Shih Tzu dog breed characteristics and facts

Shih Tzu dog breed characteristics and facts


Companion Dogs


9 to 10 inches tall at the shoulder


9 to 16 pounds


10 to 16 years

The name “Shih Tzu” means little lion. Shih Tzu is a lover and you going to get love like anything from Shih Tzu. Shih Tzu was bred completely to be a companion, the Shih Tzus are cheerful, lovable, affectionate and outgoing small dogs. Since ancient times, they’ve been sitting comfortably on the laps of people of all kinds of life, every from emperors!

In the recent years, however, pet parents have begun lifting Shih Tzus from their laps and taking them into the world of dog sports, training them for obedience and rally competitions, as well as agility. If you’re seeking for a little Best Buddy that can adapt to apartment living, and will sit beside you on the couch for snuggles while showering you with affection, this is the ideal pup for you.

Shih Tzu Facts

  • Origin: Tibet, China
  • Size: Small; weighing 9 to 16 pounds.
  • Breed Group: Toy Group.
  • Lifespan: 10 to 16 years.
  • Coat: Long, double coat requires regular grooming.
  • Temperament: Affectionate, Friendly, and great with families and other pets.
  • Exercise Needs: Moderate; daily walks and playtime are sufficient.
  • Training: Intelligent but can be stubborn. Consistent, positive reinforcement-based training works best.
  • Grooming: High maintenance.
  • Health: Prone to respiratory issues, joint problems, joint problems, eye conditions, dental problems and other genetic health concerns.

Shih Tzu Overview

Shih Tzu breed has a high-class lineage, they were first kept by the royal Chinese family in the period of the Ming dynasty. With their hair floating on the floor and a topknot elegantly tied, the Shih Tzu seems foppish, and he is suitable only for lying around the palace on silk pillows. Shih Tzu's are stunning, lively, sociable and loyal furry friends.

It isn’t easy not to fall in love with Shih Tzu’s temperament. Regardless of how much a dog romanticizes anyone, the dog does not accept being ignored. They are companionable dogs; they are not hunting, herding and guard dogs. Shih Tzus’ preferred pastime is going out and make new friends. Wherever they are, they find a companion.

Shih Tzu is not just a member of the Toy Group and good-natured friendly breed. They’re highly adaptable. Shih Tzu's are very much comfirtable living in apartments in the city as to life on a country farm. They love children and get along with other animals easily. However, while the Shih Tzu is, in fact, a sturdy dog, their small size doesn’t reduce their disadvantage. Adults should always supervise interactions between children and dogs, and this is especially important for the Shih Tzu, to make sure that a child doesn’t accidentally hurt during rough play. Curiously, the Shih Tzu is known as the Chrysanthemum Dog, which is another cute nickname explaining how the hair on the face grows out in all directions; a flower, in which the nose is the middle.

Among the unique features of the Shih Tzu are their undershot bite, where the lower jaw is slightly wider than the upper, and the upper teeth bite inside the lower teeth, not from outside, when their mouth is closed. Moreover, the Shih Tzu is surrounded by several legends. One of them is that Buddha once visited with a little dog, which resembles Shih Tzu. In the frosty pre-morning morning, several robbers came across the Buddha in the hope of robbing and killing him.

This small dog transformed into a majestic lion, who scared out the smugglers and rescued Buddha’s life. The lion now changed back into that same frolicking poseur, whom the Buddha selected up and kissed. Many say that the white blob on the heads of Shih Tzus is where the Buddha kissed. Also, most people believe Fu Dogs is representations of the Shih Tzu pup lovers.

Some Shih Tzu highlights

Adorable Appearance: The well-known endearing and sweet appearance of Shih Tzus with features like long flowing coat, flat face and expressive eyes.

Friendly and Affectionate: Their friendly and affectionate natures make them great companions and loving lapdogs.

Great with Families: Shih Tzu's are typically great with children and families because Shih Tzus are gentle, kid-friendly and patient.

Low Exercise Needs: Shih Tzus’ exercise routine is relatively minimal, allowing them to live in apartments and with low activity households.

Low Shedding: Hypoallergenic SHi Tzus shed less and are the best choice for adoptees with or without allergies.

