Who knew this adorable dog would have such a ferocious name? Shih Tzu means “lion dog” in Chinese, which most likely comes from a Buddhist legend that Siddhartha travelled with a little dog that could transform into a lion.
The Shih Tzu was a very precious dog amongst Chinese royalty. Often depicted in paintings, this breed comes from Tibetan breeding stock, likely a cross from the Pekingese and the Lhaso Apso. The Shih Tzu breed was the house pet for most of the Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644).
Due to this breed being accessible to only royalty for centuries, Shih Tzus spent most of their time behind palace walls until relatively recently. The general public didn’t know of the Shih Tzu until the 1930s when breed clubs formed in Peking and England.
These days, the Shih Tzu is a household name. The queen, Mariah Carey, and Bill Gates have all owned Shih Tzus, and they continue to be popular, both in and out of the royal court.
Shih Tzu puppy facts
Delightfully miniature and adorably affectionate, a Shih Tzu puppy is the most regal toy dog you ever did see. Here are some facts you should know before getting a Shih Tzu:
|Size||Small. Adults reach up to a height of 22-27cm (9-10.5in) and weigh 4-7kg (9-16lbs).|
|Breed Characteristics||Built sturdily with a show-stopping coat, the Shih Tzu is a toy dog through and through. They have a wide weight variation (a three-kilo difference can be quite extreme for a toy variety). Shih Tzus have a double coat that’s often kept long. The breed standard requires only a slight wave in the coat at most, but you may see a curly-coated Shih Tzu as well. They come in a variety of colours, often mixed in with white. Breeders will tie excess hair on top of their head. With wide-set, dark eyes, the Shih Tzu is a friendly, welcoming looking dog.|
|Temperament||Deeply affectionate, the Shih Tzu loves being a lap dog. They’re easily trusting of most people and love children. Due to their royal ancestry of living in palaces, they’re quite content being inside most of the day. They do have energy to burn however, so playing indoors along with daily walks will keep this dog healthy and happy.|
|Grooming and Health Needs||Though this breed doesn’t shed, the Shih Tzu’s luxurious coat doesn’t come easy. Their coats need daily brushing with a good quality dog brush that can take out tangles. Always include brushing the top knot on their head along with their moustache. Once a month, give a Shih Tzu a bath to keep the coat clean and shiny. If you’d prefer a different haircut that’s less maintenance, there are plenty of options as well.
Due to their double coats, Shih Tzus need to be watched to make sure they don’t overheat. They also need to be checked for corneal inflammation due to improperly closed eyelids, hip dysplasia, and patellar luxation.
|Training||Beware! Shih Tzus gets what they want! Due to their heightened sense of charm, many new owners will find themselves giving too many treats, and letting the Shih Tzu get away with things they shouldn’t. Gentle but firm persistence with this breed is best, as they’re people-pleasers and ultimately want to make you happy. Make sure you stick to positive reinforcement training. Early socialisation and puppy obedience classes are key so they learn how to socialise with other dogs and understand simple commands.|
|Energy Level||Shih Tzus love being in the great indoors, but still benefit from short walks and playtime. They have shorter legs, so there’s a risk of exhausting them easily with too much stimulation.|
|Life Span||Shih Tzus live between 10-18 years on average.|
Who is the best human for a Shih Tzu?
Shih Tzus are very affectionate people-pleasers. With both kids and adults, they’ll charm everyone within a few moments of meeting them. If you live in a flat, they’re a great dog to have, due to their minimal need for exercise and small stature. And if you can’t be around as much as you’d like to be, you can find a local sitter on Rover.com who offers dog boarding and can give your dog all the attention they deserve while you’re gone.
Getting a Shih Tzu puppy
Whether to adopt or to work with a breeder for your new Shih Tzu puppy is a personal choice that requires research. Thankfully, there are many resources out there to help you find a rescue or breeder that offers healthy, ethically-sourced Shih Tzu puppies.
Knowing what you’re in for when you get a Shih Tzu puppy is an important step in being a responsible pet owner. Whether you find a responsible breeder or are planning on adopting, prepare yourself for an energetic and friendly addition to your household.
Finding a Shih Tzu breeder
It may be surprising to know, but adopting a Shih Tzu puppy is possible. Most breed rescues report that a majority of their rescue dogs come from individual owner surrender, with the most common reasons being a change in lifestyle or the breed not being right for them. This means that there may be many dogs and puppies out there who are looking for a new forever home.
The Kennel Club also has an excellent list of Shih Tzu rescues on their site.
The main difference between a breeder and a rescue is that a rescue may not always have young puppies to choose from. The benefit, however, is that most are mandated to only adopt out dogs who have been microchipped and spayed/neutered. This means you may end up with a dog who’s already been housebroken and doesn’t need these common medical procedures. You may also find a Shih Tzu mix that has all the traits you want from the breed, but with a little extra thrown in. The Kennel Club also offers resources for finding a breeder, with fairly strict guidelines on who they let participate.
Shih Tzu puppy resources
After you find the right Shih Tzu puppy, it’s time to prepare your home! Here are a few resources to get you started.