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Shih Tzu Breed Information

Cute Shih Tzu walking

The Shih Tzu are royal dogs both in appearance and attitude. Their long luxurious coats coupled with their confident demeanor and charismatic personalities have brought on unchallenged fame among small dog breeds. Friendliness, affection, loyalty, intelligence, and gentleness are just some of the many wonderful qualities these beautiful dogs possess.

The Shih Tzu dogs are kind and sweet. They love their family dearly, bond wonderfully with children, and make friends on all of their daily walks.  Although their history is defined by luxury among kings, emperors, personal attenders, and great pampering, these dogs are not arrogant but rather grateful and loving companion pets.  

BREED TYPE / MIX Purebred ENERGY Moderate SHEDDING Minimum TRAINING Determined TEMPERAMENT Affectionate, Courageous, Friendly, Sweet ADULT WEIGHT 9-16 lbs ADULT HEIGHT 8-11 in LIFE SPAN 11-14 yrs


  • The Shih Tzu dog sheds very little if at all and is considered a hypoallergenic dog – an excellent choice for those suffering from pet-related allergies
  • Elegant, graceful, and stunning, these companion dogs are famous in the canine show ring
  • The Shih Tzu is known to bond for life with his human family
  • Highly adaptable –  adapts well to both small apartments and big homes
  • The Shih Tzu makes an excellent alarm dog as he is alert, vigilant, and vocal when need be
  • Friendly – these small lap dogs love everyone they meet from strangers to cats and other dogs
  • The Shih Tzu makes a wonderful companion pet for children
  • Independent – the beautiful regal dog doesn’t mind some alone time  
  • These adorable dogs are amazing companion pets for retirees, families, couples, singles, as well as novice owners 
Adult Shih Tzu dog


The Shih Tzu is an elegant, glamorous, and gorgeous dog. Small in stature with an average height of 8 to 11 inches, a weight of 9 to 16 pounds, and a royal demeanor, this adorable lap dog is sure to turn heads wherever he sets his paw on.  

The little lion dog sports a long, straight, and silky double coat that comes in various colors and color combinations that include white, black, gray, silver, red, liver, gold, brindle, black and white, gray and white, red and white. Black and white Shih Tzu puppies are currently the most sought-after. The puppy sports a fluffy coat up until 10 months of age at which point the glamorous adult coat starts to become defined. The coat has minimal shedding and hypoallergenic qualities.  

A fully grown adult Shih Tzu dog has a compact sturdy-built body, a short muzzle, large dark eyes, long floppy ears, and a large tail worn curled over the back. A member of the Toy Group, this beautiful dog carries himself in a proud manner. It inspires affection and exudes happiness.  


The Shih Tzu is a happy dog. His demeanor is joyful and he always appears in a positive mood. His openness and friendliness towards other dogs, new people, and kids make him the ideal companion pet for a great variety of households – multi-pet households, families with children, seniors, empty-nesters, and singles. One of this dog's best qualities is that he is outgoing and eager to make friends. Upon meeting a fellow fur baby, kid, or stranger, he will greet them as if they’ve been bonded by years of friendship.  

Shih Tzus are first and foremost loving lapdogs. Their background doesn’t involve jobs like herding, ratting, or hunting. Their main job for centuries has been to love and be loved. Their affection towards their human family is a strong one. They thrive on attention, cuddles, affection, on being pampered and spoiled. What they crave most is to be near their human parents and play with their human or pet siblings. They love to be involved in every family activity and they will be just as happy to spend an entire day on the couch as they will be to accompany their humans on a road trip.  

Children and these small dogs make excellent play friends. It’s quite an amazing sight to watch a 6-year-old add ribbons to a Shih Tzu hairdo, or a toddler and a Shih-Tzu cuddled up in a peaceful nap.  When it comes to training, these pups can be a handful. Although they are smart and entirely capable of being trained for more than basic tricks and commands, they tend to be a little too enthusiastic and at times too easily bored by the training process.

Given their royal history, for a king and queen Shih Tzu, perhaps the best way to get them to follow a command is to approach them, bow before them in a graceful manner, then politely and respectfully ask them “if it pleases your majesty, will you grant me the great honor of sitting as I reward you with this treat?”. Once their attention is captured, there is no limit to what this dog can learn.  

The Shih tzu is a lively, spunky, playful, and courageous dog. Some of his hobbies include playing with squeaky dog toys, jumping from couch to armchair and back again, talking back to pet parents, and napping on laps.  


