Teacup Shih Tzu: The Ultimate Guide to This Tiny Fluffy Dog

The Shih Tzu breed of dog is one of the popular small dog breeds. Their origin has been traced to the Ancient Chinese Empire.

Due to this high demand for even smaller dogs, breeders found ways of breeding these small dog breeds to produce smaller than standard-sized puppies like the teacup Shih Tzu.

Many dog owners love small dog breeds for so many reasons. They are great to cuddle and can easily fit snugly on your lap. Teacup Shih Tzus are relatively cheaper to own in terms of food and supply consumption than larger dog breeds.

Due to their tiny size, they can easily be transported and are less aggressive. They have a calm, lovable nature and unique appearance. One very intriguing fact about teacup Shih Tzu is that they seem to remain puppies forever due to their small size.

Read on if you want to know about this tiny fluffy dog.

What Is a Teacup Shih Tzu?

The term “teacup Shih Tzu” is not used to referring to a certain dog breed. Teacup Shih Tzus are simply undersized Shih Tzu breeds that fall below the lower limits on the standard size of the adult Shih Tzu. They usually weigh less than 8 pounds and measures less than 7 inches.

Breeders and marketers coined the term in order to give this very small type of the Shih Tzu dog breed a rather appealing and attractive name for the sake of driving sales. Some other terms used for this type of Shih Tzu are “mini,” “toy,” “imperial,” etc.

Some of these special undersized Shih Tzu types occur naturally and grow to about 8 pounds in weight but breeders produce a larger number of them through several procedures.

What Does the Teacup Shih Tzu Look Like?

The typical adult teacup Shih Tzu is usually less than 8 pounds and measures less than 7 inches from the shoulder. In fact, most are usually between 5 and 7 pounds, as it is very unlikely for a dog to survive below this weight.

The structural appearance of a teacup Shih Tzu is similar to that of a normal Shih Tzu; round head, large eyes, and puppy-like body even when fully grown. And like all other Shih Tzu breed varieties, they have a long body and short legs.

They have a long and double coat that tends to grow to the floor if not clipped. Their hair is mostly packed up, so it doesn’t fall on their eyes.

Some of the common coat colors associated with the teacup Shih Tzu are black, white, liver, gold, brindle, silver, and red.

Watch this video to have a look at this cute tiny teacup Shih Tzu!

How Do Breeders Produce Such a Small Version of Shih Tzu?

Two main methods can generally be employed in breeding a below-standard-size dog like the teacup Shih Tzu. These methods are selective breeding and cross-breeding.

Selective Breeding

This method involves repeated breeding of runts from small dogs’ puppies’ litters. A runt is the smallest member of a litter of puppies.

Since smaller dogs usually tend to produce even much smaller puppies, it makes sense that by breeding the runts repeatedly, breeders would eventually end up with teacup size puppies.

The average size of a Shih Tzu litter is between one and seven puppies; it could even be more at times. As the number of puppies in a Shih Tzu litter increases, the chances of finding a puppy that will be noticeably smaller than the rest also increases.

Breeders take advantage of this possibility by mating a male runt from one litter of puppies with a female runt from another litter. From this, there is a very high chance of producing puppies that are smaller than the average size, just like their parents.

Breeders continue this process by mating the runts from the resulting puppies until they arrive at their desired size.

Cross-breeding

This is done by mating a standard Shih Tzu dog with a smaller dog breed. The resulting litter may comprise smaller than standard size puppies. This procedure is purely based on luck.

However, this is the best way of producing a healthy teacup Shih Tzu as long as healthy parents are used for breeding.

Are Teacup Shih Tzus Healthy Dogs?

The standard size Shih Tzu live healthy with a lifespan of about 9 to 17 years. Like every other breed of dog, they are prone to certain health conditions and diseases.

Due to the successive breeding of runts from litters of a standard Shih Tzu to produce the teacup Shih Tzu, there is usually an accumulation of health conditions transferred during the breeding.

