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Shih Tzu  Information

Description of a Shih Tzu

This small dog has long, flowing hair covering a small, low body that is still strong and athletic.  The coat can be any color, however most have some white on the face and tail. The face is rather round in shape with hair over the nose and eyes that grows straight up, giving the face the appearance of a chrysanthemum flower. The eyes are relatively wide-set in the face and vary in color depending on the coat. The ears are covered with the same long hair as the body and tend to flow into the rest of the coat. The tail is carried very high and proudly, and the little dog seems very aware of how wonderful it looks when it moves.

Temperament of a Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu is a very affectionate and loving dog that tends to bond closely with one family member. They can be easy to train or stubborn and there is often a lot of difference between individual breeding lines. Typically they are somewhat challenging to housetrain and many people simply paper train them rather than fully housetrain. They are jealous dogs that don't like other pets or people getting too close to their owner. They tend to do well with older children but are not recommended for families with younger children. Younger children tend to be more aggressive with the dogs, even in play, and they are not a rough and tumble breed. Without firm and consistent training the Shih Tzu can become difficult to manage and may become a problem barker. They are not a breed that likes to be left alone and do well in a house where someone is usually present.

Grooming & Shedding of a Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu is a high maintenance dog and will require daily grooming even if kept indoors, although it is a light shedder. The long coat is very prone to matting and tangling and can become so severely knotted in a couple of days that extensive clipping will be required. They require bathing at least once a month but typically are very accepting of the grooming routine provided it is started when the Shih Tzu is a puppy. Many owners use professional groomers at least once a month to keep the coat in the best possible condition. It is important to keep the facial hair above the eyes in a topknot to prevent eye irritations.

Shih Tzu History

Favored by Buddhist monks in China this small  "lion-dog" was considered scared in Tibet and surrounding areas because of its association with the Buddhist religion. The breed was most likely a result of a cross between the Pekingese and the Lhasa Apso or Tibetan Mountain dog. The small dogs became popular in the Imperial Chinese court and were never given as gifts or sold to anyone outside of Chinese royalty. The first breeding pair did not leave China until 1930, but within a few short years it was one of the most popular of the toy dog breeds.

Shih Tzu Health Issues

  • Major Concerns: KCS (dry eye)
  • Minor Concerns:  progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), renal cortical hypoplasia, entropion, trichiasis, hip dysplasia, otitis externa, portacaval shunt, inguinal hernias
  • Occasionally seen: von Willebrand's Disease
  • Suggested tests: eye

Characteristics of the Shih Tzu Breed



Up to 11 inches (28cm)


9-16 pounds (4-7kg)


12-14 years







Young Children


Need exercise space

No – regular short walks


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