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More Shih Tzu Insights



The Shih Tzu is somewhat high maintenance when it comes to grooming. To keep his luxurious coat in pristine condition, and keep him healthy-looking, clean, and happy, some effort should go into his grooming. His long, glamorous coat needs to be brushed and combed daily to avoid tangles and matting of the hair. It is recommended to bathe the Shih Tzu monthly; clean his ears weekly, wipe his face and brush his teeth regularly. If his nails aren’t naturally trimmed down during play, it is recommended to trim them monthly. Due to his rich coat and short muzzle, this small dog doesn’t take well to hot weather. He is sensitive to heat and should be kept out of the sun to avoid any discomfort.

Exercise Needs

The Shih Tzu is not an active dog. His energy level is moderate and he much prefers taking part in relaxing snuggles on the couch as opposed to running around and chasing things endlessly. That being said, he will be at his happiest and in his best shape when he is walked once or twice every day for a few minutes. Being small and low energy, the Shih Tzu diet plan should include ½ to 1 cup of dry dog food/kibble per day, divided into two meals, breakfast, and dinner.  


Shih Tzu dogs come from a strong bloodline, and they are not particularly sickly even though there are a few health issues they can suffer from. Their short muzzles can cause some breathing problems as well as overheating during exercise in hot weather. They may also suffer from Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS) as a result of their short muzzles. Shih Tzus can also encounter health problems such as hypothyroidism, cataracts, hip dysplasia, and patellar luxation. Although these conditions are a possibility, they are a rare occurrence in carefully bred dogs.  


The average life expectancy of this breed is between 10 and 16 years, with some living as much as 21+ years. The oldest living Shih Tzu is currently 23 years old. Providing them with love, care, good food, and regular exercise, can help your Shih Tzus live long, healthy lives.  


The Shih Tzu can be somewhat stubborn when it comes to training. Although most small dogs are known to have a stubborn streak, this dog has a stubborn splash. The Shih-Tzu is a good family dog, and he loves his humans more than anything. His love for his family will bring out his eagerness to please at some point. He is also very intelligent and a bit willful but that doesn’t necessarily mean he can’t be trained. With a patient and persistent trainer, this little pooch can be trained in basic commands fairly quickly and can take on advanced agility and obedience training.  

When training this breed, the most important quality his trainer must have is patience. Keeping training sessions fun, interactive, interesting, and short will turn up great results. This regal Shih Tzu dog also responds well to positive reinforcement, reward-based methods, and cuddle rewards.  

Most Shih Tzu dogs are independent, but they should still receive training during early puppyhood, especially as far as independence is concerned. Although they are not necessarily prone to separation anxiety, leaving them alone without prior training can result in some destructive behavior. 


The Shih Tzus, also known as “lion dogs” or “the chrysanthemum-faced dogs” are palace-raised dogs. From one kingdom to the next, these dogs have lived luxurious lives on the laps of kings and queens. Although their date of origin is somewhat unclear, they are believed to originate from China. There are many beliefs surrounding the Shih Tzu's with some believing that they evolved from Tibetan breeds and others claiming they are crosses of Pekingese and Lhasa Apso. Although their lineage is difficult to decipher, one thing is certain – they are a gift to mankind however they came to be.  

The earliest representations of the Shih Tzu toy breeds are found in paintings and various arts from the Tang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.). Paintings from that time portray the Shih Tzu dogs on beds of cushions, on the laps of Emperors, and at the side of royalty, living their pampered lifestyle. As dynasties were renamed and rulers changed, their presence at the palace was unaltered.

From the Tang Dynasty to the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644) the Shih Tzu remained the favorite lap dog of the Chinese Empires.  During her reign, Empress Dowager Cixi of China (also known as Tzu Hsi), was gifted a pair of remarkable Shih Tzu dogs by the Dalai Lama. The Tzu Hsi Empress grew so fond of her dogs that she began a breeding program to define and further the breed.  

From China to Europe and the United States, these dogs of an elegant past moved on to conquer the hearts of many. The Shih Tzu puppies received their official recognition from the American Kennel Club in 1969 and were named after Empress Tzu Hsi. The name stands for kindness and grace.  

In more recent years, as the Shih Tzu became more and more popular, professional breeders selected these dogs for the creation of various mixed breeds that enchant the world today. Some of the most popular Shih-Tzu mixes are: