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Imperial Shih Tzu

They are one of the cutest dogs in the world and are beloved by their owners. It’s easy to see why. Here we take a closer look at the Imperial Shih Tzu.

What is an Imperial Shih Tzu and how does it differ from a standard Shih Tzu? Well they are bred to be smaller than their standard cousins with being under 9 inches in height and up to 9 lbs, with many being lighter than that. They are adorable, have a great temperament and are low maintenance.

Want to know more? Well here we’re going to go over all the information you need to know about the Imperial Shih Tzu. This includes their health along with any common issues they may have, how to take care of them, their temperament, and also some grooming tips. Before that we’ll start with just how small these little pooches are.

How Big Will An Imperial Shih Tzu Get?

Being nine full inches tall, a fully grown Imperial Shih Tzu won’t grow bigger than an average teacup. Literally, the size of a toy, this dog is perfect to be kept even in the tiniest of apartments.

This is an extremely tiny dog breed, reaching only a height of 9 inches or even less when it comes to females. The healthy weight of an Imperial Shih Tzu is approximately 4 to 6 lbs for the females and arrives at a maximum of 9 lbs for adult males.

At What Age Do Imperial Shih Tzus Stop Growing?

Imperial Shih Tzus reach full maturity by the age of one, or sometimes even a little sooner than that. They might gain a little musculature after that (especially the males), but even that stops after the puppy turns 15 months. And by their 8th month, Imperial Shih Tzus usually reach their full height, with males getting there even sooner, somewhere after their 6th month.

What Does Imperial Shih Tzu Mean?

The term “imperial” in the name of this breed signifies that it’s a smaller version of the Shih Tzu breed. This means that an Imperial Shih Tzu has the same characteristics as the regular breed, only it has a much smaller stature. Although this smaller variant is commonly known for its name, it’s not an officially recognized dog breed.

What Is An Imperial Shih Tzu Puppy?

Imperial Shih Tzu puppies were created solely to make a smaller version of Standard Shih Tzus. This original version has many appealing qualities, but somehow the miniature version was even more desirable. Through the selective breeding of the smallest Shih Tzus, the Imperial version was created, and we ended up with a teacup-sized Shih Tzus.

How Long Do Imperial Shih Tzus Live?

Despite their size and the level of care they require, Imperial Shih Tzus can live for at least 12 years. What’s more, with proper attention and avoiding injuries, especially in their advanced years, these miniature dogs can keep you company for up to 16 years.

Do Imperial Shih Tzus Have Health Problems?

Unfortunately, because they are bred from the genetically compromised variants of purebred Shih Tzus, Imperial Shih Tzus can have various hereditary health problems. Plus, due to their size, they are easily injured and sometimes require a long recovery.

Common Health Issues

The most common issues with Imperial Shih Tzus are the size of their bones and organs. Dogs of this size have an extremely small and fragile bone constitution, and due to this, they also have a weaker immunity.

Eye and ear infections are not unusual with them, although they do respond well to therapy. However, periodontal issues also often occur, partially because they are often born with misaligned teeth construction. If untreated, these can lead to fatal consequences.

With their organs also being miniature, they can have digestion problems as well. Some issues are hard to diagnose due to the lack of space, but they could be avoided with proper attention. 

They also have trouble regulating their body heat, and they don’t like sudden temperature changes either. Being very sensitive to hot and cold also brings several dangers, like heat shock or colds, to these tiny creatures. All in all, Imperial Shih Tzus require lots of care and attention, whether it’s maintaining their hygiene or keeping them safe.

How Do You Take Care Of An Imperial Shih Tzu?

Taking care of this dog won’t be an easy task, at least until they reach maturity and learn some manners. And even after that, there will be many aspects of care you should be paying attention to. They have a lot of energy and, at the same time, a fragile body and an underdeveloped pair of lungs.


Imperial Shih Tzus have high energy levels, but they tire easily too. So if you manage to walk them two times a day for only a few minutes, they will be satisfied enough. The same goes for training: they will be happy to learn a few tricks, but they will get exhausted after 30 minutes.


Imperials have a small digestive system, which can easily be overwhelmed with too much food. For this reason, they should be given nutritionally balanced meals, such as Pet Plate, in small but regular portions throughout the day. By providing them with enough proteins and healthy fats, you can help to keep them healthy.

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Receiving the necessary multivitamins and minerals is important for any puppy, and especially with a sensitive breed like this one. A miniature Shih Tzu needs even more nutrients from the outside to keep its small body healthy and fit. After consulting a vet about your pet’s needs, try giving them multivitamins in a dosage appropriate for their weight.

