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Different Types of Shih Tzu 🐶

The Shih Tzu, a toy dog breed beloved for its charming personality and flowing, luxurious coat, has captured the hearts of dog lovers worldwide.

Originating from China, these “lion dogs” were once favored by royalty and have a rich history that complements their regal appearance.

While the Shih Tzu is generally known for its distinctive features and friendly temperament, there are variations within the breed that potential owners might find interesting.

This article explores the different types of Shih Tzu, highlighting the unique characteristics that set them apart.

Also read: Characteristics of Mini Australian Shepherds 

1. Imperial Shih Tzu

The Imperial Shih Tzu is a smaller variation of the standard Shih Tzu, often weighing between 4 to 9 pounds compared to the usual 9 to 16 pounds.

This diminutive size makes them particularly appealing to those who prefer a more petite pet that can be easily carried and cuddled. Despite their size, they maintain all the beloved traits of the standard Shih Tzu, including their playful and affectionate nature.

It’s important to note that the term “Imperial” is not recognized by major kennel clubs, and breeding for such small sizes can sometimes lead to health issues, so prospective owners should ensure they are obtaining their pet from a reputable breeder.

2. Teacup Shih Tzu

Even smaller than the Imperial Shih Tzu, the Teacup Shih Tzu weighs less than 4 pounds. These tiny dogs are often sought after for their adorable, miniature stature.

However, due to their extremely small size, Teacup Shih Tzus are prone to numerous health problems, including respiratory issues, bone fragility, and dental problems. Their care requires a gentle touch and vigilance to ensure they do not get injured.

Prospective owners should be particularly cautious about the breeding practices involved in producing such tiny dogs, as unethical practices can exacerbate health issues.

3. American Shih Tzu

The American Shih Tzu adheres to the standards set by the American Kennel Club (AKC). They typically have a slightly longer body and a shorter nose compared to their European counterparts.

The AKC standard emphasizes a sturdy and well-balanced dog, with a friendly and outgoing personality. American Shih Tzus are celebrated for their elegance and are often seen in dog shows.

Their coats require regular grooming to maintain their luxurious appearance, but their manageable size and loving disposition make them excellent companions.

4. European Shih Tzu

European Shih Tzus follow the standards set by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI), which can differ slightly from the AKC standards.

These dogs often have a shorter body and a more pronounced stop (the point where the forehead meets the nose). European Shih Tzus are bred to have a more robust build and are known for their lively and affectionate temperament.

Their grooming needs are similar to those of the American Shih Tzu, requiring regular brushing to keep their coats free of tangles and mats.

5. Chinese Imperial Dog

Another name for the smaller versions of Shih Tzu, the Chinese Imperial Dog, emphasizes the breed’s rich history and cultural significance in China.

While not officially recognized by major kennel clubs, these dogs are adored for their tiny size and the historical context of their development. They share the same delightful personality traits as standard Shih Tzus but in a more compact form.

However, just like the other smaller types, potential owners must be aware of the health considerations associated with their size.

6. Blue Shih Tzu

The Blue Shih Tzu is a rare and unique color variation within the breed. Unlike the more common colors like gold, white, or black, Blue Shih Tzus have a dilute black coat that appears bluish in certain lights.

This color is caused by a recessive gene and can give these dogs a striking and unusual appearance. Blue Shih Tzus are prized for their rarity and the distinctiveness of their coat color, making them highly sought after by enthusiasts looking for something a bit different.

7. Parti-Color Shih Tzu

Parti-Color Shih Tzus have coats that consist of two or more colors, with white often being a prominent color paired with another shade like black, gold, or liver. These dogs are particularly eye-catching due to their unique and varied coat patterns.

The distribution of colors is random, making each Parti-Color Shih Tzu unique. Their playful and friendly nature, combined with their striking appearance, makes them a favorite among Shih Tzu aficionados.


The Shih Tzu, with its endearing personality and luxurious coat, comes in a variety of types that offer something for every dog lover. From the petite Imperial and Teacup variations to the distinctive American and European standards, each type of Shih Tzu has its own unique charm.

Whether you’re drawn to their historical significance, their unique colors, or their suitability as a companion, the Shih Tzu’s versatility and appeal are undeniable. However, it’s essential to consider the health implications and ethical breeding practices when choosing a Shih Tzu, ensuring that you bring home a happy and healthy pet.

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