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Shih Tzu

Sweet, sociable and playful

About the Shih Tzu

Shih Tzus are good-natured dogs that get along well with most people, making them one of the most popular toy dogs in the world. These gentle companions are quick to make friends with strangers, and are sweet and affectionate with the people closest to them. 

Most Shih Tzu dogs and puppies are easygoing and friendly, despite their name meaning ‘little lion’. They are devoted to their family, and these fun-loving dogs enjoy the adoration that they receive from both adults and children. 

Some of them can be independent-minded dogs, which can make them prone to mischief around the house. They usually get out of trouble by using their tremendous charm and a generous application of puppy dog eyes. 

Living with them is not difficult at all if you can meet their very modest needs. So long as you play with them and give them basic training, most Shih Tzus are perfectly happy to lounge around the house with you or go on epic adventures. 

white and brown shih tzu against a white background

Shih Tzu Breed Characteristics

23 to 27 cm at the shoulder

9 to 16 pounds

Life Expectancy
10 to 18 years

Coat Colours
Red, white, black, liver, brindle, brown, blue, silver, gold

Here are some of the qualities you can expect from the Shih Tzu, rated from one to five stars. However, all dogs are individuals, and your dog may not display exactly the same characteristics.

Family Life
Friendly with Kids
Friendly with Dogs
Ease of Grooming
Exercise Needs
Prey Drive
Tendency to Bark or Howl
Good for Novice Owners
Apartment Living

Shih Tzu Breed History

Shih Tzus were originally bred in the mountains of Tibet. The dogs were bred by Tibetan nobles to serve as diplomatic gifts for Chinese emperors and royalty. The breed was so valuable and revered that the dogs would often serve as bed warmers for emperors.

At some points in Chinese history, owning one of these dogs was considered a royal privilege. Anyone caught owning one outside of the royal court would be in danger of being executed. 

The breed would eventually be crossbred with the Pekingese and other dogs, resulting in the modern Shih Tzu we know and love today. They actually almost went extinct at one point – their numbers dwindled down to only 14 dogs. These remaining dogs would go on to rebuild the breed as we know it, and all Shih Tzus can be traced back to those dogs. 

Today this breed is one of the most sought-after companion dog breeds, and it shows no sign of disappearing anytime soon. This is lucky for all dog lovers, as the world would be a poorer place if it were to lose the Shih Tzu’s gentle, happy-go-lucky energy

Caring For a Shih Tzu

How to Choose a Responsible Shih Tzu Breeder

There are many people breeding Shih Tzus these days, but it’s always best to look for a responsible Shih Tzu breeder if you’re looking to buy a Shih Tzu puppy. Do your research into the breeders putting up advertisements on pet marketplaces, and look for registered breeders who are part of breeding organisations. Ask them about their breeding programs and any possible genetic issues their dogs may have. 

It’s also best to pay a visit to the breeder’s premises and inspect the breeding animals’ living conditions. This is where your puppy will spend the first eight weeks of their life, which can have a huge impact on their growth and development. Try to meet the dam and the stud if possible, as their temperament and health will also impact how your puppy will turn out.

Shih Tzu FAQ

No. They are meant to be companion animals and can become sad and lonely if their owners or family members aren’t around for long periods. They may have an independent streak, but at heart all they really want is to be with their humans.

Yes, for most people. When a dog is hypoallergenic, it simply means that they are less likely to cause an allergic reaction. The Shih Tzu still sheds, but their double coat traps most of the shed hair and dander. However, people may still be allergic to the little dander and drool that Shih Tzus produce.

Dog Breeds Similar to the Shih Tzu

The information is for general use only. For any specific advice or queries, please consult with your veterinarian.

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