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

Rachael Gerkensmeyer

By Rachael Gerkensmeyer

black and white Shih Tzu puppy

Height: 5–7 inches
Weight: 6–7 pounds
Lifespan: 12–15 years
Colors: Black, blue, brindle, gold, liver, red
Suitable for: Families, singles, seniors
Temperament: Cheerful, easygoing, friendly, sociable, outgoing, loyal

The Shih Tzu is a cute little dog breed with a big personality. The breed originated in Tibet and is more than 1,000 years old1. Shih Tzus lived like royalty in Tibetan temples, and it is thought that they were given to Chinese royalty, who bred the dogs and gifted them to others around the world. Eventually, they made their way to the United States, where they are still extremely popular pets today.

In fact, breeders have found a way to make them even smaller, which is how the Teacup Shih Tzu was created. Aside from their difference in size, the Teacup Shih Tzu and the Standard Shih Tzu are the same dogs. Want to learn more? Read on!

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Teacup Shih Tzu Puppies — Before You Get One…


There are a few things to consider before deciding whether a Teacup Shih Tzu puppy is right for your family. First, these dogs are extremely small, so they can easily get injured. They might not be the best breed for you if your household is full of rambunctious kids that could play too rough with them. Also, if you’re looking for a partner to hike with, the Teacup Shih Tzu won’t go that far unless you don’t mind carrying them most of the way.

All that said, this is an excellent breed for households, even ones with kids, that don’t get too chaotic or rambunctious, and it’s rare to find a Teacup Shih Tzu that doesn’t love spending time with little ones. This is a great dog for those living in apartment settings and singles looking for a companion to spend time with at home. Teacup Shih Tzus make ideal companions for seniors too.

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3 Little-Known Facts About Teacup Shih Tzus

1. These Are Surprisingly Active Dogs

Despite their tiny size, Teacup Shih Tzus are active dogs that enjoy spending time outdoors. They will take every opportunity to play and explore. They can get hyperactive inside when they don’t have an opportunity to go for a walk, and when they get bored, they can start getting into trouble around the house.

2. Teacup Shih Tzus Are Easy to Train

These miniature dogs are extremely smart, which makes obedience training easy even from a young age. Older dogs that have not yet been trained also tend to take to it well. Teacup Shih Tzus are known to easily learn tricks that are sure to entertain friends and family members.

Image Credit: Tatiana Gasich, Shutterstock

3. These Dogs Can Be Ornery

Although generally happy and pleasant, Teacup Shih Tzus can be mischievous when they are bored, over-excited, or lacking in obedience. A well-trained dog that gets daily exercise and spends plenty of time with family members is much less likely to display ornery behavior as time goes on.

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Temperament & Intelligence of the Teacup Shih Tzu 🧠

The Teacup Shih Tzu is a delightful little dog breed with a big personality. Their name means “little lion,” which is quite fitting considering how prideful and confident they are. They also happen to be unafraid to express their personalities. This small canine breed is easygoing and can adapt well to most social situations.

They can be a bit bossy with anyone whom they don’t see as their pack leader, but obedience training can keep this behavior to a minimum. When socialized from a young age, the typical Teacup Shih Tzu is happy to meet new people and dogs, whether at home or in a public setting. These dogs are independent enough to confidently stay home alone while everyone is at work and school.

These smart little dogs require plenty of mental stimulation. Making puzzle toys available and taking the time to play games like tug-of-war with them is crucial for overall quality of life. Their smarts lend to their ability to understand social cues, which makes them great companions for those who like to spend time in public settings like farmer’s markets, dog parks, and beaches.

white and brown small teacup Shih Tzu puppy dog
Image Credit: Caio, Pexels

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 🏡

The Teacup Shih Tzu can be an excellent family dog. This breed loves the company of children and can play with them all day long. They are well-behaved when trained, and their laidback personality means that they are typically forgiving when it comes to being teased by younger kids. Do keep in mind that these are small dogs, and they can easily get injured by children who play too rough with them, so adult supervision is extremely important.

