Shih Tzu Ultimate Guide: Pictures, Characteristics, & Facts

When you think of a Shih Tzu, a cute dog with a regal demeanor comes to your mind. The name Shih Tzu means “little lion” but there is nothing fierce about this dog. They are calm and loving. Shih Tzu is a toy dog breed and was developed in Tibet. According to one theory, this breed descended from a cross between the Pekingese and Lhasa Apso. The first dog of this breed was imported to England in 1930.

Maureen Murdock and Philip Price, her nephew, were the first to import and breed Shih Tzus in the United States. There were three Shih Tzu clubs by 1960: the American Shih Tzu Association in Florida, the Texas Shih Tzu Society, and the Shih Tzu Club of America. This breed is also called Chrysanthemum Dog which is a nickname given to it because of the way its hair grows on the face. 

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Shih Tzu has a long, silky gorgeous coat. The color of the coat can be black, black and white, gray and white, or red and white. The tail can have a white tip. Shih Tzu’s forehead can have a white blaze. 

The outer coat is long and looks like overflowing tresses that make this miniature breed look graceful beyond words. Some Shih Tzus have a face that is a little longer, legs that are a little longer and straighter and a body that is a little shorter.

Shih Tzus have a unique characteristic called undershot bite. Their lower jaw is slightly wider than the upper, and the upper teeth bite inside the lower teeth, rather than outside, when their mouth is closed.



Male Shih Tzus weigh 8.8 to 16 pounds (4 to 7.25 kg) whereas females weigh 8.8 to 17.9 (4 to 8.10 kg). Both the genders have almost the same height ranging from 7.9 to 11 inches (20 to 28 cm). The overall length of these dogs is between 15 to 17.5 inches. 


The lifespan of Shih Tzu is between 10 to 16 years. These dogs have a longer lifespan as compared to other purebred dogs. The oldest living Shih Tzu was Smokey who lived for 23 years.



This breed has a double coat and is considered as a low shedder. Shih Tzu is among the few breeds that have long hair instead of fur. When the hair is kept long the shedding hairs don’t fall to the ground or furniture.  Instead, these hairs will shed off into the coat itself and are then brushed out during regular grooming

Shih Tzu puppies have a different coat than the adult Shih Tzus. At some point, the pups start shedding their young coat to grow an adult coat which leads to heavy shedding. Like other dogs, Shih Tzus shed due to seasonal change.

When spring arrives they shed their winter coat to replace it with lighter hair. Similarly, they shed during fall to replace the light summer coat with a heavier winter coat. They also shed a fair amount of hair when they are pregnant. 



These adorable dogs should be brushed every 1 to 3 days depending on the length of the coat. Nails should be trimmed every 6 months in order to ensure proper hygiene. Their face and eyes should be wiped every day to prevent any infections.

Ears should be cleaned often with the help of an ear solution and it should be allowed to sit in the canal for some time. Dental checkups are also important for their teeth to remain healthy. 



Shih Tzus are affectionate, clever, outgoing, and lively. These dogs enjoy digging and bark unnecessarily. This breed thrives for human companionship and loves to be a part of a family.

They are extremely confident animals and don’t feel shy about expressing their emotions. They are comfortable around strangers and introduce themselves to unknown people themselves. As they age, their excitement level fades and they prefer calm spaces.

They can be a little temperamental around larger species but generally, they get along with other pets. 



Shih Tzu is considered a smart dog. According to Stanley Coren, Shih Tzu ranks 128th out of 138 dogs. These dogs are fast learners if trained right. An average Shih Tzu needs 80 repetitions of a new command before they understand it. 


Shih Tzus are highly agile and animals. There are different games that are suitable for Shih Tzus to keep them agile like digging boxes, frisbee, hide and seek, etc. Shih Tzus don’t like sitting idle and they always keep running around to keep themselves healthy. 



Regular exercise plays an important role in the dog’s physical and mental health. A 6+ month puppy needs at least one brisk walk of 20 minutes every day. Adults dogs need 2 to 3 walks of 20 to 30 minutes duration. 

Several other exercises can be added to their routine to keep them healthy. Exercise helps to strengthen their circulatory and respiratory system, keeps their joints flexible and muscles toned, and helps improve their sleep and digestion.

Older Shih Tzus are relatively less active and have lower energy levels. However, they need a sufficient amount of exercise to keep them mobile and active. These dogs love to play with dog puzzles or do other activities with their owners. 



Shih Tzus are readily trainable with positive training techniques based on rewards. The tone should always be kept playful and positive as they are sensitive to tone. The training sessions should be consistent and firm.

Positive reinforcement sessions help to bond with the Shih Tzu. On the other hand, being harsh will damage the relationship with the pup. Training should start with the basics such as teaching your pup to walk on a leash.

Early socialization is also important as it ensures the friendly behavior of the pup. Like any other dog, they become timid if not socialized early. With the right training approach and patience, Shih Tzu turns out to be an amazing dog. 



Shih Tzu is a wonderful family pet. They get along well with different pets. Shih Tzus do well with singles, couples, and families with older children. They have a docile nature which makes them a good companion for children. 



This breed is an excellent choice for apartment living owing to their size and temperament. They are small and don’t require much space. These dogs don’t mind where they live as long as they are with their owners.


Shih Tzus are prone to separation anxiety. They show different signs of anxiety such as whining or whimpering. An anxious Shih Tzu will keep its tail between its legs and flatten its ears pointed towards the back of its head.

Other symptoms include loud barking and chewing things like furniture. Separation anxiety can be prevented by teaching the pup to cope up with your absence using different psychological strategies.

Distracting Shih Tzus mind by giving them dog puzzles or other toys to play with help in reducing separation anxiety. 



Shih Tzu is a healthy breed but it can have health issues like other dogs. Some health issues that Shih Tzus go through are Keratitis, Proptosis, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, Hip Dysplasia, etc. 

The structure of the dog’s ears makes them prone to ear infections. They have floppy ears that make them vulnerable to bacterial infection. Some of the symptoms of ear infections are odor or abnormal jumping. 

They also face hypothyroidism which means the thyroid gland does not function properly. Symptoms of hypothyroidism in Shih Tzus include extreme fatigue, hair loss, an abnormal appetite, an excessive need to urinate, and weight gain.

However, with proper care and attention, your Shih Tzu can live a long, healthy and happy life.

That’s all for today. We hope you liked this content about adorable Shih Tzus.


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