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How Much Does a Shih Tzu Cost? (2021 Price Guide)

Shih Tzus have a reputation for being clingy lap dogs that demand a lot of attention. They can be little cuddle bugs as well. The name ‘Shih Tzu’ is Mandarin Chinese, and roughly translates to ‘little lion.’ Like a lion, he will want to be the king of the jungle, or rather your home. Their physical needs are no more than most other dogs, but when this little pup is crying for your attention, you might want to keep pampering him! This is not a ‘buyer beware!’ Just know that these pups are not exceedingly expensive to buy or keep healthy if you are on a budget.

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Bringing Home a New Shih Tzu: One-Time Costs

When you’re looking to acquire a Shih Tzu, it would do you well to do some research on who the breeder is, the humane society that is trying to place them in a home, or the person who is offering you a free pup. Doing your due diligence can go a long way. Generally speaking, if you pay more to a reputable AKC (American Kennel Club) certified breeder, you are going to have a better chance at getting a quality bred Shih Tzu. Most of your one-time costs are going to be upfront, most of which will consist of the purchase of your new pup.

Shih Tzu standing on grass
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Free

If you can find a pup that is right for your family and home in the humane society, ad listing, or another avenue where someone is trying to find a home for a pup, then more power to you! Plenty of pups may be overlooked because their origins are either unknown or undesired by people who are seeking purebreds, and all of the benefits that come with that.

Adoption

$150–$300

If you want to go the adoption route, this can work. But be warned- though ‘adoption’ might sound like a humanitarian word, many people selling puppies for ‘adoption’ pose as breeders but are in fact running puppy mills. This means that they are breeding them not for quality, but sheer quantity, and the pups may be living in less than favorable conditions. One of these cute pups may catch your eye, but don’t be surprised if he has health issues that develop later on due to negligent breeding.

Breeder

$750–$3,000

There are essentially two classes of breeders. Those certified by the more prestigious American Kennel Club, which has very strict standards for their breeders, and those certified by the Continental Kennel Club. The latter only requires two witnesses to sign a document testifying that the pup is a purebred. More Shih Tzu breeders are in the Southern United States, so they are less expensive there because there is more supply. In other parts of the country, a Shih Tzu costs up to $3,000.

Initial Setup and Supplies

$143–$410

The bare bones of what you will for set up will be an ID tag and collar, bed, brush, toys (yes, they are necessary), carrier, and food/water bowls. This is the lower end. Of course, many people will want to spay/neuter and even microchip their pup, so the costs can vary.

shih tzu lying outdoor
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List of Shih Tzu Care Supplies and Costs

ID Tag and Collar $20
Spay/Neuter $175
X-Ray Cost $150–$250
Ultrasound Cost $400–$500
Microchip $45-$55
Teeth Cleaning $200 – 300
Bed $30
Nail Clipper (optional) $7
Brush $8
Litter Box $25
Litter Scoop $10
Toys $30
Carrier $40
Food and Water Bowls $10

How Much Does a Shih Tzu Cost Per Month?

$165–$345 per month

Some things can affect how much your Shih Tzu will cost per month. Health and medical costs are the most expensive. But if you got your pup from an AKC certified breeder, there will probably be fewer costs in the long run, especially if you are keeping an eye on his health as he ages.

Shih Tzu sitting on the patio
Image Credit: Rachel Nelson, Pixabay

Health Care

$140–$235 per month

If your Shih Tzu is in relatively good health, you probably won’t need to pay for more than food and grooming, and possibly pet insurance. However, unexpected things come up. Dogs will eat your socks and then you might have to fork out more money to help them out.

Food

$20–$40 per month

This all depends on how much your dog eats. The puppies need anywhere from ½ to ¾ of a cup of food per day. But when they get bigger, they will need at least a cup per day. A 30lb bag that runs at about $60 contains approximately 120 cups of food. This means that if they only eat one cup per day (they will eat more at times), that you will have to replenish once every four months. But, in all likelihood, you won’t be able to resist getting them treats as well!

