Shih Tzu Breed - Dog & Puppy Information & Characteristics

shih tzu

The “Lion Dog” hailing from Chinese royalty is now one of the most favourite dog breeds around the world. Shih Tzus are friendly, outgoing, and playful lap dogs that love to impress their parents and be the centre of their attention. This dog breed has a magnificent flowing silky coat that mesmerises anyone and everyone who lays eyes on them. Once you bring a Shih Tzu home, you will not be ready to leave its side. These dogs are extremely welcoming to humans and other pets, making them the perfect addition to your family.

Key specifications of the Shih Tzu dog breed 

Here are some basic facts you should be aware of about the Shih Tzu dog breed before bringing one home


4 to 9 kg


9 to 10.5 inches


10 to 18 years 


Double coat 

Note: The weight and height mentioned on the table is of a full-grown Shih Tzu and not of a Shih Tzu puppy.

Physical appearance of Shih Tzus 

This loyal and royal dog breed sports a gorgeous double coat that almost looks like a waterfall of silky and shiny hair. Their majestic coats can be found in a variety of colours such as: 

  • White 
  • Black white and silver 
  • Silver gold and white 
  • Black gold and white 
  • Black gold and silver 
  • Red 
  • Silver 
  • Liver
  • Liver and white 
  • Blue 
  • Blue and white 
  • Silver and white 
  • Gold and white 
  • Red and white 
  • Gold
  • Brindle 
  • Brindle and white 
  • Black 
  • Black and white 

If you find yourself a pure white Shih Tzu, you are in luck because this colour on a Shih Tzu is extremely rare. White Shih Tzus are always found with black or grey markings and never in a pure white shade. 

Shih Tzus are also often confused with the Lhasa Apso dog breed since they have many physical similarities, especially their iconic coat. If you want to ascertain that you are bringing a purebred Shih Tzu home, look out for these physical features: 

  • Ears covered in thick hair that flops downwards 
  • Large and round black eyes 
  • Flat nose with wide nostrils 

Shih Tzu personality traits 

Shih Tzus love playing with children and socialising them from an early age is imperative. Introduce your Shih Tzu puppy to new people, pets, and surroundings as it is the most flexible at that life stage. Shih Tzus do not usually bite, but if something ticks them off, they are bound to snap. Since the Shih Tzu are a toy breed, young children should be informed that these adorable fur babies must be handled with care. Shih Tzus make for outstanding watchdogs, thanks to their tiny frame that lets them move quickly and assess situations faster. They can even alert you when an outsider is making their way to your home. These loyal dogs will also serve as great emotional support when you need them and will make sure that they accompany you at all times.

Do Shih Tzus need training? 

One thing that you should know about Shih Tzu dog breed is that they are attention hungry. So, if you want to train your Shih Tzu, get ready to shower it with rewards and praises. Sometimes this dog breed can be stubborn, but it is nothing that you cannot overcome with firmness and consistency. Ensure that you keep practising different commands such as sit, stay, come, and more throughout your floof’s life. You should also be careful about raising your voice. Shih Tzus are prone to anxiety and can misbehave if you use hard ways to train them.

How to care for Shih Tzus? 

Here’s everything that you need to know to make sure that you are giving your Shih Tzu adequate love and support to be healthy and happy: 

  • Health Issues

The average lifespan of a Shih Tzu is 10 to 18 years. While they are generally healthy dogs, there are some common health issues that you should be aware of. By taking them for regular checkups from a young age, you can make sure that your Shih Tzu puppy is capable of living its healthiest life. Take note of health issues such as obesity, liver, problems, bone, joint problems, urine infections, skin, problems, kidney diseases, and eye problems. Take your Shih Tzu for regular checkups to rule out any of the above diseases or diagnose them early and treat them before they become fatal.

  • Grooming 

The time that you need to give your Shih Tzu for grooming depends on its haircut. If you want to retain its natural and iconic waterfall-like coat, you will have to brush it every single day. If you decide to cut it short, you will have to brush it every alternate day. Use a pen brush for your Shih Tzu, so it can reach all layers of hair and keep the coat free of any notes and tangles.

Bathe your floof every three weeks so that it keeps smelling good for all the cuddle sessions. Bathing also ensures that their hair and skin stays healthy and shining without taking away any natural oil from their coats.

  • Physical activity 

Since Shih Tzus were bred to be the dog of emperors, but this doesn’t mean that they do not need any exercise. Take your dog for 2 to 3 walks a day for a span of 20 minutes each. Avoid taking them out when it’s sunny outside since the Shih Tzus dog breed is fairly sensitive to heat. You can carry a vessel for your pooch to drink from whenever you take them out for a walk. Come winter season, you will need to cover your pooch up with fleece or a jacket for safety. These dogs need mental stimulation, and you can do so by changing their playtime setting. You can take it out to the beach or a park and make sure that they are having the time of their life. 

  • Nutritional needs 

This dog breed can do well with any commercial dog food. Just make sure that the formula you choose is easy to chew because Shih Tzus have an underbite or an overbite issue. Keeping this in mind, dry food is highly recommended but so is keeping your pooch’s age in mind before you decide on a formula. You can also make your floof’s meals at home or you can consult your vet who can nail down a proper Shih Tzu food chart for your pup. A vet can also help you understand how a Shih Tzu puppy’s nutritional needs may change with age, so you can give it the best care possible. 

A brief history of Shih Tzus

Traced back to 1000 BC in China, Shih Tzus were luxury dogs that were presented as gifts to Chinese royalty. This dog breed was the most popular house pet during the Ming dynasty. Empress Tzu Hsi loved breeding Shih Tzus with the Pekingese breed or with Pugs in a world-famous breeding program that ended when she passed away in 1908. Post that, only seven males and seven females of this breed remained. Slowly and steadily this breed was revived using the remaining 14 pups, making every Shih Tzu on this planet a descendant of one of those last 14 pups.

You can find additional information about various dog breeds at this link.

Frequently asked questions

Do Shih Tzus get along with other pets?

Shih Tzu puppies get along perfectly well with other pets. In fact, they are known for being a happy breed that welcomes other domestic animals.

Are Shih Tzus good family dogs?

Can Shih Tzus stay alone at home?

Are Shih Tzus easy to groom?

Do Shih Tzus bark a lot?

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