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets? 🐶 😽

If socialized with other dogs while still a puppy and regularly as an adult, the average Teacup Shih Tzu can get along well with any other friendly dog that they meet in public or that visits your house with friends. They tend to love meeting new canines at off-leash dog parks, and they can happily live with canine roommates.

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Things to Know When Owning a Teacup Shih Tzu

There is more to learn about the Teacup Shih Tzu in order to get a clear understanding of what it would be like to own or babysit one. What do these dogs eat? What kind of training should they get? What kind of grooming is required? Are there health conditions that the breed is susceptible to developing? Here are the answers to these questions and more.

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

This teacup-sized pup doesn’t need much food to stay happy and healthy, so the quality of their food is extremely important. Commercial foods that include real meat as a top ingredient and that exclude artificial flavors and colors should provide all the nutrition that your pup needs for good health throughout their life. Look for a brand that is made specifically for small dog breeds to ensure that the micronutrients are tailored to the specific needs of the Teacup Shih Tzu. Dry food is the best option because it also helps scrub tarter off the teeth as it gets chewed. We recommend Rachael Ray Nutrish Little Bites Small Breed dog food because it’s full of real ingredients, has tiny morsels for easy chewing, and promotes the immune health of small dogs.

Exercise 🐕

Teacup Shih Tzus require regular exercise to keep their bodies and minds healthy, and they tend to be active throughout the day. However, they don’t require much more than a 20-minute daily walk and time playing indoors to keep up with their exercise needs. Keep in mind that their legs are short, so they don’t walk too fast and can’t go that far. It’s time to head home when they start falling behind or seem to lose interest in their walk.

shih tzu puppy in the snow with a stick
Image Credit: StefanieMueller, Shutterstock

Training 🦮

Obedience training is essential for Teacup Shih Tzus to ensure proper behavior in the home and in public settings. Training should begin during puppyhood, at about 8 weeks of age. This is when they learn the basics, such as “come,” “sit,” and “stay.” This breed does best with short training sessions and positive reinforcement. Consistency is the key to progressing quickly, though training should be done in different environments to ensure obedience no matter where they are.

Grooming ✂️

The Teacup Shih Tzu’s coat is typically extremely soft to the touch. However, without proper grooming, it can become rough and get tangled or matted. Therefore, brush or comb their coat every 2 or 3 days. This not only keeps tangles at bay but also helps loosen and get rid of dust and debris that gets caught in the coat.

Bathing is only necessary when this breed gets muddy or visually dirty in any way. Daily walks should keep this dog’s nails naturally trimmed, but if necessary, they can be trimmed monthly. Gently clean the ears with cotton balls to minimize the risk of infection. Consider trimming the coat regularly to maintain an even and healthy length.

a veterinarian inspecting the gums and teeth of a teacup imperial shih tzu
Image Credit: MDV Edwards, Shutterstock

Health and Conditions ❤️

Teacup Shih Tzus are generally healthy dogs, but there are a few health conditions that they are genetically predisposed to. This does not mean this breed will definitely develop any problems; it simply means there are issues that owners should be aware of and keep an eye out for. Here are both serious and minor conditions to consider.

Minor Conditions
  • Allergies
  • Ear infections
  • Patellar luxation
  • Hypothyroidism
Serious Conditions
  • Keratitis
  • Proptosis
  • Progressive retinal atrophy
  • Hip dysplasia

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Male vs. Female

There aren’t many differences between male and female Teacup Shih Tzus, though males tend to be more independent than females. They also seem to take longer to successfully potty train. That said, some females are more outgoing than their male counterparts. Things that are true about both male and female Teacup Shih Tzus are that they are loving, family friendly, and easy to train.

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Final Thoughts

The Teacup Shih Tzu is adorable, easygoing, loyal, smart, and good with kids. There is so much to love about this pint-sized animal! But like any other dog, this breed requires plenty of love, care, attention, and commitment to enjoy a happy and healthy life. So, make sure you’re up for the challenge before even considering ownership.

Featured Image Credit: Ken Hurst, Shutterstock

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