Shih Tzu

Also known as: Chinese Lion Dog, Chrysanthemum Dog
  • Shih Tzu
  • Shih tzu

General description

Shih Tzus are suitable to live in units and well behaved in their alone time. Especially affectionate towards family and children. Great tolerance in cold weather but quite affected by heat. Friendly towards other animals and not over the top in its behavior relating to loyalty to the owner or use of nipping outside a playful interaction. Rather low energy levels and average strength. Maintenance cost are high for its coat but within range in relation to dietary and health requirements.

Shih Tzu in short

Aspect and attributes

Characteristics accepts by FCI:

  • Colors: red, fawn, sesame, white, pinto, grey, grizzle, black, blue, merle, yellowish, dark, light, pepper and salt, harlequin, apricot, silver, brown, liver, lemon, orange, charcoal, mouse, cream, chocolate, tan, cinnamon, seal, sable, gold, purple, ruddy, bronze, lilac, buckskin, sand
  • Hair: thick, smooth, short, long
  • Coats: double color

Obviously this is a rather small dog breed. This type of dog doesn't display any exceptions from an anatomic perspective and it is defined by a tiny and not slender bone structure which stands out due to a rather deep and wide chest, whilst the lower back area is compact but leveled by a decent sturdiness. All mixes well with a wide and rounded head whilst the muzzle is outside the standard measurements and stands out for its cramped and rather flat facial structure.

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Costs and maintenance

The necessities of a Shih Tzu must be clearly defined. This is a breed requiring lots of care as it concerns the health of its coat. This is an essential requirement and it must be facilitated through regular treatments apt at maintaining it clean and shiny, and daily and thorough investigation. Other than this, a Shih Tzu won't eat large amounts of food and doesn't give much to worry about as far as health conditions. Obviously an expert veterinary should always evaluate this last aspect through regular checkups.

Expenditures and maintenance within average

Characteristics Summary


Suitability to apartment life

The ideal environment for a Shih Tzu is the apartment. The household is a Shih Tzu's domain and this pooch loves to fully enjoy it. The Shih Tzu is a breed that loves the leisure and comfort of a pillow and the softness of a sofa. These traits are ideal for those living alone or who are unable to afford a large backyard or access to a park near home. This breed can perfectly conform to a household environment and can become the symbol of the ideal host.

Maximum suitability for apartment life

Tolerance for solitude

There are many conditions that apply to any dog breed and are involved in the concept of not facilitating solitary conditions for a dog. However, a Shih Tzu is quite easy in this regard and capable of maintaining an exemplary behavior when left alone. Shih Tzu owners should however remember that this breed prefers companionship by nature and should therefore not be left alone for too long.

Tolerance to loneliness within average

Suitable as first pet

An adult Shih Tzu is perfectly accountable and capable of looking after itself. Nonetheless, we should never forget a dog's necessities during training. It's important to understand the behaviors to restrain and which signs to interpret. These criteria are the foundation of a pet's education, especially when interacting in the household or with other people and dogs. Although this breed doesn't require a particularly skilled trainer, it is important to learn how to manage certain aspects of its nature.

Great suitability as first pet


As it regards the temperamental aspect of the breed's, the Shih Tzu is within average of rather tolerant dog types. Despite the size, Shih Tzus are quite disposed to tolerate even the more chaotic situations. This dog type will listen to the owner's recall and can tolerate reprimands. Nevertheless, it is essential to never exceed in this sense or your pet could suffer emotionally from it.

Moderate temperament

Tolerance for cold temperatures

The Shih Tzu will quickly get used to the cosiness of a domestic lifestyle. Nevertheless, in relation to a Shih Tzu's ability to tolerate cold temperatures this breed is quite resistant. A decisive factor in this sense is the unique coat of the Shih Tzu. Obviously, it will be up to the owner to understand when is the best time to walk a Shih Tzu without demanding acts of bravery and resistance to extremely low temperatures.