It is very important to note that runts are usually formed due to some health problems or deficiencies that make them look different from other puppies in their litter. These health conditions are then transferred during continuous breeding.

Some of these health problems include:

  • Brachycephaly: As a result of their reduced skull and flattened muzzle, teacup Shih Tzu usually encounter breathing issues. This condition becomes more severe with the decreasing sizes of a Shih Tzu and requires a surgical operation to rectify.
  • Back Problems: As a result of the combination of a long back and short legs, teacup Shih Tzu is susceptible to intervertebral disk diseases (IVDD). This causes great pains for the gorgeous little dogs. In more severe cases, it can result in muscle spasms and even paralysis.
  • Eye Problems: The teacup Shih Tzu usually have large eyes with relatively shallow eye sockets. This makes them prone to many eye conditions. Some of these common conditions are:
  • Epiphora: A term used to describe an excessive flow of tears that often stain the white fur surrounding the eyes.
  • Entropion: This is the turning of the eyelids inward towards the eyeballs, causing the eyelashes to rub against the eyeballs continuously. This condition irritates the eyes.
  • Dental Diseases: Their very small mouth often makes them much more susceptible to various dental diseases. As these dogs get older, plaque and tartar accumulate, resulting in unhealthy roots and gums.

Why Are Breeding Teacup Shih Tzu Controversial?

To breed these very tiny dogs, breeders find small Shih Tzu males and females to breed together and continue taking the runts from the resulting litters until they get the very size they desire.

The controversy with teacup Shih Tzu lies in the fact that breeders who produce these tiny Shih Tzu variety claim that these dogs are unique in specific ways and should worth more than the AKC standard size counterpart.

Hence, they employ terms like “Imperial” to imply that this variety of tiny dogs have some fundamental differences from the known Shih Tzu and should be recognized as a separate breed.

This is, however, considered to be a mere myth by the kennel clubs. They believe that these extremely small dogs are bred in an unconventional and unhealthy way and that the small size alone is not enough for them to be classified as a separate dog breed.

These so-called Imperial breeders end up charging more money for these tiny puppies, insisting that this special variety of Shih Tzu requires more care, love, and nutritional supplements.

Some of these breeders are actively working to ensure that these teacup Shih Tzus or Imperial Shih Tzus are listed as a recognized dog breed.

I found this decent video on YouTube that explains everything you need to know about the teacup dogs. Understand how they have been bred and in what conditions, and how to care for them if you have adopted one.

Teacup Shih Tzu vs. Other Varieties of Shih Tzu: What’s the Difference?

The teacup Shih Tzu is just a small type of the normal standard size Shih Tzu. Despite being the same breed fundamentally, the standard Shih Tzu and the teacup Shih Tzu have some disparities.

The most noticeable difference between the standard Shih Tzu and the teacup Shih Tzu is in their breeding process, which determines their sizes.

The standard Shih Tzu is produced from pure breeding of healthy Shih Tzu parents and weighs between 10 to 16 pounds and has an average height of about 10 inches.

Teacup Shih Tzu, on the other hand, is produced through various processes. The most commonly used is selective breeding, which is regarded to be an unhealthy procedure by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

Also, the relatively small size of the teacup Shih Tzu makes them more susceptible to health issues than the standard Shih Tzu.

Teacup Shih Tzu Temperament: Do They Make Good Family Dogs?

Though the name “Shih Tzu” means little lion, there is really no fierceness in the behavior of a teacup Shih Tzu.

However, the teacup Shih Tzus are regarded as very courageous little dogs because, despite their being playful, caring, and lovely, they also stand up to defend themselves and the owner in any situation.

They have a high territorial instinct and would protect their family, home, and properties against intruders. They love to play with little children a lot.

Teacup Shih Tzu and other Shih Tzu varieties are bred solely for companionship, so they are affectionate, outgoing, and happy little dogs. They love to sit on laps.

