Everything a Shih tzu dog breed parent must know

Everything a Shih tzu dog breed parent must know
Photo by Karsten Winegeart / Unsplash

The Shih Tzu, often referred to with various spellings like "shihtzu," "shitzu," or "shih tzu," is a breed known for its distinctive appearance and charming personality. This blog will explore everything you need to know about the Shih Tzu breed, from its history and characteristics to care tips and common questions about this adorable companion.

History and Origin of the Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu, pronounced "sheet-su," is an ancient breed, with origins dating back to Tibet and China. These dogs were treasured by Chinese royalty, often depicted in ancient paintings and considered symbols of wealth and prosperity. The name "Shih Tzu" translates to "lion dog," reflecting the breed's mane-like facial hair and noble demeanor.

Physical Characteristics

Shih Tzus are small in size but sturdy, with a solid build and a distinctive face that features a short snout and large, dark eyes. Their luxurious coat, which can come in various colors and patterns, requires regular grooming to maintain its elegance. Despite their small stature, typically weighing between 9 to 16 pounds, Shih Tzus carry themselves with an almost regal bearing.

Temperament and Personality

Known for their friendly and affectionate nature, Shih Tzus make excellent companions. They are particularly good with families, often showing a gentle and patient demeanor around children. These dogs are also known for their alertness and can be quite spirited, exhibiting a playful and sometimes mischievous character.

Shih Tzu Puppies

Shih Tzu puppies, with their fluffy coats and playful antics, are irresistibly cute. When raising a Shih Tzu puppy, early socialization and training are crucial to help them develop into well-mannered adults. These puppies are quick learners and respond well to positive reinforcement techniques.

Care and Grooming

Shih Tzus require regular grooming due to their long, flowing coat. Regular brushing is necessary to prevent tangles and mats, and many owners opt for professional grooming to keep their Shih Tzu looking their best. Despite their luxurious appearance, Shih Tzus are relatively low-energy dogs, making them suitable for apartment living. However, they still need regular exercise to stay healthy and happy.

Health and Lifespan

Shih Tzus are generally healthy, with a lifespan of 10 to 16 years. However, like all breeds, they can be prone to certain health issues, such as breathing problems due to their short snout, and eye issues given their prominent eyes. Regular veterinary check-ups and a healthy diet are essential to maintaining their health.

Training and Socialization

Training a Shih Tzu can be both rewarding and challenging. They are intelligent dogs but can be stubborn, so patience and consistency are key. Socialization is also important for Shih Tzus; exposing them to different people, animals, and environments can help prevent anxiety and shyness.

Shih Tzu as a Family Pet

Shih Tzus are known for their adaptability and can thrive in various living environments, from apartments to large homes with yards. Their friendly nature makes them excellent family pets, and they usually get along well with other animals, especially if raised together.

Common Questions About Shih Tzus

  • Are Shih Tzus good for allergy sufferers? While no breed is completely hypoallergenic, Shih Tzus are often recommended for people with allergies due to their low shedding coat.
  • Do Shih Tzus bark a lot? Shih Tzus can be vocal, but with proper training and socialization, excessive barking can be managed.
  • Can Shih Tzus be left alone? While Shih Tzus can tolerate being alone for short periods, they thrive on companionship and should not be left isolated for long hours.


The Shih Tzu is a breed with a rich history and a personality that's as grand as its appearance. Whether you’re drawn to their regal looks, their friendly nature, or their adaptability to various living situations, a Shih Tzu can make a wonderful addition to your family. With the right care, training, and love, these "lion dogs" will bring joy and companionship to your life for many years.