imperial shih tzu

Imperial Shih Tzu: All You Need To Know in 2023

The imperial shih tzu is a term that might sound regal. Uncover the characteristics and traits that define the imperial shih tzu.


For over a thousand years, the Shih Tzu breed has been a beloved companion to Chinese royalty. Known for their affectionate and loyal nature, these small dogs quickly became popular pets across the world. But what exactly is an Imperial Shih Tzu, and how does it differ from a standard Shih Tzu?

Brief History of the Shih Tzu Breed

The history of the Shih Tzu breed can be traced back to ancient China, where they were originally bred as companion dogs for royalty. Their name translates to “lion dog,” as their appearance was meant to resemble that of a lion. While the exact origins of the breed are unknown, it is believed that they were created by crossing several small dog breeds, including Tibetan breeds and Pekingese. In the early 20th century, there was an effort in China to preserve purebred dogs like the Shih Tzu. However, during World War II, many of these dogs were lost or killed due to political turmoil in the country. It wasn’t until American soldiers stationed in China after World War II brought some of these dogs back home that their popularity began to grow in other parts of the world. Today, Shih Tzus are recognized as a popular toy breed across the globe.

Explanation of The Imperial Shih Tzu Variation

Imperial Shih Tzus are sometimes referred to as “teacup” or “miniature” versions of standard Shih Tzus due to their smaller size. While there is no official standard for what constitutes an Imperial versus a standard size Shih Tzu (as different kennel clubs have different size requirements), generally speaking an Imperial will weigh less than 9 pounds when fully grown. The term “imperial” was first used in the United States to differentiate these smaller Shih Tzus from their larger counterparts. While some breeders argue that Imperials are simply small standard Shih Tzus, others believe that they are a separate variation altogether.

Purpose of the Article

The purpose of this article is to provide an in-depth exploration of the Imperial Shih Tzu variation for those considering adding one of these dogs to their family. We will discuss the history and characteristics of the breed, as well as provide information on breeding practices, physical and personality traits, care requirements, and health concerns to watch out for. Whether you’re a longtime fan of Shih Tzus or you’re just learning about this unique breed variation for the first time, we hope that this article will provide valuable insights into what makes Imperials so special.

What is an Imperial Shih Tzu?

The Shih Tzu breed is known for its small size and adorable looks, making it a popular choice as a lap dog and companion. However, within the Shih Tzu breed, there exists a unique variation known as the Imperial Shih Tzu. This variation is smaller in size compared to the standard Shih Tzu and has distinct characteristics that set it apart.

Definition and Characteristics of an Imperial Shih Tzu

An Imperial Shih Tzu is a smaller variant of the standard Shih Tzu breed. The American Kennel Club (AKC) does not recognize this variation as a distinct breed but rather considers it to be part of the larger spectrum of the Shih Tzu breed. The distinguishing characteristic of an imperial shih tzu is its smaller size. While a standard shih tzu can weigh anywhere from 9-16 pounds and grow up to 11 inches tall at the shoulder, imperial shih tzus typically weigh between 4-9 pounds and stand no more than 9 inches tall at the shoulder. Imperial shih tzus have shorter legs, shorter snouts, rounder eyes, and wider faces compared to their standard counterparts. They also have a slightly different temperament than your typical shih tzu.

Differences between a Standard and an Imperial Shih Tzu

In addition to their physical differences in size, standard and imperial shihtzus also vary in other aspects such as their temperament. While both are affectionate breeds that love being around their human companions, imperials tend to be more reserved than standards. Imperial shihtzus are often viewed as being less stubborn when it comes to training due to their somewhat quieter nature. They are also more likely to behave well in public spaces like shopping malls, restaurants, and other social gatherings due to their calm demeanor. Another difference between the two is that imperials are often more sensitive to changes in their environment. They tend to get stressed out easily and may require more care when it comes to grooming and general health maintenance. Overall, the Imperial Shih Tzu is an adorable variation of the standard Shih Tzu breed. While they may require a bit more attention and care than their larger counterparts, these small dogs make up for it with their cute looks and loving personalities.

Breeding for Imperials

The Process of Breeding for Smaller Size

The process of breeding Imperial Shih Tzus involves selecting dogs that are smaller in size compared to the standard Shih Tzu. Breeders will carefully choose the smallest and healthiest parents to produce smaller offspring. This process is often repeated across multiple generations until a consistent smaller size is achieved. Some breeders may also use other techniques such as crossbreeding with other small dog breeds to achieve a smaller size. However, this approach can have negative effects on both the breed’s genetics and its health.

Importance of Responsible Breeding Practices

Responsible breeding practices are essential when it comes to producing healthy Imperial Shih Tzus. These practices ensure that the puppies are not only small but also healthy and free from genetic disorders. Breeding should be done by experienced breeders who understand the importance of genetics and how they can impact a dog’s health. Reputable breeders will perform various health tests on parent dogs before starting breeding programs to ensure that they do not pass any genetic disorders onto their offspring. It is important for potential owners to research breeders thoroughly before purchasing an Imperial Shih Tzu puppy. They should look for reputable breeders who prioritize responsible breeding practices over profit-making.

