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Shih Tzu Breed Information

Paws Pattern
shih tzu puppy chewing a rope

The Shih Tzu, a small yet charismatic breed, boasts an affectionate and outgoing personality. These lovable companions have an unmistakable charm that makes them a favorite among dog enthusiasts. With their hypoallergenic coats and minimal shedding, they're perfect for those with allergies or those who simply prefer a tidy home. Moreover, their adaptable nature allows them to thrive in various living situations, making them an ideal fit for both city and suburban dwellers. 

Shih Tzus are known for their confident and spirited demeanor, which contributes to their well-rounded temperament. These little dogs are genuinely happy in the company of their human families, and their sociable nature extends to other pets as well. With a rich history as cherished lapdogs for Chinese royalty, it's no wonder that the Shih Tzu has evolved into such a delightful and cherished breed. 

BREED TYPE / MIX Purebred ENERGY Moderate SHEDDING Shih Tzu has a double coat that sheds depending on the length. A long coat sheds less while a short coat is easier to brush and to keep clean. 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 is known for its affectionate and loving nature, making it a perfect companion for people of all ages. Their warmth and devotion to their human families make them an excellent choice for those seeking a true friend. 
  • With a lush, hypoallergenic coat, the Shih Tzu is an ideal breed for allergy sufferers. Their minimal shedding also means less time spent on grooming and cleaning up fur, which is a bonus for busy households. 
  • The adaptable Shih Tzu can comfortably adjust to various living situations, whether in a bustling city apartment or a spacious suburban home. This flexibility makes them a great fit for diverse lifestyles and environments. 
  • Shih Tzus are confident, spirited dogs that carry themselves with a regal air. This self-assured nature contributes to their well-rounded temperament, making them delightful companions. 
  • The Shih Tzu's sociable and friendly disposition allows them to get along well with other pets and people. They love to play and interact, making them excellent additions to households with children and other animals. 
  • While the Shih Tzu enjoys playtime and short walks, they don't require extensive exercise, making them suitable for those with limited time or mobility. Their moderate energy levels mean they're content with a cozy spot to curl up in after some light activity. 
  • Shih Tzus are known for their unwavering loyalty and devotion to their families. They form strong bonds with their owners, providing love, companionship, and a sense of security. 
brown and white shih tzu face closeup


The Shih Tzu is a small yet captivating breed, renowned for its distinct and charming appearance. With a compact and sturdy body, they typically weigh between 9 to 16 pounds, making them the perfect size for a lap dog or a loving companion in smaller living spaces. Their expressive, dark eyes and button nose give them an irresistible, endearing look that has won the hearts of dog lovers worldwide. 

One of the most recognizable features of the Shih Tzu is its luxurious, flowing coat. The coat can come in a wide variety of colors, including black, white, gold, silver, and combinations thereof. The texture of the coat is usually soft and silky, requiring regular grooming to maintain its appearance and prevent matting. Many Shih Tzu owners opt for a "puppy cut" or shorter trim to make grooming more manageable while still preserving the breed's distinctive look. 

In addition to their striking coat, the Shih Tzu's face is another notable aspect of their appearance. The breed has a short, broad, and slightly round head, with a square-shaped muzzle. Their large, round eyes are set wide apart, giving them an alert and curious expression. The Shih Tzu's ears are typically drop-shaped and covered in a generous amount of hair, adding to their overall charm and elegance. 

The breed's tail is another distinctive feature. The Shih Tzu's tail is set high and curls over the back, often adorned with a plume of fur that adds to their regal appearance. Their sturdy legs provide a balanced and smooth gait, reflecting the breed's confident and spirited personality. 


The Shih Tzu's temperament is a delightful blend of affection, confidence, and sociability, making them excellent companions for a wide variety of households. These charming dogs are known for their friendly and outgoing nature, which allows them to form strong bonds with their human families as well as get along well with other pets. Their innate warmth and loyalty make them fantastic additions to any home, providing love and companionship in abundance. 

A key aspect of the Shih Tzu's temperament is their confident and spirited demeanor. This self-assured nature, stemming from their royal ancestry, contributes to their well-rounded personality. Despite their small size, Shih Tzus carry themselves with a sense of regality, making them a joy to be around. They are not typically timid or shy; rather, they exude an air of self-confidence that is both endearing and captivating. 

One of the many appealing qualities of the Shih Tzu is their adaptability. They are able to thrive in various living situations, from bustling city apartments to spacious suburban homes. This versatility extends to their energy levels as well. While they enjoy playtime and short walks, their exercise requirements are moderate, making them suitable for individuals with limited time or mobility. 

