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13 Things to Know about the Shih Tzu Mini

As of late, we’ve all come to know and love the Shih Tzu mini. A furry little toy dog that has been known to delight in the arms of celebrities like Beyonce, Bill Gates, and Mariah Carey.

The standard Shih Tzu breed, originally from Tibet, is a mix between the Lhasa Apso and Pekingese dogs. Their existence goes as far back as AD 624. These days, the tiny teacup version is somewhat of a modern commodity. The Shih Tzu mini has come along and dug its way into our hearts with its sassy and lovable personality.

The miniature Shih Tzu and Shih Tzu mixes have become increasingly popular over the last decade. The Shih Tzu Mini, otherwise known as the tiny teacup Shih Tzu or Imperial Shih Tzu, has a small size that makes it perfect for apartment living and small spaces.

In this article, you’ll learn about your Shih Tzu mini toy breed, their dietary requirements, how to keep them healthy, and some fun facts about your fluffy friend.

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13 Things to Know About the Miniature Shih Tzu

1. Physical Characteristics and Appearance of a Shih Tzu Mini

You’ll know it’s a Shih Tzu mini if it has beady black eyes, a square-shaped muzzle, and a tail that curls upwards. Although, these pups are better known for their distinct flat faces and top-knot hairstyles.

Their sturdy bodies usually mature at about ten months, and they are classified as a teacup Shih Tzu if they’re about six inches tall and under seven pounds. A Shih Tzu teacup dog has a round head, a long slender body, and short legs.

All of this is packed into a teacup-sized dog with a whole lot of charisma. The teacup shih tzu dog has lots of hair that can grow quite long if not taken care of appropriately.

Read more about the smallest fluffy dog breeds.

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2. Dietary Requirements of a Mini Shih Tzu

The first thing you need to know about your miniature Shih Tzu is their diet, which is the most important determinant of healthy dogs. Like most tiny dogs, a Shih Tzu mini experiences some common digestive concerns. This is because their organs are closer together as a result of their compact bodies.

You may need to be a bit more conscious of what your dog eats, how often they eat, and how fast they eat. Since their stomachs are a little bit smaller, these little dogs may not be able to digest its food properly and won’t be able to digest certain solid foods at all.

It may be wiser to invest in a special brand of dog food that caters to sensitive stomachs and small dogs. When you decide to try something new with your dog, it’s best to be observant and have a vet on hand, just in case. Keep an eye out for when your dog sneaks around the house, sniffing around for snacks.

As they’re so tiny, they are prone to hypoglycemia. This means that you will have to feed your dog more times a day for it to maintain blood sugar levels. Your dog is not able to regulate how much it eats and is susceptible to overeating and becoming overweight.

You’ll find that your Shih Tzu eats often, but won’t necessarily eat as much as other dogs. There are specially formulated foods for smaller dogs, like the Shih Tzu mini, that may make feeding them a little bit easier. Be sure to consult with your vet before testing any foods.

While your pup is eating, you may also want to watch or be around them to ensure they’re not eating too quickly. Because of their flat faces and tiny noses, these miniature shih tzu dogs may also accidentally inhale air with their food which can cause digestive issues.

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3. Shih Tzu Miniature Dogs Have Intense Grooming Needs

As a breed so well known for fringes and ponytails, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that these pups require an intense regular grooming regimen. Their fur can become matted, so it is important to groom them with regular washes, brushing their luscious strands, and of course, a regular trim.

Most people leave their fringe to grow out, so it can be pinned up in a top-knot-style ponytail. On the other hand, you can cut their hair shorter to allow for ease of care and to ensure that hair doesn’t constantly get in their eyes.

You can groom your puppy on your own with some quality dog clippers or try to get your dog to a groomer as often as once a month or every second week. This is helpful to avoid any matting of their hair and ensure that their locks remain as beautiful as possible. 

Taking them to the groomer as a puppy is a good idea, as it’ll help them to feel more comfortable being groomed. Plus, it’s important that teacup shih tzu puppies are socialized in different environments.

