Shih Tzu: The Complete Guide With Breeder Info

Shih Tzu: The Complete Guide With Breeder Info

So, you’re thinking of getting a Shih Tzu, but you don’t know anything about the breed? There are some things to know about this elegant toy dog if you want to keep your Shih Tzu happy and healthy. Here are all the important facts about the breed that I have discovered by doing thorough research.

The Shih Tzu is a small dog breed, part of the toy group with the nickname “Chrysanthemum Face” because their hair grows in a way that makes their faces look like a flower.

Shih Tzu Basics

Dog groupToy dog
Lifespan10-18 years
Weight9-16 pounds (4-7.25 kg)
Height9-10.5 inches (22.86-26.67 cm)
ColorsBlack, Black and white, Blue, Blue and white, Brindle, Brindle and white, Gold, Gold and white, Liver, Liver and white, Red, Red and white, Silver, Silver and white, Black gold and silver, Black gold and white, Black white and silver, Silver gold and white, and White
MarkingsBlack, Black Mask, Tan, White
CoatLong double coat
GroomingDaily brushing and an occasional bath
Popularity20 out of 195 dog breeds recognized by AKC
Breed Registries and ClubsAmerican Kennel Club (AKC)
American Shih Tzu Club
American Canine Association, Inc (ACA)
The North American Purebred Registry, Inc. (NAPR)
United Kennel Club
Canadian Kennel Club

Brief History

The Shih Tzu breed originated in Tibet, China, centuries ago. The name Shih Tzu means “Lion dog” in Chinese. Apparently, the breed is a cross between the Lhasa Apso and the Pekingese.

The breed was hidden from the public until the 1930s. Until then, Shih Tzu was kept in the palace, pampered, and lived a luxurious life.

Shih Tzu Personality

This toy size dog gets along with people, other dogs, and is good with children, too. Although the Shih Tzu is small, it’s a sturdy little dog. The breed is also affectionate and loves to be around humans. This fun little dog has a huge personality that you will love.

As an owner, you don’t have to be worried about leaving your Shih Tzu alone. Most of these dogs are self-sufficient and are capable of entertaining themselves if you are not around. Your Shih Tzu will find toys to play with and chase them around or sleep and watch the world through the window.

Shih Tzu’s personality makes this breed an excellent fit for most environments, from big and small houses to apartments. Some owners call their Shih Tzu couch potatoes.

As being highly intelligent dogs, they think for themselves and can be very stubborn. They like to have a reason for doing something and are not always sure they should obey you just because you ask them to do so.

Is Shih Tzu Affectionate?

Shih Tzus are affectionate and are real “people” dogs. The breed enjoys human companionship and loves attention. These dogs thrive on human friendship and love to be pampered by their owners. They love to live a luxurious dog life, just like their ancestors did.

Some Shih Tzus will spend a lot of time on your lap, but others won’t. However, your dog will spend a lot of time around you for sure.

Is Shih Tzu Good With Kids?

Yes. Shih Tzus are good companions for children. Most of them are gentle with kids and get along well with children of all ages, even with babies. They are funny and are good baby entertainers.

Shih Tzus are accommodating dogs, but every dog has an individual personality, so you want to make sure that the dog is trained and well behaved around the children.

Older children would probably make the best Shih Tzu companions. Older children understand how to treat the long-haired dog, unlike babies and toddlers that may pull their hair and poke their round eyes.

Parental guidance is essential when having a Shih Tzu and children in the same household. Teaching children how to play with the dog properly and how to have patience with kids will be necessary for a happy relationship.

Shih Tzu And Elderly

This breed makes an excellent companion to the elderly. These dogs are lovable and don’t require a lot of exercise time. Your Shih Tzu will enjoy slow walks next to you. If you are someone who is looking for a dog that will be by your side most of the time and will love you dearly, you found a perfect companion. Shih Tzu’s bond very closely with people, which makes them great assistance dogs.

Are Shih-Tzus Trainable?

Shih Tzus are people dogs; they like to please their owners and have an outgoing temperament. Their intelligence makes them quick learners, but they also want to get their way of doing things. Patience will be your friend when training a Shih Tzu.

Shih Tzus are one of the hardest breeds to train and can take a lot of repetition to teach them commands. Shih Tzu can be stubborn when trying to make them do the trick or obey a command. Your Shih Tzu expects you to be a leader, and you need to be persistent in training.

Teaching basic commands is the least of what you need to do, but a fully trained dog is always better behaved. Start training your Shih Tzu from an early age, and your dog will have fantastic manners.

