Shih Tzu Dogs

Shih Tzu are lively and energetic companions. Yet, they are also amazingly low-key and satisfied—assuming they get an adequate amount of attention. They like nothing better than to be held, stroked, petted and pampered by their owners, and are perfectly happy sitting on the couch with you for hours while you dote on them. This is a noble breed—sometimes translating into arrogance and haughtiness, other times into courageousness and politeness—but they are never too proud for a roll on the floor with a treasured squeaky toy.

Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu Pictures

  • Shih Tzu dog named Butchie RIP
  • Shih Tzu dog named Coco the Wonder Dog
  • Shih Tzu dog named Xiao Long
  • Shih Tzu dog named Freddie
  • Shih Tzu dog named muffin
  • Shih Tzu dog named Tipper
see Shih Tzu pictures »

Quick Facts

  • 9 - 16 pounds
  • 10 - 11 inches

Ideal Human Companions

    • Singles
    • Seniors
    • Families with older children
    • Hair stylists

Shih Tzus on Dogster

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Trademark Traits

    • Long, elegant coat
    • Cute “chrysanthemum” face
    • Lively
    • Loves to be pampered
    • Playful
    • Dainty and precious
    • Noble and aloof

What They Are Like to Live With

A good family dog and highly interactive, Shih Tzu usually adapt well to adults and children alike. Not especially suspicious of strangers, they still make an alert and consistent watchdog, barking heartily when people approach the house.

Things You Should Know

As you can see by looking at one, Shih Tzus require more care than other breeds, especially when the hair is kept long. They need daily brushing and regular haircuts to avoid tangles. However, they shed very little dander, making them a great pet choice for people with allergies.

Though good family dogs, Shih Tzu are not especially good with very young children. They cannot be handled roughly or awkwardly and tend to get snappish when their patience wears thin.

Feeding note: Keep an eye on Shih Tzu while they are drinking. Because their noses are so centrally located, water can easily block their breathing.

A healthy Shih Tzu can live as long as 15 years. Common health issues include hip dysplasia, ear and kidney infections, and eye problems. Check their ears and eyes regularly for cleanliness. (You can even find special eye drops for them).

They are great apartment dwellers, but not happy in hot climates. And while they don’t require as much exercise as a Lab, a daily walk is necessary.

Shih Tzu History

The Shih Tzu is undoubtedly one of the world’s oldest dog breeds. Chinese paintings from the 6th century A.D. show Shi Tzu-like dogs, while documents from the period claim these pets were a gift to the Chinese court from the Byzantine Empire. Shih Tzu were house pets during the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644 A.D.) and since that time they’ve been highly prized and fiercely guarded by the Chinese. In 1908, they made their way to England, where they were bred and dispersed to Europe and Australia. The AKC certified the breed in 1969, and it has been a popular competitor and pal ever since.

The Look of a Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu are covered in flowing long hair, including a tuft above the nose which provides its trademark “chrysanthemum” (i.e., floral) face. On a typical Shih Tzu, the rounded head has a long beard and moustache, a short muzzle and a black nose (except in reddish brown dogs which have a reddish-brown nose). Most Shih Tzu have round, dark, wide-set eyes with pendant (hanging) ears that are engulfed in hair. The frame is longer than tall, and the tail curls over the back. Shih Tzu can come in almost any color.

Talk About Shih Tzus 

Loving, cuddly, easy breed...but sometimes hard to housebreak.

My Shih Tzu is the sweetest, most loving dog. She loves to cuddle and sit on your lap, but she doesn't like to be picked up when you're standing. She is easy to give a bath and doesn't mind being groomed. One plus with this breed is if you do a "puppy cut" at the groomer they are much easier to keep tangle-free and they always look like a puppy. The only negative I have found with the breed is they are often hard to house break. I know several owners and all I have talked to agree with this. All in all I LOVE the breed!

~Holly H., owner of a Shih Tzu

Sweet and patient

Our male Shih Tzu is the sweetest dog I have ever owned. He is not fond of baths, or small children. He seldom barks but will chase a cat in a heart beat. He loves the car but has a slight problem being left alone. He gets along well with big and little dogs. He never tears his toys apart but will keep you up at night snoring. He is kind, gentle and very patient. House training was easy.

~donna g, owner of shih tzu

Demanding, but rewarding

Our female Shih Tzu loves her routines: a nice morning walk will be followed by a long quiet nap till kids return from school. An afternoon walk, and then she will come down to my office to remind me it's dinnertime!

Her perch in the picture window announces any strangers approaching or any puppies going by: the only times she puts out a loud bark. The evening walk is the exercise highlight: we play frisbee every night, her favorite game.

