Shih Tzu 101: Breed Information, Temperament, Personality Traits & More

The Shih Tzu has been around for a very long time. In the countries of Tibet and China, these little dogs were given to Chinese Royalty as gifts. The words “Shih Tzu” mean lion dog in Chinese.

Shih Tzu were, and still are, the perfect companion or lap dog. Being a house pet is the perfect job for a Shih Tzu. Nowadays, Shih Tzu are still wonderful lap dogs. They also can compete in conformation and obedience, and participate in agility. Shih Tzu can also make a good therapy dogs.

The Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu are small, sturdy dogs. They grow to be nine or ten inches in height, and weigh nine to sixteen pounds as an adult. Some people think that Shih Tzu look like Lhasa Apsos, and they do look similar. But the Shih Tzu is a smaller dog.

Well-bred Shih Tzu have good, strong muscles and are athletic. They are alert and will let you know when someone arrives. Shih Tzu are very friendly and get along with well children and other dogs.


Small Shih Tzu dogs need more care. The Shih Tzu’s coat has two layers: the beautiful, luxurious hair you can see that falls to the ground, and a hidden, second coat called an undercoat.

There is a lot of hair around the face of a Shih Tzu, so many people tie it up into a bow to keep it out of the dog’s eyes. Shih Tzu look adorable with their pretty bows.

The Shih Tzu’s coat comes in many different colors and combinations of these colors: black, white, blue (grayish), brindle, gold, liver, red, silver, and black. Shih Tzu are a real rainbow of colors! Other dogs like boxers and mastiffs can have a brindle coat color.

The Shih Tzu is often called “the chrysanthemum-faced dog” because of the funny way his hair grows around his face.

Fido’s Fabulous Dog Facts

Shih Tzu love to play. It doesn’t take much coaxing to get them interested in doing fun things. They enjoy games, playing ball and doing tricks. They love doing things with you.

Shih Tzu are smart and they have lots of energy, so giving them things to do is a very good thing and will keep your Shih Tzu happy and content, and hopefully out of trouble.

Handling a Shih Tzu

Spend lots of time with your new pup from an early age so he is comfortable with you. Roll him over, touch his feet, look at his teeth, and brush him gently. This will help him get used to being handled and he will be a better companion when he is older.

Like any puppy, a Shih Tzu must treat be treated carefully and gently. Rough play with a puppy or even a full grown dog can be harmful.

Grooming Your Dog

You will need to brush or comb your Shih Tzu every day, or the hair will become tangled and matted. If you can’t groom him that often, your family may want to have a professional groomer do it, or even cut his hair shorter so that it’s easier to handle. Start practicing when your dog is a puppy so he gets used to being handled.


Shih Tzu don’t need a lot of exercise, but they should not lay around the house all day long. Your Shih Tzu might like a walk every day. It’s healthy for him to get out and move his muscles. Even though Shih Tzu are lap dogs, exercise will keep your dog’s heart strong so that he lives for a long time.

Going to a dog park, the beach, a mall, or to a friend’s house is a great way to visit other dogs, and meet new people. This is called socializing and it helps your dog become a good citizen. If you go to a dog park, be sure you have your dog play other small dogs. Big dogs may play too rough for your little one.

Know Your Breed

The Shih Tzu has a short, somewhat flat face. Because of this some Shih Tzu snore, breathe heavily, snort, or make other weird noises during the day and night. Not all will do that, but you should know that some will make little noises.

Some people think the sounds a Shih Tzu makes are cute, but others believe it to be annoying. Cute Shih Tzu dog with flat faces can snore a lot! Would funny noises from your dog bother you?

Special Care

Shih Tzu are very sensitive to hot weather. Bring your dog inside during the summer or make sure you give him lots of shade and cool water. Keep an eye on your dog when there are long stretches of hot days. He may need your assistance more than some other breeds of dogs.

Having a small breed of dog is a big responsibility. Because the Shih Tzu are small dogs, they can be injured more easily. They are not delicate because they have strong muscles, but things like falling, being stepped on, or bothered by other, bigger dogs can be a serious situation for a small dog. The owner of a Shih Tzu has to make a commitment to be especially watchful and protective of their dog.

Often, Shih Tzu need the corners of their eyes cleaned with a cloth. This helps keep the mucous from building up and causing problems with their eyes.

A Shih Tzu’s face frequently gets dirty when he eats. That’s because his nose is short and his face is close to the food. Have a towel handy so that you can clean his face after he eats or drinks.


Shih Tzu like to be social. That means that they like to spend their time with others, people or dogs. They get very lonely when left alone too much. Dogs that are left alone a lot can become destructive and bark too much. This is called separation anxiety. Try to make sure that your Shih Tzu has lots of company.

Like most dogs, Shih Tzu are lively dogs who sometimes enjoy barking. They think it’s important to watch out for strangers and things that look and sound different. Your dog may need extra training so that he doesn’t bark too much. Start when he is young, and praise him when he is quiet.