To train your dog, you can use a treat method or clicker/treat training. Most people choose to use treats and are not familiar with clicker training. Clicker training usually involves a reward after each click. Clicker training is not hard, and there are endless video tutorials online if you choose to train your dog with this method.

If you are not familiar with dog training, don’t have time or energy to do so, choose obedience classes for your Shih Tzu.

Training your Shih Tzu can be frustrating at times, but don’t give up. Your Shih-Tzu won’t love you less because you’re disciplining him. In fact, your dog will appreciate your leadership.

A socialized Shih Tzu will behave well in every situation and will be calm and confident. This is why you want to train your dog, as it will make your life easier.

Is Shih Tzu Easy To Housetrain?

Shih Tzu can be somewhat hard to housetrain, but it’s essential to do it anyway. Their cuteness makes it harder to discipline them, but it’s crucial to be strict when they relieve themselves in the house.

Start potty training your puppy as soon as you bring it home. Your puppy doesn’t know what is acceptable behavior yet and where the right place to pee or poo is. That’s why you need to teach your dog which area is adequate to do so.

Start taking your dog to the dog toilet once an hour, and reward your dog immediately after it uses a dog toilet. Interrupt your dog if you see him in action and take him to a designated toilet area immediately. Your dog will soon understand that this is the only area to use as a toilet.

If you are leaving your Shih Tzu puppy home alone, make sure you put him in a designated area or a play area where it can be safe. Always leave food, water, toys, and a doggy toilet in the play area as well.

Be patient; it can take months for some dogs to become house trained.

Exercise Requirements

Shih Tzus are one of those dog breeds that don’t require a lot of daily exercise. Your dog will be okay just with a daily walk. Some dogs get enough exercise just by running around a yard or chasing a toy.

It’s good to take your dog for a daily walk and to make it a routine. A tired dog is a happy dog. Your adult Shih Tzu will require two 20 minute walks each day or a combination of a walk and higher intensity play session (such as playing fetch).

When taking your dog for walks or to parks, pay attention to its coat length and obstacles on the way. If your Shih Tzu has a long coat, wooden areas and high grass areas are not functional walking/playing areas.

Is Shih Tzu Expensive To Maintain?

As with any other dog, you will have expenses when owning a Shih Tzu. You will have to spend money on vet check-ups, food, toys, and grooming from puppyhood to adulthood.

If you are spending most of your time away from home, you might need a dog sitter or walker. This will add more to your monthly cost unless you have someone to come and take care of the dog for free. Doggy daycare is becoming more popular, and a lot of busy people choose this type of care.

Obedience classes will also add up a general amount to the total cost of owning a Shih Tzu if you cannot train your dog yourself.

According to ASPCA, the first-year cost of owning a small dog is around $1,500. This doesn’t include the dog itself but the expenses related to a dog. These are just basic costs and don’t include multiple accessories, crate, and pet insurance.

Is Shih Tzu a Hypoallergenic dog?

Shih Tzu is considered a hypoallergenic breed, but some people have allergic reactions when around their Shih Tzus. If you are allergic to dogs, before you get a Shih Tzu, make sure to spend some time around the breed. You want to make sure you are okay when spending time around this dog.

Hypoallergenic generally means that it is unlikely to cause an allergic reaction. Even though you may not be allergic to Shih Tzu’s hair, you may react to dander, urine, or saliva. Just because Shih Tzu’s are infrequently shedding, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the dog is hypoallergenic.

Shih Tzu and Other Pets

Shih Tzu has a tolerant temperament and usually gets along with other breeds and with most pets. Shih Tzu was bred to be a lovable pet and not to hunt, work, or be a guard dog.

However, some dog breeds that have a quick-tempered nature might not be the best choice for a Shih Tzu companion. As a laid-back dog, Shih Tzu wouldn’t be happy if he lives with a dog that is fierce and aggressive.

If you already own a Shih Tzu and are thinking of getting another dog, make sure you understand other dogs’ temperament. If you have another dog and are thinking about getting a Shih Tzu as a companion, make sure your Shih Tzu’s personality matches another dog’s personality.

It’s helpful if the dog you are getting is older and sees its personality right away. On the other hand, if dogs are growing up together, they usually form a unique bond no matter what breed. They also learn to respect each other’s personalities. Shih Tzu is sociable and enjoys the company of other dogs.

