Yorkie vs. Shih Tzu: Which Dog is Right for You? (with Pictures)

Both the Yorkie and Shih Tzu are small, popular dogs. They are perfect for those that don’t want a larger dog and are merely looking for a canine to be their companion. However, that’s where these dogs’ similarities end.

Otherwise, these dogs are incredibly different. One is much more active than the other. In this article, we’ll look at the differences between these two breeds, which should help you determine which one is best for you.

divider 9

Visual Differences

yorkshire terrier and shih tzu visual differencens
Image Credit | Left: Yorkshire Terrier (metha1819, Shutterstock); Right: Shih Tzu (Tatiana Gasich, Shutterstock)

At a Glance

Yorkie
  • Average height (adult): 7-8 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 7 pounds
  • Lifespan: 11-15 pounds
  • Exercise: 1+ hour a day
  • Grooming needs: Professional required
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Yes
  • Trainability: Difficult
Shih Tzu
  • Average height (adult): 9-10.5 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 9-16 pounds
  • Lifespan: 10-18 pounds
  • Exercise: 1+ hour a day
  • Grooming needs: Daily brushing
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Yes
  • Trainability: Doable

Divider 4

Yorkie Overview

Appearance

yorkshire terrier lying outdoor
Image Credit: Frauke Riether, Pixabay

These dogs are tiny. They only weigh about 7 pounds at most. They are a compact terrier, to put it simply. Their silky coat often reaches the floor with a mix of a steel grey and an amber orange.

Males and females are about the same size, with no considerable difference between them.

Grooming

The Yorkie’s coat is quite similar to human hair. It needs to be groomed accordingly, which often means that owners will need to spend a lot of time grooming their dog’s hair. If the coat is kept long, it will need to be brushed daily to prevent tangles and keep it clean.

Even if the rest of the Yorkshire Terrier is kept long, the face and area around the eyes should be trimmed short. Alternatively, you can pull it into a topknot to keep the dog’s eyes clear. Otherwise, they can get eye infections due to their dirty hair being kept near their face.

The Yorkie will need a bath every week or so. They don’t keep their coat clean by themselves, so baths are necessary. Their ears should also be checked regularly for signs of infections. The long hair in their ears can keep debris and bacteria in the ear canal, which can cause infections.

Exercise

Despite their small size, these dogs do need regular exercise. Yorkies often benefit from moderate exercise, including short walks and playing. Playing ball in the backyard is a great way to wear these dogs out, as are dog sports. These dogs can participate in sports like agility and obedience, which allows them to stay healthy and have fun.

If you’re looking to get your dog worn out quickly, two short walks a day is the best option.

yorkshire terrier on the grass
Image Credit: Kokaleinen, Pixabay

Training

These dogs are not easy to train in the least. They are brilliant but are not bred to listen to their people. For this reason, they often do whatever they want, even if they know what you’re asking them. They require early and regular training to keep them in tip-top shape.

Socialization is also required. These dogs are friendly, but they can be a bit yappy with other dogs and people. For this reason, they need to be introduced to a variety of different people, places, and things. Start at an early age to ensure they are well-socialized before they become an adult.

Divider 2

Shih Tzu Overview

Appearance

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

These dogs are from China, where they were bred as lap dogs. The way they are built resembles this history. They weigh 9 to 16 pounds in most cases and can stand anywhere between 8 to 11 inches. They are significantly bigger than the Yorkie. Males are not notably bigger than females. The size seems to vary no matter the gender.

Their coat comes in a large variety of colors and patterns. It can look stunning if the time is put into it, but it does require a bit of grooming.

Grooming

Because of their long coat, these dogs will need to be brushed daily. Of course, if you keep your dogs trimmed, you will not need to brush them quite as often. You will need a high-quality brush with flexible pins to groom them well. Investing in a good brush can be the difference between a fun session and a frustrating one.

They do not need baths often, but we do recommend them at least every month. This will help keep their coat clean since their coats are not self-cleaning by any means. Their face should be cleaned daily to avoid eye infections. If their hair is longer on their face, it should be kept as a topknot. Otherwise, trim it so that it does not hang down into their eyes.

Shih Tzus are often given a “puppy trim,” an adorable haircut that also requires much less care.

Exercise

Because this dog was bred as a house companion, it doesn’t require much exercise. A short daily walk is typically all they need. They have relatively short legs, so they don’t even require much exercise compared to other dogs. A short distance is quite a long distance from them.

Shih Tzu walking outdoor
Image Credit: carlosleucipo, Pixabay

Training

While these dogs aren’t the brightest, they are trainable. They are very people-oriented dogs, which often means that they listen to what their owners ask. It may take a bit to teach them the new commands, but they will often do it when you ask after they figure it out.

Still, early socialization and puppy training is recommended. These dogs are usually friendly with everyone, including other dogs. However, early socialization is required to ensure that they are not fearful of new experiences.

