Shih Tzu

Height: 9-11 inches
Weight: 9-16 pounds
Lifespan: 10-18 years
Colors: Red, black, brown, grey, silver, white, brindle
Suitable for: Small and large families, singles, seniors, apartments and houses, those looking for a low-shedding dog
Temperament: Easy-going, watchful, loyal, family focused, intelligent

Shih Tzus have been around a long time, and they are thought to have been originally bred as companions for a select few in China. But over the years, Shih Tzus have become a common pet for households around the world. This beautiful breed is loving and compassionate and expects to spend a great deal of time by their owner’s side.

Featuring a double coat of long luxurious hair, this dog breed is fun to cuddle with. But owners can expect to spend an hour or more each week grooming their Shih Tzu’s coat. These dogs love to play, but they don’t need a ton of exercise, so even busy people can successfully integrate a Shih Tzu into their family structure.

When Shih Tzus are puppies, they are extremely susceptible to injury, so it’s important to take care that they don’t get under the feet of humans and other larger animals. Read on to learn everything you need to know about owning one of these adorable and loveable dogs.

Shih Tzu Puppies — Before You Buy

shih tzu puppy
Image Credit: sanjagrujic, Shutterstock
Energy
Trainability
Health
Lifespan
Sociability

Shih Tzu puppies are cute and little, but they require constant care and a strong family environment that makes them feel safe and secure day and night. Every potential owner should learn about training, grooming, and exercise requirements before bringing a new Shih Tzu puppy or dog home.

What’s the Price of Shih Tzu Puppies?

Shih Tzu puppies are sold for anywhere from $2,000-$3,000. These sweet pups may be a big investment, but your return on investment is sure to last a lifetime. You can expect to take a new Shih Tzu puppy home at about 10 weeks of age, although some breeders are willing to send pups home at 8 weeks and others like to wait until their puppies turn at least 12 weeks old.

No matter the age, it’s a good idea to take your new puppy to the veterinarian as soon as you pick them up from the breeder to ensure that it’s safe to take them home to your family and other pets. You should also make sure that a kennel, a bed, a cozy blanket, toys, and new food and water bowls are all ready and waiting for your new pup’s arrival. Make sure the food you buy is formulated specifically for puppies to ensure that your new pooch gets all the protein and nutrients they need to thrive as they grow quickly into an adult.

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shih tzu with teeth

1. They Have a Rich History

The Shih Tzu comes from Chinese royalty! These little dogs appear on tapestries that were made over 2,000 years ago and are thought to have originally been gifted to Chinese emperors by Tibetan Monks.

2. They’re Good Pets for People With Allergies

Shih Tzus aren’t technically hypoallergenic, but they do shed less than most other dog breeds. Instead of fur, they sport fine hair that people with allergies tend to handle better. Many people who seem allergic to other dogs can happily live with a Shih Tzu.

3. They Can Be a Handful

This little dog breed may not need much exercise and might be independent most of the time, but they can also be a handful when they’re tired and feeling ornery. Owners may experience whining, jumping, and stubbornness at times.

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Temperament & Intelligence of the Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu is highly intelligent and responsive, displaying a well-rounded personality most of the time. These little guys earned the nickname, “Little Lion” due to their look, not their temperament. You’ll find that this breed is playful and spunky when the atmosphere permits. But these dogs will also spend hours snuggled up on their owners’ laps whenever possible.

This dainty breed does just as well in an apartment setting as they do in a house with a big yard. In fact, Shih Tzus would prefer spending most of their time indoors than they would outside. They should never be banished to the outdoors to live, as their small frame makes them easy targets for larger dogs and other animal predators.

Many Shih Tzus will bark when a stranger comes to the door and let you know whenever unexpected activity is going on outside. But they aren’t vicious and typically don’t resort to biting even when they feel threatened. Shih Tzus can also be quite stubborn when it comes to potty training, so expect to make use of training pads for quite some time as a new owner.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

The Shih Tzu is an excellent companion for kids. Of course, there are always exceptions to this rule. But even those dogs that aren’t fond of kids won’t show any aggressions. They’ll simply keep their distance as much as possible.

Most Shih Tzus love playing and cuddling with kids, but they should be supervised to ensure that playtime doesn’t get too rough to minimize the risk of injury. These dogs would do well in families small and large, as well as with couples and singles. Shih Tzus are calm enough to be companions for the elderly too.

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets?

Just as they get along with children, Shih Tzus typically enjoy spending time with other dogs and even cats. This is especially true if they are socialized from a young age, meaning that they have been exposed to many new animals during their puppy years. Taking your Shih Tzu puppy to the park and planning play dates with other dog owners is an excellent way to get them used to other animals of all sizes and personalities. You should always ensure that the dogs you introduce your puppy to aren’t aggressive in any way before making any introductions.

shih tzu pup

Things to Know When Owning a Shih Tzu

There are many things you should know about owning a Shih Tzu, and the sooner you learn about them, the more effectively you can prepare to bring your new pup home. You should know exactly what to feed your pooch, how to exercise them properly, and what to expect when it comes to training, just to name a few important aspects of Shih Tzu ownership.

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

Shih Tzu puppies tend to be sensitive to chemicals, artificial ingredients, and fillers like animal by-products. So, it’s important to make sure that the food you choose for your new pup has real meat as the first ingredient, followed by a variety of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Your puppy’s food should also include DHA for a healthy heart and fish oil for soft hair.

