The Shih Tzu Dog Breed

  • By: Mick Whitefield
  • Time to read: 8 min.

Ever since the beginning of time, dogs have been the human beings number one companion animal. They are friendly, fiercely loyal, and will always be available to cuddle with when you are feeling lonely. If you are a fan of small dogs, the Shih Tzu is a good option to keep as a pet. This cute and fun loving breed is known for its intelligence, adorable looks, and a receptive temperament. Its small size is perfect for a lap dog!

Quick Facts about the Shih Tzu

What is the Lifespan of a Shih Tzu?

12 to 15 Years

Shih Tzu’s Height at the Withers

Males and Females are between 8 to 11 inches or 20 to 28cms

Weight of a Shih Tzu

Males and Females weigh 9 to 16 lbs or 4 to 7.5kgs.

How Much DO Shih Tzu Dogs Cost?

In the USA prices range from $750 to $3,000 dependant upon breeding history and pedigree.
In the UK these dogs are about £500 up to £2,000 each.

Are Shih Tzu Dogs Hypoallergenic?

Yes. This breed is considered to be hypoallergenic as they lose very little hair and do not drool.

Breeding Group of the Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu are recognised by the kennel associations in the Toy Group.

What does the Shih Tzu look like?

The Shih Tzu is covered with luxuriant, long, straight hair. That is a double coat which can require a fair amount of upkeep, especially if left long, the obvious choice is to cut the hair short which gives them an entirely different look.

Shih Tzu Haircuts
Three Shih Tzu with differing haircuts

The Shih Tzu is often slightly longer than tall (about 8 to 11 inches), with a sturdy body and a good-sized round head. The muzzle is quite short, often with an underbite.

The round head has prominent eyes facing forward and floppy triangular ears that tip forward. The tail is curled up over the back and they have a long body for such a small dog.

Bailey Pic
My own Shih Tzu Bailey with a close haircut

Shih Tzu tend to be fairly hardy little dogs and often live to 14 or 15 years of age.

What were Shih Tzu Dog’s Bred For?

Shih Tzu’s are among the oldest recorded dog breeds today with a history that dates all the way back to 8,000 BC.

Hailing from ancient China, the dog was strictly bred for companionship and for 1,000 years it was regarded as a prized pet by Chinese Emperors and royals and other Hierarchy.

With their compact size; usually growing to about 9-10 inches in height and 9-16 pounds in weight, Shih Tzu’s are the perfect lap dogs. All they want is to be your best friend and follow you from one room to the other.

However, don’t be misled by their pint-sized frame, these compact canines are quite big on personality. They are regal, proud, and quite dignified dogs, but in no way pompous or arrogant. If you’re considering bringing one into your household, their reputation for being a one-person dog is not necessarily true, often in a family setting they will change allegiances dependant upon who is likely to give them the most fuss or the next treat.

Don’t be intimidated by its nickname “Little Lion”; there is nothing fierce about this darling dwarf. On the contrary, the Shih Tzu is an affectionate lover, not a hunter.

Shih Tzuh 1
Little Lion

Happy, tender, outgoing, adorable; these are just some of the adjectives that have been used to describe the Shih Tzu. If you are planning to adopt a pup as a house pet, you have many little reasons to do so!

All About The Shih Tzu Dog Breed

True to the purpose they were bred for, Shih Tzu’s display a dynamic blend of affectionate and attentive lap dog personality, providing you with a dignified companion.

Don’t expect them to guard you or go out hunting; they simply want to sit next to you. They are known to be clingy sometimes and don’t do well with being left alone for too long. In a home setting, they want to be around family and the happiest moments are spent giving and receiving affection.

Let us look at some of the numerous characteristics that back the case for Shih Tzu’s as the ideal family pet.

Do Shih Tzu’s make good family pets?

The Shih Tzu is a great companion animal that will fit in naturally into any family set up. He is highly adaptive with an affectionate personality and a warm temperament. This dog is also easy to groom, considered to be non-shedding. Easy to care for, requires minimal food and exercise. Finally, you will have an easy time training him. However, you want to keep it away from hot conditions or shave his coat to save him from overheating, fortunately this dog is Hypoallergenic.

Shih Tzu Xmas Chocolate For Dogs
Shih Tzu have long bodies

At top lap dogs we have looked at the various qualities of a Shih Tzu that make it the ideal companion animal for a family. You can see just how functional this small dog is for a family home and why you should not pass up on the opportunity to have one as a house pet.

All you need to remember is that their favorite spot is on your lap! They are lively, outgoing, and alert; and will bark to inform you that somebody is knocking at the door.

However your guests need not worry about the reception they’ll get, Shih Tzus are very trusting, accommodating creatures and will happily develop friendships with new faces, long before you realize it. While they may display a prominent level of confidence, this should by no means be misconstrued for arrogance.

