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Teacup Shih Tzu: Everything You Need to Know - PawSafe

Teacup Shih Tzu: Everything You Need to Know

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

teacup Shih Tzu

Teacup Shih Tzu is a very small-sized canine companion. They are known for their petite and adorable looks and friendly nature, making them ideal pets for those who want a loyal companion.

However, it is important to note that due to their small size, Teacup Shih Tzus require special care and attention. These include never using a collar because their sensitive tracheas can easily collapse and using a no-pull harness instead. 

Teacup breed variations, particularly those of already tiny breeds, have come under massive scrutiny, as we get into in this article. We have enlisted the help of Shi Tzu guidebooks to give you all you need to know about the Teacup Shi Tzu.

Despite their small size, Teacup Shih Tzu is known for their lively and playful personality. They are affectionate, loyal, and love to be around their owners. They are also good with children and other pets, making them an ideal family pet.

Teacup variations of already substantially tiny breeds are rising tremendously. These include breeds like Teacup Poodles, Cavapoos, Yorkies, Maltese, and Havanese. Some may not see the point in miniaturizing an already toy dog, but the Teacup’s popularity is on a steady incline.

However, it’s important to note that Teacup Shih Tzu is not recognized as a separate breed by major kennel clubs like the American Kennel Club (AKC). Breeders who advertise Teacup Shih Tzu often breed smaller-sized and even Shih Tzu runts together, leading to health problems such as hypoglycemia, respiratory issues, and dental problems.

Overall, Teacup Shih Tzu is a cute and adorable dog that requires proper care and attention to ensure they live a healthy and happy life.

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What is the Difference Between a Teacup and a Mini Shih Tzu?

Many people distinguish between Teacup and Mini Shi Tzus. Their standard difference is that Mini Shi Tzus are slightly smaller than the standard Shih Tzu size but slightly larger than the Teacups.

However, while this difference is true for slightly larger dogs, it doesn’t typically apply to toy breeds. For a toy breed like a Shi Tzu, breeders have a very small size difference to work with. Therefore, any size diminution is small enough to be categorized as a “Teacup.”

You’ll also find some breeders and people refer to Teacup Shi Tzus as imperial Shi Tzus. We have covered the imperial size variation in our linked article, but they’re basically the same thing as Teacups. 

It’s important to remember that neither  miniature, teacup, pocket, imperial, or micro are official terms that the American Kennel Club (AKC) recognizes. The Shih Tzu is already a Toy Breed. So, breeding them to smaller sizes is linked to unethical breeding practices. Be very careful before buying teacup dogs, and always consider adoption rather than supporting a potentially unethical breeder. 

Ultimately, you can take Mini and Teacup variations to mean the same thing. Even if one were to differentiate the two, it would only be about a one, rarely two-inch difference.

The Origin of Teacup Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu breed originated in China, where they were bred to be companion dogs for royalty and nobility. Evidence suggests that the Shih Tzu date as far back as eight thousand years ago. 

The breed was highly valued and was often given as a gift to foreign dignitaries. The Shih Tzu’s name means “lion dog” in Chinese, and they were often bred to resemble lions. During the Ming Dynasty, the Shih Tzu were considered the exclusive property of the royal court. Illegally owning a Shih Tzu was punishable by death.

Teacup Shih Tzus are often bred to be smaller than the standard Shih Tzu, with some breeders claiming they can be as small as four pounds when fully grown. However, it is essential to note that breeding for petite size can lead to health problems such as respiratory issues, hypoglycemia, and heart problems.

Overall, the Teacup Shih Tzu is a relatively new breed that has gained popularity in recent years due to its small size and cute appearance. However, it is important for potential owners to research and ensure they are getting a healthy dog from a reputable breeder.

What Does a Teacup Shih Tzu Look Like?

Teacup Shih Tzus, also known as Imperial Shih Tzus, are a smaller version of the traditional Shih Tzu breed. They are known for their adorable appearance and charming personalities. They have a compact body that is well-proportioned despite their extremely small size.

Teacup Shih Tzu has a round head, big eyes, and a short muzzle. Their coat is long, silky, and can grow to the show-stopping floor length. The coat comes in a variety of colors, including black, white, gold, and brown.

They have puffy manes and cute, chubby faces. They have brown eyes that may be lighter or darker, depending on the coat. Most Teacup Shi Tzus have a distinct, but not excessive, underbite, as most do Chinese-descended dogs.

How Big will a Teacup Shih Tzu Get?

Teacup Shih Tzus are very small dogs that typically weigh between 3 to 7 pounds (1 to 3 kg) and stand at around 5 to 7 inches (12 to 17 cm) tall. These dogs grow very fast and attain maximum height and weight at approximately six months.

Coat and colors

Teacup Shih Tzus come in various colors, including:

  • Black;
  • White;
  • Black and white;
  • Gold;
  • Brown;
  • Silver; and
  • Some may also have a combination of these colors or be particolored. 

The hair on their face is often styled into a topknot, adding to their charming appearance.

Behavior and Temperament of Teacup Shih Tzu

Teacup Shih Tzu is a small dog breed known for its affectionate, playful, and friendly nature. They are intelligent, loyal, and love to be around people. They are great companions and can adapt well to different living environments, including apartments, houses, and even small spaces.

One of the most notable traits of teacup Shih Tzu is their love for attention and affection. They enjoy being around people and are known to be cuddly lap dogs. They are also playful and love to play with toys and other dogs. However, they can be sensitive and may not do well with rough play or aggressive treatment. Read: Will my dog forgive me for hitting him?

Suitability with Kids & Pets

The Teacup Shih Tzu is generally good with children and other pets, but adult supervision is paramount since their small sizes make them fragile. They can also be trained easily, but it is essential to use positive reinforcement methods and avoid punishment-based training.

Health Issues and Lifespan

Teacup Shih Tzus are generally healthy dogs but can be prone to certain health issues due to their small size. Some of the most common health issues that teacup Shih Tzus may experience include:

  • Hypoglycemia: This is a condition that occurs when a dog’s blood sugar levels drop too low. Teacup Shih Tzus are particularly susceptible to hypoglycemia because of their small size and high metabolism. Symptoms of hypoglycemia include lethargy, weakness, seizures, and coma.
  • Dental problems: Teacup Shih Tzus have small mouths and crowded teeth, which can lead to dental issues such as gum disease and tooth decay.
  • Respiratory issues: Teacup Shih Tzus may experience respiratory problems due to their short snouts. This can include snoring, wheezing, and difficulty breathing.
  • Collapsing tracheas because their throats are so small and fragile, leading to signs like dry heaving.
  • Hydrocephalus, where the brain fills up with fluid.
  • Liver Shunts, which is an abnormal connection within the liver’s blood vessels.
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease: Too little blood is supplied to the hip joint.
  • Cervical (dry) disc: Here, the dry discs can rub against their nerves and cause severe pain.
  • Eye issues like glaucoma, dry eye, and conjunctivitis.
  • Epilepsy: This neurological condition can cause seizures in dogs.
  • Thyroid issues like hypothyroidism. 
  • Degenerative disc disease, where the dog has a ruptured or slipped disc.
  • Moderate issues like ear and skin infections, allergies, and obesity.

How Long Do Shih Tzus Live?

Teacup Shih Tzus have a lifespan of around 10-16 years. However, several factors can affect their lifespan, including their diet, exercise, and overall health. 

Grooming and Care

Teacup Shih Tzus require regular grooming and care to maintain healthy and happy lives. Here are some tips to keep your Teacup Shih Tzu looking and feeling their best.

Coat Care

Teacup Shih Tzus have long, silky coats that require daily brushing to prevent matting and tangling. Use a slicker brush to gently remove any tangles or mats, starting at the ends of the hair and working your way up to the roots. Regular bathing with a mild, dog-specific shampoo can also help keep their coat clean and shiny.

Dental Care

Dental care is essential for Teacup Shih Tzus, as they are prone to dental problems. Brush their teeth daily using a dog-specific toothbrush and toothpaste and alternate with a no-brush solution. Regular dental check-ups and cleanings are also recommended to prevent any potential issues.

