Shih Tzu

9-16 lbs
8-11"
Tibet and China
Chrysanthemum Dog, Lhasa Lion Dog

Shih Tzu dogs have been a part of Chinese culture since the Tang dynasty, serving as both companions to royalty as well as watchdogs, alerting their owners to strangers in the area. Bred to be companions, they are a friendly and vivacious breed who can easily get enough exercise even in small spaces. These dogs do require more grooming care than many other breeds due to their double coat of long, flowing hair, but they are generally companionable to both people and animals. Care should be taken during interactions with others that they do not fall victim to rough treatment, particularly when they are still growing.

Purpose
companion, lap dog to royalty
Date of Origin
ancient times
Ancestry
lhasa apso, pekingese, tibetan mountain dog

Shih Tzu Health

Sketch of Shih Tzu
Average Size
Male Shih Tzu size stats
Height: 8-11 inches Weight: 9-16 lbs
Female Shih Tzu size stats
Height: 8-11 inches Weight: 9-16 lbs
Major Concerns
  • Intervertebral Disc Disease
  • Eye Problems
  • Brachycephalic Syndrome
Minor Concerns
  • Otitis Externa
  • Urolithiasis
  • Eye Disease
  • Cleft Lip or Palate
Occasional Tests
  • Eye
  • Blood And Urine Protein Screens
  • Skeletal
  • X-Rays
  • Eye Examination
  • Physical Examination

Shih Tzu Breed History

The Shih Tzu is an old breed, and although we can’t be absolutely sure of the exact ancestors of this breed, most experts believe them to be a cross of the Lhasa Apso breed from Tibet and a small Chinese dog, such as a Pekingese. They were frequently favored by the royalty of China and kept at court as far back as the Tang dynasty, which lasted from 618 to 907. During the Ming dynasty these small, friendly dogs became popular among the commoners as well. During the Chinese Revolution, the little dogs were nearly wiped out, and only seven males and seven females were saved. It is from these fourteen dogs that all of today’s modern Shih Tzus are descended. In the early 1900’s Shih Tzu’s began to be dispersed to other countries, such as Norway, England, and North America, but the first Shih Tzus were often referred to as Apsos, and clubs that recognized the differences between the Shih Tzu and Lhasa Apso breeds weren’t established until 1934 and 1935 and a standard to define the Shih Tzu’s unique characteristics, such as its wider skull and less curled tail, was not developed until 1938. When veterans from World War II began returning to the United States many of them brought the friendly little dogs with them from England, and they were recognized as a toy breed with the American Kennel Club in 1969. They gained popularity quickly in the United States, and today they are the twentieth most popular breed dog according to the AKC.

Shih Tzu Breed Appearance

The Shih Tzu is a sturdy little dog who is longer than it is tall with a broad, rounded skull and a short square muzzle with an undershot bite. The fur should frame their face but shouldn’t hide their large expressive eyes. The dog’s heavily furred ears generally hang down like pendants, and the tail is held in a curve over the back and is also heavily plumed. The traditional show coat seen on the Shih Tzu breed dogs is long, flowing and typically straight, although some may have a slight wave to the coat. A topknot is almost always used to keep the hair from covering their face and is listed as such in the official breed standard for the AKC. This breed comes in many colors, from black to white and anything in between and black markings, tan markings, and black masks are recognized as acceptable for this breed. The elegant show coat also requires a great deal of grooming to prevent serious tangles from matting the coat and causing damage to the underlying skin. For this reason, many Shih Tzu owners elect to have it trimmed in a style known as a puppy cut or a teddy bear cut. 

