Shih Tzu Dog Breed

Dogs are man’s best friend – this quote sits perfectly when it comes to Shih Tzu. These cute little dogs can make great pets for people who are looking for companionship. Their small size, adorable face, and outgoing personality make them ideal for all types of pet owners. When you look at a Shih Tzu, you’ll just want to hold and cuddle them in your lap. And guess what? They are not opposed to it.

In fact, these dogs love being around their owner. Even though they appear to be designer dogs, they perform really well in dog sports and agility competitions. Shih Tzu is also good with families, kids, and other pets. They are one of the few dogs that tick all the boxes when it comes to the best dog qualities. If you want to know more about the Shih Tzu dog breed, continue reading.

Breed Overview

Shih Tzu Breed Overview

Breed Name: Shih Tzu

Breed Group: Toy

Height: 8 to 11 inches 

Weight: 9 to 16 pounds 

Lifespan: 10 to 16 years

Coat: Long, double coat

Color: Various colors including gold, white, liver, black, blue, and more

Temperament: Affectionate, confident, friendly

Needs for Grooming: High – daily brushing, regular grooming sessions

Hypoallergenic: Yes

Origin: Tibet (China)

The Shih Tzu is a small yet strong dog with a lush, long, double coat. Their majestic fur matches their noble history as an ancient breed, reflecting their confident and courageous nature.

They’re a top pick for toy dog lovers, and with proper training and care, they’re fantastic house pets. Their petite size suits apartments and smaller homes perfectly. They’re even considered hypoallergenic, a great fit for those with allergies.

The only thing you have to worry about Shih Tzu is their snoring and snorting habits. These dogs have a unique head shape and a short, smooshed face, making them a bit snuffly. Apart from this, they are the perfect companion dogs. 

Fun Fact

This dog breed is more than 1,000 years old.


shih tzu dog

The Shih Tzu gets its name from the Chinese word for “lion” due to its resemblance to the king of the jungle. One idea is that the Shih Tzu came about from a mix of Pekingese and Lhasa Apso dogs. They were highly cherished by the Chinese royals and were so valuable that China wouldn’t part with or share them for a long time.

The Shih Tzu’s precise beginnings as a cherished pet in China’s royal circles are a bit blurry, with various timelines spanning over 1,100 years. However, it gained fame as an esteemed companion during China’s Ming Dynasty from the 14th to 17th centuries. The Empress Cixi of the late 1800s also adored these dogs.

Unlike the Lhasa Apso, which had a role as temple guards, the Shih Tzu has always been a lap dog and house pet—never bred for any other specific task. This sets them apart and might explain why they’re still among the most pampered and beloved toy breeds today.

In history, Chinese royals kept these dogs within their circles and didn’t permit them to be traded outside the nobility. Around 1930, these adorable pups made their way to Europe, initially labeled as “Apsos” by the Kennel Club. 

But in 1935, the Shih Tzu Club in England set the first breed standard, officially classifying them as Shih Tzus. This breed gained popularity in Europe and eventually made its way to the United States post-World War II, brought back by U.S. military members.

The American Kennel Club recognized the Shih Tzu in 1969, placing them in the Toy Group. Today, there are fourteen versions of the Shih Tzu in their gene pool. 

The Shih Tzu Club of England was established in 1934, and the breed was officially acknowledged by the Kennel Club (UK) in 1940. It took until 1949 for them to qualify for Challenge Certificates. Now, major kennel clubs worldwide recognize this charming breed.


shih tzu for sale

The Shih Tzu is a sturdy, small dog known for its short snout and big, dark brown eyes. Their head shapes have been described as resembling owls or lions, with mouths often compared to frogs.

Shih Tzus have special smiles because of their underbite. When they close their mouths, their lower jaw is slightly wider than the upper one, causing their upper teeth to tuck behind the lower ones. Their facial hair grows in all directions, even upwards from their snout. To keep it from covering their eyes, regular grooming is a must.

They boast a soft, lengthy double coat prone to tangling and matting if not brushed every 2 to 3 days. Typically standing about 11 inches tall and weighing between 9 and 16 pounds, they have furry ears and a tail that curls over their back. 

CharacteristicMale Female 
Height9 to 11 inches 8 to 10 inches 
Weight9 to 16 pounds 9 to 16 pounds 

Coat and Color

shih tzu puppies for sale

Shih Tzus are best known for their long, lustrous, and soft double coat. You can find then in 14 different colors and 3 diverse markings. Many Shih Tzus also bear a tiny white spot on their foreheads, known as the “Star of Buddha,” which is extremely prized. 

