Shih Tzu Dog Breed Information

All About Shih-Tzu Dogs and Puppies

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One of the loveable dust mops of the canine world, the Shih Tzu’s sweet face and gentle, loving disposition has made him, not only a favorite pampered pet, but a helpful therapy dog. Additionally, this surprising little dog does extremely well in both obedience and agility courses, and loves an active lifestyle. A top choice with the elderly, the Shih Tzu is more than happy to travel with the retiree throughout their golden years, soaking up the sun and seeing the world with a happily wagging tail.

The Shih Tzu is a very sweet and affectionate little dog that makes an excellent companion, especially to the elderly. Loving and patient, he gets along with other animals, and tends to avoid all manners of confrontation. Unlike many breeds, he was bred not for hunting, retrieving, fighting or work – from the beginning of his days, the Shih Tzu was bred to be a loving companion and he takes great pride in this task.

Adorable Shih Tzu Puppy
Shih Tzu are not fighters and not good at defending themselves, so should always be supervised and kept on a leash when outside. One should also watch the Shih Tzu in the presence of small children, not because they are biters, but because they are small and delicate enough that they can be easily injured if dropped or played with too roughly. Aside from taking these safety precautions, if you have a lot of love to give and enjoy getting a lot of love in return, these sweet little lion dogs are sure to win your heart.

Shih-Tzu Dog Breed Facts and Information

Shih-Tzu Facts

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  • Country of Origin: China
  • Size: Toy variety only
  • Height: 8 to 11 inches at the shoulder
  • Weight 9 to 16 pounds
  • Color: Solid and parti-color
  • Exercise Needs: Minimal
  • Grooming Demands: Demanding
  • Life Expectancy: 11 to 13 years
  • Good With Children: Yes, with supervision.
  • Ease of Training: Medium Difficult
  • AKC Breed Group: breedgroup

Shih-Tzu History

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While the exact origins of the Shih Tzu are obscured by time, it is believed that this sweet-faced toy dog originated in Asia, his ancestors probably dating as far back as 1000 B.C. Although the exact facts are not known, many claim that the Shih Tzu was the favored holy dog of the Tibetan lamas. The lion played an important part in Buddhism and, while there were no lions in China, certain breeds of dogs could be bred and groomed to resemble lions. Considering that Shih Tzu actually means “lion,” it is strongly believed that this little dust mop was perhaps both the smallest and oldest of all the different lion dogs.

We do know that a great portion of the breed’s existence is thanks to the Dowager Empress Cixi, who kept a kennel of Pekingese, Pugs, and Shih Tzu that was famous throughout the world. With a watchful eye, she carefully supervised the three breeds, doing her best to keep the strains pure and completely separate from one another (although it is believed that the eunuchs, in charge of breeding the dogs according to her plans, often experimented and crossed the breeds in an attempt to make the dogs smaller and to find unusual colors and markings).

The Communist revolution almost saw the extinction of these unique little dogs. Fortunately, however, there were 3 Shih Tzus that had been imported to the Tashian kennel, owned by Lady Brownrigg of England and, to these, an additional 8 dogs were added when they were imported to England from 1933-1959. Meanwhile, in Norway, 3 other Shih Tzu had been imported in 1932 – one of which was the only Shih Tzu that had ever been bred in the Imperial Palace to ever set foot on Western soil. From these 14 dogs would stem the gene pool of all modern-day Shih Tzu and he would make his way into the United States by 1940, instantly becoming an overnight sensation and favored pet across the world.

Shih-Tzu Appearance

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The Shih Tzu is a very beautiful little dog – possessing a very long and flowing double coat, he is often jokingly referred to as a dust mop, due to the way his hair drags along the floor as he moves. There is nothing common about these toy dogs however. In fact, the little lion dog carries himself with a proud and regal bearing, befitting his ancient and honorable lineage. With his head held high and tail arched high over his back, he is a very arrogant-looking little canine, though sweet in disposition.

