What the hell is Teacup dog you might ask? Actually, it’s quite simple: when the breeders get the dogs which are on the lowest end of the AKC recognized limit of weight for the breed they will call it Imperial, Toy, Teacup dog and so on. The proper weight for the fully grown Shih Tzu breed lays between 9 and 16 pounds. So the proper breed adult miniature dog will be the one that is closer to 9 pounds.
With the modern demand on cute miniature forever puppy-like dogs, the breeders feel the pressure to create smaller and smaller dogs. The most proper way is just to cross the Shih Tzus which fall on the lower end of AKC standards to produce similar size puppies. Then they are still recognized as Shih Tzu breed, and correspond all the breed characteristic while being smaller than usual.
Then you have the Shih Tzu that are below 9 pounds, usually around 7-8 pounds. They do not meet the AKC demands for the breed but still are as healthy as a normal size Shih Tzu. But there are always the breeders who, following the market demand, will produce the Shih Tzus below 5 pounds. These puppies have multiple health problems because the Shih Tzus are not designed to be that small.
To summarize what’s been said:
- Teacup, Imperial, Miniature, Micro – all this just means “small” Shih Tzu and none of it a specific recognized term, do not mix it up with separated breeds;
- The smaller the puppy is – the bigger health issues it’ll probably have.
The health problems of a tiny dog might include:
- Calcium deficiency;
- Any vital organ failure (heart, liver);
- Breathing issues;
- Eating problems.
So if you do have a Teacup Shih Tzu the great care of its health has to be taken. You start with a visit to the veterinarian to get the necessary recommendations. Many Micro puppies cannot eat the solid food and have to be very slowly fed with the pureed food or to be prescribed a special formula, like the powder milk for the babies. Due to its size, this dog is extremely fragile. So any high jump or fall can make a damage, same goes for playing with any other dogs that can injure the puppy unwillingly. Another thing to be careful about – the temperatures. The Micro breed can be easily overheated or get cold. Anyway you have to have a veterinarian on the speed dial 24/7. Sadly, even with the best care, the life span of the Teacup Shih Tzu will be sufficiently shorter that of a healthy, properly bred dog.
If all this doesn’t stop you to get a Teacup Shih Tzu puppy, then where can you buy them and how much will it cost you? Well, the range is from $0 to up to $3000. If you’re lucky you can get for free a rescue dog or the one that the owner cannot keep. But, generally the normal price range is approximately $400-$700 for the dog that was bred as carefully as this breed can be. Lower prices you might find in a puppy stores, but it’s not a good idea to get such a special and complicated in maintenance dog from unknown breeders. And of course you can find extremely expensive puppies that are almost show quality, almost “proper” AKC standard dog, but keep in mind that the Imperial Shih Tzu is not recognized, so don’t pay more for the dog that you will not be able to show.
With all being said, think twice – dog is not a fashion statement, but a living creature, do not encourage unethical breeding by purchasing unnaturally small puppies.