Living Arrangements

Because Shih Tzu are small, they make great dogs for condos and apartments. They like to live in the city or the country.

Some dogs are a little difficult to housebreak. But if you are kind, patient, and persistent, your dog will learn. Remember that your Shih Tzu puppy is like a baby and he needs time to learn.

All About Shih Tzu

(from their kids!)

“A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is the bone shared with the dog, when you are just as hungry as the dog.” – Jack London

“Our Shih Tzu, Casey Ray, is a lot of fun! He likes to play ball,ย  chase us around and he likes to cuddle and he likes to eat. He chews a lot and we are teaching him that he can’t do that. When we leave our home he goes in a crate, but when he hears the key to the door, he starts barking and shaking. So we go in and take him outside for a while to exercise. Our mom and dad like to play with him also. He is with our mom most of the day when we are at school, so she plays with him a lot. And our dad takes care of him a lot, too. We love our Casey Ray!!!” Noah, Ruben, & Jaime, ages 9,6,2, Texas USA

“Pixie is my two year old Shih Tzu. She’s cute and funny. Lola is fifteen, but still active.” Sylvia, age 8, New Jersey USA

“Our Shih Tzu, Casey Ray, is a lot of fun! He likes to play ball, chase us around, and he likes to cuddle and he likes to eat. He chews a lot and we are teaching him that he can’t do that. When we leave our home he goes in a crate, but when he hears the key to the door, he starts barking and shaking. So we go in and take him outside for a while to exercise. Our mom and dad like to play with him also. He is with our mom most of the day when we are at school, so she plays with him a lot. And our dad takes care of him a lot too. We love our Casey Ray!!!” Noah, Ruben, & Jaime, age 9,6,2, Texas, USA

“Schelsy is my cute little Shih Tzu. She is 3 years old, she loves playing with me and learning tricks. When I was younger, my dream was to have a dog, but my house was too little. But when I was ten, my mom and my dad decided to buy a dog and we searched a lot for the special dog that we wanted, and
this was Schelsy. I was really alone when I was younger and Schelsy helped me to meet new people and have new friends at school, and now I have a lot of friends! :)” Thainara, age 14, Brazil

“I have a Shih Tzu named Balti (pretty strange name). His color is white, black, white and gold – 4 colors, hahahhaa! He is turning three months this April 3, 2009.” Tina, age 13, Philippines

“I actually have 3 Shih Tzu so I will tell a little bit about all three of them. The first one I would like to share is Mazy Mae. She can be wild, but she is mostly lazy (her nickname is Lazy Mazy!!!) Next I would like to share some information on Bella. She is soft and cute but she is selfish. She thinks the whole world will not survive without her. Next, I will tell you about Makea. She is still a puppy so she is wild. She always wants to play with Mazy, but Mazy doesn’t want to play with her! All of My Shih Tzu are cute funny and adorable!!!” Payton, age 12, Wyoming USA

“My Shih Tzu, Charlie, is five months old. He is white with brown on his back and head. He loves to play and wrestle with our Yorkie! Most of the day he sleeps spread out on the floor. ๐Ÿ™‚ He is a very cute and affectionate dog! I love him!” Johanna, age 13, Iowa USA

“My dog, Lucky, is wild but he knows pretty and sit now. We are going to the state dog show this year in Michigan and we are going to win.” Danyel, age 14, Michigan USA

“My Shih Tzu is brown and white and her name is Lacey. Right now she is almost nine months old and is so cute! I have wanted a dog my whole life and hope to be a vet when I grow up. But before we went and got Lacey, we kept going to this one pet store that had the cutest puppies and the sales lady said one day you will come in here and won’t be able to leave without a puppy. Of course you don’t believe people when they say that, but sure enough… one day we went in there and we found this puppy that was just so adorable! My parents and me and my siblings wanted her so much and they talked it over and then
my parents said that we didn’t have enough money. I was devastated! I just loved her so much and we weren’t going to get her. I pouted and cried all night because we were so close to getting a dog and then we didn’t. So the next day my mom talked to my dad and asked him if there was any way of getting the cute little Shih Tzu, and he said YES! So my mom told me we were getting her in one week and I was crying tears of JOY! It had to have been the best day of my LIFE!” Anonymous, age 13, Florida USA

“She’s Black with a white chest. I just got her today. She’s so cute and so outgoing. She’s adorable! She couldn’t be any cuter and she’s only seven weeks old!” Luke, age 13, Canada

“Our Shih Tzu is Trixie and she is very funny. She loves to play and loves to eat everything that doesn’t eat her first. She’s only one and a half years old. She also has a husband named Scooter and he is a Beagle. Aapril 29th of 09 she will be a whole 2 years old, so happy happy birthday Trixie!” Shelby, age 13, Ohio USA

“My puppy’s name is Gizzmo. He is twelve weeks old and very friendly. He has a black face and white and brown body. He looks just like Gizzmo from the movie Gremlins. He is just soooo cute!” Suki, Michigan USA

