Shih Tzu Dog Breed Information – Temperament, Care, History, and Facts

A big personality in a tiny package, the Shih Tzu is one of the most popular dog breeds. Likely originating in Tibet, its name is pronounced “sheed-zoo” or “sheet-su” in the West, and the Chinese say “sher-zer.” After centuries of loyalty, Shih Tzus remain a great companion to man.

Nicknamed the “lion dog,” these pups are bubbly and affectionate. Friendly, cute, and full of life, they love to cuddle. Fun and playful, they work well in many situations. Also, they’re a great small dog breed for a home with children.

Coming in a wealth of colors, each displays a beautiful fur coat. Often used as show dogs, they have floppy ears and short stubby legs. Who wouldn’t fall in love with their adorable looks and sweet charm? Read on to find out more about how Shih Tzus will melt your heart.

Shih Tzu Dog Breed Pictures


What Does a Shih Tzu Dog Look Like?

Shih Tzus are fluffy furballs with hair growing every-which-way. They come in an astonishing array of colors. Black, white, red, tan, gold, blue, grey, and brown – each dog is unique. However, many have a distinct “Star of Buddha” marking on their forehead.

Grooming must be frequent to maintain clear eyes. Most people opt for regular haircuts to keep their Shih Tzus short-haired. Fortunately, the pups are small, so this isn’t a huge task.

So, how much does a Shih Tzu weigh? On average, they come in at around 10-15 pounds. But what they lack in size, they make up for in charm. A Shih Tzu’s smile is cute, to say the least. They have an undershot bite, which makes their lower teeth stick out.

When is a Shih Tzu Full-Grown?

Being a toy dog breed, Shih Tzus definitely don’t remain puppies for long. They grow from a baby to an adult rather quickly. Reaching their full size at around ten months to one year of age, these dogs have rapid maturity.


Do Shih Tzus bark a lot? The answer varies depending on personality and temperament types. They often like to be in charge, so some barking from time to time is completely normal. Plus, they tend to sound off at strangers until they get to know them. What gets them to quiet down most is to simply be their companion. Shih Tzus love attention and affection. They want to be friends with everyone!

Living Needs

Shih Tzus are a joy to have around. Not only do they feel like a part of the family, but they believe they’re the ones in charge. What makes Shih Tzus happy is unity. They’ll readily coexist with other dogs, as well as cats.

As with any canine, remember to oversee them with kids. When they’re trained properly, these pups will be a wonderful friend to a child. However, it’s important to let children know to be gentle with them and all animals. Because they’re small, Shih Tzus can’t handle rough play. Also, it’s critical that kids don’t carry the dogs, poke their eyes, or harm them in any way.

Shih Tzu Puppy
via Unsplash

When it comes to carrying a Shih Tzu, it’s best that adults do it. Since they’re top-heavy, they need a firm grip around them for security. Though they do like a cute and cuddly snuggle, they also like to jump from time to time. This can cause injury due to their awkward shape.


How to Take Care of a Shih Tzu

Beauty isn’t easy. After all, these are high-maintenance dogs who need to look their finest. It’s important to know how to groom a Shih Tzu to keep its fluffy coat healthy. To maintain wellness, it’s best to bathe them weekly. Also, beginning when they’re young, get them used to the idea of brushing:

  • Brush them every day to keep the tangles away
  • Lay the dog on its side for an easy way to groom in sections
  • Use a brush with flexible wire pins to get down to the skin
  • Hair styles such as a ponytail keep fur out of their eyes

Do Shih Tzus shed? Fortunately, they’re a low-shedding dog breed. However, a lot of owners choose to take their puppies to the groomers for regular haircuts. This helps decrease primping times. Nevertheless, long and silky fur is standard for show dogs and needs a lot of care.

Keeping the animal tidy is key. Nails require monthly trimming. Ear health is also essential. Make sure to clean them regularly and look out for redness, hair, and odors developing in the ear canal. Finally, a neat face leads to a happy pup. Remember to wash away dirt and stains with a warm cloth.

How Much Exercise Does a Shih Tzu Need?

Due to their small size, these pups don’t require a lot of exercise. With their little legs, they only need a short walk daily, if that. As long as they have lots of indoor play time, they’ll stay in good shape. Keep plenty of toys around and let them have fun!

How to Train a Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu potty training isn’t always easy. A puppy may need up to 50 times of repeated activity to get the point across, plus heavy supervision. Make sure to offer praise and love for every good result. This will keep them on track and help produce a better learning experience.


How Long do Shih Tzus Live?

The average lifespan of Shih Tzus is around 13 years. Keep in mind that all pups are different, though. Factors like care and their genes may cause this age to go up or down.

When compared to other purebred dogs, they have quite a long survival rate. Unfortunately, once again based on genetics, some health issues play a part in their quality of life.

Shih Tzu Dog Breed
via Pixabay

Shih Tzu Health Issues

Overall, Shih Tzu health issues aren’t terrible. Though, there are some common troubles that often touch the breed. Ear infections, hip and knee ailments, and hernias are some characteristic conditions. As luck would have it, these can all be treated with the proper care.

Eye problems are a great concern for these dogs. Since their eyes stand out, they’re prone to cataracts, retinal complications, and dryness. Another factor that comes into play has to do with air. If lids can’t fully close, eyes may become inflamed.

Because of their odd jaws, they may have some dental issues. Missing or uneven teeth aren’t uncommon. Plus, baby teeth don’t always fall out before the new ones come in.

Shih Tzu breathing problems often sound a lot worse than they are. They’ll make a “reverse sneeze” noise when they’re happy or excited. Also, they wheeze when teething or if they have allergies.


How Much Should a Shih Tzu Eat?

Use high-quality food. For a full-grown dog, one cup daily is ideal. The correct amount of food for adult dogs varies. It depends on age, size, level of activity, and metabolism. An active pup definitely eats more than a calm one.


Where do Shih Tzu come from? Their history begins in Asia. Dating back to an unknown time, the present-day pup seems to have an origin in Tibet. Though “under the table” dogs could’ve existed thousands of years before, today’s breed has roots in the East. Tibetan monks often get credit for their beginnings.

Shih Tzu Dog Breed
via Pixabay

The past shows that monks sent them to Chinese emperors as gifts. There, over the course of years, Shih Tzus mixed with other dogs, becoming what we know them as today. They enjoyed a life in palace walls, basking in royal treatment. This is where the seeds of their easy-going, friendly, and close-knit charm started out.

Legend has it that in the 13th century, Marco Polo found them with Emperor Khan. Trained to keep lions still and calm, this is where their “lion dog” name came about. Also, during the middle ages in China, the Ming Dynasty owned them, further demonstrating the breed’s royal status.

In the 1800s, Empress Cixi of China, an animal lover, bred them. After she died in the early 1900s, they almost went extinct. However, Shih Tzus made their way to Europe around this time, saving their breed.

During World War II, American service members brought them to the United States. There, these dogs became an instant hit. Thanks to this, they’re one of the most popular breeds in the world today.

Fun Facts About Shih Tzus

  • How much are Shih Tzu puppies? Shih Tzu price depends on the different types of sale. A breeder will charge up to $1,200. However, adoption costs, as well as private deals, are much less.
  • How many puppies can a Shih Tzu have? Three or four little ones make up the average litter size. This is a good number to expect for a pregnant Shih Tzu.
  • Can a Shih Tzu eat bananas and eggs? Of course! These foods are a healthy and safe dog treat. Both puppies and adults love them!

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