A Full Guide to Caring for the Shih Tzu Breed

Shih Tzu Breed Guide

The Shih Tzu dog breed has been one of the most popular tiny dog breeds in the world for a very long time. There is a good reason these lovable little creatures find families in so many homes. One reason is that these dogs are very friendly and perfectly fit the phrase 'lover not a fighter. Now, this dog probably won't go to a 70s style protest with you, but if you took them to a crowded place like that, they're likely to make plenty of friends!

People say that the Shih Tzu puppy breed is like a small lion. These little lions are very clingy, and they may not be the king of the jungle, but they are the king of being adorable lapdogs. These pets are actually so good at being friendly that they make excellent companions for older adults or empty nesters. They're also a very intelligent breed and are great pets for first-time dog owners. Thanks to their lovable and portable qualities, they also make great therapy or emotional support animals.

Shih Tzu puppies are wonderful pets for families with children and other dogs. The only thing is that Shih Tzu puppies are so small that they can be easily injured in a house that has too many other big dogs. However, if you are dead set on adopting one of these cute little lions, you should read on to make sure you're prepared to provide all the love and support a Shih Tzu puppy deserves.


There have been plenty of dog breeds that were famous for accompanying historical figures. Even though many dog breeds have been esteemed in their existence, not so many have the rare history of the Shih Tzu. Shih Tzus are so old they have a somewhat unclear beginning. Some think the Shih Tzu puppy began in Tibet thanks to the Monks and Chinese royalty passing. Some people believe that Shih Tzu puppies were used to keep small hunting lions calm, and this is why they get related to lions so often.

Shih Tzu puppies were always dogs that were bred for company, and they are one of the 14 oldest dog breeds in all of history. In fact, some believe ancient relics in China prove that these little rascals were present at around 8,000 BC. Egyptian calendars only date back as early as 4,000 B.C., and Cleopatra's time was about 60 B.C., to put this in some perspective. This dog literally came from the stone age and evolved with humans throughout their time on this earth.

As if all that history isn't rich enough, these dogs also have plenty of cool legends surrounding them as well. One legend is obviously not true, but it may have been based on Buddha and his kinship with his own Shih Tzu.

The legend says that one day Buddha was traveling with his dog, and thieves came upon the person to rob and murder them. Then, in an act of loyalty, the dog transformed into a lion and scared off the robbers and saved his beloved owner. The story says that the Buddha then took his little lion, who transformed back into a dog after protecting his owner and gave him a little kiss on his head. People say that the reason so many Shih Tzu's have a little white spot on the top of their forehead is because it is a spiritual mark of this legendary story where a man's tiny best friend turned into a lion and protected them both.

Obviously, this dog did not literally transform into a lion, but this legend is so important to the background of Shih Tzu puppies because it helps explain why this old and small breed has existed for so long. These dogs have rare personalities where they bond with people in a special way. They're very loyal, loving creatures. The Shih Tzu puppy today is more likely to befriend most strangers, so don't think about making these dogs into guard dogs.


The little Shih Tzu puppy is a great small dog and perfect for apartment living. Even though they are tiny, they're happy to live in a big old home, too. They just want to get plenty of attention and cuddles wherever they live.

The average Shih Tzu puppy will stand between 9 to 10 inches tall at its shoulders and might weigh anywhere from 9 to 16 pounds. These dogs are small but sturdy. However, it doesn't change the fact that they are just structurally more fragile than other dog breeds. Any owners need to keep this in mind if they rescue a Shih Tzu puppy and have small children or other animals that may accidentally injure this pup.


Arguably, the main reason the Shih Tzu puppy has been popular for so many thousands of years is because of its excellent personality type. A Shih Tzu temperament is very calm and affectionate. When these pups are socialized well, the Shih Tzu temperament is very friendly, making them great with new people and strangers. These dogs aren't the best fit for families with toddlers solely because of how easily they can get injured, but that doesn't mean these pets can't find a happy home with any newborns. Dog owners just need to ensure they know their dog will be safe in their house.

After reading so much about this ancient breed's history and winning personality, it can be easy to think they have no drawbacks, but everything good has some bad sides. A less glamorous trait Shih Tzu puppies struggle with is eating feces. For some reason, Shih Tzu puppies struggle with not eating their feces or other animals' feces. The best way to prevent this bad habit from forming is to train them out of it as quickly as possible and always clean up their poop after they go. This is one of the most high-maintenance parts of training a Shih Tzu puppy, and if you can break this bad breed habit before it even begins, you're sure to have a great trained pet.

As stated prior, the natural Shih Tzu temperament is to bark at anyone that enters your home, but it's much more likely they are just going to alert you than do anything about the new person. The Shi Tzu temperament is not aggressive or threatening. Shih Tzu puppies have many more qualities that are shown in watchdogs rather than guard dogs.


