Shih Tzu Dog Breed Profile

Because of the dog’s lion-like appearance, the Chinese coined the word, Shih Tzu, meaning lion, to best describe the dog.

Proof of the Shih Tzu’s ancestry can be linked back to old breeds, especially in Tibet. DNA examination shows that the Shih Tzu is more related to the wolf than several other dog breeds.

The precise origins of the Shih Tzu are pretty hazy, but they were owned as pets by Chinese royals, and this dates as far back as 1,100 years ago.

From the 14th to the 17th century, the Shih Tzu was known as a noble breed of China and was kept as royal pets in the Ming Dynasty.

In the late 1800s, the breed became the favorite of Empress Tzu Hsi.

Table of Contents

Breed Overview

  • Group: Toy
  • Height: 8 – 11 inches
  • Weight: 9 – 16 pounds
  • Coat and color: Long double coat, and they come in nearly any color. The most common colors include white, black, gold, blue, liver, or a combination of different colors.
  • Life expectancy: 10 – 16 years


  • Affection Level: High
  • Friendliness: High
  • Kid-Friendly: High
  • Pet-Friendly: High
  • Exercise Needs: Low
  • Playfulness: High
  • Energy Level: Medium
  • Trainability: Medium
  • Intelligence: High
  • Tendency to Bark: Low
  • Amount of Shedding: Medium


Shih Tzu was bred as nothing more than a lap dog and a house pet. They are not kept for any other known intentions, unlike the Lhasa apso that were kept as temple guards.

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Perchance, this could be why the Shih Tzu remains one of the most popular and pampered of the toy breeds.

Typically, the Chinese royals didn’t permit the trade of the dog outside of their nobility. Shih Tzu didn’t get into Europe until the year 1930. They were then introduced to the United States shortly after World War II.

The Shih Tzu became recognized by the AKC “American Kennel Club” in 1969.


Shih Tzu’s coat grows continually. Many Shih Tzu owners prefer to keep their pet’s hair trimmed low, while others like to keep their coat long and fluffy.

Routine grooming for the breed is an absolute necessity because of the type of coat they have.

Owners should brush their dog at least twice a week and once every day if they decide to leave their pet’s coat long.

Owners may have to trim their Shih Tzu facial hair now and then because it can cause irritation to the eyes. Owners also have the option of adorning their Shih Tzu with a bow or a topknot.

It is essential to spend time with a Shih Tzu before adopting one. This is done to be sure that you aren’t allergic to being around one.

Shih Tzu is a hypoallergenic breed, and this is due to their low shedding pattern.

Shih Tzu’s loose hair is likely to be stored in their coat rather than the air. Nevertheless, it’s essential to know that the allergens remain in saliva and dander, so there will be some present in the environment around your dog.

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It would also help to have your dog’s nail trimmed about once every month. You would also need to help your pet with oral hygiene, and that includes regular brushing of its teeth.

Your Shih Tzu needs to be properly socialized and trained in order to keep it well-adjusted and happy.

Despite its size, the Shih Tzu can be very stubborn, but this is a smart breed. So it’s important not to skip training you Shih Tzu.

They need routine exercises like daily walks and mental and physically stimulating activities. Shih Tzu makes for great apartment pets as long as there is enough room for them to play.

They don’t respond well to heat. This is due to their flat faces and how easily they can get exhaustion from the heat.

Common Health Problems

Responsible and reputable breeders strive to retain the highest breed standards recognized by kennel clubs such as the AKC.

Dogs bred within these standards are less likely to inherit health complications.

Nevertheless, some hereditary health issues can affect the breed. The following are some conditions to be mindful of:

  • Brachycephalic Syndrome
  • Distichiasis
  • Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (Dry Eye)
  • Intervertebral Disc Disease

Diet and Nutrition

As a petite dog, a Shih Tzu requires only up to 1 cup of dry dog food each day. Still, the amount of food given to a Shih Tzu depends on the dog’s activity level, age, health factors, and size.

You must monitor your dog’s weight and take necessary action if you notice your Shih Tzu is becoming overweight.

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Consult with your veterinarian to discuss a suitable nutritional strategy for your dog.


  • Friendly with kids
  • Great lapdogs
  • Affectionate and loyal


  • Problems with breathing
  • High-maintenance coat
  • Challenging to housebreak

Adopting or buying a Shiz Tzu

Rescues and breeders referral opportunities can be sought at the following Shih Tzu:

  • American Shih Tzu Club
  • Shih Tzu Rescue

You can also contact local animal shelters to make inquiries about any available Shih Tzu in your area. If you think the Shih Tzu is the perfect dog for you, ensure to do some research before buying or adopting one.

Reach out to other Shih Tzu owners, rescue groups, and reputable breeders to get more information. If you’re interested in similar breeds, explore the following to compare the pros and cons:

  • Puli
  • Shar Pei
  • Papillon dog
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