Shih Tzu: The Ultimate Dog Guide


The Shih Tzu, often referred to as the “Lion Dog” due to its regal appearance, is a breed with a rich history and a personality that’s as vibrant as its luxurious coat. Delve into the captivating world of the Shih Tzu and uncover everything from its ancient origins to modern-day care essentials.

Aspect Information
Origin China
Größe Small
Gewicht 9 to 16 pounds
Höhe 9 to 10.5 inches at the shoulder
Lebenserwartung 10 to 16 years
Mantel Long, flowing double coat
Color Varieties Black, white, blue, gold, and combinations thereof
Temperament Affectionate, lively, friendly
Common Health Issues Breathing concerns, eye problems
Dietary Needs Specific to the life stage, the potential for food allergies
Exercise Needs Moderate; daily play and short walks
Pflege Regular brushing, occasional professional grooming

Origin and History of Shih Tzu

Descended from ancient Chinese breeds, the Shih Tzu was a favored companion of Chinese royalty for centuries. These dogs graced the imperial courts, leading lives of luxury and being cherished by emperors and their families. Their journey to the Western world began only in the early 20th century when they quickly captured the hearts of many.

Physical Characteristics of Shih Tzu

Size and Weight

Typically, a Shih Tzu weighs between 9 to 16 pounds and stands about 9 to 10.5 inches tall at the shoulder. Compact yet sturdy, they are known for their solid build.

Coat and Color Varieties

One of the defining features of the Shih Tzu is its long, flowing double coat. This coat can come in various colors including black, white, blue, gold, and combinations thereof.

Facial and Body Structure

A Shih Tzu has a distinct short snout, large dark eyes, and a tail that curls over its back. Its facial expression often appears proud and somewhat arrogant, but in a charming way.

Personality and Temperament of Shih Tzu

General Disposition

Lively and alert, a Shih Tzu is an affectionate companion. They are known for their friendly demeanor and outgoing nature.

Social Behavior

Shih Tzus are great with people, often forming strong bonds with their family members. They are generally welcoming to guests and get along well with other animals.

Shih Tzu with Children and Other Pets

Their gentle and patient nature makes them excellent companions for children. Similarly, they usually coexist peacefully with other pets.

Common Misconceptions

Some might mistake their regal appearance as a sign of aloofness, but in reality, Shih Tzus are playful and love being the center of attention.

Health and Wellness of Shih Tzu

Lifespan and General Health

With proper care, a Shih Tzu can live anywhere from 10 to 16 years. They are generally healthy, but like all breeds, can be susceptible to certain health issues.

Common Health Issues

Breathing concerns, due to their short snout, are common. They can also face certain eye problems like retinal detachment. Regular vet check-ups are crucial to catch and address potential health concerns early.

Regular Vet Check-ups and Vaccinations

Routine vet visits ensure your Shih Tzu remains healthy and receives necessary vaccinations to prevent common canine diseases.

Importance of Dental Health

Given their small jaws, Shih Tzus can be prone to dental issues. Regular brushing and dental check-ups are essential.

Care and Grooming of Shih Tzu

Basic Grooming Needs

Their long coat requires regular brushing to prevent tangles and mats. Bathing every few weeks keeps their coat clean and shiny.

Professional Grooming Recommendations

Considering the intricacy of their coat, occasional visits to a professional groomer can be beneficial.

Special Attention to Ears, Eyes, and Facial Wrinkles

Regular cleaning prevents infections and irritations in these areas.

Diet and Nutrition for Shih Tzu

Dietary Requirements

Proper nutrition is essential at every life stage, from puppy to senior. Quality dog food that meets their specific needs is recommended.

Avoiding Common Allergens

Shih Tzus can sometimes have food allergies. It’s crucial to monitor their diet and watch for signs of allergies.

Importance of Hydration

Always ensure your Shih Tzu has access to fresh water, especially during hot days.