Appearance of Shih Tzu
Eye Color Possibilities
brown Shih Tzu eyes
Brown
Nose Color Possibilities
black Shih Tzu nose
Black
brown Shih Tzu nose
Brown
Coat Color Possibilities
black Shih Tzu coat
Black
gray Shih Tzu coat
Gray
brown Shih Tzu coat
Brown
red Shih Tzu coat
Red
silver Shih Tzu coat
Silver
white Shih Tzu coat
White
brindle Shih Tzu coat
Brindle
Coat Length
Short Medium Long
Coat Density
Sparse Normal Dense
Coat Texture
Shih Tzu straight coat texture
Straight Wiry Wavy Curly Corded

Shih Tzu Breed Maintenance

The distinctive long and elegant coat of the Shih Tzu requires a great deal of care. Bathing should take place on a weekly basis, and daily brushing and combing are required to keep the coat clean and healthy. Even though this breed typically has a lower shed rate than others, when this dog matures at around two years old the dog will shed more heavily for a short period of time while the juvenile coat is replaced by the mature coat. It is often helpful to accustom your Shih Tzu puppy to the grooming routine at an early age so that they will be more cooperative with the process as adult dogs. Many Shih Tzu owners may choose to either have a professional clip and shape their dog’s fur into a shorter cut, or they learn how to do it themselves in order to make caring for the coat easier. Shih Tzu’s who have been groomed this way will still require brushing and combing every two or three days, and they should have their faces wiped down several times a day to prevent staining of the facial fur. These dogs do best when exercised for short periods at least one or two times daily to maintain their fitness, but they aren’t overly active even in small living spaces. Brachycephalic animals can be sensitive to either very high or very low temperatures, so it is important to protect your dog from excessive heat or excessive cold, and on extreme temperature days, it may be best to exercise indoors. Dental care should also be addressed on a regular basis as this dog’s brachycephalic facial structure, and small size may make it more susceptible to dental disease. 

Brushes for Shih Tzu
Pin Brush
Comb
Nail Clipper
Brushing Frequency
Shih Tzu requires daily brushing
Daily Weekly Monthly

Shih Tzu Temperament

The temperament of this little dog is nothing like its ferocious name of “Little lion” might suggest. These dogs are playful, alert, and fairly well behaved; they tend to get along with everybody,  human and animal, and they are equally comfortable in a small apartment or a large estate. They will bark if strangers approach their territory or property, which can sometimes turn into problem barking if it is not properly managed fairly early on. They are generally reasonably easy to train but they can have a stubborn streak which can complicate the process, and they are known to be a challenge to housetrain. Although this breed is usually friendly and a bit clownish with most everyone, playtime with other animals or with small children should be closely supervised, particularly when the Shih Tzu is a puppy, as this breed is quite small and can be easily injured by clumsiness or inattentiveness.

Activity Level
Low Medium High
Rec. Walk Mileage Per Week
6 miles
Minutes of Activity Per Day
30 minutes

Shih Tzu Food Consumption

Cups Per Day
0.7 cups
Daily Cost
$0.75 - $1.00
Monthly Cost
$20.00 - $30.00

Shih Tzu Height & Weight

6 Months
Sketch of Shih Tzu at six months
Male Shih Tzu size stats at six months
Height: 5 inches Weight: 6 lbs
Female Shih Tzu size stats at six months
Height: 5 inches Weight: 6 lbs
12 Months
Sketch of Shih Tzu at 12 months
Male Shih Tzu size stats at 12 months
Height: 9 inches Weight: 11 lbs
Female Shih Tzu size stats at 12 months
Height: 9 inches Weight: 11 lbs
18 Months
Sketch of Shih Tzu at 18 months
Male Shih Tzu size stats at 18 months
Height: 9 inches Weight: 12 lbs
Female Shih Tzu size stats at 18 months
Height: 9 inches Weight: 12 lbs

