Cavalier King Charles Spaniel vs Shih Tzu: Breeds Comparison

Trying to decide between the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and the Shih Tzu? Both of these dogs can be similar in some ways but are quite different in many others. Read on and find out which of these popular breeds is the perfect pup for your lifestyle!

Before getting a puppy, you should be sure that the breed you're doing to buy or rescue is a good fit for your lifestyle and home.

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Both Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Shih Tzu are members of the Companion Group.

Although these breeds are members of the same breed group, they have some differences and not only similarities so keep reading to learn more.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel vs Shih Tzu Size Comparison

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are larger, with a typical height of 12 to 13 inches and weight of 13 to 18 pounds, while the typical height of Shih Tzu is 9 to 10 inches and they usually weigh 9 to 16 pounds.

We know that these numbers might be too abstract, so we made a tool to help you visualize these numbers.

The following chart compares the average breeds height with the average height of an American man and woman.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data, the average height of a man is 69 inches, and the height of a woman is 63.5 inches.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Height Visualization Shih Tzu Height Visualization Average American Women Height Visualization Average American Men Height Visualization

Dog size comparison to a human. From left, average heights of Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Shih Tzu, American female, and American male.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel vs Shih Tzu lifespan

No doubt, the quality of care provided to the dog is one of the main factors when it comes to canines life longevity, however, there are also other factors, especially the dog's breed.

With a life expectancy of 10 to 16 years, Shih Tzus usually live longer than Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels' lifespan is 9 to 15 years.

Read on to the following sections to better understand in detail how Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Shih Tzu compare and hopefully end up with enough arguments to decide which one is better for you.

Breed Name Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Shih Tzu Shih Tzu
Breed GroupCompanion DogsCompanion Dogs
Height12 to 13 inches9 to 10 inches
Weight13 to 18 pounds9 to 16 pounds
Life Span9 to 15 years10 to 16 years

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel vs Shih Tzu adaptability

When we say "dog adaptability", most people think about apartment living adaptability, so let's start with that.

All dogs are great — but not all dogs are great for or geared toward apartment living. A dog may be considered the worst dog breed for apartments for a few reasons including size, energy level, noise, smell, shedding...

Luckily, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and Shih Tzus are considered to be good apartment living dogs.

While most dogs can be left home alone for 6 to 8 hours, some will do better. Check the table below to see how Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and Shih Tzus tolerate being left alone.

To learn more, read our list of dogs that can be left alone.

Hot weather tolerance

Depending on where you live, you should choose a dog that tolerates hot or cold weather well.

Speaking of Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Shih Tzu, these breeds don't tolerate hot weather well, so you need to be very cautious, especially when it's really hot.

Be sure to provide shade and water and head out in the morning or late evening when it's cooler. During warm weather, Also, avoid pavements - if the ground is too hot to touch for your hand for a few seconds, it's too hot for paws.

Check our heatstroke article on prevention and symptoms to learn more.

What about cold weather?

Cold temperatures are not a problem for most dogs until they fall below 45° F, at which point some cold-averse dogs might begin to feel uncomfortable. When temperatures fall below 32° F, owners of small breed dogs, dogs with thin coats, and/or very young, old, or sick dogs should pay close attention to their pet’s well-being.

Once temperatures drop under 20° F, all owners need to be aware that their dogs could potentially develop cold-associated health problems like hypothermia and frostbite.

Luckily, both breeds tolarate cold weather well, so while you stick to the rules mentioned above, they should be fine and probably enjoy the cold weather.

Our "How Cold Is Too Cold For Dogs?" article has more information on this topic.

AdaptabilityCavalier King Charles SpanielShih Tzu
Adapts Well To Apartment Living
Good For Novice Owners
Sensitivity Level
Tolerates Being Alone
Tolerates Cold Weather
Tolerates Hot Weather

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel vs Shih Tzu temperament

It's always hard to make a general statement about the whole breed's temperament. Each dog has a different temperament, and there are a lot of factors that affect its behavior.

Looking for a perfect family dog?

If you're looking for a companion dog, you won't go wrong with Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Shih Tzu. Their outgoing and friendly personality makes them a great choice for families. Both are highly affectionate with family, they will immediately become a family member.

When it comes to behavior around children, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel simply tends to do better.

Both Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Shih Tzu love children - they are usually gentle and patient with kids, but as we mentioned, temperaments can vary based on the individual dog.

We've created a list of the 15 best dogs for kids and family, so read it next if this is important for you.

Guarding behavior

Dog guarding behavior is welcome for some owners, while others prefer a dog that's friendly towards strangers.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and Shih Tzus are super friendly toward strangers, so don't expect them to be too protective unless they are properly trained.

All-Around FriendlinessCavalier King Charles SpanielShih Tzu
Affectionate With Family
Dog Friendly
Friendly Toward Strangers

Health And Grooming Needs

The best way to optimize your pup’s health is to research reputable breeders, and then when you meet them ask to see the parents and their health certificates as described above and to see the conditions in which all the dogs are living.

Check the table below to see the general health rating for these two canines, and read full breed profile articles to read in-depth information on their health.

Also, some breeds are prone to obesity, which could cause other health conditions. Be sure to check that information as well, if the breed is prone to obesity, keep a close eye on labels and feed your dog according to the food labels.

For example, hip dysplasia is hereditary and is especially common in larger dogs. Factors such as excessive growth rate, types of exercise, and improper weight and nutrition can magnify this genetic predisposition.

What about shedding?

One of the bad parts of having a dog is definitely shedding. So be sure to take this into your consideration when choosing the right breed for you. Click here to learn how to minimize the shedding.

Both Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Shih Tzu are medium shedding dogs, so not great, not terrible. Preventing shedding is impossible, but regular brushing is necessary for these breeds.

Recommended article: 30 Small Hypoallergenic Dogs That Don’t Shed.

Drooling potential?

Well, we have good news. These breeds have low drooling potential.

Health And Grooming NeedsCavalier King Charles SpanielShih Tzu
Amount Of Shedding
Drooling Potential
Easy To Groom
General Health
Potential For Weight Gain

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel vs Shih Tzu trainability

Each dog needs some kind of obedience training, but some of them are easier to train, while others are more stubborn.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are usually easier to train than Shih Tzus.

If you choose one of these dogs, remember three pillars of dog training - Patience, persistence, and consistency play a huge role in successfully training your dog.

Finally, if you think you aren't capable of training your dog on your own, you might also consider getting professional help.

TrainabilityCavalier King Charles SpanielShih Tzu
Easy To Train
Potential For Mouthiness
Prey Drive
Tendency To Bark Or Howl
Wanderlust Potential

Do Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Shih Tzu need a lot of physical activity?

To keep your dog healthy, calm, and happy, you have to provide it with enough physical activities. Not only your dog will be healthier and happier when it's active, but you'll also reduce or completely eliminate destructive behavior.

Some people don't think about this when selecting a breed, so we have dedicated a whole chapter to physical needs.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels have a high level of exercise needs, while Shih Tzus require a low intensity of exercise.

Physical NeedsCavalier King Charles SpanielShih Tzu
Energy Level
Exercise Needs
Potential For Playfulness

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel or Shih Tzu: The bottom line

In this article, we tried to give you an idea of what you can expect from Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and Shih Tzus.

To further explore their personality, overall health, temperament, and much more, read their full breed profile.

Or, use the tool below to read the next comparison.

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