what is an imperial shih tzu

Understanding Imperial Shih Tzus: What Is An Imperial Shih Tzu

Have you come across the term imperial shih tzu? Find out what is an imperial shih tzu and what sets them apart.


Shih Tzus are a beloved breed of dog around the world, with their adorable faces and charming personalities making them a popular choice for pet owners. However, there is a lesser-known variation of the Shih Tzu that not many people are aware of: the Imperial Shih Tzu. In this article, we will explore what an Imperial Shih Tzu is and how it differs from its standard counterpart.

Definition of an Imperial Shih Tzu

An Imperial Shih Tzu is a smaller variation of the standard Shih Tzu breed. While there is no official size requirement for an Imperial Shih Tzu, they are typically smaller than 9 inches at the shoulder and weigh less than 9 pounds. They have a compact body with shorter legs, but still have all the trademark features of a regular Shih Tzu such as their long flowing coat and distinctive facial features.

Brief history of the breed

The history of the Shih Tzu breed can be traced back to ancient China where they were kept as companion animals for royalty. The name “Shih Tzu” translates to “lion dog”, which was fitting due to their appearance resembling that of lions in Chinese art. It wasn’t until the 20th century that these dogs were introduced to other countries, including England and America. Imperial Shih Tzus specifically started gaining popularity in America in the late 1990s when smaller variations of regular-sized breeds became more desirable among pet owners. Due to their adorable appearance and manageable size, these dogs quickly grew in popularity among dog lovers everywhere.

Purpose of the outline

The purpose of this outline is to provide readers with detailed information about what sets an Imperial Shih Tzu apart from its standard counterpart. Through exploring physical characteristics, temperament, health concerns, breeding standards, and more, we hope to educate readers so they can make informed decisions about whether an Imperial Shih Tzu is the right choice for them as a pet. We also want to address any controversies surrounding the breed and provide resources for further research.

Physical Characteristics

Size and Weight Differences between Imperial and Standard Shih Tzus

The primary difference between an Imperial and a standard Shih Tzu is size. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), a standard Shih Tzu should weigh no more than 16 pounds, while an Imperial Shih Tzu weighs between 6-8 pounds. Imperials are also much smaller in height, typically measuring no more than 9 inches tall at the shoulder. This size difference is often due to selective breeding practices. Although some breeders may attempt to produce smaller-sized dogs by using runts or malnourished dogs, reputable breeders will not do so. Instead, they carefully select breeding pairs based on health and temperament, taking care not to produce unhealthy dogs with long-term health problems.

Facial Features: Eyes, Nose and Ears

One of the most distinguishing features of any Shih Tzu is their adorable face, but there are some differences in facial features among standard and Imperial Shih Tzus. The eyes of an Imperial are rounder and larger than those of a standard dog; they’re also set wider apart on the face. Their noses tend to be shorter than those of their larger counterparts as well. In terms of ears, both types have long hearing organs that hang down from their heads. However, Imperials often have more hair growth around their ears because they’re bred specifically for show purposes where luxurious coat growth is highly valued.

Coat Texture and Color Variations

Both types of Shih Tzus have a thick double coat that requires regular grooming to prevent matting or tangling. However, there are some differences in coat texture between them; Imperials tend to have finer fur that’s less prone to matting while standards have thicker, coarser hair that requires more maintenance. In terms of color variations, Shih Tzus come in a wide range of colors, including black, white, brindle, and gold. It’s not uncommon for Imperials to exhibit rare color variations such as lavender or chocolate brown due to the selective breeding process. However, it’s important to note that coat color should not be a deciding factor when looking for an Imperial Shih Tzu; the dog’s overall health and temperament should always take precedence.  this section, when it comes to physical characteristics between the two types of Shih Tzus there are noticeable differences. Imperial Shih Tzus have smaller size ranges than standard Shih Tzus and their facial features have some variations such as bigger eyes and shorter noses. The coat texture between both types also differs slightly and Imperials tend to exhibit rare coat colors too.


Imperial Shih Tzus are known for their charming personalities and affectionate nature. They are gentle and loving dogs that enjoy the company of their family members. Imperial Shih Tzus are characterized by their loyal and playful natures, which make them ideal companions for families with children or single individuals seeking a loyal friend. These dogs have a distinct personality that sets them apart from other breeds.

Personality Traits Unique to Imperial Shih Tzus

Imperial Shih Tzus have a unique personality characterized by their confidence, independence, and loyalty. These dogs are very affectionate towards their owners, but they also have a stubborn streak that can make training difficult at times. However, with patience and consistency, they can be trained to follow commands. One of the most distinctive traits of an Imperial Shih Tzu is its fondness for human companionship. They enjoy spending time with their owners and will often follow them around the house seeking attention. However, unlike other small dog breeds that tend to be overly anxious or nervous around strangers, Imperials have an outgoing nature that makes them friendly towards new people.