Top Shih Tzu Breeders

Check out who made our list for the most reputable Shih Tzu breeders of 2018.
Top Shih Tzu breeder Denimay Shih Tzu
Denimay Shih Tzu
Miami, Florida
Top Shih Tzu breeder Glory Ridge Shih-Tzu
Glory Ridge Shih-Tzu
Warsaw, Missouri
Top Shih Tzu breeder Shihtzu Treasures
Shihtzu Treasures
Lima, Ohio
Top Shih Tzu breeder Shihtzu Garden
Shihtzu Garden
Morgan Hill, California
Top Shih Tzu breeder High Point Shih Tzu
High Point Shih Tzu
Montague, New Jersey
Top Shih Tzu breeder Puppies on the Prairie
Puppies on the Prairie
Hayti, South Dakota
Top Shih Tzu breeder Serendipity Shihtzu
Serendipity Shihtzu
Olympia, Washington

Shih Tzu Owner Experiences

Tootsie
10 Months
2 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Walk
Trick training
My boy is highly excitable, is an entire male and loves 'walkies'. We do a lot of trick training currently he can bow, beg, speak, crawl, sit, shake hands, high five, high ten, roll over, come, come to a whistle and lie down.
3 weeks ago
Bear
2 Years
4 People
Apartment
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Cuddling
Playing
Walking
The sweetest dog ever. He loves everyone!
3 months, 2 weeks ago
Sophie
4 Months
2 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Walking
So playful and beautiful Love her dearly💓🐶
4 months ago
Snow White
8 Weeks
2 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Watching tv
runnig
I had Snow White about a month ago and she was 7 week old when I got her. I named her after the famous Disney Princess (Snow White is my mom's favorite Princess). She tends to whine when she wants to get on my bed. About two weeks ago, she has started barking and will grow when she wants to get my attention. She loves meeting new people and always runs to the door when I get home from work. I have three family members and some friends who own Shih Tzu. I didn't know Shih Tzus had many heath problems but I enjoy keeping one and they are so cute and the best dog breed to have
4 months, 3 weeks ago
Mei Mei
2 Years
4 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Absolutely love our Shih Tzu ❤️
7 months, 2 weeks ago
Peanut
10 Years
3 People
Apartment
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Walking at the park
He is the greatest dog I’ve ever had the pleasure of having. He walks without a leash, never has accidents, and rarely barks. He is super friendly to everyone he meets and adores to be loved. He has a chihuahua brother that he lavishes with love and attention.
9 months, 1 week ago
1 Year
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Walk
Play
Fetch
The Shih Tzu that I walked was a very pampered and spoiled dog, and loved to play more than anything in the world. The Shih Tzu was easily spooked by loud noises when walking outside, and was very interested in other dogs or humans passing by, but was not as much of a sniffer or explorer as some of the other dogs. However, the amount of energy that is packed into this tiny body is incredible. Despite being a lap dog, these dogs have more energy than most puppies I have met, and never seem to tire out. I have walked and played fetch with one of these adorable dogs for over an hour, and the dog was still not the least bit tired. Interestingly enough as well, they seemed to be more interested in the playing that in eating food, which is rare for a dog. The breed was quite affectionate and loved interacting and getting pet.
10 months, 3 weeks ago
8 Years
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Marking
Scenting
petting
treats
Ollie is one of my regulars, and I can't start this without gushing about how sweet he is. He's an old man who's hard of hearing, but greets me enthusiastically when he sees me. He LOVES his sniffing route, and checks his same spots every time. Whether it is because of his age or his size, he does get tired on walks quickly, and his owners are understanding of me taking him inside for treats, scritches, and playtime. Ollie loves tug-of-war, but his mouth is too small to get a good grip on most of his toys. He loves people, but is not a barker. One does have to accept him for his drooling, but that's only when he lays on you.
10 months, 3 weeks ago
6 Years
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Sniffing
Walking
I've only had good experiences with Shih Tzus. They are great small dogs. They aren't super affectionate but they are friendly and easy going with people. They often will bark at other dogs and can be a little loud and yappy. I usually avoid taking them to parks or other areas with a lot of dogs because they end up barking the whole time. They always walk faster than I expect them to and end up covering more ground on our walks than I do with other dog breeds of a similar size. One Shih Tzu I walk frequently lives in a 5th-floor walk up and has to be carried up and down the stairs because they're too tall for her and she's an older dog. They're fur is very soft and they've got very sweet little faces.
