Country of Origin: The Chinese Imperial is an ancient Chinese palace dog like the Pekingese, Shih Tzu and Lhasa Apso. It is considered by its advocates distinct from those breeds, but many consider it to be a variant of the Shih Tzu. Like the Shih Tzu, the Chinese Imperial was bred in the likeness of a lion by Buddhist Monks who believed lions to embody the essence of Buddha; for this reason Chinese Imperials was considered sacred. They were bred to be as small as possible; those who grew too large were sometimes killed. As its name implies, the Chinese Imperial could be kept only in the Forbidden City, where it was tended with great care by court Eunuchs. By legend, anyone caught with a Chinese Imperial outside of the Imperial Palace was sentenced to death, but by some reports Eunuchs covertly sold those which were rejected by the Empress. It was at one point fashionable for the Chinese Imperial to be carried in the sleeves of the kimono. In the late 1800ís Dowager Empress Tzu-His took a particular interest in the Chinese Imperial, surrounding herself with them at all times. When the Empress passed away in 1908, the Chinese Imperial declined in numbers, but the breed survived due to Chinese Imperials which had been given as gifts to Western nobility. Until recently, all Kennel Clubs have classified the Chinese Imperial under the Shih Tzu, but in the last few years some, including the National Canine Association, have recognized the Chinese Imperial as an independent breed. Breeding clubs have been formed to temper the Shih Tzu influence and promote the Chinese Imperial as an independent breed.
Size: The Chinese Imperial has a shoulder height of up to 20 cm (8 in) and weighs up to 4 kg (9 lbs), but is preferred at 2-3 kg (4-7 lbs). It has a large, domed skull, pronounced stop (depression where the muzzle meets the forehead), undershot bite, and short muzzle. Chinese Imperials have a tail carried over the back and should have head and tail in correct proportion to the body. They are a compact and well-muscled breed.
Coat: The Chinese Imperial has a dense, straight double-coat which is usually groomed in a short puppy cut. It can be a variety of colors including black, copper, chocolate, and auburn. Its hair should be tied in a topknot above the head by a bow or ribbon.
Character: The Chinese Imperial was bred as a family companion, and it suits its purpose well. It is playful, intelligent, and kind, tending to follow its owner from room to room and always eager to curl up on a bed or lap. Chinese Imperials are happy, trusting affectionate, and calm.
Temperament: The Chinese Imperial is great with children and other animals. Young children should be supervised around the Chinese Imperial (as with all small breeds) for its protection.
Care: The Chinese Imperial should be brushed and bathed every four to six weeks. The Chinese Imperial has a lifespan of 10-15 years. It is susceptible to hypoglycemia like other small breeds, but has few health problems generally.
Training: The Chinese Imperial is intelligent and eager to please its master, making it highly trainable.
Activity: The Chinese Imperial can have most of its exercise needs met by indoor play, but it loves long walks and playtime in a fenced-in yard. Chinese Imperials cannot regulate their body temperature easily, which makes them highly prone to heat exposure; they should never be over exercised or left outside in hot weather. The Chinese Imperial is well-suited to apartment life.
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