Intelligent and Trainable: Shih Tzus are intelligent pets that can get trained with reinforcement and patience despite their royal appearance.

Historical Roots: Shih Tzus have exciting royal origin and breed history from Tibetan and Chinese imperial courts.

Shih Tzu history

The Shih Tzu has ancient origins. According to a recent study, the Shih Tzu is among the fourteen “oldest” dog breeds and that the presence of dogs in China from 8,000 BC was confirmed using dog bones. Some people argue that the Buddha and Tibetan Monks bred the Shitzu and offered it as a gift to the Chinese empire. There is also the possibility that the breed was developed in China through intrabreeding of hybrids with Lhasa Apso or Pekingnese. The Shih Tzu was a pet in ancient times regardless of where the breed was developed in Tibet or China.

Since some of the paintings and art, as well as writings, were found to be from China’s Tang Dynast. In the 13th century, Marco Polo claimed that the Mongolian Emperor Kubla Khan owned small “lion,” additionally his “lions” were given with skilled and trained hunting lions, but not as victims, but to calm the psyche. It is thought that these dogs were Shih Tzu. In that period, such small dogs were known during the Ming Dynasty’s reign to the Emperor of China family. Little lion dogs” or “chrysanthemum-faced animals” was repeatedly referred to in literature from the time, and in the descriptions, they resemble small, smart, docile dogs of one kind, similar to “the tiny lion.” Some drawings from 1720 to the early 1900s century depict little, shaggy, chubby dogs.

The Shih Tzu became popular in the Imperial Court in 1861 after the royal concubine became the Empress of China. One of Empress T’zu Hsi’s first royal commands was that anyone discovered torturing palace dogs shall be instantly executed. T’zu Hsi was a great advocate of animals and financed massive significant breeding programs carried out under the direct support of palace eunuchs. It is documented that during T’zu Hsi’s reign, the Dalai Lama presented her with a pair of remarkable Shih Tzus believed to be China’s Imperial Palace’s ancestor. It is also said that the Empress, when visiting them, would command them to sit and wave their front paws. Soon after her death in 1908, royal families began to compete against each other to give rise to dogs with the best attire and greatest colors. Because of wrong practices, breeding was done secretly. The lesser quality dogs were offered to the marketplace, and the higher quality dogs were exported out of the palace and given to foreigners or wealthy Chinese men.

In 1928, the first Shih Tzus, a male and female pair, were brought to England from Peking by Lady Brownrigg, the wife of the quartermaster general of the north China command. In 1933, a Mrs. Hutchins brought a Shih Tzu from China to Ireland; this dog was eventually bred to Lady Brownrigg’s. These three dogs formed the foundation of Lady Brownrigg’s kennel. Maureen Murdock and Philip Price, her nephew, were the first to import and breed Shih Tzus in the United States. There were three Shih Tzu clubs by 1960: the American Shih Tzu Association in Florida, the Texas Shih Tzu Society, and the Shih Tzu Club of America. In 1963, the Shih Tzu Club of America and the Texas Shih Tzu Society merged to form the American Shih Tzu Club. In 1969, the breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club as a member of the Toy Group. Lady Brownrigg brought a male and female pair into England from Peking in 1928, She was wife of the quartermaster general of the north China command. In 1933, a Shih Tzu was brought to Ireland from China by a Mrs. The kennel of Lady Brownrigg was seeded with three dogs: these three dogs were the first to be imported and bred from the United States by Maureen Murdock and Philip Price, her nephew. By 1960 there were three Shih Tzu clubs: the American Shih Tzu Association in Florida, The Texas Shih Tzu Society, and The holy Shih Tzu Club of America. In 1963, The Texas Shih Tzu Society and The Shih Tzu Club of America made a new the American Shih Tzu Club. In 1969, the Toy Group was recognized by the American Kennel Club.

Shih Tzu personality

The Shih Tzu was bred to be a companion. When they’re around you, they’re happy. So don’t expect them to go out for hunting, protecting or retrieving. Their dominant attribute is their affection, and they adore sitting on your lap. They thrive in a household that gives and receives attention.

