Shih Tzu

  • Temperament Playful, Alert, Gentle, Loyal, Friendly
  • Family Friendly Yes
  • Trainability Easy to Train
  • Shedding Low
  • Group Toy
  • Color Large Variety of All Colors & Combinations
  • Origin China (1800s)
  • Height 8-11 inches
  • Weight 9-16 lbs
  • Original Function Lap Dog
  • Current Function Companion
  • Lifespan 10-16 years

Origin of the Breed

Shih Tzus have appeared in paintings and have been referenced in written records for several centuries. They are believed to be a cross breed descended from the Lhasa Apso (a Tibetan mountain dog bred to live in monasteries) and the Pekingese. Originally from China, these highly prized dogs were the preferred pets of royals, and were not allowed to be sold or traded abroad until the 20th century. They were eventually discovered in Europe around the Second World War, and were identified by the English Kennel Club in 1946. Shih Tzus became recognized by the AKC only recently, in 1969.

Coloring and Size Variations

This fuzzy breed usually is multicolored with a strong presence of white mixed with red, gold, brown, black or silver. They can also be solid black, solid brown, brindled, or tricolored. Their coats shed rarely, making them a pet well-suited for people inclined toward allergies. Shih Tzus, though already a smaller breed, can also be bred in a "toy' or "teacup" size.

Behavioral Tendencies

Shih Tzus well-loved house pets known for being happy to snuggle on a lap or scamper around the kitchen with the family. They are alert, lively, and are enthusiastic canines with a watch dog instinct. They usually have positive interactions with children as well as other dog breeds, but can develop moodiness, and may even nip if provoked and not properly trained. However Shih Tzus are generally positive pets who adore affection from their owners. They enjoy being with people, and can become nervous, suspicious if left alone.

Training Needs

Shih Tzus can tend to adopt a "small dog syndrome" attitude toward their owners if they are pampered. They can grow possessive with their toys, food, and areas, and can become snappy toward humans. They will need to be firmly housebroken, as rules and restraints are not initially welcome by this breed. Shih Tzus require a firm and consistent hand of guidance that will not allow them to manipulate or become bossy around children or new adults.

Health Complications

The long hair and soft paws of Shih Tzus makes them prone to slipping and falling. They sometimes have spinal pain, tooth decay, ear and eye infections, and breathing complications (as well as snoring).


This is an important aspect to the well being of Shih Tzus. They will become snappish and discontent if not allowed to take a daily walk or romp freely in the part. This high energy animal requires a change of environment to satisfy its curiosity.

Living Conditions

Shih Tzus are well-suited for apartment living, though they do enjoy roaming freely in parks. They like to be in an air-conditioned space, and do not require extensive yard space.


Shih Tzus with long coats require a fair amount of grooming from professionals. They generally need daily brushing to work out the knots in their coat, and will require trimming and shampooing.

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