Teacup Shih Tzus make a wonderful family pet and gets along easily with other animals and little children. However, children should be monitored when playing with this tiny dog because they can get hurt easily or even killed.

How Many Colors Are Available for Teacup Shih Tzu?

Due to the procedure usually employed in breeding these teacup Shih Tzus, they can come in different colors and color combinations.

Some of the solid colors a teacup Shih Tzu can have include:

  • Black: This coat is completely black. And it is relatively common among the normal breed teacup Shih Tzus.
  • White: This is a type of teacup Shih Tzu completely white in color.
  • Gold: This type of teacup Shih Tzu appears under natural light to be golden in color, but it is more of an orange shade in reality. 
  • Brindle: This variety usually has a coat color made up of a combination of red-yellow alternating with black-brown. But at first glance, it appears like a solid brown or black, depending on which color is more present.
  • Silver: This coat color of teacup Shih Tzu is sometimes mistaken with the white coat. To recognize this variety, the coat color must be gray or off-white.

Size and Weight of Teacup Shih Tzu

The actual purpose of breeding teacup Shih Tzus is to produce very tiny dogs that will fit into almost any space or apartment and be a lot easier to carry around.

The weight of a typical adult teacup Shih Tzu is usually between 6 to 8 pounds and with a height around 7 to 9 inches, measuring from the shoulders.

There can also be some extremely small ones weighing around 4.5 to 5 pounds. This makes them a lot smaller and lighter than any other variety of the Shih Tzu breed.

What Is the Life Expectancy of a Teacup Shih Tzu?

Losing this very adorable and expensive pet is a very sad thing to happen to any owner. This is usually a source of worry for many teacup Shih Tzu owners because the thought of losing this wonderful family companion is scary.

It has been known through studies that smaller dog breeds usually have a longer average lifespan than the bigger ones. A properly bred teacup Shih Tzu from a credible breeder can live up to about 12 years like any other Shih Tzu.

However, due to the unconventional procedures most breeders employ in producing these miniature dogs, they might become susceptible to a series of underlying health issues that, in turn, pose great threats to their healthy living.

On a broader note, the specific genetics and the dog’s environment play a huge part in determining how long they would live and how healthy they are.

How to Care for Your Teacup Shih Tzu’ Basic Needs

As you may already know by now, teacup Shih Tzus are a very small and delicate dog and require so much care, attention, and affection.

You cannot handle these little dogs like you would handle every other normal dog, and therefore, you have to know how to properly care for your teacup puppy.

Feeding

Teacup Shih Tzu is a dog with a quite irregular eating pattern. It eats well in a favorable condition, and it is very important to feed your teacup Shih Tzu quality and healthy food to ensure that it stays in perfect shape and live healthy and long.

Generally, a puppy teacup Shih Tzu should be given 1/16 of food per pound of his body weight while a full-grown one should be given about 1/32 per pound of his body weight. This is because puppies are usually more active than adults and require more calories for healthy growth.

It is very important to note how often you are feeding your dog because the teacup Shih Tzu is very prone to obesity. Do not allow them unlimited access to food so that your dog doesn’t become obese.

It is recommended that a teacup Shih Tzu should be fed four times per day for the first seven months, and after these seven months, it is best to feed them two times per day.

To avoid obesity, you should reduce the number of carbohydrates in your Shih Tzu’s diet.

Like every other dog, they require an appreciable amount of protein-containing foods like chicken, turkey, fish, and eggs for steady and healthy growth. Rice, barley, potatoes are very good sources of carbohydrates.

Grooming

A normal teacup Shih Tzu has its body hair grow down to the floor. This is highly time-consuming to maintain because you would have to continually brush the hair throughout the day to keep it clean and healthy.

Most owners usually prefer the puppy cut, not only because it is easier to maintain but also because this style looks really good on these small dogs.

The cut style for your dog, however, largely depends on your choice. Because whichever style you decide to go with, you will still have to visit the groomer regularly.

