The Mini Shih Tzu is known for being a less demanding and less yappy toy breed.
Shih Tzus in general are usually friendly with strangers, though socialization is necessary to develop this trusting temperament.
This breed loves to play outside and doesn’t need much more exercise than that. They also enjoy cuddling and napping on soft pillows.
However, Shih Tzus have a stubborn streak with defiant likes and dislikes. They do not tend to get into much trouble, and even if they do, then you will be able to forgive them easily.
These dogs may seem low maintenance, as they have minor exercise and health needs. They are also often cheaper to take care of than a larger dog, including food and grooming.
But small dogs have certain health issues that are caused by their size, and Mini Shih Tzus are no exception.
Is the mini version of the Shih Tzu right for you?
We are here to help better answer any questions you may have about this small breed!
The Appeal of the Mini Shih Tzu
There are many people who want a Mini Shih Tzu for various reasons.
Firstly, the miniature size of this dog is appealing because they can live in smaller spaces. This is due to a growing majority of people living in big cities and urban areas.
These small dogs are generally very good at living in small areas since they don’t require as much exercise as larger dogs. You can meet the Mini Shih Tzu’s exercise needs with a good daily walk.
Secondly, it usually costs less to care for a small dog breed because they require less food than a larger dog. Their toys and bedding also take up less space.
Thirdly, on average most small dogs live longer than larger dogs. It is common for the Mini Shih Tzu to live between 12-15 years.
Fourthly, it is much easier to travel with a small dog like the Mini Shih Tzu.
Many hotels and motels will allow a small dog weighing less than 30 pounds inside. Also, retail stores will more than likely allow a small dog to come inside, while they turn away large dogs.
Lastly, a lot of people find small dogs to be cuter and more comforting.
The mini Shih Tzu is a popular choice for these reasons.
Where Do Mini Shih Tzus Come From?
Because of the popularity of teacup dogs, many breeders and puppy mills try to create them.
There are three ways to make a teacup dog: mixing with a smaller breed, introducing a gene for dwarfism, or repeatedly breeding from runts.
Each of these methods has its own drawbacks and advantages. We will summarize and explain each way to create a teacup dog.
But before we do, please know – a “teacup” dog is not really a thing. Teacup dogs are really just smaller sized dogs of a certain breed.
As a result they have health issues that are associated with their size.
Teacup Shih Tzus are generally under 5 lbs., while regular Shih Tzus can be up to 16 lbs.
Mixing with a Smaller Breed
Mixing with a smaller breed is one of the most popular and effective ways to create a mini breed.
This is because when you mix a larger dog will a smaller breed, there is a possibility the puppies will be smaller as well.
Breeders prefer to make smaller breeds using this method.
However, it is not a guaranteed process. You never know which puppy will randomly inherit which traits.
For example, when mixing the larger breed with the smaller breed, you could still end up with a larger breed. Or, the dog could look nothing like a Shih Tzu.
Nevertheless, with a little trial and error, you can come out with a healthy and beautiful puppy that is smaller and looks just like a Shih Tzu.
Also, this is the preferred method because it is safer and healthier than other methods. Mixed breeds often have a more diverse gene pool.
If you find a Mini Shih Tzu, it is definitely possible that there are other breeds in its ancestry because of this process!
Shih Tzu Maltese Mix
The Maltese is a good small dog to breed with. They are bred to be great companion dogs and are extremely lively and playful.
Because of their size, weight, and temperament, they are ideal for making a mini breed.
However, these dogs do come with a few health issues. A few of these health issues are dental disease, a weak windpipe, luxating patella, and a liver disease called liver shunt.
Together the Shih Tzu Maltese Mix can result in a miniature dog with a beautiful personality that loves to cuddle and play.
However, the resulting pups may look and act nothing like a Shih Tzu, if they have more traits from the Maltese parent breed.
Shih Tzu Pomeranian Mix
Another great dog for making a small breed is the Pomeranian. This breed doesn’t get any bigger than 8 lbs. and can live anywhere from 12-16 years.
Pomeranians are typically friendly, playful, and lively. But they can be aggressive with other dogs to prove themselves.
Also, this breed may suffer from intraocular pressure, ametropia, microphthalmia, and colobomas.
This breed is a good candidate for helping to make a wonderful Mini Shih Tzu.
But it is possible when mixing these two breeds that it won’t have the temperament of a Shih Tzu.
