Shih Tzu – Full Breed Profile

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
Are you a fan of small size dogs? If so, check fantastic Shih Tzu. If you love small energetic size dogs who are clingy this breed might be perfect for you.
Dog Breed Group:
Companion Dogs
9 to 10 inches tall at the shoulder
9 to 16 pounds
Life Span:
10 to 16 years

Breed Characteristics:

Apartment Friendly


How well will this breed adapt to apartment living? Is the apartment size the most important factor when it comes to proper living conditions? Is the breed suitable for apartment living?

Good For First-Time Owners


Some dogs aren't suitable for first-time dog owners. Is this breed a good match for someone with no dog experience? Can training help them be on their best behavior with owners with no dog experience? Are they suitable to be handled by someone who is just entering the canine world?

Overall Sensitivity


Some dogs are sensitive. Certain breeds are rough on the outside, while having the softest heart on the inside. In other words, some dogs are 'thick-skinned' while some are 'easygoing.' Is this breed prone to sensitivity?

Tolerates Being Alone


Separation anxiety in dogs is a serious condition that can affect a dog's life quality. Is this breed prone to this condition? Can you leave him alone for hours? How destructive this breed can become when bored, neglected, or not loved enough?

Affectionate With Family


How affectionate this breed will be around his humans? Will he welcome new family friends easily or he will choose to be shy? Some breeds can be clingy with owners, while others don't attach a lot. Will this breed act as the family's best friend?



Some dogs will tolerate children, while others will adore well-behaved ones. Dogs and children should always be supervised, no matter how well trained the dog might be. Will this breed act as a nanny dog or he will stay away from children?

Friendly Toward Other Dogs


Some dog breeds cannot wait to run to the dog park and run with others. Others prefer to be with their humans, and not to be a part of a multi-pet household. Is this breed dog lover or not? How friendly this breed will be toward other dogs?

Friendly Toward Strangers


Some dog breeds tend to be reserved toward strangers and highly suspicious. Others are fast to walk away with them easily. How welcoming this breed is toward strangers?

Drooling Level


If you love to clean all the time drooling level in dogs is a trait that you should mind. Is this breed less likely to drool, or you will always need a towel on hand?

Easy To Groom


Heavier shedding during the shedding season is something that every dog needs to go through. However, some dogs shed just a bit all year round. Is this breed one of them? How often should you groom this dog?

Overall Health


What can you expect from this breed in terms of health? Are there any genetic conditions to vary about? Is obesity a major issue in this breed? By knowing more about the dog's health, you are learning how to help him live a longer and healthier life.

Prone To Obesity


Treats are a great addition to training sessions. Dogs love sweet bites of dog treats but they should be served in moderation. Treats can lead to obesity, next to poor nutrition. Can this breed gain extra weight from treats? How prone to obesity this breed actually is?

Trainability Level


Training some dogs is easier than others. How easy this dog will be to train? What can you expect? Some dogs are huge people pleasers and they will master commands easily, while others will try to outsmart you.

Intelligence Level


Dogs are smart beings. We do our best to train them, but they do still end up training us to adapt to their needs. How intelligent is this breed? Will he try to outsmart you? Or he will need multiple training sessions to master basic commands?

Prey Drive


Dogs were bred for a specific purpose. Those who were bred to hunt have natural instincts to hunt, even today. This is why many dogs, like Terriers, will chase other animals. They will also have a hard time concentrating on your commands when there is something small moving. Is this breed prone to following his prey instincts?

Barking Level


How vocal this breed is? Can you expect neighbors to ring you often to calm your dog? Or you can sleep without worries of hearing your Fido bark? Some breeds are highly vocal, others have unusual sounds, and some are silent. Is this breed prone to barking?

Energy Level


Low-energy dogs are happy with regular walks and indoor chill times. High-energy dogs are always ready for action. Is this breed a couch potato, energetic dog, or somewhere in between?

Exercise Needs


Some dogs are more than happy with a slow stroll down the street. Others need hours of active time to stay happy and fit. Is this breed demanding in terms of exercise? How much exercise this breed needs to stay happy and healthy?

Playfulness Level


Some dogs never lose that puppy spirit, not even in their senior years. Others are more serious and prefer having a job to do. Is this breed demanding in terms of playfulness? Can you expect playfulness in their senior years as well?

Shih Tzu is a playful small size dog. This breed is often seen strolling down the city streets. After all, they are small and fast to easily adapt to any space.

Don’t let their size fool you into thinking there isn’t much work with this breed.

You will have to invest serious time into grooming this breed. They have longer, lavishing coat that gives them elegant look.

They are people-pleasers, making them a great option for the family dog. They are more than polite with other dogs as well and can do well with younger children.

Make sure that children understand what are the ground rules and that small dogs aren’t toys.

These dogs are cute, but they won’t allow being pushed around. They will make a stand, and make their voice be heard.

Quick Facts

Real name: Shih Tzu
Other names: Chrysanthemum Dog
Origin: Tibet
Breed type: Companion Dogs
Weight: 9 to 16 pounds
Height: 9 to 10 inches tall at the shoulder
Lifespan: 10 to 16 years
Litter Size: 3 – 4 puppies
Color: Commonly white, black, liver, a mix of black and white, or tricolor. They come in a variety of colors
Coat: A double coat of hard topcoat and soft undercoat

Shih Tzu History

Some dog historians believe that Shih Tzu is a cross between the Pekingese and Lhasa Apso.

It’s known that these dogs were favorites of the Chinese royals. As such, the Chinese kept them within their borders.

In fact, they refused to sell them, trade them or export them in any way. First Shiz Tzus were imported into England and Norway in 1930.

