An imperial shih tzu is a teacup or undersized shih tzu. These dogs are much smaller than the AKC recommended standards for the shih tzu breed, which is 9 to 16 pounds.
Imperial shih tzus are bred to weigh less than 9 pounds and stand less than 9 inches tall. Most imperial shih tzus are runts of the litter who fail to reach the standard shih tzu size. Breeders take advantage of these small dogs and breed them hoping to get smaller-than-average puppies to sell as special imperial shih tzus. Imperial, or Chinese imperial, shih tzus are not listed as an official breed.