Health Information

Our goal is to help you find the perfect puppy that fits into your family and lifestyle.  Our priority is to breed healthy, happy Shih Tzu puppies in a smaller package that provide years of love, devotion and enjoyment for you and your family.  As a potential fur baby owner, we know you also hope to adopt a new Imperial Shih Tzu puppy who will be part of your family for many years to come.  Before you consider bringing a new puppy into your home, you should familiarize yourself with the Shih Tzu breed.  There are many things to consider before picking out the perfect fit for you and your family.  We have put together a little information about our dogs and how our puppies are raised. 

We breed for health, temperament, confirmation and of course size.  Our Shih Tzu typically have a lifespan of 11 to 16 years.  A well bred smaller size Shih Tzu from a reputable breeder will have no shorter lifespan than a standard size Shih Tzu.  They are simply miniature versions of the standard size and will have the same lifespan, health issues and breed tendencies that a standard size Shih Tzu will have.  The smaller Tzu's are easy to take with you just about anywhere.  I have a little sling that many of mine love to ride in. 

If you are reading this, then you are already considering one of these tiny little treasures as a new addition to your family.  These are wonderful little dogs that do not necessarily have "little breed" tendencies.. such as the yappiness or high strung tendencies of other tiny dogs.  They are non shedding, little lap dogs who live to be with you. 

We breed health dogs with no known genetic issues.  As important as genetics are, environmental factors, such as diet, stress, chemicals etc.  We do our best to give our puppies the best possible start even before they are born.  They are provided with a high quality dog food and our mama's are fed 4% cottage cheese throughout their pregnancy to provide the proper fat and calcium not only that the mother needs but also for the developing puppies.  Our puppies are small because of genetics, not because of poor development or diet.  We only breed our mama's for 4 litters as a general rule of thumb so that they can be retired at a young age and still have plenty of healthy life to give to a forever family.  While I would love to keep every single one of my babies, that would just not be practicle or ethical.  I would then be considered a hoarder and that is not good for me or for the dogs.  It is always with a mixture of sadness and joy when my adults are retired and placed with forever families.  No adult ever leaves here un-spayed/neutered.  They are never ever passed from breeder to breeder. 

Socialization is a big part of a puppy's development.  Studies have shown that stress can considerably lower your dog's life span.  Our dogs do not live in a kennel environment.  They live with us in our home as a part of our family.  They have two doggie doors that lead to a very large yard for them to run and play.  They have a room of their own with plenty of beds where they can come in out of the elements and that is completely dog proof when we are not home.  Our puppies are handled, kissed and loved from the day they are born.  Dew claws are removed here at home as to reduce the stress on both the mama and the puppies of being taken away and to the vet's office where who knows what doggie disease has just passed through.  Vaccinations, worming and parasite control are done at home for the same reason.. my vet concurs that there is no need to bring a healthy, unvaccinated puppy into the vets office unnecessarily.  They have a vet check before they go to their new homes, and the vet reviews my notes on each puppy. 

Do not be afraid to ask questions. We will hapily answer all questions you may have about our dogs and our puppies.  Below, you will find some fairly common tendencies that are not only breed specific to the smaller Shih Tzu, but also common to many other toy breeds and brachyphelic flat faced breeds.




Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia,  or low blood sugar (also called sugar shock) is a condition where the blood sugar level drops to an extremely low level due to lack of food, or by using up all stored energy without it being replenished.  (Such as when your puppy plays for an extended period of time without eating.)  The most cmmon trigger is stress (such as going to a new home). 

Teacups and Tiny Toys can be prone to hypoglycemia because they have such tiny digestive systems.  They can only store a small amount of food (energy) in their tiny tummy's at a time.  Their liver and pancreas which are necessary for digestion and sugar balance are also very tiny.  Most puppies tend to grow out of hypoglycemia as they get older.  As they grow, so do their major organs, which makes them more able to utilize and process the food that they eat so it can sustain them for longer periods of time. 

To prevent hypoglycemia, puppies need to have food availabale to them round the clock.  It is much easier to prevent by always having a readily availabel food supply than to have to treat it once it happens.  it is very scary to see a puppy that you love so dearly in "sugar shock."

Hypoglycemia can occur without warning in a healthy puppy and can be a very scary thing, so it is best to know what to look for.  Your puppy may exhibit one or more of these signs:  The first sign that is usually seen is lethargy, weakness, walking with an unsteady gate as if they are drunk, falling over, stiffening up, laying on their side paddling with their feet and being unable to get up, and or stay up.  In very severe cases, they may be totally unresponsive or comatose.  They may vomit clear or yellow liquid (Bile).   Some form of liquid sugar that is readily available must be given immediately.  Karo syrup, pancake syrup, nutri cal, honey.. what ever is handy.  Use a syringe or eye dropper if the puppy can swallow and give 1cc of the sugar substance just a few drops at a time giving them the chance to swallow a little at a time.  Puppies in advanced stages of hypoglycemia will be unable to swallow.  In this case pry their mouth open and rub it on the roof of their mouth and head for the vet.  Do not try to force liquids down their throat as they can aspirate into the lungs and cause asphysiation.  Nutri Drops or Stress drops is what I keep on hand but they must get sugar!!  Time is of the essence!!  If you do not act quickly, coma and or death could result. 
Once the puppy is responsive feed a protein based meal, chicken baby food, canned puppy food etc and make sure they are eating regularly so that their sugar does not drop again.  Once this happens to a puppy, they can be more suseptable to it happening again over the next few days so watch them closely.. even if you have to feed cooked ground beef and boiled chicken.. MAKE SURE THIS PUPPY IS EATING!!!