Your Shih Tzu probably wouldn’t chase your other, smaller pets and would make friends with them. You still want to make sure they are safe with your Shih Tzu before you leave them without supervision. Shih Tzu makes good friends with all sorts of smaller animals such as birds, rabbits, rats, guinea pigs, and hamsters, but introducing animals to each other carefully is a good idea.

Shih Tzu Diet

A well-balanced diet is important for a dog’s overall health. As a Shih Tzu owner, you will have to decide what type of food you will feed to your dog. There are a lot of varieties, from complete dry food, wet food, raw food with a combination of dry food. Whichever dog food you choose, make sure you choose the best quality one. Read the labels before you buy the food.

If you bought a Shih Tzu puppy from a breeder, there is a great chance they gave you food for the first few weeks, along with a sheet of how much and when to feed a dog. If not, you can always call them and ask them for recommendations.

Basic requirements for your Shih Tzu diet are protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. A complete food will contain all of the components above.

Sometimes it’s challenging to find food that contains the right amount of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals, so supplements are usually required.

Some manufacturers make a specific dog breed food with the required amounts of all food groups. The package should contain instructions on how much to feed your dog according to your dog’s age and weight.

If you are not sure what food to choose for your Shih Tzu, you may consult with a veterinarian.

Most Shih Tzu owners feed their adult dogs two regular meals per day, the first one in the morning and the second in the evening time.

Shih Tzu Health

Shih Tzus are generally healthy dogs, but diet and living environment are important for a long-lived Shih Tzu, as with any other dog breed.

Choosing a good veterinarian and ensuring all vaccinations are up to date are important parts of Shih Tzu’s health.

Even though Shih Tzu is considered a healthy breed, there are some health issues owners should be aware of, and those are kidney and eye problems.

Renal Dysplasia is a defect of kidneys that develops in some Shih Thus. In this condition, varying numbers of nephrons in the kidney never mature. Symptoms are excessive or insufficient drinking, urination, vomiting, becoming week, dehydration ending with kidney failure.

Shih Tzu’s eyes are prone to injury because of their large size with shallow sockets. If you notice red eyes, cloudy eyes, excessive tearing, or if your dog is rubbing its eyes, take it to the vet.

A short face can contribute to your Shih Tzu health problems. Dogs can have a hard time breathing properly in hot weather. Make sure you don’t overheat your Shih Tzu.

Grooming Your Shih Tzu

Grooming your Shih Tzu will include:

  • bathing
  • brushing
  • cutting nails
  • cleaning ears
  • cleaning eyes
  • brushing teeth
  • trimming

Bathing your Shih Tzu once a month will be enough to keep their coat clean. Before you give your dog a bath, brush out its coat, making sure there are no mats.

Brushing your Shih Tzu daily is necessary because of their double coat. If your dog is trimmed shorter, it will be easier to brush. Buying a good-quality pin brush without knobs on the pins will help you brush your dog properly.

Check your dog’s nails length regularly and cut accordingly. How often you will have to trim your dog’s nails will depend on how fast they grow. Also, please pay attention to hair that grows between the pads; it will require trimming as well.

Cleaning your dog’s ears is essential as they are prone to pick up some debris while the dog is spending time outdoors. It’s easy to check your dog’s ears while grooming. Long strands of hair grow at the top of the ear canal, and it is important to remove them. If you are not comfortable doing so, take your dog to a professional groomer.

Shih Tzu’s eyes require gentle cleaning at the corners using a damp cloth.

Brush your dog’s teeth once a week.Also, check your dog’s gums while brushing its teeth.

Coat trimming will be necessary every six to eight weeks. Most owners choose to take a dog to a professional groomer and to cut the dog’s coat shorter. This coat trim style is called a puppy clip and requires less attention.

Is Shih Tzu Expensive To Buy?

The average price for a Shih Tzu puppy is $2000 US. Females usually cost more than males. Adult Shih Tzu’s average price is $1000 US.

The cost of a Shih Tzu depends on the puppy’s (dog’s) age. Older puppies seem to cost less than younger puppies. If you plan to breed your Shih Tzu, you will probably pay more than the average price. Some breeders may require you to sign a spay/neuter agreement.

Where To Buy A Shih Tzu

For a list of Shih Tzu certified breeders, as well as available puppies and adult dogs, check

American Kennel Club website
Shih Tzu Club of America
Shih Tzu Breeders in Canada

Bringing Your Shih Tzu Puppy Home

Your new puppy companion will be at least 8 weeks old when you introduce it to its new home.

Before your Shih Tzu arrives, basic preparation is required. Here is what you will need:

  • water bowl
  • food dish
  • puppy food
  • bed
  • crate
  • crate pad
  • playpen (optional but useful)
  • puppy toys
  • ID tag
  • collar
  • harness
  • leash
  • grooming supplies

Puppy Proofing Your House

Your puppy’s major activity will be playing, and therefore, it might choose some dangerous household items to play with. Things like electrical cords, house plants, small objects around the house, and furniture are some things your puppy will think is a toy. And these are just to name a few.

House plants are a great danger for puppies, and it should be out of reach even if it’s not poisonous. For a list of dangerous plants for dogs, see ASPCA’s list of toxic plants.

Puppies explore with their mouths, so it’s essential to train them and correct a “bad behavior” as soon as they do something unacceptable.

Puppy Socialization

Once your Shih Tzu puppy has received all the necessary shots, it’s time to introduce it to the world and start socializing it.

Socialization is an integral part of raising a well-behaved puppy that is soon to be a well-behaved adult dog. Not to mention that socialization makes an owner’s life much more comfortable.

If you have other pets, this will teach your Shih Tzu how to behave around other animals. If you don’t own any other animal, try taking your dog to playdates in friends’ houses, dog parks, or socialization classes.

Socializing your puppy with other people is equally important, so take your dog with you to a pet store, for a walk in busy areas, and everywhere else where it will have a chance to interact with other people. Creating different environments and putting your dog in all kinds of situations makes your dog well-adjusted, well-behaved, and outgoing.

Adopting An Older Shih-Tzu

Shih Tzu is one of the most popular dog breeds and can be very expensive to buy. Buying or adopting an adult dog can be much cheaper. For some people, it is more comfortable to choose an older Shih Tzu than to go through all the puppy stages with a Shih Tzu puppy.

An older dog is most likely already trained and well-behaved. Whatever your reason for rescuing an adult dog is, for sure, it’s a noble cause.

A great thing about adopting an adult Shih Tzu is that you can immediately see its true personality. Just spending the time around Shih Tzu you are planning to adopt will tell you a lot about its behavior, and it will be easier to decide if it’s the right fit for you and your family.

What you need to prepare for bringing home an adult dog doesn’t differ from bringing home a puppy.

It will take some time for both you and your dog to adjust to each other. Your dog might be scared at first and try to hide. This behavior is normal, and the dog will eventually get comfortable.

Try to find out what the dog’s feeding and exercise routine was and continue it. This way, your new Shih Tzu will adjust faster, and with time (if you have to), you can slowly change it to fit your schedule.

If your new Shih Tzu is not behaving the way you expect it, obedience classes or training the dog yourself will be something you should consider. Classes will help you to bond with your new dog. Socialization classes are also great if your dog is scared and behaves aggressively or dismissively around other dogs. If you adopted a Shih Tzu from a shelter, who knows what the dog went through.

A Shih Tzu dog is considered to be a senior when it turns seven years. This breed’s life span is anywhere between 10-18 years, but most Shih Tzus live for around 16 years. If you adopt an adult Shih Tzu, you still have a lot of years to spend with your dog. Some dogs live 20 years or more.

Where to adopt a Shih Tzu?

There are a lot of shelters and rescue groups where it is possible to find your new, loving Shih-Tzu companion. To start with, try your local animal shelters, ASPCA, and Humane societies.

Many Shih Tzu rescue groups are working hard to adopt unwanted dogs. Here are some of the websites you can check to find your new Shih-Tzu. (Canada)

Shih-Tzu Useful Facts

  1. Shih Tzu was bred to be a people companion
  2. It belongs to a toy dog group because of its size
  3. The breed is affectionate, lovable, and outgoing
  4. It’s a sturdy little dog
  5. Barks only when necessary
  6. It sheds infrequently
  7. It’s considered as one of the hypoallergenic breeds
  8. Shih Tzu is an excellent family dog
  9. These dogs get along well with kids of all ages but are best companions for older kids
  10. It can be easily spoiled because of its cuteness
  11. Shih Tzu is a great choice to be a companion dog for the elderly
  12. They are also a great therapy dog
  13. Shih Tzu is an intelligent dog
  14. They are stubborn and like to have things their way
  15. It can be hard to train your Shih Tzu
  16. The breed is generally healthy with few health problems
  17. Their short face makes it hard for them to breathe in hot weather
  18. Shih Tzu can easily overheat
  19. It takes a lot of dedication to own a Shih-Tzu
  20. Shih Tzu is expensive to buy
  21. It’s a high maintenance dog
  22. It requires everyday brushing

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