Imperial Shih Tzu

Imperial Shih TzuSome breeders use the term ‘Imperial Shih Tzu’ to describe their puppies when they don’t meet Kennel Club standards. The term is often used to fool buyers who don’t understand the breed very well, resulting in Shih Tzus with health problems and defects being sold unwittingly to the public.

These so-called Imperial Shih Tzus might also be called ‘Teacup’ Shih Tzu, owing to the unusually small size of the dog.

If you’re in the market for a Shih Tzu, it’s important to understand the term, and how important it is to buy from ethical breeders. Those who sell these ‘Imperial’ Shih Tzus will typically be attempting to make as much money as possible, and may not even be taking real care of the mother.

Why Breed Standards are Important

The Shih Tzu breed standard is a written description that outlines how the dog is meant to appear. The standard is used primarily for dog shows, where the dogs that fit the breed standard best are awarded prizes by canine organizations. The breed standards, however, are also used by dog enthusiasts and breeders to know the quality of the dogs they breed.

The very first Shih Tzu standard was written in 1938, for the Peking Kennel Club. This standard explained that the average Shih Tzu should weigh between 10 and 15 pounds – and this hasn’t really changed. Breed standards for Shih Tzus all over the world are practically the same as that original description, with most examples of the dog showing that the breed is a healthy dog that’s far from fragile. These so-called Imperial Shih Tzus, however, tend to be exceptionally small and prone to a number of serious health conditions.

Why ‘Imperials’ Exist

Many breeders go out of their way to breed Shih Tzus that are as small as possible, ignoring breed guidelines and siring small Shih Tzu bitches with equally small dogs. These have produced huge quantities of small dogs that have been used to create a trend.

Much like small pigs, called ‘Micro Pigs’, became a trend, the ‘Imperial’ Shih Tzu has become a popular choice for people looking for a ‘designer dog’. Breeders even charge more for these dogs, fooling first-time dog owners into thinking they’re paying for something special.

While the Imperial Shih Tzus themselves can be loving companions, their health problems can become serious, which is why it’s important for people to understand the issue and not express interest in these breeders. By outing this problem, unethical breeders will have no reason to continue this practice.

The Lie to Look Out For

Many unethical breeders will claim that this ultra-small toy breed dog possesses an ‘Imperial’ gene, which is a special gene found only in some Shih Tzus. This is far from the truth, and no science holds up this claim.

The ‘Imperial’ Shih Tzu is not recognized by the American or British Kennel Club, or any other official organizations across the world.