Open Fontanel

Open Fontanel is seen in several toy dog breeds. The fontanel is the area at the top of the skull where the bone plates merge. When babies (human and dog) are born the bony plates of the skull are usually partly soft and separated. Usually this area closes  but sometimes the bony plates never completely fuse, leaving a small hole in the top of the skull that has a soft mushy feel when you touch it like the soft spot on an infant. The affected pup can still live a long, full and active life.

Precautions the owner should take include protecting the puppy from being hit on the head, preventing situations where the puppy might fall and not allowing the puppy to jump from furniture, beds, etc. These are precautions that should be taken with ANY puppy of ANY size anyway, so just be aware that the tiny open spot at the top of the head is un protected and of course, they should always be supervised with small children, open fontanel or not.

It is very common for the very tiny t-cups (2.5 to 4 pounds grown) to have open an fontanel considerably longer than the larger Imperial Shih Tzu (5 to 9 pounds) and of course the Standard size Shih Tzu (over 9 pounds).  It is very rare though that they do not close completely by the age of 1 year old. Open fontanels are not life threatening!!! 
Open fontanels are actually quite necessary as young puppies just as the soft spot on a baby.  They enable the head to mold so that they will fit through the birth canal and they enable the brain to grow within the skull without being squished and putting pressure on the brain. 

Open Fontanel is NOT the same as a hydrocephalic puppy.  Some vets are not familiar with open fontanels and can cause undue alarm to puppy owners. 




Umbilical Hernia/Delayed Closure

Umbilical Hernias or Delayed Closures are somewhat common in the Shih Tzu Breed in general no matter what size they may be.  These are right at the belly button area and it appears as a tiny bulge, feels squishy, and you can push it back in.  When you do push it in, you will feel a tiny hole in the abdominal wall.  These can be genetic or can be caused from trauma to the umbilical area during the birthing process.  A weak area (hole) in the abdominal wall at the umbilicus allows a small amount of fat to pass into a pocket under the skin. This creates a small bulge over the belly button. Very small umbilical hernias close with maturity. They are not a health issue, and do not affect the puppies quality of life.  If you choose to have it repaired, it is recommended that it be done at the same time as spay or neuter.  Anesthesia is always a risk so make sure your vet is experienced with T-Cups if that is what you have.

Here is a good article on the Delayed Closure
http://www.showdogsupersite.com/kenlclub/breedvet/umbilical.html


Stenotic Nares
Tight nostrils occur occasionally in the Shih Tzu Breed.  Tight nostrils due to teething and Stenotic Nares or pinched nostrils are not the same thing.  Tight Nostrils will generally come on when the puppy is teething and sometimes not go away until the adult teeth have fully come in.  Tight nostrils may come and go as the puppy's gums are swelling from the teething process.  Some puppies have a difficult time breathing out of their noses during this time, but as long as they are active and eating and drinking normally, it is of little concern.  Swelling of the bronchial tubes, gums, ear canals, and nostrils are all common when teething.  During this time, they may snore, snort, sniffle, or make strange noises and breath through their mouths.  Puppies will outgrow this once their adult teeth have fully come in.  Do not let an over zellous vet talk you into surgery for a teething puppy! 

Stenotic nares on the other hand are different and are present at birth.  Occasionally stenotic nares are not noticed immediately.  Stenotic nares are caused by the malformation of the nose cartilage which can happen with brachycephalic breeds.  This malformation of the cartilage can block the dog's upper respiratory tract and is characterized by a defect in the flow of air through the dog's upper respiratory tract.  This malformation of cartilage can often cause the nostrils to collaps as the puppy takes in air.  The collapsed nostrils lead to obstruction of the dog's airways.  Puppies suffering from severe causes of stenotic nares may have nostrils that are so tight and the nasal openings so narrow that the nose is nearly closed.  Severe stenotic nares can cause other health concerns over time.  If the puppies stenotic nares are so severe that they cannot breath through their nose, and is causing lethargic behavior or other health concerns, surgery may be needed to enlarge the nasal openings in order to improve the dog's respiration. 

I must note that I have NEVER personally seen this in any of my dogs or puppies.  I felt this was important information however because it is a brachycephalic breed condition. 

Reverse Sneezing

By Jenny Drastura
Dog owners are often frightened when their dog sudedenly begins wheezing and snorthing, appearing to be unable to breath.  It is a frightening sight if you have never seen it before.  Fortunately it may not be quite as serious as it looks or sounds.

This snorting is called reverse sneezing.  Medically speaking, it consists of short periods of severe inspiratory dyspnea characterized by extension of the neck, bulging of the eyes and abduction of the elbows.  Inspiratory dyspnea simpley means a type of air hunger.  Swallowing causes the attacks to stop.  It can happen every few days, once a week or once a month. 

The sound of a reverse sneeze can be mimicked by a person pressing the base of the tongue upward and then trying to inhale through the nose.  It is the incomplete closure of the nasopharnyx that results int he snorting sounds.  This closure is normal during swallowing and is inhibited at the end of the swallowing process which explains why swallowing helps stop and attack of reverse sneezing. 

Sometimes irritation oft eh nasal passages from dust or allergens can cause this.  Our Shih Tsu are so close to the ground that it is easy for them to breath in dust particles. 

When you hear this snorting what you can do is make the dog swallow by massaging the pharyngeal area or by briefly closing the nares.. (plugging their nose forcing them to swallow).  Relief should come almost immediately. 

This is something that is quite common in the breed and every shih tzu owner has likely heard this at least once. 
Coprophagea

Coprophagea is not a "Tea Cup issue per say, but I felt it was worth putting some information in here on because it is a common issue in dogs period, especially toy breeds.  If you do not know what this is, it is poop eating and it can be disturbing but here is a great article on the subject.

http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-behavior/coprophagia-eating-feces

T-Cup-N-Up
Imperial Shih Tzu

Common Issues for T-Cups of All Breeds