At the time, they were classified as Apsos. The first Shih Tzu Club was formed in 1935 in England.

As for the States, they were first imported after World War II. In fact, soldiers who fought in Europe and Asia brought some dogs with them. The AKC recognized the breed in 1969 and classified them in the Toy Group.

Shih Tzu Physical Appearance

The Shih Tzu is a sturdy and lively dog with a double coat. These dogs are small in size and light on their feet.

They are never leggy, and they are well-balanced and compact.

The head is round, while the eyes are large and expressive. Ears are large while the muzzle is short and unwrinkled.

The neck is well-set while the chest is broad and deep. The tail is set high and heavily plumed.

The coat is double-coated and dense. Shih Tzus come in different colors. Their movement should be effortless.

Shih Tzu Personality

Shih Tzus are happy and outgoing dogs who love to spend time with their people.

They were bred to be companion dogs and they are true to their role even today.

If you want a smaller size dog who loves long walks, but also loves to be a full-time companion this breed may be the right for you.

If you need a guarding dog, this breed isn’t for you. They are all about giving and receiving attention and love.

Within the canine world, they may be described as clowns. They will do whatever is possible in their power to make you laugh.

Do you expect your Shih Tzu to retrieve a ball? In that case, get yourself a Golden Retriever, or any dog of the retrieving nature because the Shih Tzu won’t chase that ball.

These energetic dogs will prefer a good run with other dogs. They are recommended for families with adult children.

Toddlers tend to see them as moving toys which can lead to many stressful moments.

Children should know how to safely interact with dogs.

This means that they shouldn’t pull them, try to pick them up, or try to tuck them in as they are furry dolls.

No matter how well your child/children may behave around Shih Tzy they should never be left without any supervision.

Shih Tzu Training

Did you know that dogs can master basic commands as of eight weeks of age? Yes, they’re that smart.

However, to utilize that willingness to learn at such a young age, you need to know how to train a dog. If this is your first dog, it won’t hurt to talk with a professional dog trainer first.

This way you will get professional inputs on dog training, you will learn how to train a dog, what matters the most when it comes to dog training, and how not to lose your nerves when your dog gets bored.

Yes, it may be pricey, but it will pay off so much in the long run.

Once your Shih Tzu arrives focus on teaching him simple commands such as ‘come‘, and ‘sit.’

Make training consistent or you will experience how it feels to own a dog prone to destructive behavior. These small dogs are a bit clingy.

As such they will love spending each moment next to their owners. Separation anxiety is often seen in this breed, and this is something to consider when getting this breed.

Make sure that your entire family is down with the decision of having a dog.

This way you can split dog-related obligations, provide more short and fun training sessions, and more outdoor time.

Shih Tzu Exercise Needs

Small dogs don’t need a lot of exercises, right? This is a common deception and another proof of why people should do their research on a breed before they choose a dog.

If you are more of an indoor person who prefers long hours chilling and streaming, then this breed isn’t for you.

Why? Because if an hour-long exercise time seems like a lot, this isn’t the breed for you.

Your Shih Tzu needs regular toilet walks and breaks, but he will need additional hours of exercise every day to keep his joints and bones healthy.

They will use this extra of 60 minutes to sniff, explore, run, and play leash-free in a well-secured area. If you love this breed’s traits, but you would love a less energetic dog, you might want to check Maltese Shih Tzu, a cross between Shih Tzu and Maltese.

Pro tip: Before you get a designer dog, or any, compare different dog breeds to get a breed that suits your lifestyle the best.

Shih Tzu Grooming

Does the small size mean non-existing grooming needs? Well, no.

No matter how small size a dog might be he still good care. In fact, it’s common for small size dogs to have a longer coat which means more grooming challenges.

What does this mean in reality? In practice, this means that you will have a longer dry time after a rainy day, more dry time during the winter and you will probably have to put on winter shoes to protect your Shih Tzu’s paws.

Paw winter care is a real thing and make sure that you are at the top of your game when it comes to keeping that salt away from your Shih Tzu.

To enable that clean face every day, you will have to cleanse his face and eyes regularly.

Brushing will depend on your dog’s coat length:

  • Long coats should be brushed every day
  • Medium-long coats should be brushed every two days
  • Short coats should be brushed every three days

Dogs, in general, don’t need frequent baths, but this breed should be bathed every few months, if not every three weeks.

Talk with your veterinarian on bathing-related topics, because you don’t want to bathe your Shih Tzu too often, as it can create skin-related issues.

The rest is basic care:

  • Trim or grind nails monthly
  • Bathe only when really needed
  • Clean ears when needed
  • Check eyes daily for any eye discharge
  • Check gums weekly

Shih Tzu Health

Shih Tzus are known for being prone to health issues that are common to small size dogs.

This doesn’t mean that your Shih Tzu will experience any of them, but you should be aware of them. This is why prevention is so important.

Regular veterinarian check-ups will provide the best insight on the dog’s overall health, weight gain, body change, and any other health-related factors.

These small size dogs are prone to heatstroke and excessive thirst. They can also easily gain weight.

Once you get a dog you are directly responsible for his weight. Make sure that you know how much your Shih Tzu should eat, and when.

Avoid serving meals after an intense workout. Never leave your Shih Tzu in a car during a hot summer day or in front of a store when the temperature is high.

Small size dogs are more likely to be stolen when left alone in front of a store – keep that in mind.

Is Shih Tzu For You?

The Shih Tzu is for you if you want a small but sturdy dog. This breed is for you if you want a dog who doesn’t need much outdoor exercise and is a bit clingy.

On the other hand, this breed isn’t for you if you don’t want to deal with a stubborn small size dog.

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