Tips for Avoiding Overfeeding

Given their small size, overfeeding can quickly lead to obesity. Stick to recommended portion sizes and limit treats.

Training and Socialization for Shih Tzu

Starting Early

Puppy socialization helps in shaping a well-rounded adult dog. Early exposure to various people, places, and experiences is beneficial.

Basic Commands and Positive Reinforcement

Shih Tzus respond well to positive training methods. Rewards and praises often yield the best results.

Common Behavioral Issues and Solutions

While generally well-behaved, some might develop habits like barking or digging. Consistent training can address these behaviors.

The Benefits of Obedience School

Professional training classes can be an excellent resource for both the dog and the owner.

Activity and Exercise for Shih Tzu

Exercise Needs

While they love lounging, daily exercise is essential for their physical and mental well-being.

Recommended Games and Play

Toys, short walks, and playful interactions keep them active and engaged.

Safety Concerns During Exercise

Due to their short snout, ensure they don’t overexert, especially in hot weather.

Living with a Shih Tzu

Suitable Living Environments

They adapt well to apartment living as long as they receive their daily dose of activity.

Traveling with a Shih Tzu

Being a compact breed, they are generally easy travelers. However, it’s essential to ensure their comfort during journeys.

Bonding and Spending Quality Time

Quality time, be it cuddling or playing, strengthens your bond and keeps your pet happy.

Adoption and Purchasing Considerations for Shih Tzu

Choosing a Responsible Breeder

If you decide to buy, ensure the breeder follows ethical practices and prioritizes the health of the puppies.

Adopting a Rescue or Shelter

Adoption is a noble choice. Many Shih Tzus in shelters are looking for a forever home.

Initial Care and Settling-In Period

The first few weeks are crucial. Ensure a comfortable environment to help your new pet settle in.

Understanding Shih Tzu Vocalizations

The Shih Tzu, like many toy breeds, can be a vocal dog. Understanding their various barks, whines, and growls can help you cater to their needs more effectively. A sharp, quick bark might be alert to something unfamiliar, while a series of barks could be a sign of excitement or playfulness. Whining could indicate they’re feeling uneasy or want attention. It’s essential to pay attention to the context of the sound and their body language to fully understand their communication.

Shih Tzu and Allergies: A Double-Edged Sword

Shih Tzus are often recommended as a breed for people with allergies because they have hair instead of fur. This means they produce fewer allergens than many other breeds. However, it’s crucial to understand that no breed is entirely hypoallergenic. Spending time around Shih Tzus before bringing one home can help potential pet owners determine if they’ll have an allergic reaction. On the flip side, Shih Tzus themselves can develop allergies, as mentioned in their dietary needs. Regular check-ups and being observant can help manage and treat any allergies that may arise.

Entertaining a Shih Tzu Indoors

Given their small size, Shih Tzus are perfect for indoor games. Hide and seek, fetch with soft toys, or puzzle toys can keep them engaged and mentally stimulated. Setting up obstacle courses with pillows or teaching them new tricks are also great indoor activities. Remember, while they may be small in size, their brains are always eager for stimulation and fun.

Travel Tips with Your Shih Tzu

If you’re planning to travel with your Shih Tzu, preparation is key. Their compact size makes them ideal travel companions. However, always ensure they are safe in a well-ventilated crate or car seat. It’s also a good idea to bring along their favorite toy or blanket to give them a sense of comfort. Remember to pack their food, any medications, and a portable water bowl. When flying, always check airline policies related to pet travel.


Owning a Shih Tzu is a journey filled with love, laughter, and a bit of grooming. Celebrate their unique qualities and ensure they lead a happy, healthy life by your side.


Sergey Uhanov, a certified veterinarian, has authored all of the content here. With over 20 years of experience in dog care and breeding three dogs of his own, he has a deep passion for these furry friends. Sergey owns a pet clinic in Israel where he provides care and treatment to dogs. He enjoys sharing his expertise and knowledge to assist others in caring for their dogs.

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