Read more about the most beautiful dog breeds.

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4. Shih Tzu Minis Make Lovely Companions

Shih Tzus were created as lap dogs with their smaller size. They form part of the toy dog category and are quite sociable by nature. Their true purpose was to accompany the ancient Chinese Royals and Chinese Emperors, and can be quite loyal to their favorite caretakers.

Since Shih Tzus are easy to train, love being around people, and can fit anywhere, they make for a solid companion.

Read more about the best-behaved dog breeds.

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5. Miniature Shih Tzus Make Good Watchdogs

These pups are lovingly called the “Lion Dog”. While they aren’t naturally ferocious, they can be quite protective of the things and the people they love.

You may notice that your little lion could bark you away from their favorite toy or alert you of someone unfamiliar to them. They aren’t necessarily possessive or territorial, but they are dogs, after all.

So, the Shih Tzu Mini will be a lovely addition to your home security system. Just note that this is not their primary or intended purpose.

Read more about why dogs bark at night and why dogs bark at nothing.

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6. A Mini Shih Tzu Dog Isn’t Its Own Breed

The common misconception about teacup dogs is that they are a true breed different from that of the normal-sized breed. Although, according to science and all dog associations like the American Kennel Club, they are considered the same breed.

This misconception is easily perpetrated by vocal canine activists. The theory is that a smaller version of a specific breed is considered different from the original because the size of the dog could increase underlying health conditions and change various personality traits.

However, the breeding process is essentially a feat of selective breeding. The shih tzu breeder may use the runt of the litter for breeding Shih Tzu minis, and while it may change the size of the dog, this process doesn’t change the basic genetics.

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7. A Shih Tzu Teacup Dog Can’t Breathe Well

While selective breeding is a fun way for humans to ensure their favorite canine traits have been amalgamated into new breeds like a Chihuahua-Shih Tzu mix or the ever-trendy Pomapoo breed, there can be certain side effects.

In the ancient days, the Pekingese and Lhasa Apso came together to create a flat-faced little munchkin with lots of hair called the Shih Tzu. Having a flatter face ultimately restricts the dogs’ airways, which makes it harder for them to breathe, especially while doing physical exercise.

This is true for most flat-faced breeds, such as pugs, French and American Bulldogs, and Boston Terriers.

8. The Teacup Shih Tzu Is Naturally Dominant

Shih Tzu minis are, by nature, pack dogs. This pint-sized pup will continue to follow its instincts regardless of which pack they’re moving with. To ensure your dog’s personality remains friendly, you’ll have to mimic certain aspects of the pack.

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If they feel like there is no order or no clear leader in the pack, your dog will develop a more dominant personality. While we all love a little bit of attitude, a Shih Tzu Mini can start biting, barking incessantly, and may become blatantly disobedient. This can easily be avoided with the right puppy training and a consistent routine with clear pack leaders.

A Shih Tzu needs that kind of support and societal construct because of how naturally sociable it is. It is important to ensure that your dog receives adequate behavioral training. However, a little attitude is expected when you’re taking too long with treats or they don’t necessarily feel like playing fetch.

Creating an ordered hierarchy within your home will help to keep your miniature Shih Tzu safe. While your dog might be the king or queen of your heart, they should still obey basic commands and respect your family members.

9. Mini Shih Tzus Love Walking

While most of their exercise requirements can be met through regular play, they must go on regular walks as well. The best thing for this tiny breed is to try to take it for a daily walk.

Your Shih Tzu needs to walk around with the pack to maintain their temperament and, my guess, their sanity. Even if it’s just a short walk through the neighborhood or down the road, they do need to get out of the house a little bit and show off their Beyoncé Shih Tzu strut.

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This exercise and a good run around an enclosed, safe area can help them stretch their legs.  Like humans, exercise can help them stay healthy and exert excess energy. Try to get a comfortable dog leash to help your Shih Tzu mini roam the area somewhat freely while maintaining a good sense of control of where they’re headed.

