Miniature Marvels: Exploring the Delightful World of Teacup Shih Tzus

Last Updated: 1 year ago

Miniature dogs look absolutely adorable, and everyone wants to own one.

If you’re a dog lover, then why wouldn’t you?

The thing is, a mini shih tzu comes with health problems that you don’t find in full-sized shih tzus.

We’re going to break it all down, and explain why at the end of the day, you as a responsible pet owner, should still consider getting a teacup shih tzu.

How Large are Regular Shih Tzu Dogs?

Shih Tzu Regular Size

On average, shih tzu dogs range from about eight inches high to just eleven inches high. Weight can vary, from around eight-and-a-half pounds up to roughly seventeen pounds.

All things considered, this is still a very small breed of dog. They’re classified as toy breeds because of how small they are even when fully matured.

Because of this small size, as you might already know, they don’t require a crazy amount of exercise. They have to pump their little legs just to keep up with you, so about fifteen minutes is all the hardcore exercise that a shih tzu needs even when fully matured.

What About a Miniature Version of Shih Tzus?

Shih Tzu Mini

Mini shih tzus actually come in at less than half the maximum probably weight of a fully grown shih tzu. At most, they will be about seven pounds to be classified as a mini or teacup shih tzu.

These mini shih tzus can be just six inches tall instead of the standard eight inch minimum. This is still within the acceptable range by the AKC, but there are some stipulations to keep in mind.

Some breeders have the best of intentions, and try to produce mini or teacup shih tzus in the safest manner possible.

However, as we’ll discover later on when we get to possible health conditions, not all breeders are able to hit the mark, and produce underweight puppies. As a general rule, a dog under four pounds has a difficult time surviving.

How are They Bred?

Shih Tzu Dog

Breeders find smaller shih tzus dogs, and breed them together. There is no insane method behind this breeding, they’re just trying to keep the outcome small by using smaller parent puppies.

Now, because they’re bred to be smaller, you have to be careful. Breeders cannot control the exact, specific outcome, no matter how hard they try. The goal is to make a smaller shih tzu.

Teacup shih tzus have some attributes that you need to know about.


Teacup and mini shih tzus are around six inches tall, and rarely over seven pounds. When you run into a shih tzu over nine pounds, that’s when they’re no longer considered mini.

Teacups are usually classified as five to seven pounds, and never get over eight inches tall. There are a lot of different size classifications of shih tzu.


You’ll notice a trend among teacup and mini shih tzus, and that’s a predominately brown and white color scheme with their hair. However, you can see blends of black, white, light bright, dark brown, and reddish hair as well.

Known Health Issues

Teacup Shih Tzu

This one is a big section, because there are a lot of health problems to rifle through.

It’s important to identify if your shih tzu is enduring any and all of these issues so that you can properly provide for them. Most teacup shih tzus under 5 lbs of total body weight can incur the following medical problems:

Periodontal Disease

Sometimes referred to as periodontitis, this is a form of gum disease that can happen in both humans and dogs. You have soft tissue in your gums, which is directly affected by periodontal disease.

This tissue helps to support the bone that supports teeth, and in shih tzus, they already have very small teeth.

This is a condition that can come on rapidly, and cause a lot of harm if left unchecked. While this is a somewhat common thing that we see in dogs and people, it’s preventable with the right amount of care early on.

Misaligned Teeth

Because teacup shih tzus have very small mouths, they’re prone to having misaligned teeth directly after birth, or missing teeth altogether, with no sign of them growing anytime soon.

Once a teacup shih tzu is born, their bodies are somewhat immature (under a certain weight range), and normal growth processes are thrown out of whack.

As we learned with periodontal disease, teacup shih tzus are prone to a lot of dental problems. Regular visits to your vet’s office are a necessity to ensure your shih tzu is safe.

Renal Dysplasia

This affects renal tissue, which is located in and around the kidneys. This is more common in dogs than it is in humans, and especially in teacup varieties.

While this disease doesn’t lead to full-on renal failure of the kidneys, it is difficult to detect, and can often be found after the degenerative elements of the disease have already taken control.

Inflammation can occur in the kidneys, which is usually the first indicator that your teacup shih tzu is in trouble. This is something that is exclusively diagnosed by a vet; it’s not really something you can see coming from just being around your dog.

Luxating Patellas

Smaller dogs run into a lot of problems with their legs and knees. This comes down to a problem with their bodies maturing during growth. Luxating means dislocated, and in dogs, luxating patellas is when their knees slide and move out of place.

This can cause permanent damage, tissue damage, and lead to chronic pain as well as altered use of the specific knee/leg.

In teacup shih tzus, it’s not as common because they stay little: they’re not a dog breed that you commonly see getting portly and putting great weight on their legs. Still, it’s something you need to know.


With a smaller body and smaller set of organs, blood sugar is harder to regulate. It’s hard to tell what your teacup shih tzu needs or if they’re having issues with their blood sugar before a seizure happens.

If you notice shaking or otherwise unusual behavior, bring your teacup shih tzu to the vet. In cases of extremely low blood sugar, the risk of life-threatening comas increases.

Most of this issue can be resolved with diet changes, but for the most part, your teacup shih tzu essentially has a form of diabetes.

Respiratory Problems

With an underdeveloped dog comes underdeveloped organs and systems. The air passages and lungs of a teacup shih tzu might not be fully developed and functional, which could lead to a relapse or complete lung failure.

Symptoms of this include nasal discharge, a fever, coughing, and difficulty breathing exhibited by audible wheezing. This is something that your vet has to know about and diagnose properly.

How Expensive is a Teacup Shih Tzu Diagnosis?

If you fear your teacup shih tzu dog is suffering from anything above, you need to stop reading this and take them to the vet immediately. Diagnoses and treatments of teacup shih tzus can cost you a lot of money.

From patellar luxation to fold dermatitis, distichiasis, arachnoid cysts, entropion and more, you can see prices ranging from $500 up to nearly $9,000 for a full diagnosis and treatment from start to finish.

This is largely going to depend on the specific issues that your dog faces and what your vet can do about referrals.

These issues are more common in teacup dogs than regular dogs, which is why if you’re going to acquire a teacup variety of any breed, you need to have the money to pay for their treatments ahead of time.

Where to Buy a Teacup Shih Tzu?

Miniature Shih Tzu

Depending on where you’re located, you can find breeders who specifically purchase teacup dogs and tiny type dogs to sell. Your best bet is going to be finding a local breeder.

Because tiny type and teacup shih tzus are fragile, traveling over long distances is something you should try to avoid. For the most part, a quick search will yield a local breeder or online 

Teacups: A Good Idea or Not?

Shih Tzu Mini

If you have the funding available to handle increased vet bills and possibly ongoing medication, a teacup shih tzu can absolutely be a good idea.

People aren’t just breeding teacup varieties to a great degree of success, so when teacup shih tzus are born, they need a good home and an owner that can handle their potential health conditions.

You could be that owner. You could make that difference in this teacup’s life. While teacup dog breeds are a hot commodity, many owners just want them to show some level of status.

In reality, teacup dogs are more fragile in more ways than one, and need a good owner. If you believe that you can be that owner, then it’s time to commit to a teacup shih tzu.


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