Shih Tzu Puppies

Photo of Shih Tzu

A fun-loving, devoted, and friendly breed

Shih Tzus are an ancient breed are an ancient Chinese breed that were used as companions and guard dogs dating as far back as the first century. Shih Tzu translates to Little Lion Dog, an homage to their long, silky coat that resembles a mane. They are affectionate companions with a fun and mischievous personality.

Shih Tzu At a Glance

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Shih Tzu At a Glance

  • Size: 9"-10", 9-16 lbs.
  • Lifespan: 10-15 years
  • Energy Level: medium
  • Coat: Fine, straight, silky, and long
  • Shedding: light
  • Hypoallergenic: Yes
  • Dog Group: Toy
  • Common Nicknames: The Chrysanthemum Dog

Shih Tzu Breed Guide

Learn More About Shih Tzus

  • Temperament

    Shih Tzus are lively, alert, and loyal, making them great family dogs. They love being around their people and will be content doing just about anything with their family members, whether it's taking a walk in the woods or relaxing on the couch. Around strangers, these dogs are friendly and approachable. Shih Tzus tend to do well with children and other dogs, but early socialization is still important. These dogs are upbeat and playful, but can be mischievous on occasion. That said, training a Shih Tzu may require some patience and extra time. When properly trained and cared for, Shih Tzus make lovable and loyal companions.

  • Health

    Shih Tzus have a long lifespan, and are generally very healthy throughout their life. They can be susceptible to conditions like Keratitis, Proptosis, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, and Hip Dysplasia. Regular vet checkups are important to keep an eye out for these conditions.

  • Activity Level

    Shih Tzus were bred to be house companions and usually get their energy out in short bursts during playtime. They enjoy short walks and love playing games in the house or apartment. If they don't get enough playtime, their usually cute and mischievous behavior can become destructive.

  • Grooming

    Shih Tzus require a lot of maintenance to prevent their long and silky coats from getting matted or knotty. They should be brushed daily and regular trips to the groomers are recommended. Many owners have their Shih Tzus groomed to have a shorter coat or learn to do it themselves to make their coats more manageable.

  • Shedding

    Shih Tzus shed very lightly but will shed heavily at two years old as they shed their adolescent coat and grow in their mature coat. They still have dander, but they are considered hypoallergenic due to their low-shedding coat.

  • Appearance

    Shih Tzus are longer than they are tall, and known for their long and silky coat. Their ears are heavily feathered and hang low along the side of their face. Their hair often hangs in front of their eyes and muzzle, which many owners tame with a top knot.

  • History

    While the origins of the Shih Tzu are unclear, genetic testing has proven that it is an ancient breed. Some theories suggest that the Shih Tzu originated in Tibet, where it was bred by Tibetan lamas to replicate a tiny lion. Despite originating in Tibet, the Shih Tzu that we know today developed in China during the late 1800s, where it was bred to have a more stylized appearance. Once imperial rule ended in China, the breed suffered a significant decline, but some dogs remained in England after being brought there from China. The Shih Tzu experienced another setback due to World War II, but breeding picked up again during the 1950s and 60s. The Shih Tzu became very popular in the United States, and it was recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1969.