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Imperial Shih Tzu: Care Guide, Pictures, Temperament & Traits

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By Nicole Cosgrove

white and brown small teacup Shih Tzu puppy dog

Height: 8–11 inches
Weight: 5–10 pounds
Lifespan: 10–16 years
Colors: Black and white, apricot, brown and white, blue and white, red and white, silver, cream, and red
Suitable for: Families or singles looking for an active but docile dog
Temperament: Friendly, loyal, affectionate, intelligent, and easy to train

The Imperial Shih Tzu is a toy breed, which means they are smaller than standard-sized Shih Tzus and other dogs. This miniature-sized breed is believed to have descended from Tibetan and Chinese herding dogs. Although the breed has existed since the Chinese Tang Dynasty, no one knows for sure how it got its name, believe it or not. These pups have a shorter nose, as well as a muzzle that is wider than it is long.

Imperial Shih Tzus come in a variety of colors, including black, white, red, apricot, and more. Shih Tzus also come in two varieties: the long-haired variation and the short-haired variation. The long-haired variation has a longer, thicker coat (which’ll require more grooming), while the short-haired variation has a shorter, soft, and silky coat. Although these Shih Tzus are on the tiny side, they’re surprisingly tough and have even been known to be great guard dogs.

Divider 7Imperial Shih Tzu Puppies

Image Credit: Tatiana Gasich, Shutterstock

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3 Little-Known Facts About Imperial Shih Tzu

1. They were brought to America by U.S. soldiers.

The English exported Shih Tzus to Europe from China after they were brought to England from China. In the 50s and 60s, American soldiers stationed abroad took Shih Tzu with them back to the United States.

2. They almost became extinct due to China’s revolution.

The breeding program initiated by Dowager Empress Tzu Hsi collapsed after her death, making it nearly impossible to obtain a Shih Tzu.

3. They’re also known as “Chrysanthemum Faced Dogs.”

They are also sometimes called “chrysanthemum faced dogs” due to the way their hair grows. Shih Tzu owners who trim their dogs regularly know that a Shih Tzu’s hair will grow from the tip of her nose to her face in no time.

shih tzus sleeping
Image Credit: Esdras Silva de Morais, Shutterstock

hepper-dog-paw-divider 5Temperament & Intelligence of the Imperial Shih Tzu 🧠

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 🏡

Shih Tzus, in general, are very affectionate, gentle, and loving dogs that get along well with children. They are also highly intelligent, which makes them very easy to train. Shih Tzus are also very adaptable and can adjust well to most living environments. These pups are also very communicative canines and will let you know when they’re in pain – in the form of whining and barking of course.

They’ll also bark if they think someone is at the door or trying to break into your home. The breed is also very good at guarding children and will not hesitate to defend them if necessary. Shih Tzus also love to be around their human companions, following you around the house and staying close by your side. They are very social and enjoy the company of other dogs

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets? 🐶 😽

Yes. Shih Tzus are known for being loving and friendly, and they often get along very well with other pets. They tend to be outgoing and social, and they typically love playing with other animals. However, you should always introduce your Shih Tzu to any other pets in your home slowly and in a controlled environment.

Make sure to supervise their interactions to ensure everyone gets alone. If your Shih Tzu doesn’t seem to be getting along with a particular pet, it’s best to separate them and try again at a later time. But overall, Shih Tzus are known to be incredibly friendly and loving, and they often do great with other animals. So, if you’re looking for a pet that you can introduce to your existing animal family, these itty-bitty dogs may be worth considering.

Pom-Shi Dog
Image Credit: minimomo, Pixabay

hepper-dog-paw-divider 3Things to Know When Owning an Imperial Shih Tzu:

Food & Diet Requirements  🦴

A good quality protein source or either dry kibble is usually the best option as it is specifically designed to meet the needs of a Shih Tzu. Like all canines, they’re carnivores that need a diet that’s high in protein and low in fat in order to maintain a healthy weight. Also, supplementing their diet with snacks, rice, oats, other veggies and fruit is also a great way to give them some extra nutrition.