Avoid foods that contain soy, corn, and high fructose corn syrup. Puppies need to eat more food while they are young than when they reach maturity, as they’re rapidly growing. Shih Tzus tend to eat about a cup of food for every 10 pounds of their weight each day.

In general, puppies under 3 months of age can free-eat throughout the day. Pups up to the age of a year usually eat three meals a day. Adult Shih Tzus can eat two or three meals every day. But it’s important to consult your physician to find out how much your puppy should be eating based on things like their age, health, and activity level.

Exercise 🐕

Shih Tzus like to go for walks, play in the park, and goof around inside the house. But they don’t require a great deal of exercise to maintain a happy and healthy life. A few shorts walks each week and a few minutes of play time every day should take care of your little pup’s exercise requirements.

In fact, your Shih Tzu shouldn’t mind exercising by themselves indoors when you aren’t home or don’t have the time to take a walk, as long as a few toys are easily accessible. Your pooch can go on short hikes and camping trips, but it’s important not to over-exercise them to avoid bone and joint injuries. This is especially important when your puppy’s bones are still growing.

shih tzu

Training 🎾

This talented breed is smart yet also stubborn. While any Shih Tzu can easily learn obedience and new tricks, not all of them want to. Luckily, Shih Tzus are food motivated, so you can use treats to make training easier. If you find that your puppy isn’t taking well to training, don’t give up. Schedule a couple of lessons with a professional trainer, who not only can train your dog but also teach you a few tips and tricks.

Obedience training is a must for all Shih Tzus to ensure that they maintain well-balanced behavior as they get older. Many dogs of this breed love to participate in agility training too, even if it’s just weaving through poles or jumping over a stick in the back yard. Shih Tzus also make excellent therapy dogs for those who suffer from problems like PTSD, depression, and anxiety. Therefore, therapy training should be considered when your Shih Tzu is near the end of puppyhood.

See also: Best muzzles for Shih Tzus

Grooming ✂️

The Shih Tzu sports a body of long elegant hair that looks awesome but requires serious grooming to stay free of tangles and mats. Many owners choose to cut their dog’s hair even as puppies to make it more manageable on a daily basis. Either way, you can expect to spend time brushing their coat every day. This breed needs regular bathing to keep its hair soft, shiny, and free of dirt buildup.

These dogs don’t shed nearly as much as most other breeds do, which will make keeping your house groomed more convenient. Because they don’t walk outdoors as much as larger breeds, their nails should be clipped once a month or so to minimize the risk of a nail getting caught on something and pulled off.

It’s also important to keep in mind that Shih Tzus are sensitive to heat and cold. While they tolerate cold better than heat, they may need warm clothes and blankets to stay warm during the winter months, especially when they’re still babies.

They might need the comfort of a fan or ice pack when it’s especially hot outside to avoid heat stroke. Shade and water should always be provided when spending time outdoors, no matter what the weather is like. The sun can dry out your pup’s hair and make it tougher to groom as time goes on.

Health and Conditions 🏥

Like all dogs, Shih Tzus are not immune to health problems. But this doesn’t mean that they can’t grow to be happy and healthy seniors. Knowing about the health conditions that your Shih Tzu may be susceptible to as they age will help ensure that you can catch the symptoms early and get help from your veterinarian before any illness or ailment becomes too serious.

Minor Conditions:
  • Urolithiasis
  • Otitis externa
  • Cleft lip
Serious Conditions:
  • Brachycephalic syndrome
  • Intervertebral disc disease
  • Various eye problems

Your veterinarian can provide you with literature for all these health conditions, so you’ll know how to identify them if they develop in your puppy and what to expect when it comes to treatment and recovery.

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Male vs. Female

Male Shih Tzus have garnered a reputation for being more stubborn and independent than females. They’re thought to not cuddle as much or interact as personably as girls do. But this reputation is unfounded and completely untrue! Male Shih Tzus are as sweet, lovable, and trainable as females. In fact, females tend to be a little harder to potty train than males, especially if they haven’t been spayed.

Females tend to actually be more dominant than males because they tend to be the caretakers of the pack, so they like to decide who is in charge. Both males and females are loyal and never aggressive by nature. But males seem to be more forgiving and allow for more leeway when it comes to being aggravated.

Males may try to mark their territory indoors when they aren’t neutered, but they can be trained not to do this. The bottom line is that both genders are extremely sweet to their family members, and any personality or behavioral differences between the genders are minimal. Choosing whether to adopt a male or female should come down to personal preference.

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Final Thoughts

Shih Tzus are a pleasure to parent. They have winning personalities that make them seem more like humans than dogs. Don’t be surprised if you find that you’re learning your Shih Tzu’s language and feel that you know when they’re sending you a message.

You will spend quite a bit of time training and socializing in the beginning, but once your puppy becomes obedient and gets used to their living arrangements, you should find that life with your Shih Tzu is a relaxed and enjoyable experience. One big benefit of parenting a Shih Tzu is that they look super cute in outfits. You can buy your pooch t-shirts, jumpsuits, dressed, costumes, pajamas, and even bathing suits to wear throughout the year. Another benefit of Shih Tzu ownership is being able to ensure a safe environment for babies and young children, as these dogs aren’t aggressive nor are they big or rambunctious enough to cause injuries. Your belongings will be safe too, as the Shih Tzu’s body and tail are too small to do much damage, if any at all.

Have you recently adopted a new Shih Tzu puppy, or are you considering doing so? Share your experiences in the comments section below!


Featured Image Credit: Steshka Willems, Pexels