Moderately tolerant to cold climates

Tolerance for high temperatures

Rather than being a matter of tolerance for hot weather, the Shih Tzu's attitude towards it is more a matter of necessity in relation to its wellbeing. The nose structure is unique and contributes to an issue which can threaten this breed's wellbeing. Air passing through a Shih Tzu's nostrils is difficult to cool down in particularly hot environments due to a shorter route followed by the same. This process can cause serious lung issues and even develop into collapses or heartaches. Try to avoid extremely warm weather with a Shih Tzu.

Low tolerance for high temperatures

Friendliness and sociability

Affection towards family

Shih Tzus are accustomed to live in family environments and were solely trained as pets. This trait is perfectly exemplified in this breed's ability to display affection towards family members. An unconditional kind of love usually expressed in the daily moments spent together which a Shih Tzu will inevitably always seek. As it regards this particular feature, the Shih Tzu is one of the most appreciated breeds.

Absolute affection towards the family

Friendly towards children

Lots of affection and congeniality in this regard. Even too much. Children love playing and spending time with a Shih Tzu and its ability to give back is second to none. This relationship strengthens throughout the pet's growth and reaches rather high levels of affection. The presence of an observant owner is essential during this type of interaction. Not because of any potential risk for kids. Absolutely. Shih Tzus are harmless. But more for any possible menace to the pooch itself, in order to keep it safe from incidents or injuries of any nature.

Very friendly with children

Relationship with strangers

This breed can bond with anyone inside the family circle. This ability will also display towards strangers interacting with Shih Tzus in public spaces. This breed's regal nature doesn't consider any reactions out of proportion in front of other people. Nevertheless, this kind of disposition can only be developed and refined through adequate training. A Shih Tzu must be able to share space with strangers starting at a young age.

Absolute tolerance towards strangers

Friendliness towards other dogs

A highly sociable breed. This type of dog will adjust its unflappable sense of responsibility even amongst larger or louder dogs. Shih Tzus are capable of being friendly and prone to interact even with dogs met recently. Clearly, this talent cannot develop in a Shih Tzu outside of relevant socialization starting in its early age. This process is not complex however it must be completed for both the owner and pet's safety.

The Shih Tzu is exceptionally friendly towards other dogs

Care and health

Coat care and shedding

Despite the unique look of this breed's coat, Shih Tzus have quite a resistant fur. This feature is at the heart of this dog's growth and development. A pooch with a less resistant fur could not afford such an exceptional hair structure or amazing attention to detail. Don't fool yourself because in order to achieve such aesthetically beautiful results, the Shih Tzu's coat requires dedication and constant care for its needs.

Moulting within average

Salivation and drooling restraint level

A combination of factors may cause some issues for Shih Tzus. These factors include the length of the fur around the mouth, the mandibular structure which has the upper jaw positioned slightly forward compared to the lower one, and the difficult relationship of Shih Tzus with excessively hot temperatures. All of these factors must be added to the normal situations in which limiting salivation can become more challenging, such as before meals or during exciting situations.

Salivation restraint under average

Easiness to clean

Best to clarify some aspect that may turn into an issue regarding the Shih Tzu's level of hygiene. The typical length of a Shih Tzu's coat is a rather demanding feature for owners and it requires special attention. Special care is required for this breed's teeth and tail right after meals or daily walks. Given these premises, it is best to never skip a grooming appointment in order not to make interaction with other dogs and outdoor environments a problem.

Ease of cleanliness within average

Health and diseases

This breed will generally have good health conditions throughout its entire life and any disease that may develop is common amongst other breeds that are similar in size and type. Some health issues affecting Shih Tzus may concern the eye area (namely retinal atrophy or chronic superficial keratitis) and their hearing with certain infections that may develop in the ear due to the natural structure of the auricle.