10. Miniature Shih Tzus Are Prone to Certain Health Conditions

Mini Shih Tzus are wonderful for their size and cuteness; however, caring for them is not always sunshine and rainbows. Mini Shih Tzu dogs are prone to lots of health issues simply because of their size. Many sources agree that health problems in teacup dogs can be more severe than in larger dogs.

It may be a bit menacing to think of everything that could go wrong with your beloved pooch.  However, it is essential to keep an eye out for signs and symptoms to prevent or treat whatever conditions they may face.

In order to avoid a hypoglycemic dog, they’ll need to feed a few times throughout the day to maintain blood sugar levels. They also need help keeping warm in winter as they won’t always be able to regulate their body temperature. So, you may want to consider investing in a few dog outfits that will keep your dog snug during the colder seasons.

Another concern is their small and fragile bones. Most teacup Shih Tzus won’t be able to tolerate a fall, slip from a high couch, or fight with bigger dogs. As an owner, you’ll have to stay vigilant and ensure your dog is safe in its environment.

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The list of health problems for teacup Shih Tzus can be as long as your arm. It’s important to work with reputable breeders or vetted rescue organizations to ensure the health of your puppy at a young age. This will make looking after your puppy a lot easier as many defects are detectable from a young age.

Make sure to supplement your dog’s diet with vitamins and minerals as prescribed by a vet or to treat and alleviate some of their ailments with natural CBD oil if necessary. Having a Shih Tzu mini means that you’ll have to pay attention and remain dedicated to keeping them healthy and happy.

Read more about common Shih Tzu problems.

11. A Miniature Shih-Tzu Is Difficult to Breed

Teacup dogs are bred through a process of unnatural selection. Most breeders would use the runt of the litter to breed with another purebred runt-size Shih Tzu to produce the teacup variety. This can cause some genetic complications or other health issues like dental and gum problems, sliding kneecaps, seizures, and respiratory issues.

This means that the genetics of teacup dogs aren’t completely stable, which makes it difficult to predict how a litter of these puppies will fare after being born. Many veterinarians believe that a Shih Tzu mini can manage only one pregnancy in her lifetime. Any more after that, and she is put at a much higher risk.

For these reasons, it’s important to verify that the breeder is ethical and the puppies are in good condition before adopting a mini Shih Tzu.

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12. Shih Tzus Can Be Quite Finicky

First and foremost, your small Shih Tzu Mini is not as simple as a goldfish. They do need a firm owner and a consistent routine. They’re quite pack-minded and need someone to take charge of their pack. Once this aspect of their instincts has been met, they won’t bother you with uncouth behavioral habits.

Ensure that you’ve got lots of dog toys that encourage stimulation so that your Shih Tzu mini doesn’t get overcome with boredom. A good stimulus can make a big difference in puppies that are as intelligent as Shih Tzu minis.

Read more about why puppies whine so much.

13. Shih Tzu Minis Are Easy to Train

The Shih Tzu Mini breed is an intelligent species. They’re quick to learn new tricks and do well with consistency and proper training.

There is a whole hoard of tricks that you can teach your new dog without having to pull your hair out. As long as you’re offering them positive reinforcement for everything they do correctly, you’ll be on your way to instilling good dog behavior.

Read more about the smartest small dog breeds.

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Final Thoughts on the Tiny Shih Tzu

Getting your first, second, or twelfth dog is always a wonderful and exciting experience. Some people swear by one breed, while others love to explore the different kinds of canines out there.

The tiny Shih Tzu is a great choice for dedicated first-time dog owners and anyone that lives in an apartment. They have a specific set of needs that can easily be met through love and understanding.

If you’re happy to go for walks every day, have the patience to care for someone else’s hair more than your own, and are extremely loving and enjoy snuggles – the Shih Tzu Mini is a great choice.

As long as you’re attentive and can offer your new canine friend a safe space to become one of the pack, they’ll reward you with just as much love and protection.

Want to learn more about this lovable breed? Take a look at things to know about the Imperial Shih Tzu and the American vs European Shih Tzus.

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