Ear and nail care

Frequent ear cleanings with gentle wipes are a must, as ear infections are common in this Teacup. Cut their nails every month with a good quality clipper or grinder. 

Professional Trims

Shi Tzus grow their hair remarkably fast. Regular professional grooming helps keep the Shih Tzu’s coat healthy, prevents matting, and ensures the dog looks its best. These cuts include the puppy cut, the long-ear puppy cut, the cone paws cut, the topknot show cut, and the teddy bear cut.


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Feeding and Nutrition

Feeding a teacup Shih Tzu can be a bit tricky due to their small size. They require a balanced diet that meets their nutritional needs, so choosing the right food is important. 

When selecting food for your teacup Shih Tzu, it’s essential to choose high-quality food that meets their nutritional needs. Look for food specifically formulated for small breeds, as it will have the right balance of nutrients for your dog’s size.

It’s best to feed your teacup Shih Tzu small meals throughout the day rather than one large meal. This prevents the risk of hypoglycemia, where their blood sugar levels drop dangerously low due to their high metabolism.

 Additionally, these Teacups are prone to liver issues, so it is vital to consult your vet on whether they can consume regular protein levels. They are also prone to food allergies, so watching their reactions to certain diets is essential.

Training a Teacup Shih Tzu

Training a Teacup Shih Tzu is a vital aspect of owning this breed. Early training and socialization are crucial to ensure your dog grows up well-behaved and well-adjusted. Here are some tips for training your Teacup Shih Tzu:

  1. Consistency is Key: establish a routine and stick to it. Use the same commands and cues every time you train your dog.
  2. Positive Reinforcement: Reward your dog with treats, praise, and affection when they exhibit good behavior. This will encourage them to repeat that behavior in the future.

How to bell-train your dog

  1. Socialization: Expose your dog to different people, animals, and environments from a young age to help them become more comfortable and confident in new situations.
  2. Crate Training: It can help with housebreaking and provide a safe space for your dog. Make sure the crate is comfortable and the right size for your dog.
  3. Obedience Training: Teach your dog basic commands such as sit, stay, come, and heel. This will help establish a strong bond between you and your dog and ensure they are well-behaved in different situations.

Ideal Home For A Teacup Shih Tzu

  • Teacup Shih Tzus are ideal for apartment living as they don’t require a lot of space to run around. 
  • They are also suitable for families with children as long as the children are taught to handle them gently and with care. However, due to their small size, they may not be suitable for families with very young children who may accidentally hurt them.
  • Regarding other animals, teacup Shih Tzus are generally friendly and get along well with other dogs and cats. 
  • Teacup Shih Tzus are also sensitive to extreme temperatures, so it’s important to keep them indoors in air-conditioned or heated environments. 
  • They also require daily exercise and mental stimulation, so a home with a small yard or access to a park would be beneficial.

Adoption Considerations

Adopting a teacup Shih Tzu can be a great decision for those looking for a small and affectionate companion. However, before deciding to adopt, there are several considerations to keep in mind.

Firstly, it is essential to note that Teacup Shih Tzus are small and may not be suitable for families with young children. They are delicate and can be easily injured if mishandled. Additionally, teacup Shih Tzus require much attention and care, which may not be feasible for families with busy schedules.

Potential adopters should also consider the financial implications of adopting a teacup Shih Tzu. These dogs are prone to several health issues, including dental, respiratory, and hypoglycemia. As such, they may require frequent visits to the vet and specialized care, which can be expensive.

It is also essential to find a reputable breeder or adoption agency when adopting a Teacup Shih Tzu. Avoid purchasing from puppy mills or pet stores, as these sources often do not provide proper care or socialization for the dogs. Reputable breeders and adoption agencies will provide health guarantees and ensure the dog is properly socialized and cared for.

Teacup Shih Tzu Pros and Cons

Teacup Shih Tzu is a miniature version of the Shih Tzu breed that is gaining popularity among dog lovers. However, like any other breed, Teacup Shih Tzu has its pros and cons that potential owners should consider before bringing one home.