Grooming

$40–$50 per month

For a Shih Tzu, proper and frequent grooming can affect his perception. This can be the difference between people seeing him as a scraggly little rat, or a majestic miniature beast, situated on his recliner throne. A good groomer will not only bathe your pup (he needs a bath about every 3 weeks) but will keep the coat trimmed and tidy as well as keep his nails trimmed and clean.

Medications and Vet Visits

$50–$100 per month

The above figure is a rough estimate of what it would cost you to take your dog to the vet per month. Given that vet visits don’t usually occur every month for a dog who is in relatively good health, there can be more expensive visits down the road. This figure also includes the costs for initial vaccinations which cost about $80 on average.

Shih Tzu
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Pet Insurance

$30–$45 per month

This will cover accidental injuries and emergency incidents for your pup. This includes bite wounds, torn ligaments, poisoning, and swallowing foreign objects. Also covered under pet insurance are certain medical costs relating to allergies, cancer, infections, etc.

Environment Maintenance

$0–$30 per month

Even though a Shih Tzu can be a living room princess, her environment maintenance will be very low. If you plan to litter box train her, the costs will be next to nothing per month. Liners are inexpensive and you probably will only need to clean the box once a day at the most. If they are going to do their business outside, then some dog poop bags will do fine.

Litter box liners $5/month
Litter granules $20/month
Dog poop bags $5/month

Entertainment

$25–$80 per month

Shih Tzus love to run around and play with toys. It’s important to keep them entertained, especially if they are spending most of their time indoors. A toy box subscription could be a great solution to keep him running around!

Another thing you can do is get your dog some extra training, but for them, it might be entertaining. The cost of taking your dog to a dog park is also pretty minimal, but you have to account for time and travel. It will depend on the distance of the dog park from your house.

shih tzu puppy sitting on a couch
Image Credit: Pattarit S, Shutterstock

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Total Monthly Cost of Owning a Shih Tzu

$240–$420 per month

There are plenty of unknowns when owning a pet. That’s why it’s important to be at least mentally prepared for what might occur, if not financially. If you think about the initial costs and recurring costs being the end of it, while you settle into a predictable life with your Shih Tzu, then think again! These little Shih Tzus have the knack to keep you on your toes!

Additional Costs to Factor In

Some things you may not have considered yet are the cost to pay for a pet sitter. Say you’re going on vacation during the summer, there’s probably a teenager in the neighborhood who would be happy to make some extra cash. $30 per day that you are gone is a fair price to feed, walk, and let out the dog.

Then you have to factor in potential damage that your pup can cause, though this is an unknown quantity. It depends on what he’s capable of destroying!

Don’t forget behavioral and obedience training! All of this can add up. It’s probably safe to assume that you should tack on at least an extra $75 per month to cover the unknowns.

Owning a Shih Tzu on a Budget

A lot of money can be saved on regular costs if you buy your pup from a verified breeder- one who is going to put time and effort into ensuring that the bloodline of this breed is strengthened. More pure genetics in this breed will usually mean fewer health problems in the long run. Another thing to remember is that giving your dog quality food will pay dividends down the road. A steady, healthy, and organic diet will prevent a multitude of health issues, especially for breeds like Shih Tzus who are more prone to digestion problems.

shih tzu face
Image Credit: Angel Sallade, Shutterstock

Saving Money on Shih Tzu Care

If you love to pamper your pooch like the good dog mom/dad that you are, it can be SO easy to get carried away with buying toys, treats, and dogtivities. This can be problematic if you are on a budget. Just exercise some restraint and think about what your dog actually needs. Does he already have mounds of toys? Check. Food and water? Check. Groomed? Bingo. There’s no need to go overboard.

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Conclusion

If you’re in the market for a new Shih Tzu, you might want to jump on the best deal you see. But it might not be good for you or your new pooch years down the road. If you get a new pup from a qualified breeder, you can be saving potentially thousands of dollars in extra costs throughout their life. So, if you don’t want to spend thousands upfront, you may as well be spending it later or on a recurring basis to maintain their potentially poor health.

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