Dental Water Additives

As your Imperials tend to develop periodontal disease from a very early age, you will need to use a canine toothbrush and or toothpaste on your pets teeth. An even better option is to avoid stressful brushing every day by using dental water additives. By putting this product in their bowl of water, you can make sure their whole mouth stays clean enough.

Having a hard time calming your dog down for a tooth brushing session? Find out more about using dental water additives as the alternative, how it works, and of course how to choose the best in our article here!
Learn more >

Do Imperial Shih Tzus Bark A Lot? Temperaments Of Imperial Shih Tzus

As with many other small dogs, Imperial Shih Tzus tend to bark a lot. Whether they find something interesting or annoying, they will let you know.

You will probably have to keep them a safe distance away from other dogs on the street, as they will yap at bigger dogs too. Teaching them some boundaries and rules is also recommended unless you want them to bark at everyone that enters your home.

Even if they do it to receive attention, they can be surprisingly loud despite their stature. However, more often than not, an Imperial will bark out of fear, as if asking for help. Because they are so small, the world can be a scary place for them, which is one of the reasons they require so much attention.

Do Imperial Shih Tzus Have Separation Anxiety?

Your Imperial Shih Tzus will definitely have separation anxiety during their first months of life. You will notice it in their subdued behavior when you are getting ready to leave or arrive home. Not to mention the mess they could make should they get too anxious. 

Ideally, a puppy younger than nine months shouldn’t be left alone for more than four hours a day, and if you do leave them alone, try to make it easier for them. 

One option would be to entrust the care of your beloved Imperial Shih Tzu to someone, preferably a friend or a professional sitter while you are gone. Another option would be to crate your pooch, as long as you put a comforting blanket or toy in their crate along with some newspaper for easier cleanup.

Do Imperial Shih Tzus Shed? Grooming Tips For Imperial Shih Tzus

Although they have long layers of fur, compared to other breeds, Imperial Shih Tzus don’t actually shed that much. This is good for your apartment, as you will only have to clean their hair from their brush, but for your Imperial, this isn’t always comfortable.

Their coats can also be prone to matting, and their little bodies can get overheated pretty fast. Hence, regular brushing of the coat is essential to prevent matting. By working out a brushing schedule, your Imperial Shih Tzu will look good and healthy.

Are Imperial Shih Tzus Hypoallergenic?

Because their hair doesn’t have the typical fur structure many people are allergic to, this breed is an excellent choice if you are looking for a hypoallergenic dog. With a coat that’s more similar to human hair and dander that rarely sheds, they could be suitable even for people with severe allergies.

Grooming Tips

Depending on the length of their coat, you will have to brush it out at least every two days, or even more often if it’s longer.

Unless you live in an extremely cold climate, it’s not recommended to keep the Imperials coat too long, as this breed needs help with regulating body temperature. By removing the excess fur with the Furminator Undercoat Tool, you can help their skin breathe and avoid infections as well.

Furminator Undercoat Tool

Baths should be done every 2 to 3 weeks, except for certain skin conditions. Scrub their fur with the Mighty Petz 2-In-1 Oatmeal Dog Shampoo And Conditioner to revitalize their skin and prevent itching. Wash their ears during the bath, and brush their teeth a couple of times a week.

Their nails should be trimmed every six weeks, but you might check their paws even sooner than that. Wipe their eyes every day to prevent an eye infection.

Mighty Petz 2-In-1 Oatmeal Dog Shampoo And Conditioner

Related Questions

How Much Does An Imperial Shih Tzu Cost? Getting an Imperial Shih Tzu from a reputable breeder will cost you up to $3,000, and not forgetting the numerous vet bills that you will acquire as well in the future. You might be able to get one for a little more than $2,000, but you might risk getting a puppy with some serious health issues.

Can Imperial Shih Tzu Have Puppies? As they are literally the smaller versions of the standard Shih Tzu breed, Imperial Shih Tzus are indeed capable of having their own pups. However, due to their small size and the numerous complications a pregnancy may have on Imperial Shih Tzus, it’s not recommended to breed them further.

What Is The Difference Between Shih Tzu And Imperial? While there isn’t much of a height difference between them, a standard Shih Tzu usually weighs twice more than an Imperial one. And despite being purebred, the standard versions are far less predisposed to hereditary diseases. They also have much stronger bones than the Imperial and can control their temperature better.

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