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A Word About Imperial Shih Tzu

The AKC standard for a Shih Tzu is 9 - 16lbs. The Shih Tzu is not supposed to be a fragile dog. Correct Shih Tzu are sturdy little dogs with good bone

The terms “imperial,” "pocket puppy" and “tiny teacup” are sometimes used  to describe undersized Shih Tzu. The proceeding terms are generally used by unethical breeders to drive up prices for dogs that do not conform to the standard. These breeders lure puppy buyers in by using these terms to make buyers think these puppies are unusual or special. Most certainly special or unusual Shih Tzu puppies bring a much higher price.  

"Imperial" Shih Tzu breeders have purposely downsized, an already small dog, In the name of the mighty dollar. These breeders risk the overall health and wonderful distinguishing breed characteristics that responsible breeders have worked long and hard to preserve. 

Distinguishing Characteristics 

The big, round, dark, eyes that are perfectly placed on the skull. The big round head that characterizes the Shih Tzu and what they stand for. When Shih Tzu are downsized they lose these characteristics. No to mention the Shih Tzu conformation. What do you have left? I will admit some are "cute" at best when they are puppies. In my eyes, VERY few are still "cute" when they grow up. When you look at a correct Shih Tzu (pet or show dog), you should see that round head and full dark eyes with that warm, sweet, wide-eyed, friendly and trusting expression. 


Open Fontanels are an issue when you downsize the Shih Tzu. These puppies mature slower and are normally sold when their fontanels are still open. Some never close. These "imperial" breeders admit this and tell their clients just be careful. If that puppy bumps its its head the right way, it is dead. A proper Shih Tzu puppy would be fine. 

Severe eye white and wall eyed. The heads on these "imperials" is very small and leave no room for proper eye placement. Excessively bulgy eyes is a sign of hydrocephalus (water on the brain)

Suppressed immune systems (meaning they get sick easily and are prone to severe allergy symptoms), heart murmurs, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), low tolerance of anesthesia, & appetite loss, that can lead to more serious illnesses.

Many "imperial" breeders claim that their Shih Tzu possess the “imperial” gene. There is no proof that such a gene exists. Size reduction occurs by breeding the smallest dog in a litter to another small dog of another litter, and so on and so forth. This not only creates abnormally small Shih Tzu, but also puppies that may have health problems. This is not indicative of an “imperial gene,” but rather of poor breeding practices. Many of these puppies, when sold, have to be on special diets and suffer from low blood sugar through their lives.

A responsible breeder does not advertise an occasional “runt” as an “imperial,” "pocket puppy" or “tiny teacup” Shih Tzu. These Shih Tzu puppies are sold as pets, not to be used for breeding.  The occasional runt is just like the other puppies, it is just smaller. The qualities of the beautiful Shih Tzu are all there, just smaller. These puppies tend to be healthy and go on to live normal lives just like their litter mates. A responsible breeder will not sell a puppy that may have health issues. Responsible breeders do what they can to prevent health issues, not knowingly produce puppies that may or may not have the above mentioned issues. 

In closing I would just like to say if you are looking for imperial, teacup or pocket Shih Tzu please keep searching. The Shih Tzu on this site are representative of the one and only true Shih Tzu. On occasion I do have runts. The runts are placed just like any other puppy I have. Just like any other puppy I breed, They are healthy and will not be placed if there are ANY issues. They look like all my other Shih Tzu, just a little smaller. They still look like a Shih Tzu because I only breed beautiful Shih Tzu that conform to the standard. 

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Web site created by Leslie LeFave, Happy Grafix
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Revised: June 01, 2012