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Shih Tzu

Sweet, sociable and playful

About the Shih Tzu

Shih Tzus rank among the most beloved toy dogs in the world, thanks to their good-natured demeanor. These gentle companions swiftly bond with strangers and shower affection on their closest humans. Despite their name meaning ‘little lion,’ Shih Tzus are easygoing and friendly. They remain devoted to their family and bask in the adoration from both adults and children.

Some Shih Tzus exhibit an independent streak, occasionally dabbling in mischief around the house. However, they often wriggle out of trouble with their immense charm and irresistible puppy dog eyes.

Living with them proves simple if you cater to their modest needs. Engage them in play and provide basic training, and most Shih Tzus will be content to lounge at home or embark on epic adventures with you.

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 trace their origins to the mountains of Tibet. Tibetan nobles bred these dogs as diplomatic gifts for Chinese emperors and royalty. Valued and revered, they often served as bed warmers for emperors.

At certain points in Chinese history, owning a Shih Tzu outside the royal court could result in execution. The breed eventually crossbred with the Pekingese and other dogs, shaping the modern Shih Tzu. The breed nearly vanished, dwindling to only 14 dogs. These remaining dogs rebuilt the breed, and all Shih Tzus today descend from them.

Today, this breed remains a sought-after companion, and its gentle, happy-go-lucky energy continues to enrich the lives of dog lovers worldwide.

Caring For a Shih Tzu

How to Choose a Responsible Shih Tzu Breeder

With many breeding Shih Tzus today, finding a responsible breeder is crucial. Research breeders advertising on pet marketplaces and seek those registered with breeding organizations. Inquire about their breeding programs and any potential genetic issues.

Visit the breeder’s premises and inspect the breeding animals’ living conditions. This environment will influence your puppy’s growth and development. Meet the dam and stud if possible, as their temperament and health will impact your puppy’s future.

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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