While there is a great size variation amongst the Shih Tzu, it is generally said that they should be between 8-11 inches at the shoulder, and should ideally weigh no more than 16 pounds. His coat, beautiful to gaze upon and silky-soft to the touch, comes in a wide array of colors, including gold-and-white, red-and-white, red, black-masked gold, brindle-and-white, blue-and-white, liver-and-white, silver-and-white, black-and-white, solid black and solid liver.

Shih-Tzu Photo Gallery

Shih-Tzu Temperament and Personality

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The Shih Tzu is a very docile and well-mannered little dog, on the whole. Not prone to some of the high-strung tendencies of some of the other toy breeds, he is a very quiet and even-tempered little individual. The Shih Tzu is non-quarrelsome and tends to get along very well with other animals and children (though they may hide from those who are very small and pull hair). Well-suited for either country or apartment living, this unique little dog�s main goal is to be close to his owner and enjoy your company.

A word of warning, however – the Shih Tzu is notoriously difficult to housebreak!

Shih-Tzu Health Concerns

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Fortunately, the Shih Tzu has very few major health concerns, when compared to many other purebred dogs. Nevertheless, considering the small gene pool that the modern-day Shih Tzu stems from, it�s not surprising that there are still a few genetic problems. Some of these health issues include:

Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)
Ear infections
Hip dysplasia
Elbow dysplasia
Renal dysplasia
Abnormal thyroid functioning

Shih-Tzu Exercise Needs

The Shih Tzu is very low-maintenance when it comes to exercise needs. While he does enjoy going for short walks, he is also very capable of amusing himself and is not above tearing around the living room with a favorite toy, should he feel the need to stretch his legs. Additionally, the Shih Tzu loves to travel and is a very happy-go-lucky companion on any road trip.

Shih-Tzu Training Tips

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The Shih Tzu is a very loving and obedient toy dog, who enjoys pleasing their human companions. Because of this, coupled with the dog’s high intelligence, they are well-suited for obedience training, learning tricks, and can even shine in agility and obstacle courses. Most who have known Shih Tzus will be sure to tell you that they love learning new things and seem to really enjoy performing for the enjoyment of their owners. Be forewarned, however, that they are known to be very difficult to housebreak. Housetraining your Shih Tzu takes a lot of patience and understanding.

Shih-Tzu Grooming Tips

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This is the one area where your beloved Shih Tzu is bound to be a great deal of work. Those who insist upon maintaining these unique little dogs’ long flowing coat quickly discover that it requires daily combing and regular trims to keep them looking beautiful. This is often too much of a headache for the average pet owner. Most pet Shih Tzus travel to the grooming salon every couple of weeks, getting their long locks cut to a shorter, cooler, and more manageable style.


Finding a Reputable Shih-Tzu Breeder Near You

Find a reputable local puppy breeder on our Shih-Tzu Dog Breeder Directory.

Choosing the right Shih-Tzu breeder is one of the most important decisions you’ll make in your quest for the perfect Shih-Tzu puppy. There are many dog breeders out there – some are highly responsible – others not so much.

We recommend the following criteria be used when choosing a responsible Shih-Tzu breeder:

  • Breeding only health screened, AKC registered parents, or health screened generational Cockapoos with AKC registered, health screened lineage.
  • Breeds for health and temperament.
  • Is knowledgeable and truthful about their dogs and puppies, and does not make exaggerated claims as to the non-shedding or hypoallergenic traits of the breed.
  • Offers advice and assistance with housetraining, puppy care, nutrition, etc.
  • Places puppies only with carefully screened owners with a good potential for providing a loving, forever home.
  • Puts the welfare of her dogs and puppies before profit.
  • Is committed to her dogs and puppies for life, and will provide advice and support after you take your puppy home.
  • Can provide you with plenty of references from past puppy buyers, veterinary references, etc.

Additional Shih-Tzu Resources

Learn more about Shih-Tzus here.