Shih Tzu The Beloved Lion Dog

The Shih Tzu is a small companion dog breed that originated in Tibet. With their long, flowing coats and cute faces, Shih Tzus have become beloved pets all over the world. This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about this affectionate and playful breed.

Overview of the Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu The Beloved Lion Dog

The Shih Tzu has a long and noble history, having been kept for centuries by Buddhist monks in Tibet. Their name translates to “lion dog” in Chinese, referring to their lion-like appearance despite their small size.

Some key facts about the Shih Tzu breed:

  • Size – The Shih Tzu typically stands between 8-11 inches tall and weighs 9-16 pounds. They are small, sturdy dogs.
  • Coat – An iconic feature of the breed is their long, luxurious coat that requires frequent brushing and grooming. Their coat comes in a wide variety of colors.
  • Temperament – Shih Tzus have outgoing and affectionate personalities. They form strong bonds with their owners and love attention.
  • Lifespan – With proper care, the average lifespan is 10-16 years.

Pros and Cons of Owning a Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu The Beloved Lion Dog


  • Excellent companion dogs who are loyal and affectionate
  • Adaptable to many living situations, including apartments
  • Minimal shedding makes them a good choice for people with allergies
  • Small size makes them a great option for urban and suburban homes
  • Generally quiet dogs who don’t bark excessively


  • Require a lot of grooming to keep their long coats free of tangles and mats
  • Prone to respiratory issues and heat sensitivity due to their short noses
  • Can be stubborn during training – consistency is key
  • More likely to develop dental issues than some breeds *Separation anxiety is common – they thrive on companionship

Similar Breeds

Shih Tzu The Beloved Lion Dog

The Shih Tzu belongs to the toy group of dog breeds. Similar toy dog breeds include:

Lhasa Apso

  • Slightly larger than Shih Tzus
  • Long, heavy coat like the Shih Tzu
  • Also originated as a companion dog for monks in Tibet


  • Comparable size as the Shih Tzu
  • Thick, wavy coat that requires grooming
  • Playful and affectionate personality


  • Weigh 5-7 pounds, smaller than the Shih Tzu
  • Long, silky white coat
  • Intelligent and respond well to training
  • Do not shed but require frequent grooming

Tips and Advice for Shih Tzu Owners

Shih Tzu The Beloved Lion Dog

Here is some helpful advice for new and prospective Shih Tzu owners:


  • Brush coat daily – Regular brushing prevents painful mats from forming close to the skin.
  • Tie up top knot – Pulling long hair on top of head into a cute top knot keeps hair out of eyes.
  • Clean facial folds – Gently wipe facial folds around nose to prevent residue buildup.


  • Start early – Early socialization and consistent training prevents stubbornness.
  • Keep it positive – Shih Tzus respond best to positive reinforcement training methods.
  • Watch your tone – Harsh verbal corrections can shatter their confidence.


  • Short bursts – Shih Tzus tire easily with their short legs. Multiple short walks work better than long treks.
  • Seek shade – Their coats make it difficult for them to regulate body temperature in hot climates. Walk in mornings/evenings and carry water.
  • Interactive toys – Puzzle toys provide mental stimulation on hot or rainy days they can’t go outside.

What Shih Tzu Owners Are Saying

Shih Tzu owners love the breed for their affectionate nature and cute looks. Some owner perspectives:

“Oreo is the sweetest little guy. He loves to cuddle on the couch!”

“My Shih Tzu Misty brings so much joy to our family. Her playful and friendly personality makes her an excellent family pet.”

“Gizmo is super spoiled but he deserves it! I can’t imagine life without my adorable Shih Tzu.”

“Teddy may be small but he has the biggest personality. We get stopped on walks constantly by people gushing over his gorgeous coat and cute underbite.”

Comparing Shih Tzus with Similar Breeds

While the Shih Tzu has some similarities with other toy breeds, there are some notable differences.

Activity Level

  • Shih Tzus have a moderately low activity level perfect for snuggling on the couch.
  • Maltese also enjoy lounging inside but additionally love playing fetch.
  • Havanese tend to have a slightly higher activity level than Shih Tzus and require more active exercise.

Shedding and Allergies

  • Shih Tzus are hypoallergenic and produce little dander due to their long coat.
  • Maltese also do not shed so they are a good choice for allergy sufferers.
  • Havanese shed minimally but produce more dander than Maltese or Shih Tzus.

Training and Intelligence

  • Lhasa Apsos can be stubborn, challenging to train, and prone to small dog syndrome without early socialization.
  • Havanese are eager to please making training fairly easy.
  • Shih Tzus can be stubborn but respond well to positive reinforcement techniques.


The Shih Tzu is an excellent companion breed suitable for both families and singles. They form deep bonds with their people and make charming and affectionate pets. Despite their diminutive size, Shih Tzus have huge personalities. With proper care, exercise, training and attention, the loving Shih Tzu makes for a delightful canine companion.

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