Shih Tzua are generally in good health throughout their entire life

Tendency to gain weight

Shih Tzus are inclined to maintain in good shape throughout their entire life. A reason for this is that Shih Tzus are not particularly food driven. This dog breed can eat one or two cups per day across two separate meals which don't compromise in any way its shape, provided that it is high quality food. Owners should always limit any food intake outside main meals even though a Shih Tzu is not particularly inclined to binge eat.

Low tendency to gain weight

Learning skills

Intelligence and training

Shih Tzus have always made an impression due to their high level of intelligence which they are able to apply in various contexts. This breed's smartness is nurtured by its natural disposition towards daily activities involving creativity. The Shih Tzu is normally not involved in any special task therefore any activity outside of the daily domestic routine is greeted with curiosity and playfulness. In order to raise a Shih Tzu, you'll need a relatively strict training method which involves reward techniques praising good behaviors and limiting unwanted ones. A Shih Tzu will then respond with great feedback.

Great intelligence displayed during training

Loyalty and inclination to escape

Behavioral traits in a Shih Tzu, or any other dog breed for that matter, are strictly connected to owners ability to immediately behave as alpha dogs. This feature is essential when having to raise such a pet. It's important to clarify that this type of dog will easily identify with the owner with little or none inclination to run away as, once part of the family your Shih Tzu will perfectly conform to any environment in which its loved ones are.

The Shih Tzu is very loyal and disinclined to escape

Inclination to bite

One of the most valued qualities in a Shih Tzu are its good manners in almost any type of context. This dog breed is fond of games and may sometime resort to nips which will never be harmful but always contained within the creative activities in which your pet is involved. Any undesirable behavior in this sense can be limited by owners through training. A way of changing a behavior that however is not really natural in a Shih Tzu.

Calm and not so inclined to bite

Hunt drive

Despite the high level of curiosity which can bring a Shih Tzu to consider chasing another animal as a game, it is rare that this breed will completely give into this kind of activity. A kind of behavior that depends on a certain "regal" kit that Shih Tzus are equipped with which should however be supported and properly developed through adequate training.

Tendency to hunt a prey below average

Inclination to bark or howl

The ability of this breed to bark or howl can be slightly annoying in certain situations. In some subjects, this feature is almost a way of gaining the owner's attention in certain moments of the day. To avoid allowing your Shih Tzu to develop this unwanted trait, owners should refer to a fairly strict and never harsh training technique but also learn to be patient for their dog's sake.

Inclination to bark and howl within average

Exercise requirements

Energy level

This is the typical "show off" dog breed. Excluding the unpleasant meaning of the word, Shih Tzus are clearly a breed with low energy levels. This type of dog is capable of a certain amount of activity however it is not considered to be a champion in this regard. Shih Tzus will rather be admired and applauded for their looks. A kind of vanity that is allowed to a Shih Tzu thanks to a modest body type as it regards the muscular and skeletal structure.

Below average energy level


As far as this breed's strength we can place Shih Tzus perfectly within average based on their size and structure. Usually, very small dog breeds may still display an unexpected level of strength when compared to their size. Shih Tzus instead are quite calm and don't have any notable exceptions in this sense. Nevertheless, the interaction of your pooch should always be monitored to avoid damaging extremely delicate objects in your household.

Very tame and not overly strong

Exercise requirements

A Shih Tzu's requirement for exercise is linked to the need to maintain flawless psycho-physical skills and shape, although this is not much of an issue. This dog type is not particularly fond of engaging in extended periods of physical activity and could encounter some hardship in the warmest days or seasons. The amount of exercise adequate to a Shih Tzu is around half an hour twice day, with no pressure and allowing time to recover.

Average need for physical activity

Tendency to play

As for many other dog breeds, Shih Tzus are inclined to play based on the amount of involvement displayed by the other party interacting with them. This type of dog loves playing and interacting with the owner and young kids however it should not be pressured. It's important to understand the limits of a breed that's not particularly inclined towards athletic activities and, most of all be aware that the Shih Tzu is a rather fragile type of dog. Playtime is good but don't push it too far.

Average inclination to play

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