Introducing the Dwarfism Gene
Many breeders try to introduce the dwarfism gene, or a condition called chondrodysplasia, into a breed of dogs to make them smaller.
This method is a lot like mixing two different breeds, so it’s still very unpredictable.
To introduce the dwarfism gene, people may breed a Shih Tzu with a dog that has this gene, like the Pembroke Welsh Corgi.
However, the Shih Tzu already has dwarfism, which is where their short legs come from. This causes many health problems for this adorable dog breed, including invertebral disk disease and other spinal problems.
Dwarfism can cause all sorts of developmental problems and joint problems as well.
Breeding From Runts
While runts are often seen as the smallest pups in the litter, it only makes sense to use them to breed for a smaller dog. However, this process can bring some unwanted health issues.
Since runts are smaller and weaker than the rest of the litter, they are at high risk for health defects when it comes to lifespan, congenital abnormality, cleft palates, and heart defects.
These health defects make it very difficult to survive. And if they do survive, they will usually pass on these health defects.
In addition, some runt puppies miss out on the mother’s milk, which is essential for providing them with antibodies. This milk is extremely crucial for the development of their immune system.
Many of the problems that runts experience can be ameliorated by careful action on the part of the human owners, but there are no guarantees.
Is A Mini Shih Tzu Right For Me?
These small pups have a lot of benefits that make them seem like the ideal dog.
Firstly, they cost less to feed. This is simply because they are smaller and eat a lot less than a Golden Retriever or an Australian Shepherd.
Secondly, small dogs are usually easier to cuddle. Because of their small size, you can place them in your arms or your lap for a good cuddle session.
Lastly, they are typically sweet and good with other dogs and children. They also fit perfectly with apartment life.
But you’ll have to take their health needs into account.
In addition to the conditions we’ve listed above, Mini Shih Tzus are brachycephalic. They may have breathing issues related to their flattened skulls and muzzles.
Common conditions seen in brachycephalic Shih Tzus include collapsed tracheas, elongated palates, and too-narrow nostril openings.
Some Mini Shih Tzus may require surgery to breathe normally!
Their long back and short legs make Mini Shih Tzus more prone to invertebral disk disease, and they may also experience eye problems and hip dysplasia.
They are fragile, too, and must be carefully handled.
Thus, we cannot recommend them wholeheartedly for families with small and rambunctious children, or bigger and active dogs.
But many Mini Shih Tzus are healthy, and can live long lives.
They may be great for people in certain situations. These sweet pups may work for careful families living in small spaces in an urban area.
Senior citizens may enjoy their company also. Make sure to allot a medical budget, just in case.
Finding A Mini Shih Tzu
While we recommend that you get any dog from a safe and reliable rescue, you can also get a Mini Shih Tzu through a breeder. That is, if they have any for sale.
Going about finding the right Mini Shih Tzu can be a long and somewhat difficult process. We recommend getting one bred from a smaller canine breed, as opposed to one bred from a runt.
It is likely that you can find a smaller sized Shih Tzu through any Shih Tzu breeder. Since it is uncertain what genes a pup may acquire, any litter can bring a small and healthy Mini Shih Tzu.
We recommend calling breeders and letting them know what you are looking for.
Ask questions so that you know exactly how the miniaturization was done. Do not buy if you’re not satisfied with the answers!
If the size or health of this breed is a concern, we recommend getting an adult Shih Tzu instead. A fully grown dog may already show any issues, so you know what you’re getting.
References and Resources
- Dell, M. (2010) Severe bilateral microphthalmos in a Pomeranian pup. The Canadian Veterinary Journal.
- Nicholas, F. W. et al (2016). Hybrid vigour in dogs? The Veterinary Journal.
- Linney, W. R. et al (2011). Surgical treatment of medial patellar luxation without femoral trochlear groove deepening procedures in dogs: 91 cases (1998–2009). Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.
- Breit, S (2002). Osteological features in pure-bred dogs predisposing to thoracic or lumbar spinal cord compression. Research in Veterinary Science.
- Fox, M. W. (1965). The pathophysiology of neonatal mortality in the dog. Journal of Small Animal Practice.
- Patterson, D. F. (1989). Hereditary congenital heart defects in dogs. Journal of Small Animal Practice.
- Parker, H. G. et al (2009). An expressed Fgf4 retrogene is associated with breed-defining chondrodysplasia in domestic dogs. Science, 325(5943).