The Shih Tzu is a small companion dog with an adorable character and heavy fur.
The Shih Tzu belongs to the group of social dogs which is quite active. He likes action, games, and walks.
Shih Tzus are considered child-loving and usually fit well into a family. A prerequisite for this is a good socialization training at puppy age.
If you are looking for a small and uncomplicated dog, you will do well with a Shih Tzu.
In our guide below you will learn everything you need to know about the Shih Tzu dog breed and get an insight into what life with such a dog looks like.
Originally a Monastery Dog in Tibet
The roots of the Shih Tzu are found in Tibet.
There, Shih Tzus were revered as holy dogs, partly because they resembled the little dog that Buddha had, according to legend, with their “lion's mane”.
This dog could turn into a lion on which Buddha could even ride.
The dog breed had its breakthrough in China after they found their way into the country as a gift to the emperor.
The obedient and entertaining Shih Tzus were very popular at the court and lived in the royal palaces.
There they were held as lapdogs and as little playmates.
In 1912, individual representatives of the breed arrived in Western countries, but it took several years for the Shih Tzu to be professionally bred in Europe.
Breed Standard and Breeding Lines
Shih Tzu or Maltese?
Because of its dense hair dress, the Shih Tzu is often confused with a Maltese. This is also a small breed of dogs, but the Shih Tzu is bigger, the nose shorter and the coloring of the fur is more diverse than with the Maltese.
The standard size of the Shih Tzu is up to 27 centimeters.
Its weight is between 4.5 and 8.1 kilograms, whereby females are usually lighter than the males.
A Shih Tzu looks stocky due to the short legs, but the overall appearance is harmonious and quite elegant.
As with almost every dog breed, there are different breeds of Shih Tzu.
In Germany, the Scandinavian breed is widespread, which is slightly smaller and lighter than the English breed.
In the latter, the head is usually a little wider and larger, often the eyes stand out a little more.
High Life Expectancy – But Only with Good Breeding
The life expectancy of a Shih Tzu is about 12 to 16 years.
Smaller dogs tend to outlive large breeds and the Shih Tzu is also considered a robust dog with good health. It is fully grown at about 9 to 12 months.
Adorable and Children Loving
A Shih Tzu belongs to the group of social and companion dogs. These dogs were bred mainly to socialize with humans.
They usually have little hunting instinct, open-minded, friendly nature, and moderate temperament.
Shih Tzus, like all social dogs, tend to be easier to train and are therefore generally suitable for dog beginners.
Training Needs of a Shih Tzu
Even if a Shih Tzu is a good learner and family dog, this does not mean that he does not need any training.
Characteristic of this small and robust dog is its stubbornness, which occurs from time to time.
You should bring a Shih Tzu to a good puppy training session so that your dog is well socialized.
You can go outside all year round with a Shih Tzu and take it with you for extended winter walks, for example.
Tip: A Shih Tzu likes to learn, can be motivated with food or toys and is intelligent. If you do not fancy long walks on bad weather days, you could try intelligence toys at home. Since a Shih Tzu is a curious and open-minded dog, you will have a lot of fun together.
A Great Size to Be on The Road
A well socialized Shih Tzu is usually a great family dog.
He likes to be playful, lively, and copes well with a turbulent family life.
Shih Tzus like to move and are even available for sporting activities.
Even dog sports which requires accuracy and speed, are possible with a Shih Tzu.
With its size, it is the perfect companion. The lighter versions of the breed also meet the criteria for air travel in the cabin.
Train journeys are no problem with such a small dog.
Shih Tzus with Furry Coat
The Shih Tzu is not called a “Lion Dog” for nothing.
Its hair is very dense, with a lot of undercoat and above all very long.
For a normal family dog or for dogs that are not exhibited, a chic shorthair cut is therefore recommended.
In any case, the head hair should be tied back. If it hangs permanently in front of the eyes, they become too irritated.
While puppies and young dogs are still manageable, this becomes more and more difficult with puberty.
This starts when the dog is about 9 months old. The hair is now much denser, there is more undercoat and a firmer structure.
Depending on how fast your dog's fur grows, you must schedule an appointment every six to eight weeks.
You do not have to bathe your dog more often than other dogs, only if it is necessary. Be sure to use special dog shampoo so that the skin and fur are not unnecessarily stressed.
Going Price for a Shih Tzu
The cost of a puppy from top of the line breeding is often in the four-digit or higher three-digit range.
Shih Tzu puppies costs anywhere around $800, but usually between $1000 and $1500.
The breeder tests the parent animals for diseases and the puppies are already well socialized in the first weeks of life.
If you do not want to buy a purebred animal, of course a mix is also possible.
A hybrid Shih Tzu and another small breed dog can be a great surprise pack! However, you should also pay attention to the original breeding mates and find out the origins of its parents.