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Small-Size Shih Tzu: Imperial or Teacup

The Imperial Shih Tzu, also called the Teacup Shih Tzu, is a super-small version of a Shih Tzu. These names aren't official, and neither the American Kennel Club (AKC) nor the American Shih Tzu Club (ASTC) recognizes this so-called variety of Shih Tzu. Breeders who breed specifically for the small size, however, claim that theirs is a legitimate type of Shih Tzu, even if the AKC doesn't recognize it.

Weighing in at just 3 to 6 pounds as adults (well below the official breed standard suggested weight of 9 to 16 pounds), these tiny dogs may look too cute to be controversial, but controversial they are. Some say they're runts of the litter and prone to major health problems, so they should cost less, not more, than a normal-sized Shih Tzu. Others say these tiny precious jewels are rare and special and just as likely to be perfectly healthy — and worth a premium price (up to $3,000!). If you bring up the subject with Shih Tzu breeders on either side, you're likely to get an earful. As for an official word: No known breed club or written standard covers these tiny canines – of course, that could change.

If you do decide to bring home an Imperial Shih Tzu or Teacup Shih Tzu, be aware that you take on this size of dog at your own risk. Although your dog may be perfectly healthy and oh-so-adorable, you may end up spending a lot more money at the vet than you would with a normal-sized Shih Tzu. Also, dogs this small don't make a good match for homes with little kids, who can easily injure a small dog by mistake.

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