Behavioral Differences Between Imperial and Standard Shih Tzus

There are several behavioral differences between Imperial and standard Shih Tzus that prospective owners should consider before bringing one home. For instance, because of their smaller size, Imperials may not do well in households with young children who could accidentally injure them while playing. Additionally, because these dogs crave attention from their owners so much, they may develop separation anxiety if left alone for long periods. Another key difference is how they respond to training. While both types of Shih Tzu require patience during training sessions because of their stubborn streaks; standard-sized shihtzus tend to be more obedient compared to Imperials. Imperials are known to test their owners and push boundaries while training. Therefore, they require a more firm but gentle approach to obedience training.

Training Tips for Working with an Imperial Shih Tzu

When it comes to training an Imperial Shih Tzu, patience is the key. These dogs respond best to positive reinforcement during training and may become obstinate if they feel pressured or threatened. Consistency during training sessions is crucial for these dogs, as they need clear guidance on what behavior is expected of them. Socialization is another critical aspect of training for an Imperial Shih Tzu. Introduce them to different people and animals in a controlled environment so that they can learn how to relate appropriately with other pets and strangers. Make sure that you start socializing from a young age so that the dog can develop good social skills that will last them throughout their life. Owning an Imperial Shih Tzu requires patience, consistency, and lots of love. Despite their stubborn streaks, these dogs are loyal companions who will provide years of joy and affectionate companionship if trained well from a young age. With proper care and attention, your Imperial Shih Tzu will grow up to be a loving part of your family for many years to come.

Health Concerns

Imperial Shih Tzus are generally considered to be a healthy breed, but there are still some common health issues that owners should be aware of. One of the most significant concerns is respiratory problems. Due to their flat faces and short snouts, Imperial Shih Tzus can experience difficulty breathing, especially in hot or humid weather. This can lead to other issues such as heatstroke, so it is important to keep them cool and well-hydrated. Another common health issue in the breed is dental problems. Like many toy breeds, Imperial Shih Tzus have small mouths and teeth that can become crowded or misaligned. This can make it difficult for them to chew their food properly and can lead to tooth decay or gum disease. Regular dental check-ups and cleanings are essential for maintaining good oral health. Other potential health concerns for Imperial Shih Tzus include allergies, skin irritations, eye infections, and joint problems like hip dysplasia. It’s important to monitor your dog’s overall health and behavior for any signs of distress or discomfort.

Maintaining Good Health in an Imperial Shih Tzu

To maintain good health in your Imperial Shih Tzu, there are several things you can do: – Provide a balanced diet: Choose a high-quality dog food that meets all of your dog’s nutritional needs. – Exercise regularly: While they don’t require as much exercise as larger breeds, regular walks and playtime will help keep your dog healthy and happy. – Keep up with veterinary care: Regular check-ups, vaccinations, and preventative care (such as flea/tick medication) are essential for maintaining good overall health. – Practice good dental hygiene: Regular brushing (using a pet-friendly toothpaste) along with occasional professional cleanings will help prevent dental problems. – Protect from extreme temperatures: Because of their respiratory issues, Imperial Shih Tzus are vulnerable to heatstroke and other heat-related issues. Keep them cool in warm weather and avoid leaving them outside in extreme temperatures.

Differences in Lifespan between the two types of Shih Tzus

Overall, both Imperial and standard Shih Tzus have a relatively long lifespan compared to many other dog breeds. However, there are some differences between the two. On average, an Imperial Shih Tzu can live between 12-15 years. This is slightly shorter than the lifespan of a standard Shih Tzu, which can live up to 16 years or more. Some factors that can impact lifespan include genetics, overall health, and quality of care. It’s important to note that while breeders may advertise “teacup” or “miniature” versions of the breed as having a longer lifespan, this is not necessarily true. In fact, these dogs may be more prone to health problems due to their small size and delicate nature. Ultimately, providing your Imperial Shih Tzu with proper care and attention will help ensure they live a long and healthy life. Regular veterinary check-ups along with good nutrition and exercise will go a long way towards keeping your furry friend happy and healthy for years to come.