Shih Tzu puppies are great at dog competitions and agility competitions because of their innate intelligence. This dog has been a popular pet for thousands of years, so they are very manageable. But a Shih Tzu puppy can be a little bit more difficult to train than other breeds are. The Shih Tzu temperament tends to be a little bit more difficult to housetrain, but as long as owners are consistent, then they will definitely be able to manage.

Consistency is key when it comes to training a Shih Tzu puppy, and as long as owners offer short, positive, and consistent sessions. Then they're sure to have a well-behaved puppy on their hands. It's important to keep training sessions as positive as possible by using encouraging tones and positive vocal cues. Remember that training sessions should be fun for your dog. This way, they are more encouraged to learn, listen, and respond to their owners. This is also one of the best ways to build a strong bond with your pet and really understand their individual personality.


Shih Tzu dogs have quite a bit of fur, but it is mostly located on their face. Sometimes these pets are given the nickname chrysanthemum dogs because of the way their hair grows out. Their face looks like a flower, and their nose would be the center, then their puffy little manes could play as little flower petals.

These pets aren't huge shedders, but they do have a minimal amount of shedding and might not be great for people with severe dog allergies. They are considered a hypoallergenic dog breed, but they'll produce dead hair during greater changes in the season. The best way to take care of their fur is to brush them a few times a week and daily during these heavy shedding periods.

Health Overview

All dog breeds have their own health issues that they're predisposed to developing. Just because a breed is predisposed to experiencing some health issues doesn't mean that every dog in that breed will experience it. Typically, it just means that dogs in that specific breed suffer from these conditions more than some other breeds might. But most Shih Tzu puppies will live long lives without experiencing any physical health conditions. These dogs have an average lifespan of 10 to 16 years.

Aside from physical health conditions, Shih Tzu puppies can experience some mental health conditions like stress and anxiety. Owners shouldn't worry too much about their dogs developing these issues since they can easily treat them at home once they understand what causes their dog's symptoms.

Common Psychological Health Conditions


Many dogs experience stress at some point in their lives, likely due to external events they aren't familiar with or aware of. The most common cause of stress in Shih Tzu puppies is because of a lack of socialization. Many pet parents don't realize how important socialization is and how much it affects their dogs' interactions with the world and other animals. Poor socialization leads to your dog experiencing symptoms of stress when they are in any sort of new environment. Shih Tzu puppies that have poor socialization skills might show signs of stress by hiding behind their owners or tucking their little tails. These dogs might cry or cower in fear in stressful situations as well. Dog owners can easily help their Shih Tzu puppies overcome any symptoms of stress by understanding what causes their dogs stress and either treating it by providing socialization training or by giving them calming supplements.


The most common type of anxiety dogs experience is separation anxiety. Separation anxiety occurs when dogs have abandonment issues and genuinely just get terrified of being alone for long periods of time. The Shih Tzu temperament is likely to cause anxiety. Shih Tzu puppies suffer from separation anxiety if you are away from home often, which is why you should try to make sure you'll spend plenty of time with them at home. Dogs might also suffer from anxiety if they have experienced any past traumas and are reminded of them.

Sometimes anxiety symptoms in dogs look like they are shaking like they're wet or shivering like they're cold. Sometimes dogs whine or bark when they're anxious. Often dogs with separation anxiety will do something to destroy your house in your absence, and it's because they're suffering from a panic attack. Some dogs will urinate or defecate when they're anxious, and some breeds eat their own poop when anxious. As mentioned earlier, the Shih Tzu is more likely to eat its own defecation than other breeds, so it's incredibly important to try to break this bad habit before it even gets the chance to begin. Dog owners can treat their pet's anxiety symptoms with calming treats or CBD.

Calming Dog Products

Many dog owners provide their anxious pets with safe spaces. A safe space is a new trend where owners will dedicate a small portion of their house to their pets. This area is supposed to have items that will comfort your dog in times of stress. A good safe space will be quiet and away from any foot traffic in the house. Often owners will add plush goodies to their beloved Shih Tzu's safe space, such as calming beds, blankets, treats, or toys.

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Common Physical Health Conditions

In addition to some common health risks this breed might develop, they have a special issue where they are more at risk of experiencing heatstroke than other breeds. While heatstroke is not a physical health disease, it is an issue that harms many dogs every year. Shih Tzu puppies have flat and small faces, which makes them much more susceptible to heatstroke since their lungs don't cool off the air they breathe as efficiently as dog breeds with longer snouts do. If you live in a hot weather area, make sure these dogs always have a way to cool off and provide them with tons of air conditioning in the summertime.

Hip Dysplasia

A common health issue that many different kinds of breeds suffer from is hip dysplasia. This condition is something a dog is born with, although most animals will not experience any symptoms of this condition until they are much older. When dogs experience symptoms of hip dysplasia, they may limp or yelp when someone touches their hind legs. Often dogs will develop arthritis in these areas that make them sensitive to movements. Owners can treat mild symptoms of this condition with joint supplements that can help juice up any rusty old joints their dog might be suffering from.

