Dog Breed

Shih Tzu

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Primary image of Shih Tzu dog breed
Full Name
Shih Tzu
Alternate Names
Lion Dog, Imperial Shih Tzu
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Life Span
10 - 18 years
9 - 16 pounds

The small dog boasts one of the most wonderful coats of any dog breed. It has a deep history- originally a dog from Tibet, but was developed by Chinese emperors who at the time called it the "Lion Dog". For hundreds of years, there was much competition amongst Chinese royalty over who can have the most beautiful Shih Tzu dog. Today much of that reputation is maintained, as the dog is primarily a "lap dog" rather than a working dog. Shih Tzus do not tolerate heat or intense exercise well, but overall are healthy dogs and can live up to an incredible 18 years.

Bred For
    Family Considerations
    Child Friendly

    Is the Shih Tzu good with children?

    The Shih Tzu is about average in how friendly they are with children. They can be friendly and loving with children, but we recommend that they get early socialization, and are not left alone with children for extended periods.
    Stranger Friendly

    Is the Shih Tzu friendly with strangers?

    The Shih Tzu is about average in how friendly they are with strangers. They can be timid or protective, but with proper training and socialization can be fine for any household.
    Dog Friendly

    Is the Shih Tzu friendly with other dogs?

    The Shih Tzu is about average in how friendly they are with other dogs. They can be timid or defensive, but with proper training and socialization can be fine for dog parks and living with other dogs at home.
    Likes to Cuddle

    Does the Shih Tzu like to cuddle?

    The Shih Tzu likes to cuddle up every once in a while. They appreciate physical affection, but probably won't stay in your lap for extended amounts of time.

    Does the Shih Tzu like to play?

    The Shih Tzu is playful as a puppy, but not as much as they become older. They still appreciate the attention and love but are not as playful as other breeds when they are adults.
    Service Dog Ability

    Does the Shih Tzu make a good service dog?

    The Shih Tzu would not be a great fit as a service dog for several reasons.
    Overall Ease of Breed
    Ease for Novice

    Is the Shih Tzu good for first-time owners?

    The Shih Tzu is a good breed for first-time owners. A good fit for first-time owners are friendly breeds that are motivated to please their owner. This means they can be trained, and are rarely aggressive and overpowering.
    Training Potential

    How well can the Shih Tzu be trained?

    The Shih Tzu is about average when it comes to training potential. The Shih Tzu can be seen in competitions and can have advanced training, but it would require much dedication and oftentimes professional training.
    Amount of Shedding

    Does the Shih Tzu shed a lot?

    No! The Shih Tzu does not shed very much, and can be an excellent fit for someone who suffers from dog allergies.
    Ease of Grooming

    Is the Shih Tzu easy to groom?

    The Shih Tzu is one of the toughest breeds for grooming. It takes time and money, but the result is a beautiful coat.
    Exercise Need

    Does the Shih Tzu need a lot of exercise?

    The Shih Tzu requires some daily exercise, but daily walks should be enough. The Shih Tzu appreciates going outside and on daily walks, but they will be ok without anything overly athletic.

    How smart is the Shih Tzu?

    The Shih Tzu has average intelligence. They are smart and witty, but do not need to be constantly challenged mentally, as some other breeds.
    Amount of Barking

    How much does the Shih Tzu bark? Does the Shih Tzu bark too much?

    The Shih Tzu occasionally barks, but only for specific reasons such as when they need something, for protection, etc.
    Guard Dog Ability

    Is the Shih Tzu a good guard dog?

    The Shih Tzu is the opposite of a guard dog!
    Tolerates Being Alone

    Is the Shih Tzu good at staying alone? Is the Shih Tzu independent?

    The Shih Tzu is very independent, and an excellent choice for someone who will not have the time to always be with their dog. This can be beneficial for a working dog on the farm, or even just a family that works the 9-5 and cannot work from home.
    Home and Environment Considerations
    Good for Apartment Living

    Is the Shih Tzu a good apartment dog?

    The Shih Tzu is an excellent dog breed for an apartment. Some daily exercise is still important, but if they get that then the apartment will be more than enough for them to call home.

    How big is the Shih Tzu?

    The Shih Tzu is one of the smallest dog breeds- suited well for apartment living and very convenient for travel.
    Tolerates Heat

    How much does the Shih Tzu tolerate hot weather? When is it too hot for a Shih Tzu?

    The Shih Tzu can tolerate some heat, but should not be over-exposed to hot weather. In general, they can live in hot weather climates, but would do best with air conditioning or at least a fan in their home, especially where they sleep.
    Tolerates Cold

    How much does the Shih Tzu tolerate cold weather? When is it too cold for a Shih Tzu?

    The Shih Tzu does not tolerate cold weather very well, and we would not recommend having a Shih Tzu if you live in a very cold weather climate. Even if your home is warm, it can be inconvenient to go on walks, and you may need to have a sweater for your Shih Tzu.
    Potential to Run Away

    Does the Shih Tzu try to run away?

    The Shih Tzu is very unlikely to run away. Of course, precautions should always be taken, and every dog is unique, but with a Shih Tzu it is very likely they will naturally follow you, even when they are off-leash.
    Physical Characteristics
    General Health

    Is the Shih Tzu a healthy dog? The health of a Shih Tzu should be measured not just by how many years they live, but also by how many health issues they've had. It is important to know which health conditions your breed is prone to- hip problems, eye problems, bloating, and arthritis are all common dog health problems.

    The Shih Tzu is very healthy, but it is still important to feed the Shih Tzu high-quality food and to live a healthy lifestyle.
    Energy Level

    How energetic is the Shih Tzu?

    The Shih Tzu has some energy and requires daily walks, but overall the Shih Tzu has less energy than average.
    Amount of Drooling

    How much does the Shih Tzu drool?

    The Shih Tzu does not drool at all.
    Prey Drive

    Does the Shih Tzu have a large prey drive? Does the Shih Tzu like to chase birds, cats, and other small animals?

    The Shih Tzu does not have a large prey drive towards birds or even cats, and can typically do very well living in the same home as them.

    Is the Shih Tzu atheltic?

    The Shih Tzu may not be the fastest or strongest out of all the dog breeds, but that is not always a bad thing. In fact, for most modern homes, this can be convenient as the Shih Tzu can be less demanding when it comes to exercise needs.

Breed Variations

  • Image for the American  variation for dog breed


  • Image for the Brown variation for dog breed


  • Image for the Black variation for dog breed


  • Image for the Brindle variation for dog breed


  • Image for the Teacup variation for dog breed


  • Image for the Imperial variation for dog breed


  • Image for the Blue-eyed variation for dog breed


  1. Toy
  2. Shih Tzu
The Shih Tzu is a purebred dog that falls within the larger Toy dog breed group.
Toy group: Toy dogs are primarily characterized by their very small size. But don't let that fool you- if anything their personality and tenacity is higher than the average dog. In fact, even their protective instincts are above average! In fact, because of that it is crucial they get socialization with children and other dogs from an early age. Perhaps out of all dog groups, the toy dog group is the most difficult to put sub-groups into, since the sub groups also include larger dogs, and fall under other groupings. For example, the Pomeranian is a Toy Spitz dog, but there are also large Spitz dogs such as the Samoyed. Because the toy dog is both small and primarily bred for home companionship, they make excellent additions for a wide range of families. There are also practical benefits with toy dogs- they are great for apartment living, and traveling. Toy dogs are also loyal and love to cuddle, making them the ideal lap dog.

Shih Tzus for adoption

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