shih tzu in tall grass

The Shih Tzu: thinking of getting a Shih Tzu? reading-time-icon 2 min read

Shih Tzus are affectionate creatures. They love to play games and cuddle up on the sofa with their owners!

Let’s take a closer look at the Shih Tzu.

Place of origin: The Tibetan Plateau

How big do Shih Tzus get? 20 – 28cm

How heavy are Shih Tzus? 4 – 7.5kg

Life Expectancy: 10 – 15 years

Colour: Black, White, Liver, Brindle, Light Brown, Dark Brown, Blue, Gold


Please note: a dog’s exercise, training/stimulation and grooming requirements can depend on several factors such as age and health. The same goes for ongoing costs of ownership. For advice on one specific dog, we always advise chatting with a vet.


How much exercise does a Shih Tzu need?

The Shih Tzu’s exercise requirements are fairly modest. Two brisk walks a day should suffice, interspersed with play time to keep your dog’s mind active.

Shih Tzus are great companions for elderly owners or those with a less active lifestyle.

Training: how to train a Shih Tzu

Shih Tzus are smart and friendly, but they can be stubborn and headstrong with a short attention span – making them a tad difficult to train. In fact, it’s quite common for it to take 8 months for a Shih Tzu to become properly house-trained.

Begin training your Shih Tzu when they’re young or when you first bring them home if possible. Reward good behaviour and always use positive reinforcement when training your Shih Tzu.

Shih Tzus are commonly curious, so make sure your house is ready before you bring them home – you might want to invest in a safety gate!

brown shih tzu on field

Grooming: do Shih Tzus shed?

Shih Tzus shed very little, and are a great choice of canine companion if you or anyone in your family suffers from allergies.

Shih Tzus typically have long fur and because they don’t shed very much, this fur is prone to tangling and matting. You’ll need to brush your Shih Tzu daily to keep their fur in tip-top condition.

Complete your Shih Tzu’s grooming routine with regular tooth brushingnail clips and ear checks.

Shih Tzu temperament, socialising and ideal home environment

Shih Tzus are classic companion dogs – they’re friendly, loyal and adore the company of their owner.

They respond best to owners who have lots of free time to spend with them. Shih Tzus are known to suffer from separation anxiety and can bark vehemently if left alone for prolonged periods of time. If you lead a busy lifestyle and spend a lot of time away from home, a Shih Tzu may not be the breed for you.

Shih Tzus are more suited to older children than younger children. They can be wary of strangers too, although they typically get along well with pets and children if introduced to them while young. The more friends, sights and experiences you expose your Shih Tzu too when they’re young, the more sociable they’ll become in later life.

Cost of owning a Shih Tzu

When considering the lifetime cost of owning a Shih Tzu, remember to take into account:

As brachycephalic dogs, Shih Tzus are on average more susceptible to a range of health problems than other breeds. In particular, they may require surgery to open up their airways and improve their breathing. For more information on brachycephalic breeds, contact your vet.

Read more: Canine brachycephaly: breathing problems in brachycephalic dogs.

Need more info?

For more info on finding the best dog breed for you and your lifestyle, have a chat with your vet.

Find your nearest vet using our Find a Vet page, or speak to a vet online using Online Vets.

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