When it comes to training, the Shih Tzu's intelligence and eagerness to please can make them a joy to work with. However, their sometimes-stubborn nature can present challenges. Positive reinforcement and consistent training methods are essential to help them become well-mannered and obedient pets. Early socialization is also crucial in order to ensure a well-adjusted and friendly Shih Tzu, capable of forming meaningful relationships with both humans and other animals. 



The Shih Tzu's luxurious coat, while a defining feature of the breed, requires regular grooming to maintain its appearance and ensure the dog's overall health and comfort. While their hypoallergenic and low-shedding qualities are an advantage, it's essential to establish a consistent grooming routine to prevent tangles, matting, and skin issues. 

Daily brushing is recommended for Shih Tzus to keep their coats free from tangles and matting. Using a pin brush or a slicker brush, start at the head and work your way towards the tail, gently working through any knots or tangles you may encounter. Regular brushing not only helps maintain the coat's condition but also provides an opportunity to bond with your dog and check for any skin issues or abnormalities. 

Bathing your Shih Tzu every three to four weeks is ideal to keep their coat clean and smelling fresh. It's essential to use a gentle, dog-specific shampoo to avoid irritation and maintain the coat's natural oils. Ensure the coat is thoroughly rinsed, as any residue can lead to skin irritation. After bathing, towel-dry your dog and use a hairdryer on a low setting to dry the coat completely, being careful not to overheat your dog. 

Many Shih Tzu owners opt for a professional groomer to trim their dog's coat, especially if maintaining a longer, show-style cut. However, the more practical "puppy cut" is also popular, as it keeps the coat at a manageable length while still preserving the breed's charming appearance. Regular haircuts, typically every six to eight weeks, will help maintain your Shih Tzu's coat and reduce grooming time. 

In addition to coat care, Shih Tzus require regular attention to their ears, eyes, nails, and teeth. Cleaning their ears with a dog-safe ear cleaner and cotton ball will help prevent infections, while daily teeth brushing will promote dental health. Eyes should be gently wiped with a damp cloth to remove any discharge or tear stains.

Finally, nail trimming every three to four weeks will ensure your Shih Tzu's paws remain healthy and comfortable. 

Exercise Needs

The Shih Tzu, while a small and adaptable breed, still requires regular exercise to maintain their health, happiness, and overall well-being. However, their exercise needs are relatively moderate compared to larger or more energetic breeds, making them a suitable choice for individuals with limited time or mobility. 

Daily walks are essential for the Shih Tzu, providing both physical exercise and mental stimulation. A leisurely 20 to 30-minute stroll around the neighborhood or a visit to a local park will typically satisfy their activity requirements. It's crucial to monitor your Shih Tzu during walks, especially in hot or humid weather, as their short muzzles can make them more prone to overheating. 

In addition to walks, Shih Tzus enjoy playtime and interactive games, which offer a fun way to bond with your dog while providing mental and physical exercise. Engaging in activities such as fetch, hide-and-seek, or gentle tug-of-war can help keep your Shih Tzu entertained and active. It's essential to provide age-appropriate toys and play activities that cater to your dog's energy levels and interests. 

Shih Tzus can also benefit from basic obedience training and agility exercises, which challenge their minds and provide an outlet for their spirited nature. Training sessions should be kept short, fun, and engaging, with plenty of positive reinforcement to encourage good behavior and maintain their interest. 

Although the Shih Tzu's exercise requirements are moderate, it's important to remember that each dog is an individual and may have unique needs based on their age, health, and temperament. Regular exercise is vital for maintaining a healthy weight, promoting good joint health, and preventing boredom and behavioral issues. 


The Shih Tzu, like all dog breeds, may be predisposed to certain health issues. However, with proper care, regular veterinary check-ups, and a healthy lifestyle, many Shih Tzus can lead long, happy lives, often reaching an average lifespan of 10 to 16 years. Being aware of potential health concerns and monitoring your dog's well-being can help ensure they remain in the best possible health. 

One common health issue among Shih Tzus is brachycephalic syndrome, which affects breeds with short muzzles. This condition can cause breathing difficulties, snorting, and a higher risk of overheating. It's essential to monitor your Shih Tzu during exercise, especially in hot or humid weather, and provide them with a comfortable and well-ventilated environment to minimize potential issues. 

Eye problems are also prevalent in the breed, partly due to their large, prominent eyes. Some of the more common eye issues include progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), cataracts, and dry eye. Regular eye care and veterinary check-ups can help detect and address these issues early, minimizing discomfort and potential vision loss. 

Shih Tzus may also be prone to hip dysplasia, a genetic condition that affects the hip joint and can cause pain, stiffness, and mobility issues. Maintaining a healthy weight, providing appropriate exercise, and regular vet check-ups can help manage this condition and ensure your dog's comfort. 