Temperament of the Shih Tzu


Pair Of Cute Shih Tzuh
Cute Pair of Shih Tzus

Generally, these dogs have a warm and friendly temperament, always quick to trust regardless of their age or previous experiences. This implies they won’t hesitate to pounce onto a stranger’s lap or seek a friendly bout with guests whenever an opportunity begs.

They generally get along with fellow dogs, cats, and other animals. They will play around with little children and make the most of this long-awaited fun time, making them a wonderful family pet.

Recall 450

However, you want your kids to sit on the floor when playing with a puppy to avoid the risk of carrying and dropping this fragile furry little friend.

Another adorable trait that this breed consistently demonstrates is happiness! This is why apart from just being loyal companions, they can make perfect therapy dogs.

Shih Tzus have this aura of excitement that follows them everywhere they go. Their cheerfulness is evident when they walk into a room of people and you can bet that each person’s day will be brightened.

Their infectious desire to love and be loved results in a levelheaded, lovely temperament. As the dog ages, the euphoria recedes and is replaced by a calm, caring, and well-mannered demeanor that the ancient Chinese royals got attracted to. 

NB: The only downside about the Shih Tzu’s temperament is that they are naturally people-oriented, and this tends to make them clingy. While this desire for affection is not something that a pet lover would mind, it may bring about an extreme case of separation anxiety whenever the owner is out of sight. If you are the kind of person who lacks the luxury of being home all the time, this can pose a significant challenge to this precious pooch.

Shih Tzu’s Impressive Adaptability

Shih Tzu’s are highly adaptable to new environments and experiences. They will be right at home in a condor or at a beach house that you have just moved into, making them a great choice for first-time pet owners.

They require very little space to run around to stay happy and healthy, and this makes them ideal for people living in an apartment.  They are not usually too energetic at barking meaning you don’t have to worry about constant barking as is the case for other toy breeds; your friends and neighbors will feel welcomed when they pop by your house to say hi.

Moving houses doesn’t affect the Shih Tzu in any way. They are known to cope quite well with the changes that a family goes through over the years including the birth of a young one and the introduction of other pets.

The only thing on their mind is to please and love, and not even these changes will distract their ultimate resolve!

Modest Feeders

Shih Tzu’s are small and generally less active creatures, meaning their energy requirement level is relatively lower and thus their feeding needs are similarly minimal.

Rest assured your budget won’t be dented from purchasing dog food. Given that this breed is basically a couch potato; your pint-sized pooch won’t need to eat much.

Bailey Slow Food Bowl Rotated
He costs very little to feed.

The only thing you want to do is make sure that the quality of dog meal you buy is good. This will go a long way to ensure that your furry friend is healthily fed and always game to light up your day and that of others.

Groom and Care for your Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu’s have a majestic double coat of fur that requires constant brushing and combing. Failure to do this will turn the beautiful coat into a mess.

Fortunately, the grooming process is relatively easy! You want to accustom yourself to trimming your pet’s coat once in a while so that it remains short and neat. The shorter the fur, the less maintenance it requires. I simplify this by taking mine to the dog groomers every 6 to 8 weeks.

Another thing you’ll find attractive about the breed is that they shed very little hair. You don’t have to worry about dog hair being on your food, clothes, or bed; as such they rarely cause allergies to kids or anybody else.

They also require very little exercise time so you don’t necessarily have to take them out for a long walk or stroll however mine will happily walk 5 miles or just sit and wait for me at home.

These dogs are generally healthy animals. They are tolerant to cold weather but don’t fare well in hot conditions. This is because their thick double coat makes them more susceptible to overheating and their short face exposes them to the possibility of heat exhaustion.

The simple solution to this is cut his hair short in hot weather and leave it to grow in the cold months.

Otherwise you just want to be extra careful about exercising your pooch in the heat. Ensure he remains indoors in an air-conditioned room on hot days.

Training a Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu’s are usually very intelligent dogs that will not take too long to learn basic instructions. They are generally easy to train and you will be surprised just how fast they learn tricks, particularly for a treat, but basic training is often as far as these dogs are capable of, they are not really agility dogs.

Apart from their known excitement, these dogs promise to keep your family entertained with “sit down”, “stay”, and “roll” tricks. Although they are moderately stubborn, this is no cause for worry.

You want them to know that you truly mean what you say when giving instructions; food and treats are always a welcome motivator, my Shih Tzu Bailey needs a treat to encourage him and occasionally remind him of commands as occasionally he can be stubborn.

But go easy on the treats…you don’t want to end up with an overweight Shih Tzu on your hands.

Conclusion for the Shih Tzu

An Ideal family pet, the Shih Tzu is definitely one of the best breed options you could consider. It is impressively adaptable, infectiously enthusiastic, and reassuringly loyal and ideal for those people who have allergies! Rest assured that you’ll be getting a natural companion who will add a little spark into your household.

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