Shih Tzu | Dog Breed Guide

Shih Tzu | Dog Breed Guide

by Scritch

The Shih Tzu is an “ancient” breed of dogs that are named after the lion and is closely related to the wolf. The breed is confident, friendly and exuberant. They make perfect family dogs and companion animals – if you don’t mind their high maintenance hair care. 

Weight: 8.8-16 pounds

Height: 7.9-11 inches

Life Expectancy: 10-16 years

Group: Toy group 

Temperament: loyal, affectionate, alert, outgoing 

Energy Level:

Ease of Training:

Grooming Requirements:

History and Personality

The regal and confident Shih Tzu is one of the 15 oldest dog breeds on earth. In fact, some historians trace their lineage all the way back to 8000 B.C. They even share a very close genetic relationship to the wolf. There are theories that the Shih Tzu is a cross between a Pekingese and a Lhasa Apso. The Shih Tzu was also a favorite and prized possession of Chinese royalty. The name Shih Tzu even comes from the Chinese word for lion. 

These little lions are sturdy and are usually white and gray, but can come in many different colors, from red, to brown and even gold. They have big brown eyes, a soft and double coat. Although many Shih Tzus have long, straight hair, some have short, curly hair. They have drop ears and a furry tail that curves upwards. All Shih Tzus have a prominent underbite. 

As far as personality goes, Shih Tzus are extraverted, friendly and affectionate creatures. They are natural family pets and get along well with children and other animals. However, they do need to be socialized with other dogs as early as possible, as they tend to be possessive. 

Shih Tzus are intelligent and love to learn. Bright and very confident, they are able to understand commands quickly. But, unfortunately, with training is where one of Shih Tzus more negative traits takes over: their stubborn nature. Many Shih Tzu owners find training to be quite an ordeal with their Shih Tzu. The breed has a “what’s in it for me” attitude that can be very frustrating.

The Shih Tzu is incredibly trusting. They don’t hold grudges and greet strangers happily. Although they are alert and make for great watchdogs, don’t count on them to be great guard dogs – they certainly weren’t bred for it. The good news is that they are not as yappy as other small breeds.

Shih Tzus can live in the suburbs or an apartment in the city. They are lap dogs that don’t need very much exercise outside of a daily walk, or some playtime in a backyard. They lose energy as they age, as well, and will need some motivation to exercise as they age.


The Shih Tzu breed has a double coat and needs a lot of brushing and combing to look his best. He will also need regular shearing. Owners should avoid cutting their hair while dry, and always use conditioner to keep the coat soft and shiny.

Energy Level 

Shih Tzus have more enthusiasm than athletic energy. They love meeting new people, showering them with affection and be showered in attention in return. As they age, they prefer the lap dog lifestyle.

Health Concerns

  • Hypothyroidism
  • Intervertebral Disk Disease 
  • Breathing problems – The shape of the Shih Tzus face can give them breathing problems
  • Eye Conditions – Cataracts and injuries

Shih Tzus can suffer from a number of health related problems. Most of their conditions can be easily treated with regular visits to a vet. Pet insurance is recommended.