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Teacup Shih Tzu Guide: The Ultimate Breed Profile

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Teacup Shih Tzu Origin

Shih Tzus are one of the most famous small dog breeds. Despite being small, they have big hearts and lots of love to give! The breed originated from China and was known as the dog of royalty. For years these tiny furry companies warmed the laps of Chinese emperors, hidden in the palace and tucked away from the outside world. It wasn’t until the 1930s that the breed was noticed by breeders in Beijing. From here, the Shih Tzu quickly spread to the rest of the world.

 

A Teacup Shih Tzu is an even smaller version of this already tiny breed, also referred to as the Imperial Shih Tzu, Toy Shih Tzu, or Mini Shih Tzu. This isn’t a recognized breed in itself, but rather refers to Shih Tzus that fall on the smaller end of the spectrum. They’re 100% Shih Tzu and aren’t crossed with any other teacup dogs. Breeders simply breed two runts of the litter repeatedly to produce the smallest pups possible! The cost for a Teacup Shih Tzu usually ranges from $2000 to $3000.

Appearance

As the Teacup Shih Tzu isn’t a breed in itself, it is difficult to put a standard size on these dogs. It’s generally considered that a full-grown Teacup Shih Tzu needs to measure less than seven inches tall to fall into this classification. This is around three inches smaller than the standards set out for Shih Tzus by the American Kennel Club (AKC). The smallest teacup version you’ll find typically measures no less than five inches – any smaller than this and survival is unlikely.

 

Aside from their shrunken appearance, everything else about the Teacup Shih Tzu’s appearance is comparable to the normal Shih Tzu breed. Teacup Shih Tzus have the same rounded heads, bulging eyes, squashed noses, and puppy-like appearance even when fully grown. They also traditionally have straight, long-haired coats that come in multiple color options. Common examples include black, white, silver, brindle, and red.

Personality

The personality of a small Shih Tzu is again identical to their full-size Shih Tzu counterparts. Their name might mean “little lion”, but there is nothing to be scared of here. Miniature Shih Tzu dogs are renowned for their happy and friendly temperaments. They get on well with people of all ages, other dogs, and even pets of different species. They’re as sweet as anything!

 

Shih Tzu Teacup dogs are as playful as they are affectionate. They love curling up on their owners’ laps but are equally as satisfied when running around (though require less exercise than larger dogs). They’re the perfect family breed or well-suited as a companion for older people. As long as you’re close by, your Teacup Shih Tzu will be happy!

 

This does mean Mini Shih Tzu dogs are not the best choice for busy owners. They need social interaction and want to be by their owner’s side whenever possible. The small size of a Teacup Shih Tzu means families with small children also need to be careful. Young children can be rough and these delicate dogs can easily end up getting hurt by mistake.

Training

Toy Shih Tzu dogs have endless love for their owners and enjoy being the center of attention. You might think this makes training easy as they’re eager to please and willing to do whatever you want. But training a Teacup Shih Tzu is notoriously difficult. They’re stubborn dogs that don’t mind being naughty. To them, any kind of fuss and attention is welcomed.

 

The secret to successful training is to start while the pup is still in the puppy stage. Teaching your dog that you’re in command from puppyhood makes them more obedient as adult dogs. Consistency is also key and you’ll need to repeat tricks each day so your dog forms a connection with the command and action. Be sure to approach training with gentleness as well. Mini Shih Tzus love their owners deeply and respond much better to positive reinforcement than sternness and anger.

 

House training is one of the biggest obstacles you need to overcome. Teacup Shih Tzu dogs have tiny bladders and cannot “hold it in” for long whatsoever. Coupled with the likelihood of separation anxiety, bathroom accidents are common. You’ll need to let your pooch outside every few hours to do their business. Never shout if your dog does urinate in the house either as this can worsen anxiety and exacerbate the issue.

Grooming and Maintenance

Grooming a Teacup Shih Tzu requires hard work. Traditionally, Shih Tzus have long-haired coats that need to be brushed daily. This prevents tangles from forming and brushes away any dirt and debris that’s accumulated. Teacup Shih Tzu dogs also require baths every 3- 4 weeks. We recommend oiling the coat to keep it sleek, shiny, and soft.

 

Many owners can easily fit this into their daily or weekly routine. But if you don’t have time in your schedule, keeping the coat clipped can reduce grooming time. You can get away with brushing your clipped dog a couple of times each week, rather than every day. However, you will need to take regular trips to the groomer. The hair of the Mini Shih Tzu grows at record speed and their stylish haircuts will soon look messy without good upkeep.

 

Additionally, you need to regularly trim the hair inside the ears and around the eye, anus, and genitals. Their long fast-growing hair can irritate these areas and cause inflammation. Nail trimming is another essential. To make this task easier, consider a dog nail grinder. This tool gradually files down the outer layers of the nail, ensuring you don’t accidentally cut these tiny nails too far down.

Common Health Issues

Like all breeds, Teacup Shih Tzus are predisposed to certain health conditions. Unfortunately, these complications are more likely to arise in Toy Shih Tzu dogs than in standard Shih Tzus. This is because of the successive breeding of runts from litters. Runts are usually smaller because of some underlying health issue or nutrient deficiency, so repeated breeding of these dogs causes health conditions to accumulate.

 

Eye problems are frequent as Teacup Shih Tzu’s have large round eyes, making them more prone to infection. The small mouth of the Miniature Shih Tzu is also prone to overcrowding, and plaque accumulates more quickly. Thankfully, these health issues can all be avoided with good care. Cleaning around the eye area, trimming long hairs around the eyes, and daily teeth cleaning all reduce the risk substantially.

 

There are some more serious and less controllable health issues to also consider. One example is brachycephaly. This refers to breathing difficulties caused by constricted airways resulting from their characteristic flattened faces. In most cases, surgery is required to correct the abnormality. Additionally, the combination of a Teacup Shih Tzu’s tiny legs and long spine increases the likelihood of intervertebral disk disease (IVDD). This causes severe pain and, in worst cases, can lead to paralysis.

Final Thoughts

The Shih Tzu Mini is one of the cutest and most lovable breeds. They have gorgeous fur coats, wonderfully friendly temperaments, and lots of love to give. They might be small in stature, but they have huge hearts and are packed with personality!


Teacup Shih Tzu dogs are a time-consuming breed, however. Training requires a lot of patience, their fur coats need ongoing maintenance, and they cannot be left alone without suffering from anxiety. If you have the time to put in, your Miniature Shih Tzu will be your new best friend, but busy owners should search for a less needy dog.

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