“My Shih Tzu’s name is Snowy. It is only one year old and it is a very cutie pie. It has very long ears and is very white. It likes to eat chicken rice and it loves to walk around the neighborhood. We like snowy a lot.” Preety, age 15, Penang Malaysia

“My Shih Tzu is tan and white. She’s three years old and has so much energy. She gets in trouble, but those puppy eyes are so adorable and forgiving. I love my Cinnamon.” Brandi, age 18, New Orleans USA

“My Shih Tzu is a brindle color. Her name is Chanel’ and she loves to play with her toys and me. She is very furry and she hates to take a bath so when I give her a bath, I throw her favorite toy in the tub and she plays with it when I’m giving her a bath. And as soon as I get done, I blow dry her off I give her some cheese for being such a good girl.” Gaylan, age 13

“My Shih Tzu, Max, is a great dog. He will snuggle with you when you’re sick because he knows that you’re not feeling well. Max also is hilarious when he jumps so high that you can see his face on the other
side of the counter, looking to see what we are eating at the time. Max is now three and if I had one wish, it would be to let Max die with me.” Taylor, age 13, Missouri USA

“I have two Shih Tzu and I used to have three but there’s two I have now that are Lucky And Cloey. Cloey is pregnant and is going to have a litter. Lucky on the on the other hand, is why we call he Lucky, is because Lucky one time when we were eating dinner and started choking so we had to take him to the Vet, and he was passed out. When we got there it took two weeks till Lucky was back on his feet. But Lucky still has seizures once in a while, but he was Lucky to still be alive now. Now Lucky is four years old and he is a champion at the fair and we are going to take him to state this year because he got first in every competition. When it’s bedtime, Lucky comes to sleep with me and Lucky is never aggressive to anybody. He is the best dog ever and I would never ask for another dog like him. Lucky the Best Dog Ever!” Danyel, age 14, Michigan USA

“My Shih Tzu is cinnamon and white, he is a little over a year old, and loves to cuddle and play with me or my cat!! ๐Ÿ™‚ He also likes to steal my food or my mom’s food….So that means I have to keep a special eye on him when we eat!! ๐Ÿ˜› I love my puppy. Oh, and my dog’s name is Digby (Digg.bee.). I sometimes call him Diggy!” Marci, age 12, USA

“Hi, I am Alex. My Shih Tzu is 8 weeks old and her name is Momo. She still drinks milk from her mom and she loves to play. She is black and white and she plays with my three other dogs: Fergie , Bobo, and Wags. Fergie is a Pug, Bobo is a Lhasa Apso, and Wags is a Papillon.” Love, Alexย  (“I’m a girl”), age 15, Florida USA

“Silverman is the name of my Shih Tzu. He loves to run and play with squeaky toys. He only barks if someone comes to the door or he wants to eat or go outside. He is 6 years old and black and white. I love him so much!” Chanel, age 11, Maryland USA

“I have a girl Shih Tzu name Sophie. She loves to kiss me on the face and Sophie loves to play. Sophie loves walks too! Sophie is white.” Naomi, age 9, Ontario, Canada

“I love my new dog. He is good. He is a lot of fun. When there are dogs at shows, he barks at them. He is brown, black, and white.” Leasya, age 14, Louisiana USA

“My puppy, Max, loves it when I get his towel, wet it, then put it in the fridge so when I take it out, it’s cold and he chews on it.” Jose, age 13, California USA

“Shih Tzu’s are my favorite kind of dog because they have big eyes. My dog Penny has the cutest face in the world. People can’t resist it and they love her very much. Her name is Penny Pooh Lane!” Tianna, age 7, Florida USA

“Hello there, my name is Taylor and I just got a new Shih Tzu pup three days ago and he is wonderful, but we still have some training to do! Oh, and his name is Cosmos. He came out of a litter of six puppies and he was the last one to come and he is pretty fat too!!! LOL Your friend, Taylor” Taylor, age 13, Kentucky USA

“I have a Shih Tzu named Molly. She is black and white. She loves to kiss me on my nose and she sleeps
in my bed. Molly is my best friend.” Melanie, age 8, Toronto Canada

“My Shih Tzu, Boomer, is a lot of fun. He likes to play fetch and he eats crumbs on the floor when we eat supper. When there are dogs on TV, he barks at them! Boomer is the best!” Marcos, age 10, Texas USA

Some Famous Shih Tzu

  • Wicket, dog of Isaac, Taylor, and Zac Hanson
  • Bing and Bong, owned by Mariah Carey
  • Talulah and Gracie, Joy Behar’s (The View) dogs
  • Lady and Jolie, owned by Jerry Lewis (comic actor)
  • Munch-Munch, dog of singer, Beyonce Knowles
  • Rusty, owned by David Hasselhoff (America’s Got Talent)
  • Sebastian, owned by Vanessa Williams (singer/actress)
  • Choo Choo, the dog of Queen Elizabeth of England
  • Diva, owned by Fantasia Barrino (American Idol)