Shih Tzu Dogs: History, Temperament, Care, Training & more

Shih Tzu Dog Breed Information

Shih Tzu
Level of Energy   
Exercise Needs      
Level of Affection   
Climate Tolerance     
Good With Children   
Tolerance of Animals   
Suitable as Guard Dog    

Just The Facts

  • AKC Popularity:  15
  • AKC Breed Group:  Toy
  • Size of Male:  8-11 in., 9-16 lbs
  • Size of Female:  8-11 in., 9-16 lbs
  • Color:  Any and All
  • Average Lifespan:  11-14 years
  • Breed Origin:  China
  • Purpose:  Companion

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General Description

The Shih Tzu is one of the oldest breeds of dog. They are small in size with a long, flowing coat and dense undercoat, and they are very pretty looking. A very affectionate breed, this breed has a charming personality, which makes every one adore them. These little dogs were actually bred to look like a miniature lion.

Origin and History

Shih Tzu dogs originated in Tibet as early as the 17th century. However, it was not until the later 1860s during the reign of Empress Dowager Cixi that this breed was developed distinctly.

This class of dogs was regarded as sanctified and holy.

Produced by breeding the Bei-jing gou (Pekingese) with the Lhasa Apso, a Tibetan breed, these little dogs were introduced in Britain around 1930 and familiarized in America a short time later.

After the AKC registered this breed in 1969, it has since remained one of the most popular toy dog breeds.

Shih Tzu Temperament

These popular little dogs are playful companions who love spending time on their master?s lap. They are very loving and gentle in disposition and like to play a lot. They also enjoy cuddling with their owners and sleeping with them (they like nothing better), making them great companions for the elderly.

Although this breed is also wonderful with kids, they require a lot of pampering and should not be handled roughly due to their small size. Overall, they are great family pets, but can be a little challenging to train.

Care, Grooming, Diet & Exercise

Living Environment – These little dogs are not meant for outdoor living and should never be left outside. They do not like the hot and humid weather.

Grooming – Their coat needs daily brushing to maintain its shine and will generally need to be clipped every two or three months. The hair around their bottom should be regularly trimmed to keep them clean. When groomed on a very regular basis, they are a low shedder and thus can be suited for people with allergies.

Diet & Exercise – Although they do not require a lot of exercise, they should have small daily walks. When walking is combined with vigorous indoor playing and short games in the yard, the Shih Tzu will have sufficient exercise.

Health – This breed of dog can live up to 10-14 years. There are number of health problems to be aware of, including dog allergies, thyroid problems, anemia, kidney problems, and luxating patella. Because they are not suited for hot and humid weather, they may also suffer from heat strokes. Since they have large eyes, they are more likely to have eye injuries and should be regularly checked for injuries or infection.


The Shih Tzu breed has a stubborn streak making dog training a little difficult. Training must be consistent and firm without the use of harsh words or punishment, as they do not respond well to harsh methods.

Housetraining can also be difficult, but many people have had good results with crate training methods.