Divider 8

Yorkie vs. Shih Tzu: Temperament

These dogs have very different temperaments. While they are both small dogs, they do not act the same in the least. For instance, the Yorkshire Terrier is much more active and bark much more than a Shih Tzu. They are more energetic and more likely to bark at people as they walk by.

On the other hand, Shih Tzus are much more easygoing. They do bark, but not nearly as much as other dogs. These dogs were developed to be the perfect companion animal, which means that they often have little reason to bark. They are friendly and curious instead. They are usually very interested in people instead of being interested in what else is going on.

Yorkshire terriers were not bred to be companion dogs. Instead, they were bred as ratting dogs. They were bred to eliminate rats. For this reason, they are much more alert and yappy than the Shih Tzu. They also have a strong prey drive, though they are small enough to hurt tiny animals, like rats and mice.

Yorkies can even excel as watchdogs, as they are very interested in what is going on around them. They will happily notify you of any stranger in or around your home. Shih Tzus cannot function as watchdogs, as they are not likely to bark.

yorkie dogs
Image Credit: Susana Segovia Barbero, Unsplash

Yorkie vs. Shih Tzu: Grooming

Both of these dogs have high grooming standards. They each have a longer coat that must be maintained or clipped by a professional regularly. Daily brushing and regular baths are required for both breeds.

They also both need care to keep the hair out of their eyes, as this can cause eye infections. Their ears also need to be trimmed and cleaned regularly to prevent infections, as debris and bacteria can hang out on the fur inside the ears.

Overall, these breeds have very similar grooming needs.

Yorkie vs. Shih Tzu: Size

The Shih Tzu is significantly larger than the Yorkie. Most Yorkies are around seven or so pounds. They can be slightly bigger or smaller than this, but they are almost always near this number. On the other hand, Shih Tzus are anywhere from 9-16 pounds. Even the smallest Shih Tzu is going to be larger than a Yorkie.

Both are still relatively small dogs, but a Yorkie is smaller than a Shih Tzu.

Yorkie vs. Shih Tzu: Price

Yorkies tend to be more expensive than Shih Tzus because they have more difficulty giving birth because of their smaller size. You can expect a Yorkie to cost a few hundred dollars more than a Shih Tzu. However, they are both inexpensive for dogs since they are smaller.

Smaller dogs require less food and room when breeding. Therefore, less money has to go into each puppy. These savings usually carry over to the dog’s price, so smaller dogs are much cheaper than larger dogs.

Shih Tzu
Image Credit: Edson Torres, Unsplash

Yorkie vs. Shih Tzu: Ideal Family

Neither of these dogs is ideal for homes with small children. Children easily harm small dogs. They are often too fragile to play or be handled by small children. Instead, larger dogs are often better in these circumstances.

However, these dogs are both good in families with older children. They will not be hiking or backpacking any time soon, so they are best for less active families. They are particularly suitable for older people who have plenty of time and want to groom and care for a small companion dog.

Yorkie vs. Shih Tzu: Health

Both of these dogs are relatively healthy, as long as they are taken care of correctly and provided with proper nutrition. The main issue with both breeds is that they need their eyes and ears taken care of to avoid infections. The hair should stay free from their eyes to avoid infection or irritation.

Yorkies are particularly prone to low blood sugar due to their small size. They should be given small meals frequently to avoid this. They are also prone to a collapsed trachea and heart conditions. Furthermore, they may be prone to the dislocation of the elbow and kneecap, though they share this with many smaller breeds. Epilepsy is also more common than other dog breeds.

Shih Tzus are particularly prone to joint issues and arthritis, more so than Yorkies, likely because they are more extensive. Their larger size puts more wear-and-tear on their joints, leading to problems when they are older. They also have proportionally shorter legs, which puts undue pressure on their back as well.

Shih Tzus also may be more prone to eye problems, as the eyes tend to stick out more than the Yorkie’s eyes.

Yorkie vs. Shih Tzu: Behavior Problems

When it comes to these two dogs, the Yorkie often has more behavior issues than the Shih Tzu. Overall, the Shih Tzu is designed to be a companion dog and is extremely friendly. They often love people and are not territorial in the least. Instead, they tend to love everyone.

Yorkies are often more aggressive and territorial. They were bred to be ratters, not necessarily to get along with other people or animals. They have a prey drive and will chase things as well. If they are not socialized, they can become territorial and aggressive.

Divider 3

Which Breed is Right for You?

Which breed you choose depends mostly on what you’re looking for in a dog. Shih Tzus are more lap dogs, while Yorkies are more active. If you’re looking for a playful, little dog, get a Yorkie. If you’re looking for a lap dog, the Shih Tzu is a better choice.

Otherwise, both of these dogs are very similar. They require about the same grooming requirements and are both very healthy. The Yorkie does need a bit more exercise, mainly because it is a bit more energetic than the Shih Tzu. The Yorkie will also bark more since they were bred as ratting dogs.