The standard colors accepted for Shih Tzus include blue, black, red, brindle, silver, liver, and gold. Sometimes, there are other variations like Albino and White, but these may not be officially recognized by the American Kennel Club.

Aside from solid colors, some breeders are creating variations within these colors, like lighter or darker shades, to offer more options within each color type. Here are some common coat colors and patterns:

  • Bicolor
  • Brindle
  • Black
  • Blue
  • Brown
  • Liver
  • Gold
  • Red
  • Yellow
  • White

Characteristics and Temperament

shih tzu facts

Shih Tzus thrive on affection and love to be close to their owners, often happiest when cuddled up on laps. Bred purely as friendly companions, they’re not into herding, hunting, or guarding—just being by your side. 

At first, they might bark at new people, but they quickly make pals with every person they meet. With their charming looks and irresistible “love me” vibe, they grab attention wherever they go, drawing many to their delightful personalities.

These pups are sweet and loving with all the members of the family, especially kids, when trained properly. Socializing them is important, and it’s crucial for kids to handle them gently, considering their delicate eyes. Shih Tzus get along amicably with other dogs and cats, and they’re perfect for homes without much outdoor space, content as long as they’re near their beloved humans.

Their lush coat and flat face make them sensitive to heat, so it’s vital to provide them with cooling spots during hot weather. They’re fans of breezy spots and air conditioning but aren’t great swimmers, so keep them away from water. 

Shih Tzus adores being carried but ensures a secure hold due to their front-heavy build. Also, be cautious as they might try to jump over furniture, risking injuries like concussions.

Here are some important characteristics of a Shih Tzu:

  • They are very affectionate and loving.
  • They are good with kids.
  • These dogs are very friendly. 
  • They are moderately pet-friendly.
  • These dogs are very playful.
  • These dogs have low exercise needs.
  • They have a moderate tendency to bark.
  • They are very intelligent.
  • They don’t shed much. 
Fun Fact

During the Communist Revolution in China, Shih Tzu was almost wiped out.

Health and Nutrition

shih tzu history

A Shih Tzu, being a small dog, generally needs around 1 cup of dry dog food daily. But the exact amount can vary based on their age, activity level, size, and health. Keep an eye on their weight to ensure they’re not gaining too much. 

To keep your Shih Tzu healthy, it’s essential to watch their diet and not overdo the treats. Opt for a balanced, small-bite diet twice a day for adult dogs. Dry kibble is better than canned food as it helps prevent dental problems by removing plaque.

When they’re young, Shih Tzu puppies need frequent meals—around three or four a day—to avoid low blood sugar issues. Look for diets rich in fats, proteins, and complex carbs to keep them healthy.

Consult your vet to determine the right daily calorie intake to prevent weight gain. Pick small-breed food that’s easy for them to chew. These diets often come with feeding guidelines.

Consider supplements like omega fatty acids to support their heart, brain, skin, and joints. Your vet might also suggest dental chews or supplements to reduce the risk of dental issues.

Common Health Problems

shih tzu health

The average lifespan of a Shih Tzu ranges from 10 to 16 years. Although generally healthy, they can be prone to specific health issues:

  • Obesity

Shih Tzus aren’t typically active, so they can gain weight easily. Controlled exercise like walks and playtime, along with limited treats, helps prevent weight gain.

  • Periodontal Disease

Their crowded teeth can lead to dental issues. Regular brushing, professional cleanings, and removal of baby teeth can maintain oral health.

  • Luxating Patellas

Sometimes, their kneecap can slip out of place, causing discomfort or limping. Severe cases might need surgery.

  • Eye Problems

Inherited conditions like glaucoma or cataracts can cause discomfort or vision issues. Red eyes, discharge, or rubbing might signal a problem requiring a vet’s attention.

  • Hip Dysplasia

Improperly fitting hip joints can lead to arthritis and walking difficulties. Treatments include medication, supplements, and, in severe cases, surgery.

  • Liver Shunts

This liver condition causes toxins to bypass the liver, leading to various health problems. Diagnosis involves tests, and treatment might include surgery or dietary changes.

  • Brachycephalic Syndrome

Shih Tzus’ flat faces can cause breathing problems. Surgery might be necessary in severe cases, especially when they’re young.

  • Ear Infections

Floppy ears can trap moisture and hair, leading to painful infections. Regular check-ups and proper cleaning help prevent this.

  • Glomerulonephropathy

Kidney disease causes protein loss and other symptoms like vomiting or weight loss. Long-term management involves diet changes and medication.