Aside from this, a lot of trimming is also required for the fast-growing coat, inside the ears, around the eyes, anus, and the genital parts. The nails also require regular trimming.

Exercise

The importance of regular exercise for teacup Shih Tzu cannot be over-emphasized.

Frequent and proper exercise is healthy for this small dog in the following ways:

  • It aids in blood circulation.
  • It helps to manage the body glucose level, which is important in preventing obesity and diabetes.
  • It helps to strengthen the immune system.
  • It helps in building stronger bones and muscles.
  • It aids proper metabolism.

Puppies from six months and above should be engaged in at least 20 minutes of daily walk and can later be increased to twice per day. You can also add some supervised and controlled cardio sessions, like 1 to 3 times a day.

One of the best types of exercises for a teacup Shih Tzu is walking. It is easy to practice as you can set a starting and ending point to be able to track your duration.

Here are some tips you might want to employ in walking your cute little teacup:

  • Have a fixed schedule and follow it strictly. Having a regular schedule will boost your puppy’s anticipation and activeness.
  • Use a harness instead of a collar. The teacup Shih Tzu is a brachycephalic dog and so anything that will obstruct his windpipes should be avoided.
  • Go with enough water. Stop to allow him to drink if you notice heavy panting or over-heating.

Training

Training a teacup Shih Tzu can be very challenging, so it is essential to start early. This will give your dog the pleasure of having a caring and happy owner and also reduce your job of tidying the apartment every time he messes it up.

Here are some training tips you might want to apply:

  • Make your rules: You need to establish certain rules for your new puppy and make sure you and your household enforce those rules to the letter. This will also help you set up a productive training pattern for your new dog.
  • Offer praise and rewards: Teacup Shih Tzu is a kind of dog that loves being praised and rewarded. As you proceed with the training, reward him for good conduct and do not always punish bad ones. Also, try to avoid physical punishments.
  • Make use of time outs: Teacup Shih Tzus love companionship. As the bond between you two grow stronger, time outs can be a very good way to punish him for bad behaviors. This should, however, not be applied too often, so you don’t jeopardize the bond.
  • Teach him simple commands: This is the step that follows once you have done training your puppy to live with you and your family. You will require a lot of patience and rewards for this stage.
  • Limit access to food: You should try not to make the mistake of exposing your puppy to an unlimited food supply. Having a standard mealtime and feeding pattern will benefit both you and your new pet as it teaches him discipline and also ensures healthy nutrition.
  • End every training with a reward: At the end of every training session, take some time to reward your puppy, maybe have some fun with him or offer some treats or interesting activities just to make him feel rewarded for the session. This will help create a well-behaved dog and also foster a long-lasting bond between you two. He will be happier to engage next time.

Wellness Visits

Once your teacup Shih Tzu puppy has completed his puppy vaccinations, this does not mean that you have to wait until he is ill to visit the vet.

An adult teacup Shih Tzu should be checked by a vet twice a year, and older ones should be checked three times per year. These series of wellness visits are essential for helping your dog maintain good health and detect any potential health issues early.

Your Love and Affection

As you already know, a teacup Shih Tzu is more of a lap dog that is emotional and affectionate in nature.

They bond well with people and other animals and to keep your precious little puppy mentally and physically healthy, you will have to shower him a lot of love and affection.

That is not to say that you should condone bad behavior, just more love and treats than punishments.

Pros and Cons of Owning a Teacup Shih Tzu

Pros

  • Having a very small dog like the teacup Shih Tzu that can fit into your purse is awesome.
  • They are very easy to carry around without any inconvenience.
  • They are loved by everyone and draw attention everywhere.
  • Their exercises are less tedious than those of the bigger dogs.
  • They are simply adorable.

Cons

Apart from the many health issues your teacup Shih Tzu might face and the countless vet visits you might have to embark on, there are many reasons you might not want to own one.

  • They are expensive to buy and maintain.
  • They are almost always in need of your help.
  • They get injured easily.
  • They are prone to many dangers in a busy household.
  • You can step on them.

Where to Find Teacup Shih Tzu Puppies for Sale?

Many reputable breeders claim they have teacup Shih Tzu puppies for sales, but they actually sell unhealthy puppies from the liaison between runts.

Here are some reputable breeders and sellers you can purchase your teacup Shih Tzu from:

  • Teacups Puppies and Boutique – They specialize in breeding teacup Shih Tzu puppies in South Florida and have been in the business for more than two decades. They run a hand delivery that is available throughout the US and across the globe.
  • Yorkie Babies – You can find puppies of any variety of the Shih Tzu dog breed at Yorkie Babies. Their puppies are paper trained before leaving and they also offer puppy nanny services.
  • Shih Tzus Forever – They offer teacup Shih Tzu puppies and Imperial Shih Tzu puppies for sales. Their puppies come trained and ready to become a member of your family.

Teacup Shih Tzu Puppy Price: Can You Afford a Teacup Shih Tzu?

Putting an exact price on the teacup Shih Tzu will be grossly inaccurate. On researching different breeders and sellers around, this dog’s price is seen to vary from one breeder to another for reasons that are hard to pinpoint.

A very small dog like the teacup Shih Tzu usually needs the assistance of a veterinarian to breed and deliver their puppies. This is a major factor that could push the price upward. Some other factors are:

  • Coat color
  • Appearance
  • Gender
  • The purpose of buying the puppy, whether for a family pet, show contestant, or for breeding.

Considering all these factors, the average price for a teacup Shih Tzu or a Shih Tzu crossbreed ranges between $800 and $2,500. Some backyard breeders may want to extort you and charge you around $4,000 to $6,000.

Apart from this initial cost of purchasing a teacup Shih Tzu puppy, you will have to bear other one-time and continuous expenses.

Should You Adopt or Buy Your Teacup Shih Tzu? Tips on How to Find a Healthy Teacup Shih Tzu

Whether you want to buy or adopt a teacup Shih Tzu puppy is completely up to you and how much you are willing to sacrifice to get this adorable dog into your family.

Whatever the case is, you will have to pay a compulsory purchase fee or a rescue adoption fee, usually around $150 to $600.

After deciding whether to purchase or adopt this dog, you need to be guided on finding a reputable breeder or seller. A reputable breeder will not sell a puppy born from the union between two unhealthy runts.

These undersized dogs can occur naturally even with the best breeders and will also be as healthy as the other litter members. A reputable breeder will inform you if this puppy is a runt.

You also need to ask questions about how the dog was bred and ask to see the parents if possible. You can go as far as asking about the grandparents.

Also, get proof of proper health screening for both the puppy and parents. This will help you know how healthy the puppy would be.

If the breeder cannot provide answers to all or most of these questions, you should go elsewhere as the person may be a disreputable breeder trying to sell a sick puppy of an unhealthy runt generation.

Finally, you have to avoid buying puppies through the internet. Try to have direct contact with the puppy before purchasing.

Final Thoughts

The teacup Shih Tzu is a small dog with many wonderful qualities. This cute dog is a member of the Shih Tzu breed and can be very expensive to purchase and maintain.

They are affectionate and loving but are also prone to many health issues due to their small size.

If you are lucky enough to buy a teacup Shih Tzu that resulted from breeding two standard Shih Tzus or one standard and one teacup Shih Tzu, you probably won’t experience many of those health issues.

But if you buy one that resulted from runts’ breeding, you should brace yourself for countless veterinarian visits.

John Carter

My name is John Carter and I absolutely love pets, especially dogs. I've got a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Behaviour and Welfare and have several years’ experience working in animal shelters and rescues. My passion for animals started at a very young age as I grow up on a farm with several horses, cows, cats, chickens, and dogs on our property.

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