperial Shih Tzu puppies or adults, you can also visit the local animal shelters. Adoption is a great way to give an Imperial Shih Tzu a home. If not, check with the American Kennel Club for registered breeders to ensure the money you invest is worth it.

Are Imperial Shih Tzu Hypoallergenic? Do Imperial Shih Tzu Shed?

Imperial Shih Tzu are hypoallergenic. This means it's the best dog for any person with allergies. Another positive is the fact that they don't shed.

These dogs lose a few hairs here and there, but you won't worry about shedding. Like most dogs with thick coats, they will lose some fur in summer. However, this isn't an issue, given that the dog breed is hypoallergenic.

However, it's essential to take them to specialized groomers who deal with small dogs. They can get their coats brushed and their nails clipped. Such proper care will help your Imperial Shih Tzu be comfortable and live longer.

How Long Does an Imperial Shih Tzu Live?

An Imperial Shih Tzu tends to live up to 18 years old with proper care and love. Before committing, this is vital information to know as a potential pet owner. The age is similar to the Shih Tzu breed.

But, breeding practices cause the lifespan of an Imperial Shih Tzu to fluctuate. You might come across some that live between 10 to 18 years. The lower lifespan is due to health issues that the dogs experience due to their small size.

In addition, the breed isn't the sturdiest pet around. These tend to be fragile and can encounter injuries quite easily. Therefore, the utmost care and gentle handling is the way to go when you adopt an Imperial Shih Tzu.

Do Imperial Shih Tzu Need Exercise? Can You Walk Such a Small Dog?

Imperial Shih Tzu needs exercise similar to any other dog breed. You might not use a harness or leash to walk them, but they need to go outside every day. Set aside an hour and 10 to 15 minutes as exercise time for your lovely Imperial Shih Tzu every day.

But, considering their small size, it's better to split the exercise time. Imperial Shih Tzu needs about 2 to 3 walks each day to ensure they don't get too exhausted. So, you can plan and space out these walks throughout the day, giving them a chance to rest.

Apart from walking, another great way to exercise is allowing them to run around in the backyard. Also, you can play with your dog to help get rid of any pent-up energy. While Imperial Shih Tzu can go on long walks, it's best to avoid anything longer than 20 minutes.

Are there Illnesses that Plague Imperial Shih Tzu?

Unfortunately, the breed is highly susceptible to illnesses, like many small dog breeds. That is why it's better to buy from registered breeders who understand them. But, despite these, Imperial Shih Tzu can live long and healthy lives.

Among the top issues with Imperial Shih Tzu involves their teeth. These dogs have small mouths, which often results in misaligned teeth. Apart from that, Imperial Shih Tzu can also experience periodontal illnesses and need dental visits to the vet.

These are fragile dogs which leads to a condition called Luxating patellas. The condition makes the small dog prone to injuries, such that they easily get knocked out of position. The result is fractured or broken bones. Also, other parts like the eyes are easy to scratch since they tend to protrude from the dog's skull.

Improper development is also another issue that plagues Imperial Shih Tzu. An example is renal dysplasia which means the kidneys don't mature as your dog gets older. A lack of fully-grown kidneys causes problems since the small ones can't serve an adult dog well.

4 Tips for Taking Good Care of Imperial Shih Tzu

Despite the small nature of Imperial Shih Tzu, they make amazing pets. All you need is to learn a few tips on proper care of small dogs, and you're good to go.

Avoid Jumping Off Surfaces

An adult Imperial Shih Tzu barely weighs 9 pounds and isn't the sturdiest. This is why you have to train them not to jump from surfaces early. Even the distance from the couch to the floor can cause injury to the small body of an Imperial Shih Tzu.

Like any other dog, begin training early and set some rules. Ensure they have a comfortable place to lie near the floor. Also, the dog can learn to ask for assistance when they want to get off high surfaces indoors.

Only Use Harnesses

Small dogs can walk without collars and leashes for their safety. Instead, go for a much safer harness for their fragile bodies. Since the breed is so tiny, collars and leashes can result in choking or other injuries.

A harness is a better option since it ensures even pressure distribution throughout the body. It’s less likely to cause injuries due to tangling or excessive pressure on certain parts.

Know the Correct Amount of Food

Overfeeding is a common issue with Imperial Shih Tzu. These are little dogs that only eat a small amount of food each day. It's better to know the right amount from day one to avoid any problems in the future. Also, consider only giving them a few treats each day since they add up to daily consumption.

An imperial Shih Tzu can become overweight if you feed them excess food. Since they have a weak structure, it gets hard for their bones to hold them up. So, ensure you stick to a strict diet to care for them properly.

Never Skip Exercising and Training

Even tiny dogs need to run around and release pent-up energy. So, ensure you allocate some time to walk or play with your Imperial Shih Tzu every day. You can conduct training that ensures they can develop good behavior as you do so.

It's possible to have a professional trainer work with your Imperial Shih Tzu for some time. This will reinforce positive behavior and enjoy living with an Imperial Shih Tzu.