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Ear Infections

Some dog breeds like the Shih Tzu are at high risk of developing ear infections than others. Breeds that have this risk often have it because they have an abundance of fur on their face, and if this fur isn't cared for properly, it can cause bacteria, dirt, and muck to gather in sensitive areas on their face, such as their ears.

If your Shih Tzu puppy has an ear infection, you'll likely be able to tell because you'll be able to see some of the dirt on the outer part of their ears, or they will constantly be scratching at their ears. It's easy to help your dog with mild ear infections. All you need to do is purchase a canine ear cleaning solution and clean their ears about once a month for regular grooming. Ensure you don't ever stick anything inside your dog's ears and never use a q-tip to clean their ears, or you will rupture their eardrums. A cotton ball and a little solution are plenty to rub the outer layer of their ears, and then you can put a drop or two into their ears and massage them to try to make the process more comfortable for them.


Some dog breeds suffer from optic conditions more than others, and typically smaller breeds have this issue quite often. Distichiasis occurs when a dog has eyelashes growing from inside their eyelid margin rather than outside the eyelid where they are meant to grow. Most often, dogs with this have very mild cases, and the eyelashes that grow in the wrong place are such thin and soft lashes that owners may not have to treat their dog's condition. Some owners prefer to pluck these extra eyelashes, but this will need to be done regularly for the rest of your dog's life to care for this condition. Some owners give their Shih Tzu puppies eye ointment to help with any pain they might be experiencing, and it can also help rub the extra eyelashes out of the way.

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Oral Health

Small dogs often suffer from worse oral health than larger dogs do. This is because smaller dogs have smaller snouts, and it leads to teeth overcrowding. When dogs suffer from teeth overcrowding, they have a tendency to build up more plaque, tartar, and bacteria in their mouths. It's natural for these things to build up, as it happens every time they eat or drink, but if too much of this stuff builds up, it will lead to other health issues. Poor dental health is strongly linked to respiratory and heart disease, and it affects smaller dogs much more often than larger pups. Any potential Shih Tzu owners should be prepared to offer their dogs a good brushing session every day, if not every other day. This is not a step you can skip with small dogs, and it is absolutely vital to their overall health that you provide regular teeth cleanings. Some owners give their dogs helpful oral health treats to better take care of their pet's teeth.

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Shih Tzu Breed's Needs


Smaller dogs like the Shih Tzu don't usually need as much physical exercise as larger dogs do. Their small bodies don't have the same endurance, but they still need regular walks to stay healthy. It's a good idea to take them for a walk daily around the block. About thirty minutes of exercise can be plenty for these dogs. It's very important that owners give their dogs plenty of mental stimulation along with physical exercise. They can practice some enrichment activities with their dogs to target all of these needs.


Vets recommend that Shih Tzu puppies eat anywhere from one-half to one cup of high-quality dry dog food. Any dog's diet will change throughout its life based on its age, weight, sex, or other factors. Owners can always ask their vet what their dog's daily diet should look like if they're concerned.


Shih Tzu puppies have very soft fur that mats very easily, and they need regular grooming to take care of it. They usually have long silky coats, and they can be any mixture of black, white, gray, or red. Some Shih Tzu puppies have a white tip on the ends of their tails and the tops of their forehead. The Shih Tzu puppies that have these specific spots are considered very rare and are highly prized in the old purebred dog.

Owners need to brush their Shih Tzu puppy's fur almost daily to make sure they care for it correctly. Some owners get tired of caring for their delicate fur and choose to get their dog's fur clipped. This works great too, and owners just have to keep up with any clipping needs by seeing a groomer every six weeks.

Top Product Picks for Shih Tzu Puppies

New dog owners forget that bringing a pet home might be very exciting for you, but it is a very turbulent time full of change for your new pet. All they know is that their entire worldview is changed, and now they get to live with a new stranger. Sounds scary, right?

Well, rest assured that there are plenty of ways to make a move much easier on Shih Tzu puppies to encourage them to enjoy their new homes better. For example, owners should be sure they have a dog bed for their pet as well as a crate since Shih Tzu puppies can be troublesome to housetrain.

Ensure you have dog food ready; based on the age of your new dog, they might need puppy food or regular small dog kibble. Owners must get a collar and leash for their new pet, and it's a good idea to get two of each of these, so you always have a backup option. Other helpful products are food storage containers to keep their food as fresh as possible, as well as some tasty dog treats and fun toys. You might want to go overboard on your dog shopping, but keep in mind you don't actually know what your new pet prefers yet when it comes to treats and toys, so start small and then build on as you develop a stronger bond with them.

Shih Tzu puppies can be completely content and happy in many different styles of families. All a new owner needs to do is be patient and prepared when bringing in their new family member, and then just wait for the love to come. It won't take long at all for Shih Tzu puppies to express their love.

Other Resources

1. Shih Tzu Club of America

2. Shih Tzu Rescue

3. ASPCA Shih Tzu

4. Indian Trail Animal Hospital

5. Shih Tzu Britannica

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