10 months, 3 weeks ago
6 Years
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Run
The Shih Tzu I regularly walked is so sweet. He would quickly trot around the neighborhood, but still took the time to stop and play in puddles and smell every bush he saw. He was very social and had a great time with visiting friends. He did bark a lot and had a bit of separation anxiety, but also loved to snuggle and is a very loyal companion. He has had some health troubles, so be sure to keep an eye on their diet. They need a lot of attention and exercise, but they will reward you with their love! Grooming for these dogs is also important, so you will need to be sure to learn how to trim their hair yourself or find somewhere to take them.
10 months, 3 weeks ago
4 Years
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
I have walked quite a few Shih Tzus and they have always been such wonderful little dogs! Each and every one of them has greeted me so happily and excited to meet me for the first time. They always insist on being pet before leaving for their walk and I am happy to oblige! They love their walks and love saying hi to everybody. Some have barked quite a bit when they would see others dogs and wouldn’t stop until they were out of sight of the other dog. They also can pull a bit, but being so small, it is not ever an issue. I also never have an issue with them getting too tired or stubborn on their walk, they are always very easy to walk! They are an all around great family!
10 months, 3 weeks ago
6 Years
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Run
Play
Walk
Blossom was such a sweetheart. She loved being by my side at all times, and always wanted to cuddle. She always wanted to go out for walks, and do whatever I was doing. She was very well trained, and extremely smart. She knew a lot of tricks, and got on great with other dogs. I highly recommend a Shih Tzu as a pet!
10 months, 3 weeks ago
6 Years
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Walk
snuggling
Play
Explore the city
Shih Tzus are such silly, endearing little creatures. I lived with a Shih Tzu for a year who was the most snuggly, lovely little pup to have around. She thrived in a house with a lot of people coming through and loved to have us all swoon over her. She had an adorable little underbite and expressive way of tilting her head that had us constantly cracking up. I love walking Shih Tzus because they're full of fun loving energy and love to explore. They tend to move pretty quickly and their little waddle/strut is pretty adorable. They can be princesses and love to be attended to, but they are so irresistible that it's hard not to attend to them! They're great little fluff balls to have around to snuggle and to love!
10 months, 3 weeks ago
3 Years
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Walking
Fetch
The Shi-Tzu I walked was very friendly. As soon as I met him he licked me in the face and was very happy to go out on a walk. He even wanted to bring his plastic toy on the walk he was so excited. He would run for short periods and sniff around. He wouldn't chase after any distractions and as far as I could tell there were no triggers. The only problem was to keep his fur free of sticky grass seeds, the owner asked me specifically to avoid areas with high grass in order to keep his fur cleaner. Shi-Tzus are very friendly in my experience and would adapt pretty quickly to any stranger, if you approach him calmly.
10 months, 3 weeks ago
2 Years
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Eating Snacks
Play
sit
Walk
being pet
Every Shih Tzu that I've had the privilege of walking, has been very easy going and laid back. They tend to be pretty chill, friendly, obedient and submissive. I have had a Shih Tzu of my own and he was absolutely adorable. However, they call for a lot of responsibility as far as grooming goes, due to their long hair. Shih Tzu's are great to cuddle with, especially if they have bonded with you over time! Great little dogs.
10 months, 3 weeks ago
10 Months
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Look out the window
My experience with Shih Tzu's have not been the best. I do not find them to e the friendliest of dogs but that also could just be the couple that I walked. They are adorable little dogs but are also very barky and not very welcoming to every person. I don't know if I would recommend this dog to people who have children.
10 months, 3 weeks ago
5 Years
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Brushing
Go to Park
Dog Parks
All Shih Tzu's that I have walked seem like the perfect lap dogs. Most are hesitant to leave their owners since they are so attached, but I have seen some who love running in the park and being active and saying hi to other dogs and people. They are mostly very sweet but can be very defensive and protective over their owners.
