Breeds, Toy Group

Shih Tzu

Initiating the path to pet ownership intertwines the joys, responsibilities, and exhilaration of forming a companionship. At the heart of this adventure, the Shih Tzu emerges as a breed synonymous with affection, loyalty, and a distinctively regal demeanor.

This guide aims to unfold the myriad facets of the Shih Tzu, a dog whose origins are steeped in royal Chinese history, making them not just pets, but living symbols of aristocratic grace. Potential owners will find within these pages not only the traits and characteristics that make the Shih Tzu unique but also practical advice and insights to nurture a harmonious relationship with these charming companions. With a focus on care, grooming, and understanding their temperament, this guide serves as an essential primer to welcoming a Shih Tzu into one’s life, ensuring a bond that flourishes with time.

Shih Tzu – Size & Life Expectancy

Shih Tzu Height

9-11 inches

Shih Tzu Weight

9-16 pounds

Shih Tzu Expectancy
Life Expectancy

10-18 years

About the Shih Tzu

The journey of the Shih Tzu, a breed enshrined in the annals of canine history, begins in the mystical landscapes of ancient China. Bred within the secluded confines of the imperial palace, these dogs were more than mere pets; they were symbols of sovereignty, companions to royalty, and guarded treasures of the Chinese court. Legends suggest that the Shih Tzu, translating to “lion dog,” owes its lineage to the revered breeds of Tibet, gifted to Chinese emperors as a token of diplomacy and respect. This noble heritage imparts to the Shih Tzu not just an air of aristocracy but a deeply ingrained sense of companionship and loyalty.

From Royal Companions to Modern Mascots

As centuries turned, the allure of the Shih Tzu transcended the silken curtains of the imperial palaces, capturing the hearts of admirers far beyond the Great Wall. Today, the Shih Tzu stands as a beloved companion across the globe, cherished not for its regal past but for its affable nature, adaptability, and spirited personality. These dogs have woven their way into the fabric of modern family life, offering comfort, joy, and unconditional love to their owners. Their small stature, combined with a distinctive mane of flowing fur, mirrors their lion-like ancestry, while their expressive eyes and perpetual wag offer a glimpse into a soul brimming with affection.

The Shih Tzu in the Contemporary World

In the contemporary era, the Shih Tzu enjoys a status that is both prestigious and endearing. Its popularity is undeniable, consistently ranking among the most favored breeds for pet lovers and families alike. This widespread admiration stems not only from the breed’s illustrious past but also from its remarkable adaptability to various lifestyles. Whether residing in the sprawling expanses of a suburban home or the compact confines of a city apartment, the Shih Tzu thrives, making it a versatile choice for a wide range of owners.

Typically, those drawn to the Shih Tzu are individuals and families seeking a pet that is both companionable and manageable. The breed’s modest exercise needs, coupled with its sociable disposition, make it an ideal match for the elderly, singles, and families with children. Moreover, the Shih Tzu’s hypoallergenic coat appeals to those prone to allergies, further widening its appeal.

A Legacy Continues

The enduring charm of the Shih Tzu, from its ancient origins to its modern-day prominence, is a testament to the breed’s unique ability to blend tradition with adaptability. As it continues to grace homes with its presence, the Shih Tzu serves as a living link to a storied past, all the while carving out its place in the hearts of new generations. Owners of a Shih Tzu not only embrace a pet of exceptional breed but also become custodians of a legacy, one that spans centuries and cultures, continuing to enchant with each wag and warm gaze. In the world of canine companionship, the Shih Tzu remains a symbol of affection, loyalty, and the timeless bond between humans and their four-legged friends.

Traits & Characteristics of the Shih Tzu

  • Affectionate and friendly demeanor
  • Loyal companions, deeply attached to their owners
  • Brimming with personality and a playful nature
  • Requires regular grooming due to their long, flowing coat
  • Adaptable to various living environments, ideal for apartments
  • Intelligent but can be stubborn, benefitting from patient training
  • Generally good with children and other pets
  • Low to moderate exercise needs, enjoys short daily walks
  • Known for their distinctive underbite and large, dark eyes

Owning a Shih Tzu

Welcoming a Shih Tzu into your life is akin to adding a bundle of joy and elegance to your daily routine. This breed, with its regal ancestry and endearing personality, makes for a delightful companion. However, to ensure a fulfilling life for both the Shih Tzu and its owner, understanding the specific needs and characteristics of this breed is essential. This guide delves into five crucial areas: health, exercise, grooming, nutrition, and training, providing potential owners with a comprehensive overview.


The Shih Tzu is generally known for its robust health and longevity, often living well into their teenage years with proper care. However, like any breed, they are predisposed to certain health conditions. These include respiratory issues due to their short snout, eye problems such as keratitis, and hip dysplasia. Regular veterinary check-ups, attention to eye cleanliness, and monitoring for signs of breathing difficulties are vital. Ensuring your Shih Tzu maintains a healthy weight can also mitigate potential health risks. Early detection and preventive care play a crucial role in managing these conditions, contributing to a healthy, happy life for your furry friend.


Despite their small size, Shih Tzus possess a lively spirit and enjoy staying active. Their exercise needs are modest, making them perfect companions for those living in apartments or without a large backyard. Daily walks, coupled with some playtime, are sufficient to keep them physically fit and mentally stimulated. Engaging in activities like fetch or agility training in a safe, enclosed area can also provide variety and fun. It’s important to avoid overexertion, especially in hot weather, due to their susceptibility to heatstroke. Regular, moderate exercise will ensure your Shih Tzu remains healthy, happy, and well-behaved.


The luxurious coat of the Shih Tzu is one of its most striking features. This breed requires regular grooming to maintain its appearance and health. Daily brushing is recommended to prevent tangles and mats, which can cause discomfort and skin issues. Professional grooming every six to eight weeks can help manage their coat’s length and ensure their eyes, ears, and nails are properly cared for. While grooming demands commitment, it also provides an excellent opportunity for bonding and can become a enjoyable routine for both owner and pet.


Proper nutrition is paramount for a Shih Tzu’s overall well-being. A balanced diet suited to their age, size, and activity level will support their health and energy. High-quality dog food that avoids fillers and allergens is ideal. Given their small mouths, opting for smaller kibble can make eating easier and more enjoyable. It’s crucial to monitor portion sizes to prevent obesity, a common issue in smaller breeds. Avoid foods toxic to dogs, such as chocolate, grapes, and onions, and consult with a vet to tailor a diet that meets your Shih Tzu’s specific needs.


Shih Tzus are intelligent but can exhibit a streak of independence, making training a mix of challenge and reward. Consistency and positive reinforcement are key in teaching them commands and desirable behaviors. Early puppy training and socialization are vital to develop a well-adjusted dog comfortable with various people and environments. Shih Tzus respond well to rewards-based training, using treats and praise to encourage cooperation. Patience and understanding go a long way in harnessing their potential, making training a fulfilling journey that strengthens the bond between pet and owner.

This guide offers a roadmap for navigating the joys and responsibilities of Shih Tzu ownership. By addressing their unique needs in health, exercise, grooming, nutrition, and training, owners can ensure a rewarding companionship filled with love and mutual respect.

The Shih Tzu Standard

The Shih Tzu, a dog of noble ancestry and distinctive charm, stands as a testament to centuries of selective breeding and refinement. This breed, often the centerpiece of dog shows, is judged against a meticulously defined breed standard. This standard not only encapsulates the physical attributes of the ideal Shih Tzu but also its temperament and demeanor, ensuring the breed maintains its historical and cultural significance.


At first glance, the Shih Tzu captivates with its regal bearing and lush coat. The breed boasts a proud head carriage and a heavily furnished face, with a short, square muzzle and large, dark, expressive eyes that shimmer with warmth and intelligence. A unique feature is its luxurious, flowing double coat that can come in any color, often with striking markings and a lush mane reminiscent of the lion to which it owes its name. Ideally, the Shih Tzu presents a compact, solid body that is slightly longer than tall, with a smooth, effortless gait.

Size and Proportion

The ideal Shih Tzu stands no taller than 11 inches at the withers, embodying a sturdy frame within a small package. This breed exemplifies balance and proportion, with no single feature overshadowing another. The weight, ranging from 9 to 16 pounds, underscores the breed’s essence as a lap dog of substantial build, capable of robust activity without the fragility associated with some small breeds.


Beyond physical attributes, the Shih Tzu’s temperament is a hallmark of the breed. This dog thrives on companionship, displaying an affable, outgoing personality that endears it to all. Despite its aristocratic roots, the Shih Tzu is devoid of any haughtiness, preferring instead to engage warmly with both humans and other animals. Its temperament is a blend of alertness and serenity, making it an adaptable companion suited to various lifestyles.

Coat and Grooming

The Shih Tzu’s coat is a crowning glory, requiring regular care to maintain its splendor. The standard calls for a dense, long, and flowing coat that feels luxurious to the touch. While the breed is showcased in various grooming styles in the show ring, the emphasis is always on natural beauty and the maintenance of a healthy, lustrous coat. Regular grooming sessions become a bonding experience, vital for both the dog’s appearance and its well-being.


The breed standard also highlights the importance of correct movement. The Shih Tzu should move with a noble and smooth gait, showing good reach in the front and strong drive from the rear. The movement is an indicator of proper conformation and overall health, demonstrating the breed’s ability to carry itself with grace and ease.

In essence, the breed standard of the Shih Tzu serves as a blueprint for preserving the breed’s unique characteristics. It encapsulates the essence of the Shih Tzu, guiding breeders and owners alike in nurturing dogs that not only excel in beauty but embody the rich heritage and joyful temperament that have made the breed beloved around the world.

Shih Tzu – FAQ

Welcome to the ultimate FAQ guide on the Shih Tzu, a breed renowned for its elegance, companionship, and spirited personality. Whether you’re a potential owner, a new adopter, or simply a dog enthusiast, this guide aims to answer your burning questions about the care, behavior, and unique qualities of these charming dogs.

Alternatives to a Shih Tzu

In the diverse world of canines, several breeds share the spotlight with the Shih Tzu, mirroring its size, temperament, and even some grooming needs. The Lhasa Apso, for instance, stands as a close cousin, originating from Tibet, much like the Shih Tzu. With its equally luxurious coat and keen sense of loyalty, the Lhasa Apso offers companionship and a dash of independence, wrapped in a small, sturdy body.

The Maltese is another breed that echoes the allure of the Shih Tzu, boasting a gleaming white coat and an affectionate, sociable nature. This breed thrives on interaction and is known for its gentle disposition, making it a favored choice for those seeking a loving lap dog.

The Pekingese, with its noble Chinese heritage, shares the Shih Tzu’s royal lineage. Characterized by its lion-like mane and dignified demeanor, the Pekingese carries itself with an air of importance. Despite its compact size, this breed has a big heart, offering warmth and loyalty to its family.

The Bichon Frise, with its cloud-like coat and playful spirit, also mirrors the Shih Tzu’s charm. This breed is renowned for its jovial and friendly attitude, making it a delightful companion. The Bichon Frise’s allergy-friendly coat and minimal shedding make it particularly appealing to those with sensitivities.

Lastly, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, while slightly larger, shares the Shih Tzu’s affectionate nature and ease of companionship. With its expressive eyes and silky coat, the Cavalier invites admiration and love, thriving in the company of those who cherish it.

Each of these breeds, in their own unique way, reflects the qualities that make the Shih Tzu so beloved. Whether through their shared ancestry, similar size, or their companionable traits, they offer a world of choice to those enchanted by the qualities of the Shih Tzu.