Date updated: 12 01 2018
The name means “little lion”, and with that long silky mane and impressive moustache, there’s something very regal about this little guy.
The appearance of the Shih Tzu shouts out “high maintenance”, and it’s definitely true that they demand their fair share of grooming! That said, living day-to-day with this breed can be an absolute pleasure. Lively, playful and social by nature, they can make special companions for the entire family.
Average lifespan: Up to around 16 years
Weight: (Males and Female) 4 to 7.25 kg,
Height: (Males and Females) 20-28cm
Colouring: Eight solid colours (black, white, liver, blue, brindle, gold, red, silver) and a wider range of double and tri-colour combinations.
Grooming requirements: high
Average purchase cost: Around £600 for a registered pedigree puppy
Shih Tzu facts…
As a classic companion breed, these little characters are ideal if there’s someone around for most of the day; less so if the home is empty all day.
When I Heart Dogs polled 250 Shih Tzu owners, 91% said they would recommend the breed for first time dog owners. They are generally quite easy to handle compared to many other toy breeds. That said, they do often have a stubborn streak, so it’s important to devote the time to socialisation and basic training from early puppyhood.
A playful nature also means that they can get on well with children - in small doses! However some of them can be a bit “nippy” when over-excited, so they are not exactly a go-to choice if there are very small kids in the home.
Shih Tzu training and behaviour...
Although friendly by nature, the typical Shih Tzu can be a little stubborn. Right from puppyhood, it’s important to focus on consistent, positive reinforcement and a little-by-little approach (especially when it comes to house training).
For sleeping at night - and for times during the day when you’re not on hand to provide supervision, a Shih Tzu can benefit a lot from crate training, as it provides them with a cosy, comforting place to hang out - and helps to prevent any destructive behaviour. You can get the full lowdown on crate training in our dedicated guide.
This smart little pooch tends to be ‘into everything’ from puppyhood right through to adulthood, so it’s important to puppy proof your home and to make sure it’s generally clear of choking and other hazards from then on in.
Looking after your Shih Tzu...
Depending on their age, around 30 minutes of exercise a day is usually sufficient for a typical Shih Tzu. A short walk in the morning and a slightly longer one later in the day usually works best. Puzzle and fetch games - along with a supervised run about the garden (if possible) can also go a long way to burn up any pent-up energy between walks.
On the feeding front, always follow the advice of your vet on quantity and type of food to give. Although as with all small dogs (with small bladders and bowels), it’s important to stick to a set feeding routine so they get into a pattern of going to the toilet according to a consistent schedule.
Most Shih Tzu owners opt for professional grooming; it keeps their coat in the right shape and condition and makes it easier to keep your buddy clean in the meantime. This is generally needed every six to eight weeks.
Grow out their coat to the max and it’s especially important to keep it free from tangles. Cutting the fur back can make routine grooming easier, but you’ll still need to brush their hair thoroughly every day and clear out any matting. If a smell develops - or if the coat looks obviously dirty, it’s time for a bath!
The areas around the nose and mouth, the corners of the eyes and inside the ears should also be inspected a couple of times a week for a buildup of dirt and for the signs of infection (redness or discharge).
Common Shih Tzu Health problems...