Potential Health Concerns Associated with Breeding for Smaller Size

Breeding for smaller size in Imperial Shih Tzus can lead to various health concerns, including respiratory issues such as collapsing trachea, dental problems, liver shunts, hypoglycemia, and patellar luxation. These conditions can be avoided by selecting healthy parent dogs with good genetics through responsible breeding practices. Owners of Imperial Shih Tzus should also take necessary precautions like regular veterinary check-ups, proper nutrition, exercise and keeping their dogs at a healthy weight to prevent any health issues from arising. Ultimately, responsible breeding practices are essential for producing healthy Imperial Shih Tzus that will live long and happy lives. Breeders should prioritize the well-being of their dogs over financial gain, while owners should provide the best care possible to their pets to avoid any potential health concerns.

Physical Characteristics

Size, Weight, and Height Differences Between Standard and Imperial Shih Tzus

One of the most noticeable differences between standard and Imperial Shih Tzus is their size. While the standard Shih Tzu typically weighs between 9-16 pounds and stands at a height of up to 10.5 inches, the Imperial variation is smaller. The Imperial Shih Tzu usually weighs between 4-9 pounds and stands at a height of up to 9 inches. Despite their smaller size, imperial Shih Tzus are not considered teacup dogs. This term commonly refers to dogs that have been bred to be unnaturally small through unethical breeding practices. When bred responsibly for smaller size, the health of the dog should always be prioritized over its size.

Coat Colors and Patterns

The coat of a Shih Tzu is one of its most distinctive features. Both standard and imperial variations can come in a variety of colors including black, white, gold, brown, brindle, silver, liver and blue. Some may also have rare markings such as parti-color or tri-color. In addition to color variations, there are multiple patterns that can appear on a Shih Tzu’s coat such as solid colors or mixed patterns like sable or tiger stripes.

Facial Features Unique to The Imperial Variation

The facial features of an Imperial Shih Tzu are usually more pronounced than those of its standard counterpart. These dogs have rounder eyes which sit further apart on their face giving them an alert expression that is almost cartoon-like in appearance. The nose on an imperial shitzu is also shorter than those on standard shitzu breeds giving them almost babyish look which only adds to their cuteness factor! Another unique feature shared by Imperial shitzu breeds is their button-like noses which is known to be a sign of good breeding. This feature coupled with their large eyes, small size and adorable facial expressions make them one of the most sought after toy breeds in the world. Overall, the physical characteristics of an Imperial Shih Tzu are what make them so unique and highly sought after. From their smaller size to their distinctive coat patterns and facial features, these dogs are sure to turn heads wherever they go!

Personality Traits

Temperament similarities and differences between standard and imperial Shih Tzus

When it comes to temperament, the Imperial Shih Tzu is generally similar to the standard Shih Tzu. Both variations are known for their affectionate and loyal nature, making them great companion dogs. However, there are some notable differences in temperament that set the Imperial variation apart from its larger counterpart. One of the main differences is that Imperials tend to be more independent than standard Shih Tzus. This can make them a bit more challenging to train since they may be less eager to please their owners. On the other hand, they also tend to be less demanding of attention, which can make them a good choice for someone who wants the companionship of a dog without having to constantly provide attention. Another difference in temperament is that Imperials can sometimes be more prone to anxiety than standard Shih Tzus due to their smaller size. For example, they may become easily frightened by loud noises or unfamiliar people or animals. It’s important for owners of Imperial Shih Tzus to socialize them early on and provide a safe and comfortable environment at all times.

Training tips for this breed variation

Training an Imperial Shih Tzu requires patience and consistency since they can be more stubborn than other breeds. Positive reinforcement techniques work best with this breed variation, including rewards such as food or praise when they exhibit good behavior. It’s important not to use harsh training methods with an Imperial Shih Tzu as it can damage their delicate psyche. Instead, use gentle but firm commands when training your dog and avoid shouting or physical punishment. Socialization is also key when it comes to training your Imperial Shih Tzu. Introduce your dog to different people, animals, and environments early on so they become comfortable with different situations. This will help prevent anxiety and aggressive behavior down the line. In addition to socialization, it’s important to give your Imperial Shih Tzu plenty of exercise and mental stimulation. This breed variation is intelligent and enjoys playing games, so providing them with puzzle toys or taking them on walks can be beneficial for their overall well-being. Overall, training an Imperial Shih Tzu requires patience, consistency, and understanding of their unique temperament. With proper training and socialization, this breed variation can make a loving and loyal companion for years to come.