  1. Adorable Appearance: Teacup Shih Tzu is a cute and cuddly dog that is perfect for those who love small dogs with fluffy coats. They have big, round eyes, short snouts, and a compact body that makes them irresistible.
  2. Low Exercise Requirements: Teacup Shih Tzu is a low-energy dog that requires minimal exercise. They are happy to play indoors or in a small yard, making them suitable for apartment living.
  3. Great Companionship: Teacup Shih Tzu is a loyal and affectionate dog who loves being around their owners. They are great companions for families with children and seniors looking for a loving and loyal pet.


  1. Health Issues: Teacup Shih Tzu is prone to several health issues due to their small size. They are often susceptible to respiratory, heart, and dental problems. Potential owners should be prepared for the additional medical expenses of owning a Teacup Shih Tzu.
  2. Fragile: Teacup Shih Tzu is a delicate breed that can easily get injured if mishandled or dropped. They require extra care and attention to protect them from harm.
  3. Difficult to Train: Teacup Shih Tzu can be stubborn and difficult to train. They have a strong-willed personality and may require additional training and patience from their owners. They also have tiny bladders, which make training particularly challenging.
  1. High maintenance Grooming requirements: Shih Tzus need plenty of grooming to prevent their coats becoming matted. They also tend to suffer from dental issues and overgrown nails. This can become a problem for the dog’s health and well-being extremely quickly.

Names for a Teacup Shih Tzu

Teacup Shih Tzus are tiny, adorable, and elegant dogs perfect for any family. They are affectionate, loyal, and playful, making them great companions for children and adults. When choosing a name for your Teacup Shih Tzu, there are many options to consider. Here are some popular names for Teacup Shih Tzus:

Male Names

  • Max;
  • Charlie;
  • Teddy;
  • Rocky;
  • Oliver;
  • Jack;
  • Zeus;
  • Toby;
  • Cooper; and
  • Duke.

Female Names

  • Bella;
  • Daisy;
  • Lucy;
  • Luna;
  • Molly;
  • Lily;
  • Sophie;
  • Chloe;
  • Sadie; and
  • Zoey.

Gender-Neutral Names

  • Bailey;
  • Coco;
  • Riley;
  • Peanut;
  • Oreo;
  • Pepper;
  • Lucky;
  • Simba;
  • Toto; and
  • Gizmo.

It’s essential to choose a name that suits your Teacup Shih Tzu’s personality, appearance, and temperament. Some owners prefer to choose a name that reflects their dog’s breed, such as “Shih Tzu” or “Imperial.” Others opt for names that reflect their dog’s size, such as “Tiny” or “Mini.” Whatever name you choose, make sure it’s easy to pronounce and remember and that your dog responds well to it.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How much do teacup Shih Tzus cost?

Teacup Shih Tzus are a rare and highly sought-after breed, which can be quite expensive. Prices can range from $1,500 to $5,000 or more, depending on the breeder and the dog’s pedigree. However, it’s important to note that buying a teacup Shih Tzu from a reputable breeder is crucial to ensure the dog’s health and well-being.

What are the health problems with teacup Shih Tzus?

Teacup Shih Tzus are prone to several health problems, including respiratory issues, dental problems, and hypoglycemia. They may also suffer from luxating patellas, which is a condition where the kneecap dislocates from its normal position. Due to their small size, they are also more susceptible to injuries and accidents. 

Teacup Shih Tzu hypoallergenic

Teacup Shih Tzus are not hypoallergenic, as they still produce dander and shed hair like all dogs. However, they may be a good choice for people with allergies as they have a single-layered coat that sheds less than other breeds. Regular grooming can also help to reduce allergens in the home.

Do teacup Shih Tzus shed?

Teacup Shih Tzus do shed, but their shedding is minimal compared to other breeds. They have a single-layered coat that requires regular grooming to prevent matting and tangling. Regular brushing can also help to reduce shedding and keep the coat healthy and shiny.

Final Thoughts

The teacup Shih Tzu is an adorable and affectionate companion well-suited for those who want a small dog with a big personality. They are friendly, playful, and loyal, making them a great choice for families with children or seniors looking for a low-maintenance pet.

Meet Your Experts

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Tamsin De La Harpe


Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.