Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu

14 July 2023

Let's talk about... Shih Tzus: what are they?

  • The Shih Tzu is a small and affectionate toy breed that originated in China.
  • They were highly regarded as companion dogs for Chinese royals.
  • Shih Tzus were bred to resemble little lions, which is why their name translates to "lion dog" in Chinese
  • They have a distinctive appearance with a long, flowing coat, a flat face, and large, round eyes.
  • On average, Shih Tzus stand between 20-28 cm tall and weigh between 4-7 kg.
  • Their life expectancy is usually between 12-16 years.
Shih Tzu  Exercise Needs 2/5 Grooming Ease 3/5 Trainability 3/5

What is the temperament of Shih Tzus like?

  • Shih Tzus are known for their friendly and outgoing nature.
  • They are generally good-natured, happy, and love being around people.
  • Shih Tzus make excellent family pets and are well-suited for individuals or families of all ages.
  • They thrive on human companionship and enjoy being the centre of attention.
  • Shih Tzus have a calm and gentle temperament, making them suitable for apartment living or homes with limited outdoor space. However they can be quite vocal.
  • Early socialisation is important to expose them to various people, animals, and environments, ensuring they grow up to be well-adjusted and confident companions.
Coco, the Shih Tzu

How much exercise do Shih Tzus need?

  • Shih Tzus have relatively low exercise needs compared to some other breeds.
  • They require daily exercise to keep them physically fit and mentally stimulated, but their exercise requirements can be met with short walks, indoor play sessions, or interactive toys.
  • Around 30 minutes to 1 hour of exercise per day is generally sufficient for a Shih Tzu.
  • However, it's important to note that each dog is unique, and the exercise needs can vary based on their age, health, and individual energy levels.
  • Shih Tzu puppies have delicate bones and are still developing, so it's important not to overexert them with excessive exercise.
  • Puppies have bursts of energy but also need plenty of rest for proper growth and development.
  • Short play sessions several times a day, along with gentle walks, are suitable for their exercise needs.
  • Gradually increase their exercise as they grow older and consult with your vet for personalised advice.
Phoebe, the Shih Tzu

Do Shih Tzus need a lot of grooming?

  • Shih Tzus have a long, flowing double coat that requires regular grooming to keep it tangle-free and healthy.
  • Their luxurious coat should be brushed daily to prevent matting and to keep it looking its best.
  • Regular grooming also helps maintain the cleanliness of their fur, as Shih Tzus are prone to tear stains around their eyes.
  • Professional grooming is recommended every 4-6 weeks to maintain the desired appearance of their coat.
  • Some owners choose to keep their Shih Tzu’s coats short.
  • Like any dog, regular tooth brushing with a dog-specific toothpaste twice daily is ideal. If you can’t manage that often, just do it as often as you can.
Samson, the Shih Tzu

Are Shih Tzus easy to train?

  • Shih Tzus are generally intelligent dogs, but they can have an independent streak, which can make training a bit challenging.
  • They respond best to positive reinforcement training methods that involve rewards, praise, and patience.
  • Short, frequent training sessions that are fun and engaging work well for Shih Tzus.
  • Keep the training sessions interesting to hold their attention and prevent boredom.
  • Consistency, gentle guidance, and a calm approach are key to successfully training a Shih Tzu.
  • Start training them from a young age to establish good behaviours and manners.
Selly, the Shih Tzu

What do Shih Tzus eat?

  • A balanced and nutritious diet is essential for the health and well-being of Shih Tzus.
  • High-quality commercial dog food formulated for small breeds is recommended tobe fed twice daily.
  • It's important to feed them the appropriate amount based on their age, size, and activity level to prevent obesity.
  • Shih Tzu puppies should be fed a specially formulated puppy food that supports their growth and development.
  • Puppies should be fed 3-4 times a day until they are 6 months old when this can be reduced to twice daily.
  • Around 10-12 months of age, they can transition slowly to a small breed adult dog food.
  • Consult with your vet for specific dietary recommendations for your Shih Tzu.

Are Shih Tzus healthy?

Shih Tzus may be prone to certain health conditions. Some health concerns that can affect Shih Tzus include:

Bones and Joints

  • Luxating patella - this is when a dog’s kneecap moves out of where it should normally be
  • Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) - in this condition the discs of the spine are abnormal and can slip out of place and put pressure on the spinal cord, which can lead to pain and/or paralysis


  • Periodontal Disease - a buildup of plaque and tartar on a dog’s teeth leading to  inflammation, infection and tooth loss


  • Cataracts - a common cause of blindness due to a clouding of the lens of the eye
  • Dry eye - an ongoing condition where the tear glands in the eyes don’t produce enough protective tear film, which can lead to discomfort, infections and damage of the eye
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) - this is when the retina of the eye breaks down, leading to blindness


  • Cushing’s Disease (hyperadrenocorticism) - when the adrenal gland produces too steroid hormone


  • Renal Dysplasia - A developmental disorder affecting the kidneys, potentially leading to kidney failure.


  • Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS) - narrow airways which can make breathing and temperature regulation difficult.

This list is by no means comprehensive, so if you have any concerns about the health of your dog, or if you want to discuss further if a Shih Tzu is right for you, consult with your vet.

BorrowMyDoggy loves Shih Tzus

BorrowMyDoggy has 11065 Shih Tzu members

Information on this page should never replace advice given by your veterinarian. Potential health issues presented are given as a guide only and are not meant to be comprehensive. If you ever have any concerns about your dog's health, contact your local vet.

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