Breeding Standards

Breeding a healthy and happy Imperial Shih Tzu requires adherence to strict standards. The breed must meet certain criteria to be considered an Imperial Shih Tzu. It must weigh no more than nine pounds, have a short, broad face and a cobby body. It must also have a long, silky coat that falls straight down on either side of the body. Breeding standards are in place to ensure that the puppies produced are healthy and free from genetic defects. When breeding an Imperial Shih Tzu, it is important to choose healthy parents with good temperaments. Breeders should perform health checks on the parents before breeding them and ensure they receive proper nutrition and exercise throughout pregnancy. They should also provide adequate socialization and training for the puppies.

Regulations for breeding an Imperial Shih Tzu

There are several regulations in place regarding the breeding of Imperial Shih Tzus. The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognizes the breed as a standard Shih Tzu but does not recognize it as a separate breed. However, some other organizations such as International Imperial Dog Registry (IIDR), American Canine Association (ACA), Continental Kennel Club (CKC) do recognize it separately. In addition to AKC regulations, some states have their own laws regarding dog breeding practices that breeders need to comply with. These laws may include requirements for licensing, animal welfare standards such as providing proper food, water and shelter for dogs in their care.

The controversy surrounding the breeding of Imperials

The breeding of Imperial Shih Tzus has been surrounded by controversy due to concerns about health risks associated with this smaller size variation of the breed. Puppies born smaller than average can be at risk for health problems such as hypoglycemia or low blood sugar levels which can lead to seizures, organ failure or even death. Another concern is that some breeders may intentionally breed their dogs to be smaller than normal in order to sell them at higher prices. This practice is known as “teacup breeding” and is not recognized by reputable breed clubs or organizations.

The importance of finding a reputable breeder

Due to the potential health risks associated with Imperial Shih Tzu breeding, it is important to find a reputable breeder when looking for an Imperial puppy. A good breeder will have their dogs regularly checked by a veterinarian, and will have records of all vaccinations and health screenings. They should also be open about any potential genetic health issues that may exist within the breed and provide information on how to prevent or manage these issues. Additionally, they should allow you to meet the parents of the puppy before purchasing it and visit their facility to ensure proper care is being provided. The importance of finding a reputable breeder cannot be overstated if you want a healthy and happy Imperial Shih Tzu as your pet.


After exploring the differences between Imperial and standard Shih Tzus, it’s clear that the two are not interchangeable. Despite their similar appearances, there are significant differences in size, temperament, and health concerns that potential owners should be aware of before making a decision. Imperial Shih Tzus have gained popularity among dog lovers in recent years, but it’s important to understand the potential risks and concerns associated with breeding such small dogs. It is crucial to find a reputable breeder who prioritizes the health and well-being of their dogs as opposed to just creating smaller versions for profit. Overall, owning an Imperial Shih Tzu can be a rewarding experience for those who are prepared for the unique challenges that come with these tiny dogs. They make wonderful companions for those who live in small apartments or have limited outdoor space. With proper care and training, Imperial Shih Tzus can live long, healthy lives filled with love and affection from their owners.

Summary of Key Points

Throughout this article, we discussed several key points on understanding the differences between Imperial and standard Shih Tzus. We learned about how Imperials are defined by their small size but do not have any separate breed classification from standard Shih Tzus. Additionally, we examined physical characteristics such as facial features and coat texture that differentiate Imperials from standard Shih Tzus. We also talked about temperament differences between these two types of Shih Tzus; specifically noting how Imperials tend to display more outgoing personalities than their counterparts. Health concerns were another important topic covered within this article – highlighting common issues as well as ways to maintain good health in your pet.

Final Thoughts on Owning an Imperial Shih Tzu

Owning an Imperial Shih Tzu can be a wonderful experience – they are affectionate lapdogs who love to be showered with attention. However, it’s important to remember that they require a lot of care and attention, especially when it comes to their health. They are also prone to separation anxiety and may not do well in households where they are left alone for extended periods of time. Ultimately, the decision to own an Imperial Shih Tzu should be made after considering all the factors mentioned within this article. If you have the time, resources, and willingness to give your fur baby the care they need, then an Imperial Shih Tzu could make a fantastic addition to your family.

Resources for Further Reading or Research

There is a wealth of information available on the topic of Imperial Shih Tzus. Below are some resources that will provide additional information on this unique breed: – The American Kennel Club: This is a great resource for learning more about dog breeds in general and has a wealth of information on both Standard and Imperial Shih Tzus. – The Shih Tzu Club: This UK-based website has extensive information about everything related to Shih Tzus – including breed standards. – The Imperials Club: A website dedicated specifically to Imperial Shih Tzus that provides tips on training, grooming, and much more. We hope this article has provided valuable insight into what makes an Imperial Shih Tzu unique from its standard counterpart. By considering all the factors discussed within this article, potential owners can make informed decisions about whether or not an Imperial Shih Tzu is right for them.

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