Behavior and Training

shih tzu exercise

Shih Tzus might be small, but they’ve got huge personalities. They’re super loyal and make loving pals for families with kids and other pets. These pups are playful and clever and always aim to please their owners. They can adapt easily, whether chilling inside or enjoying an adventure in the park – as long as they’re with their favorite humans.

When it comes to behavior, they’ve got a knack for alerting you about anything new around. But don’t let that fool you; they’re total sweethearts who just want affection and attention.

Training these pups is a breeze – they’re eager to make you happy! Treats and positive vibes during training sessions work like a charm. Shih Tzus are ace emotional support buddies due to their small size, loyalty, and calm nature. Keep an eye on them, though, as they might get curious and start digging if left alone, especially in new places.

For fun, they dig walks, play indoors or in the yard, learn cool tricks, and, of course, snuggle up with their loved ones. Make sure to train and socialize your Shih Tzu properly for a happy, well-adjusted pup. Shih Tzus is pretty clever but can be a tad stubborn, so teaching good behavior early on is key to avoiding any mischief later.

Housebreaking might take some effort with Shih Tzus, so start training them when they’re young. They can be vocal, so it’s handy to learn ways to manage their barking.

Fun Fact

Celebrities like Maria Carey, Bill Gates, and Beyonce have owned a Shih Tzu.

Exercise Needs

shih tzu training

Since they were bred as lapdog buddies, Shih Tzus didn’t need much exercise. A quick daily walk or some indoor playtime will do to keep them happy and active.

However, make sure they get regular activity since they have a moderate energy level. They’re cool with apartment life; just make sure to give them time to play around.

Grooming Needs

shih tzu grooming

Shih Tzus may not shed much, but their grooming needs are still quite important.

  • Taking Care of Skin and Coat 

Their long coats can easily tangle and irritate their skin, so it’s best to bathe them once a week and brush their fur one or two times weekly. Budgeting for professional grooming is smart, whether to manage their long coat or give them a cute haircut.

  • Looking After Their Eyes 

Trimming the hair around their eyes or using a tie helps prevent irritation. Their eyes are prominent and can get inflamed if hair rubs against them. Tear staining can happen due to their flat face, but keeping the area clean and dry can help prevent this issue. If staining is severe or their eyes seem painful, it’s best to contact your vet.

  • Caring for Their Ears 

Shih Tzus are prone to ear infections because of hair growth in their ear canals, which traps moisture and causes inflammation or infection. Regular cleaning with a drying ear cleaner can help avoid moisture buildup. If there’s excessive hair in their ears, your vet or groomer might suggest removing it to prevent irritation.

  • Dental Hygiene

Don’t forget about their dental hygiene – brush their teeth daily. Because of their head shape, Shih Tzus often has misaligned teeth, causing dental issues earlier in life. It’s essential to schedule regular dental cleanings with a vet multiple times during their lifetime.

Are Shih Tzus Hypoallergenic?

shih tzu overview

Shih Tzus are often seen as hypoallergenic because they have hair, not fur. This might mean that some people allergic to most dogs might not react to them.

But no dog is completely non-allergenic. So, if you’re considering a Shih Tzu or a mix, it’s crucial to find out if they trigger your allergies. If you really want one despite the possible risks, why not check if you’re allergic to this specific breed? 


shih tzu puppies

A Shih Tzu puppies for sale from a good breeder usually ranges from $1,000 to $1,800 on average. If you’re looking for a top-quality one, it could go for $3,000 or more. The price varies based on factors like the pup’s age, quality, gender, family history, and where the breeder is located.

Fun Fact

Shih Tzu was considered scared by Tibetan monks.

Life Span

Shih Tzus typically live between 10 and 16 years, and female Shih Tzus tend to live around 1.5 years longer than males. Their smaller size means they usually have longer lives compared to bigger dogs, who mature more quickly. The oldest recorded Shih Tzu lived to be 23 years old.


Is Shih Tzu a lucky dog?

Yes, many people consider Shih Tzu puppies to be a symbol of good luck. 

Why is Shih Tzu so expensive?

Unlike other dogs, Shih Tzu gives birth to fewer puppies, and this makes them expensive. 

Where to find Shih Tzu for sale?

You can search online for reputable breeders offering these dogs for sale. 


That’s all you must know about a Shih Tzu dog if you are considering buying one. These small dogs will win your heart with their adorable face, charming personality, and cuddly nature. They are good with families, pets, and kids and are suitable for apartments. Remember to choose a reputable breeder when buying any dog. It will help you to prevent any genetic disorders and find a healthy companion. 

Explore Further