The Shih Tzu is a small breed of dog that loves human companions. They are adaptable and can live in apartments or houses alike, and are a pleasure to do so with. They are energetic dogs with very loving personalities. Some highlights:
Shih Tzus are great with children and other animals
Very sociable breed of dog
Shih Tzus love spending time with people
Good for a first-time dog owner
With all breeds, there are some traits to be aware of. Some downsides to the Shih Tzu:
Not great when left alone, Shih Tzu dogs and puppies will turn to barking
The breed can be very intense on the grooming front
Can sometimes be susceptible to hereditary health issues.
The exact origin of the Shih Tzu breed is debated, but one thing we know for certain is that it is an ancient breed originating from the Tibet/ China region, with bones of the breed being found dating back to 8,000 B.C. The name ‘Shih Tzu’ is mandarin for ‘Little Lion’, and, one if the theories behind the breed is that they were bred by Tibetan Monks for their fearless personality and natural watchdog behaviours. It is even said than a Mongolian Emperor in the 13th Century kept small ‘Lion dogs’ alongside trained hunting lions to help keep them calm. The Shih Tzu breed appears a lot around 600-900 A.D in Chinese Tang Dynasty paintings, art and poetry and it is believed that all the way through to the Mind Dynasty of 1644 these dogs were bred and kept by Chinese royal families and often gifted to other royal families. 1928 is the first time the Shih Tzu appears in the UK, being brought over by Lady Brownrigg, the wife of a general in the British Army stationed in China. In 1949 the Shih Tzu was recognised by the Kennel Club as a breed.
The Shih Tzu is considered a small dog, with an endearing charm. Their heads are broad, their muzzle square and ears long. They have a compact body and their coat would be described as dense, with longer hair on their ears.
They will grow to between 20 and 30cm at the withers.
An adult Shih Tzu, between 4 and 8kg.
The only colour that is not allowed into the Kennel Club registration is merle. Other than that, the most desirable is white on the forehead and a white top of tail on dogs with coloured coats.
This energetic and loving dog enjoys being around humans immensely. They are a popular choice for people with families and enjoy playing. This being said, the Shih Tzu can also suffer from separation anxiety.
As a form of protection, the small Shih Tzu probably won’t stand up to danger too well. However, they are alert watch dogs and will be quick to bark around strangers or if anything seems wrong to alert their owner.
As an owner of a Shih Tzu, you will need to work really hard to get rid of this trait in the dog. They need to be taught from an early age, otherwise this can get out of hand.
Yes. Shih Tzu puppies are a great choice for a first time owner because of this.
Shih Tzus love human attention and thus are very playful. They are a clever breed which loves games and entertainment.
Yes. This does have its limitations however as some Shih Tzus can be known to snap If they are annoyed and be a bit nippy. You should try to make sure the Shih Tzu grows up around very small children so they can learn.
Sometimes they will chase small animals and pets for fun, but you don’t have to worry about harm being caused.
The Shih Tzu loves nothing more than being with humans. Therefore they don’t enjoy being left alone for long times. This can be solved sometimes by having company when left alone in the form of another pet.
The Shih Tzu will live a long life if cared for well, and can be up to 16 years.
Being a small dog, remember they only have little legs! 30 mins a day walking is reasonable, as long as you satisfy their need for playing with some games and mental stimulation.
Breathing problems. The Shih Tzu has a shorter more compressed muzzle meaning you should take care when exercising in warm weather.
Hip dysplasia. The stud Shih Tzu can have a hip score test.
Shih Tzus love to eat, so make sure you don’t over feed.
The Shih Tzu breed is a very adaptable breed. They can live happily in small apartments or big houses. The important thing is for walks to be taken, but don’t worry too much about a dedicated garden.
This section is always important to listen to your vet over anyone else. We would recommend feeding this small dog 2 times per day, Morning and Evening, with around 80g-100g of food. Your Shih Tzu puppy should be fed in line with your breeders feeding plan and the advice of your vet as they grow.
The Shih Tzu is classed as high maintenance on the grooming front, as their long coats need to be kept under control daily. We recommend a quick once over brush and re-tying their top knots once a day. Make sure not to be too rough or thorough with the brush as this could damage their hair. Their face should also be washed daily as they can often get food stuck there which can lead to not only a bad smell, but skin irritation. We would also recommend every 6-8 weeks having a professional grooming session to cut their hair, as if left too long it can grow right down to the floor.
Not a huge amount. More so in the autumn and spring.
As a rough guide in pricing: Cost to buy: roughly £500-1000 for a well-bred Shih Tzu puppy Other costs (Vet, Food etc): £70per month
You can read our general buying guide here (/advice-on-buying-a-puppy/), with the most important thing being going to view your Shih Tzu Puppy, seeing it with its mother, and checking the quality of the breeder. More specifically, here is some Shih Tzu puppy buying advice:
Being a desirable small breed, sometimes breeders will try to emphasise this small size in order to command a higher price. However, Tea Cup Shih Tzu does not exist and is the sign of an unhealthy breeding practice. Make sure you keep an eye on the sizes registered above and by the Kennel Club. Finally, do not allow people to convince you this size means they are rare.
They are a very popular breed and can therefore have problems with scam breed listings. Make sure you see your puppy and paperwork before any money is exchanged, including deposits.
A big thank you to the following sources who helped to shape this article: