Shih Tzu dog breed

The Shih Tzu from the Toy dogs group is a small companion that won’t take up much room in the home with its maximum height of 27 cm / 10.5 inches. Even though they are a long-haired breed, the Shih Tzu sheds minimally. When it comes to making noises, they are considered high barkers and have a quite high tone on their yappy barks. The breed supposedly originated in Tibet in the 1700s, where it had a status as a holy dog. The Shih Tzu we know today developed most distinctively in China from 1869 to 1908 during the reign of Dowager Empress Cixi. The breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1969 

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Shih Tzu
Breed height

M: 22 - 27 cm / 9 - 10.5 in
F: 22 - 27 cm / 9 - 10.5 in

Breed weight

M: 4.1 - 7.2 kg / 9 - 16 lbs
F: 4.1 - 7.2 kg / 9 - 16 lbs

Breed lifespan

Healthy dogs of this breed lives
average between 10 to 18 years

Breed group

Toy dogs: Small breeds with large
personalities. Great lap warmers

Breed size
Shih Tzus are small-sized dogs that can weigh up to 7.2 kg / 16 lbs and have a height of 27 cm / 10.5 inches from ground to shoulders
Coat size
Shih Tzus are long-haired dogs. Their coats consist of a dense outercoat and a moderate undercoat. Frequent brushing is required
Shedding
Shih Tzus barely shed. They may lose hair when bathed or brushed. They do not shed seasonally like most dog breed does either
Trainability
Shih Tzus are not the easiest to train due to their stubbornness and short attention span. Extra training effort and patience is required
Breed health
Shih Tzus are generally healthy dogs if they come from reputable breeders. The main concern with them is Canine Hip Dysplasia
Socialization
Shih Tzus are very social dogs that get along with just about everyone. But as with all dogs, socialization should start at an early age
Energy
Shih Tzus have a medium energy level, but due to their size, exercise requirements are small. Short walks and playtime is sufficient
Barking
Shih Tzus are considered to be a high barking breed. They are alert dogs that tend to bark at both people and other dogs passing by

Shih Tzu general information

The Shih Tzu is an ancient dog breed with its roots in Tibet and China, where they were highly esteemed dogs due to their association with Buddhism. Though the Shi Tzu is mostly associated with China, it probably originated in Tibet in the seventeenth century, where it enjoyed status as a holy dog. During the Ming dynasty, the Shih Tzu was a favored pet and highly prized by the royal family. During the British looting of the Imperial Palace, most of the dogs were lost and the breed suffered a great setback. The Shih Tzu as we know it today developed most distinctively in China during the reign of the Dowager Empress Cixi between 1861 and 1908. In the 1960s, the breed became extremely popular in the USA and was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1969. It is still one of the most popular breeds in the world

Breed appearance

The Shih Tzu is a small dog with a long coat, unlike most other dog breeds, they have hair instead of fur. The optimal height of the Shih Tzu is between 22 – 27 cm / 9 – 10.5 inches with a weight range of 4.1 – 7.2 kg / 9 – 16 lbs. Their long dense coat is double, fairly straight, and permitted in all colors. Beneath all their luxurious hair, the Shih Tzu hides a compact, sturdy body that is slightly longer than it is tall. Among the most distinctive features of the dog, you find the large round head with wide-set eyes, undershot jaw, and square, short muzzle. If you are interested in the Shih Tzu and want to dig deeper into the appearance traits, take a look at the detailed breed standard sheet from the American Kennel Club to learn more about this fabulous little toy dog

Breed temperament

Shih Tzus are affectionate and playful dogs that get along with just about anyone they encounter, be it strangers, other dogs, or other pets. Bred to be the ultimate companion, Shih Tzus love people and spending time with them. They are also great with children too, making them very suitable as family dogs. Although they are sturdy, they are still small dogs and should have their playtime with children supervised, something that goes for all dog breeds. As they were bred to be indoors, this is where they thrive. They can adapt well to any living conditions, from mansions to small city apartments. Despite its small size, the Shih Tzu needs daily exercise, either in the form of indoor games or short strolls. They also need a daily dose of mental stimulation

Shih Tzu breed health

Shih Tzus are generally healthy dogs as long as they come from reputable breeders. Their main health concern is Canine Hip Dysplasia, with minor potential issues being renal dysplasia, entropion, trichiasis, PRA, KCS, otitis externa, portacaval shunt, inguinal hernia, and patellar luxation. As with all dog breeds, they are also prone to developing certain common diseases. This can include eye problems, skin allergies, orthopedic problems, and ear infections. Regular wellness checkups at the vet should be done at least once a year to track the dog’s development and catch any potential health issues early on, which improves the chances of successful treatment. If you suspect that your dog is having issues, or have changed its behavior radically, contact your vet and schedule an appointment. It’s always better to be safe than sorry

Shedding and grooming

Shih Tzus barely shed, making them excellent choices for people who are not fond of dog hair floating around their homes. They do require daily grooming to remove loose hair, and during the grooming, that is probably where you will see most of its shedding. When Shih Tzus shed, the hair they lose usually sticks to the coat instead of ending up on the floor, furniture, and other places you don’t want dog hair to be found. Keeping the dog on a meat-rich diet also helps reduce the shedding amount and prevents dry skin. Meat is digested and absorbed quickly, promoting better overall health in your furry little buddy. If your dog is subject to excessive shedding, contact your local veterinarian and ask for guidance and hear with them if the dog should come in for a checkup