Caring for Your Imperial Shih Tzu

Grooming Requirements Specific to This Variation

One of the most important aspects of caring for your Imperial Shih Tzu is their grooming requirements. This breed has a long, flowing coat that requires daily brushing to prevent matting and tangling. Regular grooming also helps to distribute natural oils throughout the coat, which keeps it healthy and shiny. Beyond daily brushing, your Imperial Shih Tzu should have regular baths every 4-6 weeks. Use a gentle dog shampoo, and make sure to rinse thoroughly to avoid any skin irritation. It’s also important to keep their ears clean and dry, as this breed is prone to ear infections. In addition to regular grooming at home, many owners opt for professional grooming services every few months. A professional groomer can give your pup a full haircut or trim their hair around the face and paws if needed.

Exercise Needs

While the Imperial Shih Tzu is a small breed, they do still need regular exercise to stay healthy and happy. Daily walks or playtime in an enclosed area are great options for this energetic pup. However, it’s important not to over-exert your Imperial Shih Tzu due to their small size. Keep walks short and avoid strenuous activities like jumping or running up stairs if possible. These activities can put undue stress on their joints and cause injury. Indoor exercise options like puzzle toys or indoor fetch games are also great ways to keep your Imperial Shih Tzu mentally stimulated without risking injury.

Diet Considerations

A high-quality diet is essential for keeping your Imperial Shih Tzu healthy and energetic. This breed tends to be picky eaters, so it may take some experimentation with different brands and types of food before finding what they like best. When selecting dog food for your Imperial Shih Tzu, make sure to choose a brand that uses high-quality ingredients and meets their nutritional needs. This breed is prone to dental issues, so opt for kibble that promotes good oral health. Additionally, be mindful of your Imperial Shih Tzu’s weight. Obesity can lead to a host of health problems, so make sure to feed them an appropriate portion size and limit treats. Caring for your Imperial Shih Tzu involves regular grooming, exercise, and a healthy diet. By following these guidelines and giving your furry friend the love and attention they need, you can ensure they live a happy and healthy life by your side.

Health Concerns to Watch Out For

Imperial Shih Tzus, like all dog breeds, are susceptible to certain health issues that owners need to be aware of. While not all Imperial Shih Tzus will experience these problems, it is important to know what they are and how best to prevent or treat them.

Common health issues that may affect an Imperial Shih Tzu

One common issue for Imperial Shih Tzus is dental problems. Due to their small size and the structure of their mouths, they are prone to tooth decay, gum disease and other dental issues. Regular brushing and veterinary check-ups can help prevent these issues. Another problem that can affect the breed is respiratory issues. Their short snouts and compact skulls can lead to breathing difficulties in some dogs. This can cause complications during exercise or when exposed to hot weather. Owners should monitor their dogs closely for any signs of respiratory distress. A third problem that can arise with the Imperial Shih Tzu is eye-related issues such as cataracts or progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). These conditions can cause blindness or impaired vision over time if left untreated. Regular check-ups with a veterinarian who specializes in canine eye care can help detect and manage these conditions early on. As with many smaller breeds, Luxating Patella (loose kneecaps) may also be a concern in imperials. This condition occurs when the kneecap moves out of its normal position causing lameness or difficulty in movement.

Tips on how to keep your dog healthy

There are several steps owners can take to help keep their Imperial Shih Tzu healthy: 1) Schedule regular visits with a veterinarian for check-ups and vaccinations. 2) Brush your dog’s teeth regularly using dog-specific toothpaste. 3) Provide regular exercise but avoid overexertion, especially in hot weather. 4) Keep your dog at a healthy weight to avoid putting excess pressure on their joints, which can lead to hip dysplasia or other joint problems. 5) Choose high-quality food and avoid overfeeding, which can lead to obesity and other health issues. By following these tips and monitoring your Imperial Shih Tzu closely for any signs of health problems, you can help ensure that your furry friend remains happy, healthy and by your side for years to come.


The Imperial Shih Tzu is a unique variation of the beloved Shih Tzu breed. With their smaller size, stunning coat colors and patterns, and distinctive facial features, these playful pups have quickly become a popular choice among dog lovers. As we have explored in this article, breeding for the Imperial variation requires responsible practices to ensure that health concerns associated with smaller size are minimized. However, with the right care and attention, Imperial Shih Tzus can lead happy and healthy lives. While there are some notable differences between standard and Imperial Shih Tzus in terms of size and temperament, both variations make excellent pets. These dogs are loving, loyal companions that enjoy spending time with their families. Grooming requirements for an Imperial Shih Tzu can be more intensive than other dog breeds due to their long hair. Regular grooming sessions are necessary to maintain their soft coats free from tangles or matting. Owners must also keep up with exercising needs of these dogs by providing them adequate space to play. It’s essential to mention that owning an Imperial Shih Tzu is not just about having a cute pet; it’s also about having a lifelong friend who will stand beside you through thick and thin. If you’re considering adding an Imperial Shih Tzu to your family, be sure to choose a responsible breeder who prioritizes the health of their puppies above all else. If you’re looking for a playful companion with unique looks who will always bring joy into your home – look no further than the delightful Imperial Shih Tzu!

Similar Posts