Exercise 🐕

When it comes to exercise, Shih Tzus need moderate to high amounts depending on their age. Adult Shih Tzus will require about 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day, while puppies will need between 1 and 2 hours of exercise per day.

These little dogs are perfect for apartment life and can easily get the amount of exercise they need on a daily basis by spending time with their owner or walking with them on a leash. Shih Tzus also enjoy playing games and chasing cat toys.

lazy sleepy shih tzu
Image credit: Orawan Pattarawimonchai, Shutterstock

Training 🦮

Like all dogs, Shih Tzus do best with training and socialization when it starts at a young age. They’re smart dogs so they tend to respond well to positive reinforcement training methods and make very quick learners. Training your Shih Tzu when it’s young will help it grow into a well-behaved, obedient dog.

It’s also imperative to socialize your Shih Tzu when it’s a puppy so that it’s comfortable around other people and pets. This will help prevent your Shih Tzu from becoming overly protective and possessive (and barking) as it matures.

Grooming ✂️

The long-haired variation of the Shih Tzu will require regular grooming, including daily brushing and weekly baths. Brushing your Shih Tzu’s long hair will prevent it from getting tangled, help remove excess shedding, and will promote healthy skin.

Try to keep the longer coat of the Shih Tzu clean and knot-free. Long-haired dogs are prone to fleas and other pests, so a simple bath will help reduce and prevent that. You can use a special shampoo designed to keep the hair clean and shiny and prevent it from drying out.

Shih Tzus that have short coats will naturally require less grooming, but you should still brush their fur regularly to remove those loose hairs. You should also clip and trim their nails about every 6 weeks or so. A bath every 3 weeks can help to keep fleas away and will prevent the long-haired Shih Tzu from becoming smelly – longer fur is more susceptible to the infamous “dog smell”.

shih tzu taking a bath
Image Credit: Pixabay

Health and Conditions ❤️

Shih Tzus are susceptible to a number of health conditions. Some of the more common health concerns include:

Minor Conditions
  • Ear infections
  • Dental problems
  • Skin allergies
Serious Conditions
  • Ileal resection syndrome
  • Intervertebral disc disease
  • Ectropion
  • Progressive retinal atrophy
  • Tracheal stenosis
  • Hip dysplasia – You can help protect your Shih Tzu from many of these conditions by providing them with a high-quality diet and plenty of daily exercise. You’ll also want to schedule yearly or 6-month visits with your veterinarian to keep tabs on your Shih Tzu’s health.

Fortunately, these conditions are fairly easy to treat and can be managed with the right care. Ear infections are common in Shih Tzus due to their long ears and excessive hair. So, if your dog is scratching at its ears more than usual, it could be an indication of an ear infection. If you notice this, you should take your pet to the vet for a checkup.

Dental problems are also common in Shih Tzus. To avoid any dental issues, make sure you are brushing your dog’s teeth regularly and providing them with dental chews (you can get these at any pet store).

And lastly, skin allergies are also common in Shih Tzus. This can be caused by the environment or by an allergy to certain foods. If your dog is experiencing any signs of an allergy, such as itchy skin or red patches, this may be the cause. Your vet can prescribe you with topical medications or pills to help with this.

hepper-dog-paw-divider2Male vs Female

When it comes to Shih Tzus, both genders have their own unique traits and personalities. Male Shih Tzus tend to be more active and independent than their female counterparts, while females are usually more affectionate and easier to train.

Male Shih Tzus also have a more protective nature, and they may bark more often. On the other hand, female Shih Tzus tend to be more social and outgoing, making them a great fit for active households. At the end of the day, the decision is really more of personal preference though.

Divider 7Final Thoughts

Imperial Shih Tzus are very similar to normal Shih Tzus; they are just a bit smaller. Imperial Shih Tzus are a toy breed. They are very good with children and other pets and are great for apartment living and other lifestyles. If you’re considering bringing an Imperial Shih Tzu into your home, following the care tips in this guide will ensure they live a long and happy life.

See Also: Teacup Shih Tzu: Care Guide, Pictures, Temperament & Traits

Featured Image Credit: Caio, Pexels

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