Her big expressive eyes and wagging tail never fail to tell you how much she loves being a member of the family. Take a nap on the couch and she will cuddle every time! So socialized: she is friends with nearly every dog in the neighborhood. Even with the unpopular loud, aggressive large dogs: Lucy tames them all! So warm, and oh so friendly!

~Rich W., owner of a Shih Tzu

The best dogs ever!

I have two Shih Tzus, a boy and a girl, that I adopted. My oldest is 5 (Fizzee) and we just adopted the younger one (Ava) in July of 2010, she will soon be 2.

There are too many wonderful things about these doggies to name! They are such wonderful companions, so sweet, fun, tame, loving, just precious! Our male Shih Tzu is quite a bit more docile and everyone who meets him says the same thing "he is such a wonderful dog!" The female is a typical girl, always in everyone's business, very outgoing, and at this point she is much more active than the male. They are such wonderful dogs, I would recommend them to anyone!

~Gina F., owner of two Shih Tzus

Easy to care for

Our Beanie is so precious. We got her during a crisis and she gave us much comfort. I love this breed because they are small and easy to care for. Beanie is very active, she plays all the time, and can be a little hyper at times. She loves people and cats. She is also good with children. At the end of the day she is ready to cuddle and to love on us. She likes nothing better than an evening at home on her Mommy or Daddy's lap watching a dog show on TV.

~Billie K., owner of a Shih Tzu

Not a demanding breed

My male Shih Tzu is a friendly, quiet couch potato that loves belly rubs and being cradled. He adores his walks and perks up whenever other dogs, cats or people cross our path. He was a breeze to housebreak. I've never heard him bark. He's really laid back and non-demanding.

~Pam M., owner of a Shih Tzu

Friendly but protective

I have three adorable Shih Tzus - they are very friendly but also protective. Mine are very easy to bathe and love it when I groom them. They're not so keen on the hairdryer though! They love nothing more than piling onto my lap for cuddles. This breed is very affectionate and loves to follow you everywhere. Shih Tzus just want to be where you are.

~Lynn S., owner of 3 Shih Tzus

Sweet, but also ready to protect you

My Missy is so sweet! Shih Tzus are such a pleasant breed and are on the top charts on my list for loyalty. They do indeed follow you everywhere and just want to be near you. They love to cuddle and are so cute when they do!

If you are looking at getting this breed, you'll have sunny skies ahead of you. They are great dogs and very low maintenance. Mine hardly sheds! They can sometimes be sassy and haughty, but it's hilarious watching them! And they can also be hard to potty train. But once you get over that bump they are great dogs!

~Megan T., owner of a Shih Tzu

Loving, but spoiled!

I love my Shih Tzu, Ke'No. He goes from very outgoing to laid back and can be very adamant about getting his way. When he wants food, he barks and he hates to feel like anything has control over him. Although he was very hard to potty train, he is a wonderful and loving dog. He loves to cuddle and he loves to be the center of attention.

~Lakeisha H., owner of a Shih Tzu

My Shih Tzu

Sophie is five years old now and at the peak of her perfection. She was hard to potty train, but she was worth the trouble. She now goes on wee wee pads when I am not home or if the weather is not exactly to her liking. This came in handy with the two feet of snow this winter which she definitely did not like.

Sophie goes to the dog park where she happily mingles with other small white dogs. She does not suffer the attention of other dogs that want to bother her. She has a loud bark reserved for them. Sophie spends the rest of her days on the back of a couch or chair looking out the window and generally keeping the neighborhood safe.

~Sybil J., owner of a Shih Tzu

Love at first sight!

I got my Shih Tzu, Sadie, from my cousin who couldn't keep her at her new apartment. She was sad to see her go and I fell in love with her at first sight. She took right to my husband and me but favors me. She loves our cats too, even grooms one of them when they both sit on my lap.

Her way of telling me she has to go outside is to make a sneezing sound, really cute. I love being met at the door by her when I come home from work and then cuddling time in my chair at night. She doesn't care for a bath but will endure it for a treat after. She loves the outdoors when it's nice out and enjoys our walks too. She's my little cuddlebug now that my kids are grown and gone from home.

I'd recommend this breed for anyone who is alone and looking for a pet. They give you all the affection that you want and more!

~Maggie L., owner of a Shih Tzu

Barks at those pesky squirrels and cats

I love his goofy little way of entertaining us. He will hop up on a bed or couch with a toy firmly in his mouth, then let it fall a little toward the edge, more and more, until it falls onto the floor. He is challenging you to pick it up and throw it again.

He doesn't seem to know or care what names I call his toys. He will pick up the one HE wants to play with ... to heck with my preference! If you throw two toys at once, he will spend five minutes going from one toy to the other, trying to choose one.

I am not sure if this is just his personality or the breed, but thunder and lightning do not scare him at all. He remains very calm.

He does not get left alone very often. His breed loves being around people, so if you are going to be gone all day, please chose another breed.