10 months, 4 weeks ago
6 Years
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Playing in the snow
Running
The Shih Tzu that I have walked was very timid the first time I met him. But the second time I walked him he was giving me kisses and was very happy to see me! He was very friendly with other dogs but not so much around other humans.
10 months, 4 weeks ago
6 Years
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Playing in the snow
Running
The Shih Tzu that I have walked was very timid the first time I met him. But the second time I walked him he was giving me kisses and was very happy to see me! He was very friendly with other dogs but not so much around other humans.
10 months, 4 weeks ago
2 Years
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Sniffing
Play with lea
Play
Walk
Super friendly. Really nice and sweet dogs. Good walkers!
10 months, 4 weeks ago
6 Months
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Meet Celine! Celine is still a young pup and had some energy to burn! Since she was getting distracted with all of the yummy sidewalk food and trash, I decided to try and distract her with a ball. I would roll the ball a short distance and she would chase after it with all her might and bark at it until she caught it. Then she would carry it in her mouth before doing it all over again! I looked like a fool on the streets of DC but who cares! At least Celine will be one tired pup!
10 months, 4 weeks ago
9 Years
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Meet Charger the Schnoodle! Charger was super affectionate and decided pretty quickly that I was a cool person because he wanted nothing but to sit on my lap while his mom talked to me! It is so cold and windy in DC so Charger wore his Christmas sweater and got to visit the North Pole! I told him his choice in sweater transported us to the NP because it sure does feel like it out there! Brrrr!
10 months, 4 weeks ago
9 Years
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Shih Tzus are so funny! My experience with this old precious pup was he knew where he was going, wasn't into running or walking fast. Instead he loved to mark his territory every couple of steps and walk at a very slow pace. He was very obedient though, not pulling or getting upset when I had to pick him up to cross a road or get away from a bigger dog. He was very confident, and never barked the whole time. It was funny the only time he barked is when I put him back and left, almost like he was saying goodbye! He liked to smell during the walk, and give kisses when you would bend down to pet him. Lovely little dog he was
10 months, 4 weeks ago
9 Years
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Short walks
resting
I had a shih Tzu and they require a lot of maintenance otherwise they would have patches of hair that you would need to cut off. It wasn't friendly but happy with just by himself.
10 months, 4 weeks ago
3 Years
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Very easy-going mellow dog I walk princess 3 times a week for the last year-and-a-half and she's just a love bug but love to walk and run on the grass
10 months, 4 weeks ago
Boomer
10 Years
1 People
Apartment
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Sleeping
Shih tzu have big trust issues if they are not properly socialize they can become terrors like any dog
10 months, 4 weeks ago
6 Years
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Running
The shih tzu is probably the most aggressive dog I've had experience with. I have been bitten multiple times by shih tzus, even ones that I have been around multiple times before without incidents. I also know many others who have been badly bitten by shih tzus. They can be friendly but are also very protective of their personal space and will let you know if they feel you are too close or if they do not want to be touched. They're very loyal to their owners also. Shih tzus have a decent amount of energy and often enjoy running but like to sniff around as well. They can be difficult to read at times.
10 months, 4 weeks ago
5 Years
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Brushing
Bike ride
He barks when you enter the house but immediately relaxinga and would wag his tell. He jumps up due to being excited and couldn’t wait to go out side. He would sniff everything and loves to stroll, but is also down to run. Not for to long though because he gets tired easy. He prefers distance over speed.
10 months, 4 weeks ago
Ernie
9 Years
2 People
House
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
we love him he is like our child he has a lots of health problems
11 months, 4 weeks ago
ripley
3 Years
4 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Walk
terrible as it can ever get if I could I would set him to a shelter
12 months ago
Book me a walkiee?
Pweeeze!
Sketch of smiling australian shepherd