Breed barking level

Shih Tzus are considered to be a high barking breed, although they love people and other dogs, they tend to bark at them when they see them, either while outdoors or through the window. Barking tendencies do differ from dog to dog thou. Common reasons for dogs barking are protection, alerting, being bored, fear, seeking attention, separation anxiety, or just saying hello. You can read more about barking at this guide from WebMD Pets: Understanding why dogs bark. All dog breeds can be trained to reduce barking, another thing that should be focused on learning from an early age. There are plenty of online resources where you can learn how to reduce barking, like YouTube videos, online courses, and websites. You might also want to look for some books too

Shih Tzu dog training

Shih Tzus are not the easiest dogs to train thanks to their stubbornness and short attention span. Owners will need to put in some extra effort and patience when training a Shih Tzu. Being firm, never give in, and give praise and rewards is the way to go while working on the training. As with all breeds, training can be a challenge for inexperienced owners, acquiring professional help from a dog trainer is always a good choice to get started. The first step on the long road is signing up for a puppy class, here you will learn the basics about dog care and training, most classes also have supervised playtime among the puppies for socialization. You can also watch dog training videos, attend online dog training courses, or maybe get yourself a dog training book

Exercise requirements

Shih Tzus have a quite high energy level and require both physical and mental stimulation, but they burn off most of their energy at home. Since they are so small in size, short daily walks are quite sufficient for the Shih Tzus. Another great way for dogs to burn off excess energy is to play games like fetch, for example. That way they get to both play and run at the same time. Dogs that don’t get the exercise they need can get bored, depressed, and destructive towards furniture as they try to entertain themself. Making sure the dog gets enough exercise keeps it both healthy and happy. With small dogs like the Shih Tzu, you can replace the walks with playtime indoors if the weather is bad

Caring for dogs

Grooming is not the only maintenance your dog requires throughout its life. Complete examinations at the vet should be done at least once a year for adult dogs. Puppies should come in every 3 or 4 weeks until they are around four months old. Contact your vet and they will set you up with schedules.
Trimming the claws should be done whenever they touch the ground when the dog is standing up, or make it a frequent routine to keep them short
Brushing the teeth should be done on a daily basis to prevent gum diseases. Chew bones and toys will also help strengthen your dog’s teeth and gums
Cleaning the ears to prevent ear infections is also another important part of the dog’s routine maintenance. You can have your vet show you how to do it

Socializing dogs

No matter what kind of dog breed you have, socializing it from an early age is the most important thing you can do in order to get a well-behaving buddy that reacts to the world around it in a healthy way. Until your puppy is around 16 weeks old, it should encounter different kinds of people, situations, and locations, learning that the world is a wonderful place to live. Puppies have a short developmental window in which their experiences will form their future selves. Puppies should however not be forced into situations they might feel uncomfortable with, as bad experiences may imprint and stay with the dog for the rest of the life. You can watch free videos from professional dog trainers on how to socialize your new puppy and learn how to do so the correct way

Shih Tzu dogs on Instagram

Here are some pictures of the Shih Tzu on Instagram. See even more photos of this cute dog breed by exploring #ShihTzu or by using the Google Image Search

Video of the Shih Tzu dog breed

Here is a video of the Shih Tzu from Animal Insider that covers the most important aspects of the breed. Well worth watching if you consider getting a Shih Tzu

Frequently asked questions

Are Shih Tzus good family dogs?

Shih Tzus are excellent family dogs, they get along with everybody and are very affectionate. They are also great with children. Playtime with kids and dogs should always be supervised for the safety of both parties, no matter what breed

Are Shih Tzus hypoallergenic?

There are no dogs that are hypoallergenic, some breeds can however cause fewer allergic reactions than other breeds. The proteins that dogs produce are what causes the allergic reactions. These proteins are found in the hair, saliva, dander, and urine. Some individuals may have an irritant response to the actual dog hair, the solution for that is getting a dog with a low level of shedding. You can continue reading about allergies and reactions at HealthLine

Do Shih Tzus shed much?

Shih Tzus barely shed, even though they are long-haired dogs. The little they shed usually sticks to the coat, so the only times you see their shedding is mainly when doing the brushing and grooming

Are Shih Tzus intelligent?

Shih Tzus are quite intelligent, but they are also stubborn and have a short attention span, something that makes them a bit hard to train

Are Shih Tzus good for apartments?

Shih Tzus were bred to be indoor companions, they can adapt well to any living conditions, from large houses to small city apartments. Due to their small size and low exercise requirements, they do not need much space to romp around

Can Shih Tzus be left alone?

Shih Tzus can be trained to be home alone for up to 8 hours, but since they are very social dogs, they do not like being left alone. The longer you are away from the dog, the higher the chances of it getting separation anxiety, which can lead to boredom and destructive behaviour

Are Shih Tzus aggressive?

Beagles are not aggressive dogs by nature, they are affectionate and get along with strangers, other dogs, and other pets just fine. They love people and being around them

References and resources

You can absorb more knowledge about this dog breed from the resources below. Websites, books, and social media sites where you can ask dog owners questions

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