~Jennie R., owner of a Shih Tzu

Likes baths, hates blowdryers

I love my Rocco! Our biggest hurdle was potty training. I got him when he was 6 weeks old and it was winter. He was not a fan of going outside to potty, but after a while he got the hang of it. He's 7 months now and I couldn't ask for a better pet. He loves to follow me everywhere I go, and he loves to play fetch!

I keep his hair and face cut low and his tail and ears fluffy. I didn't like the look of the tear stains on his face, so I had the groomers keep his face very low.

My husband and I send him to the groomers every two months, although he could really go once a month. He doesn't mind baths at home, but he doesn't like the blowdryer. I have noticed that one of his ears stays a little messier than the other so I try to clean them at least once a week.

Rocco's biggest problem right now is running to strangers and trying to jump in the car, because he loves car rides! He has never been snappy with anyone, he has a lot of patience especially with small children. I recommend anyone thinking of getting a shih tzu to do it. He is an awesome, lovable and loyal member of our family.

~Cherelle L, owner of a Shih Tzu

Our lovable little hellion

This is our first experience with this breed, and although I love Remi very much, he has my house in such a shambles. He has always gotten into things, but as he has grown (he's now 10 months), he has become a real little tear. So first the trashcan goes on the cabinet when we leave. Then he jumped on the bar stools and got on the kitchen cabinets. We moved the stools, so now he has found out how to get on the recliner and jump on the half wall and get on the cabinets.

He knows where we put everything, so now when we leave we move the recliner to the center of the living room. That took away his fun, so now he jumps on the other recliner, over to the chair, on top of the kitchen table, over to the other chair, and up on top of the small beverage fridge where he eats the fish food and drinks the water. I'm really not sure anymore if I have a puppy or a cat!

He has a small sheltie he plays with all day, so he is not alone. I could crate him, but hate to start it at this age. Anyway, that's our little hellion.

~Melody C, owner of a Shih Tzu

Zooming all over the house

Our 1-year-old pups are the most charming little guys one could ask for. Felix and Oscar are deliberately comical and perform even harder once they've got your attention and know you are laughing at them. They are loving, gentle, active, and obedient (mostly). They love to chase each other in the yard and zoom all over the house before collapsing in a heap on one of their many beds.

Felix loves toys and treats. Oscar loves a good rawhide. Their favorite time is bedtime when they cuddle up with me and my boyfriend on our king bed (had to get it for all four of us). They are both independent and the world's greatest snuggle pups. My 76-year-old mother cares for them by day and she absolutely adores them -- they are clearly the main characters in our home!

~darlene e, owner of two Shih Tzus

One of the most loving dogs ever

We are owned by Gizmo, our sweet little 6-month-old Shih Tzu. He is always happy waiting to be cuddled or given a belly rub. I haven't found anything or anyone he doesn't love.

Walks are one of his favorite things as he prances along just waiting for the next person to come up to pet him. He is encouraging our 7-year-old Maltese to get down on the floor and play with him. He's truly one of the sweetest dogs we have ever had. He was easy to housetrain, and already know to sit and lie down.

~Lynn H. , owner of a Shih Tzu

The perfect little princess

She is so loyal and loving and great with my 3-year-old daughter.

She never barks and was easy to toilet train. She is very clean and never bites or growls. She also loves her walks -- once I let her off her lead she can run for miles, then come back home and snuggle on the sofa!

I was strict and trained her when she was a pup and it worked a treat! She's the perfect little princess.

~Emma T., owner of a Shih Tzu

Beware of choking!

One major issue that can appear with toy shih tzus is choking. I think it has something to do with their soft palate.

If your shih tzu (or any other short-muzzled breed) starts making weird snorting sounds (my Twink "'quacks"), gently but firmly stroke the sides of their throat and talk to them in a soothing voice. I've noticed that this happens sometimes when they're excited and forget to breathe.

~Anna D, owner of a Shih Tzu

A fearless little service dog

My dog's name is Jaqo (jung-go). It is a Fijian name. Jaqo is bilingual and does all of his commands in Fijian and English. I have trained him as a service dog because of my diabetes -- he lets me know when my blood sugar is low.

He is always a perfect gentledog out in public. He is soooo happy when anybody will pet him. He is fearless against any big or aggressive dog, making friends with them from the start, but can hold his own if need be.

Jaqo is great with all ages of children and never snaps or growls. Jaqo made my life much easier during my divorce. He will get up into my bed and lay his head on my pillow until he thinks I am asleep, and then he will go to his favorite spot at the foot of the bed where he likes to be. He also does this to me when I am sick. He will stay by my side until he knows I am okay.

Jaqo is the best dog I have ever owned. I would recommend a Shih Tzu for anybody.

~Red F, owner of a Shih Tzu