Shih Tzu health

Shih Tzu breed dogs are generally healthy, but still they’re prone to some conditions and diseases:

  • Allergies
  • Canine hip dysplasia
  • Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome
  • Patellar luxation
  • Juvenile renal dysplasia (JRD)
  • Bladder stones and bladder infections
  • Eye problems
  • Ear infections
  • Persistent deciduous teeth
  • Umbilical hernias
  • portosystemic liver shunt
  • Reverse sneezing

Regardless of how healthy is your Shih Tzu puppy, you should always prepare for medical issues that may come up.

Shih Tzu care guide

Shih Tzu always feel happy when live with you. A really adaptable dog breed who feels at ease in a small apartments, a spacious suburban or country home. However, even though they love to play outdoors in the backyard, they are definitely a house dog. A Shih Tzu easily gets away with only short walks every day. Shih Tzu'a are not a highly energetic dog. They love to be happily lying on your lap, playing with toys, strolling around the house or running to the door every time the bell rings.

Like other breeds, Shih Tzu is sensitive to heat. They should always live indoors or in an air-conditioned room so they don’t suffer from heat exhaustion. No, the breed cannot fly; but owners commonly report that their Shih Tzus think they can. It not unusual for a Shih Tzu to fearlessly jump from a bed or a chair. While they may not seem high to you, these heights are towering to the small Shih Tzu. And, unfortunately, these jumps often end in injury. The breed is front heavy and crashes forward, which can cause injury or even a concussion to the head.

Be very careful when carrying your Shih Tzu. Hold Shih Tzu carefully and don’t let them long or high jump. Even though Shih Tzu's are friendly, still they require early socialization and training. Like any dog, they can become mousy if they’re early trained.

Shih Tzu grooming and coat color

The Shih Tzu coat is gorgeous – long, silky, and comes in various colors : black and white, black, red and white and gray and white. A white blaze on the forehead and white tip-on on the tail makes Shih Tzu highly prized. Keeping that coat beautiful, though, is demanding. Although daily brushing and combing are necessary to prevent tangling, the coat must often be bathed – as much as once a week. In fact, many a Shih Tzu lover gives up and hires a professional groomer to severely shorten the locks. If you have it shortened and want to keep it that way, plan to go to the groomer every six to eight weeks. If you plan to cut it yourself, you may need to start at a young age so that the experience is as pleasant as possible for the both of you. You will be cutting this a lot.

When brushing, you want to make sure that you brush all the way down to the skin. Most experienced Shih Tzu groomers teach the dog to lie on their side while they brush the coat in sections; it’s easier to brush that way and more comfortable for the dog. At about ten to twelve months of age, the Shih Tzu coat changes from puppy fluff to a silky adult coat. During this stage, you’ll probably think the coat mats faster than you can brush. Don’t give up! This is temporary, lasting for about three months. Once the adult coat comes in fully, brushing gets easier.

When brushing, make sure you brush down to the skin. Most Shih Tzu groomers help the dog lie down on their side to brush the coat in sections. It’s an equivalent as brushing while the dog stands but constitutes a more comfortable positioning for the dog and its less stress on your back. When the Shih Tzu reaches ten to twelve months aged, the puppy fluff starts growing out and becomes an adult coat.

The Shih Tzu’s nails must be trimmed every month, and ears should be inspected once every fifteen days for any dirt, redness, or smell, which might indicate an infection. To prevent moisture from building up, it is recommended that you moisten a cotton ball with mild, pH-balanced ear cleaner and wipe them out weekly. This breed often comes by low hair growth into the ear canal so frequently requires plucking if the dog gets many ear infections. The Shih Tzu’s face, similar to a toddler’s, needs to be washed every day. They become dirty after eating, and their eyes water easily, so you must wipe their face every three days with a wet, warm washcloth.

Shih Tzu with children and other pets

A Shih Tzu is an excellent family pet. They are friendly with other dogs or animals and serve above-average company with children. Children, however, should sit on the floor while engrossed in Shih Tzu puppy playtime to avoid the possibility of lifting them and dropping them. Furthermore, kids should understand that Shih Tzu’s big, broad eyes are quickly hurt if played with and avoid their fingers around the eye area.