Dental issues, such as periodontal disease and tooth decay, can also affect the breed due to their small mouths and closely spaced teeth. Regular dental care, including daily brushing and professional cleanings, can help prevent dental problems and promote overall oral health. 

In addition to these specific concerns, it's crucial to maintain a well-balanced diet, provide regular exercise, and ensure your Shih Tzu receives appropriate vaccinations and parasite prevention treatments. Building a strong relationship with your veterinarian and keeping them informed of any changes in your dog's health or behavior will help you stay proactive in maintaining your Shih Tzu's well-being. 

While the Shih Tzu may be predisposed to certain health issues, proper care and attention can help minimize risks and ensure a long, healthy, and happy life for your beloved companion. 


The Shih Tzu, when provided with proper care and a healthy lifestyle, boasts an impressive lifespan for a small breed. On average, these delightful companions can live anywhere from 10 to 16 years, with some even surpassing this range. Their longevity can be attributed to their robust health, provided that potential health issues are addressed and managed effectively. 

The longest-lived Shih Tzu on record, named Smokey, reached an incredible 23 years of age. This remarkable achievement demonstrates the potential for longevity within the breed when given appropriate care, nutrition, and attention throughout their lives. 

To help your Shih Tzu enjoy a long and healthy life, it's essential to provide them with a well-balanced diet, regular exercise, and consistent grooming. Regular veterinary check-ups, including dental care and vaccinations, are also crucial in maintaining your dog's overall well-being. Monitoring your Shih Tzu for any signs of illness or discomfort and addressing issues promptly can further contribute to their long and happy life. 


Training a Shih Tzu can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience, as these intelligent dogs are often eager to please their owners. However, the breed can sometimes display a stubborn streak, which may present challenges during training sessions. With patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement, Shih Tzus can become well-mannered and obedient pets. 

Early socialization is a crucial aspect of training for Shih Tzus, as it helps them develop into well-adjusted and friendly dogs. Exposing your Shih Tzu to various environments, people, and other animals from a young age can improve their social skills and reduce the likelihood of developing fearful or aggressive behaviors. 

When it comes to obedience training, using positive reinforcement methods, such as treats, praise, and play, can help motivate your Shih Tzu and make training more enjoyable. Avoid harsh training techniques or punishment, as these can damage the bond between you and your dog and potentially lead to behavioral issues. 

Consistency is key when training a Shih Tzu, as these dogs can become confused or resistant to training if expectations are not clear. Establishing a routine and setting boundaries from the start can help your dog understand what is expected of them and foster a more harmonious relationship. 

Shih Tzus are intelligent and capable of learning a variety of commands and tricks. Engaging in regular training sessions, ideally 10-15 minutes per day, will help reinforce good behavior and strengthen the bond between you and your dog. Remember to keep sessions fun, engaging, and tailored to your dog's individual needs and interests. 

In addition to basic obedience, Shih Tzus can also enjoy participating in activities such as agility, rally, or trick training. These activities not only provide mental stimulation and exercise but also offer opportunities for socialization and building trust between you and your dog. 


The Shih Tzu, a breed steeped in history, traces its origins back to ancient China, where it was highly revered for its captivating appearance and endearing temperament. This enchanting breed, often referred to as the "lion dog," is believed to have been developed by crossing the Lhasa Apso with the Pekingese. The resulting small and elegant canine soon became a beloved companion for Chinese royalty, particularly during the Ming and Manchu Dynasties. 

As cherished members of the royal court, Shih Tzus lived lives of luxury and privilege. They enjoyed the company of emperors, empresses, and other nobles, often residing within the palace walls. This royal association contributed to the breed's air of regality and elegance, which is still apparent in their confident demeanor today. The breed's exclusivity was such that, for centuries, the Shih Tzu remained a well-guarded secret within the imperial palaces. 

The Shih Tzu's journey to the Western world began in the early 20th century, when the breed was first introduced to England. The breed quickly gained popularity among dog enthusiasts, thanks to its unique appearance and delightful personality. The Shih Tzu made its way to the United States after World War II, when returning soldiers brought these captivating canines home with them. In 1969, the American Kennel Club officially recognized the Shih Tzu as a distinct breed, cementing its place in the hearts of dog lovers worldwide. 

Today, the Shih Tzu continues to thrive as a beloved companion dog, known for its affectionate nature, hypoallergenic coat, and adaptable personality. While the breed has come a long way from its royal beginnings, the Shih Tzu's elegant charm and captivating spirit remain a testament to its storied past.