The Charming and Affectionate Shih Tzu: A Complete Breed Guide

Shih Tzu, also called: Chinese Lion Dog, Chrysanthemum Dog, Shiatsu, Shih Tzu, Little Lions

The Shi Tzu is a small, long-haired dog breed that originated in Tibet. They are known for their friendly and playful personalities, as well as their thick, luxurious coats.

Shih Tzu Breed Guide: Characteristics, Care, and Temperament. The Shih Tzu breed, originally the Tibetan monks’ guard dog, is suited to a balanced life. Discover the charming Shih Tzu breed – from its affectionate temperament to grooming needs. Learn about Shih Tzu’s characteristics and care.

Shih Tzu breed. General description

The Shih Tzu breed is particularly affectionate towards its family and young children. It shows excellent cold tolerance but may suffer from heat. Nevertheless, it is friendly towards other animals. It has a perfect relationship of loyalty and love with its owner and family.

Although it has a peculiar and “sulky” appearance, the Shih Tzu is an adorable and affectionate dog. However, it retains a very proud and, if necessary, even combative temperament, so much so that it is not afraid of animals that are much bigger than it.

He loves a comfortable life but needs sufficient space to move to develop his power structure to the full, even if limited in size and weight.
The Shih Tzu is also highly valued for its colourful and abundant coat. In addition, it is generally an obedient and intelligent dog that enjoys walking and meeting its peers.

Appearance and Attributes of the Shih Tzu breed

The Standard describes the general appearance of the Shih Tzu in these terms: “Robust dog, abundantly, but not excessively, covered with fur, with a characteristic swagger and a ‘chrysanthemum’ muzzle., longer-between withers and root of tail than high at withers. The head of the Shih Tzu is a distinction: it has a broad, round head, wide between the eyes.

With shaggy hair, a good beard and a moustache, hair growing upwards over the nasal passage gives the typical “chrysanthemum” effect. All colours are allowed. A list on the forehead and a white tail tip is highly desirable in all multi-coloured dogs. The coat must not disturb the dog’s ability to see. Its size is that of a small breed. It has an appealing appearance and a “pouty” expression.

Physical characteristics permitted by the Standard:

  • Height: 24 to 27 cm
  • Weight: 5 to 8 kg
  • Longevity: 10 to 16 years
  • Colours: red, fawn, sesame, white, spotted, grey, black, honey, light, harlequin, apricot, silver, brown, orange, cinnamon, golden, bronze, sand, amber
  • Fur: dense, smooth, long
  • Coat: bicolour, tricolour, double coat
Learn about the appearance and attributes of the Shih Tzu breed, a small, long-haired dog with a charming personality. With their big eyes, short snouts, and luxurious coats, Shih Tzus are sure to turn heads. They are also intelligent and affectionate dogs that make great companions.
Shih-tzu puppies

Price and maintenance Shih Tzu breed

The price of a tested and pedigreed Shih Tzu puppy is between 1,200 and 2,000 pounds. The breed is prevalent today, so choosing a puppy from serious and qualified breeders who carry out the selection process is essential, paying close attention to aspects such as typicality, character and Health.

You must add grooming sessions, veterinary expenses, and an excellent, balanced diet to the purchase cost. The fee for quality food for an adult Shitzu is about 30 euros per month.

Pros and cons of the Shih Tzu breed

Top 5 characteristics:

  • Affection towards the family
  • Relationship with strangers
  • Sociality with other dogs
  • Health and illness
  • Tendency to put on weight

The five most problematic characteristics:

  • Tolerance to hot temperatures
  • Salivation and slime containment
  • Tendency to hunt prey
  • Care and shedding
  • Ease of cleaning

Shih Tzu breed. Character and sociability

Character and temperament

“He has an excellent temperament, cheerful and fun.”
The Shih Tzu has a charming and affectionate character but could also be a little stubborn and touchy. However, despite his size, he has a very proud and dignified temperament. The Standard describes him as intelligent, active and alert. Friendly and independent.

Affectionate towards the family

“Maximum affection towards the family.”
The Shih Tzu is a dog used to living in a family environment and has been selected as a companion breed. It is a dog with great affection and friendliness towards its family and owner. He is playful and amusing, always attentive to everything around him. He is an integral part of the family unit, and it is impossible not to fall in love with him.

Friendly with children

“Very friendly towards children.”
With good reason: children love to play and entertain themselves with this dog, and Shih Tzu’s ability to reciprocate this affection is in the Guinness Book of Records. But, of course, adult supervision is always advisable, especially when the children are small and clumsy.

Relationship with strangers

“Excellent tolerance towards strangers.”
He is a very tame dog with strangers. Shih Tzu is an excellent spotter who will signal the presence of strangers in his territory but cannot be described as a guard dog due to his proportions. He is, however, continuously well-disposed towards everyone when he understands that they are not a danger to his family and home. Despite being friendly, he only reserves his affection for his family.

Sociality with other dogs

“Excellent sociability with other dogs.”
A good upbringing and appropriate socialisation will help the Shih Tzu breed to be friendly and well-disposed towards other dogs and animals. Of course, he will always be a little reserved, as this is part of his nature, but he may also be playful with dogs he does not know as long as the latter are respectful and equally friendly.

The adaptability of the Shih Tzu breed

Adaptability to flat life

“Excellent adaptability to a flat life.”
The Shih Tzu is a delightful companion dog that can live well in a flat, given its size and propensities. Although he likes to stay on the couch, he will still need to move, run and enjoy daily walks. He loves being entertained by the whole family and small children.

Tolerance of being alone

“He can be left alone for a short time.”
As we have said, “the Shih Tzu is a companion dog,” and it is understood that he loves company! Being left alone is not one of his preferences. Given his small size, you can quickly take him anywhere. If this is impossible or even forbidden, occasional and concise times alone will still be necessary.

Suitable as a first dog

“Excellent adaptability as a first dog.”
The Shih Tzu is an amiable, passionate and fun-loving breed. Its character is ductile and malleable. It is easy to train and has an innate quality: friendliness. It does not, however, have a morbid temperament and may be reserved at times. All these virtues make it a breed suitable for any family, including those with children.

Tolerance to cold temperatures

“It tolerates the cold quite well.”
During the winter, the owner will be careful to let his Shih Tzu breed out during the warmer hours, especially if the grooming has included shortening the hair. If, on the other hand, the hair has been trimmed to the ground, the coat should be dry thoroughly once the dog is back inside to prevent chills.

Tolerance to hot temperatures

“Not very tolerant of hot temperatures.”
Care must be taken in summer, especially if the humidity is high. The Shih Tzu has a short nasal passage, which does not allow the air intake to cool down before reaching the lungs, so they must take special care to avoid respiratory problems that would lead to heatstroke.

Shih Tzu breed. An affectionate and playful companion that loves being around people.
Shih Tzus are intelligent dogs who are keen to please their owners.

Care and Health of the Shih Tzu breed

Care and hair loss

“Minimal hair loss.”
The perfect aesthetic result of the coat requires dedication and constant attention. The hair growth down to the ground, so shiny and silky, tends to be reserved for subjects participating in shows. For daily hair care, keeping the Shih Tzu’s coat shorter and brushing it to avoid knots and matting is sufficient. As a result, hair loss is minimal and seasonal.

Salivation and drooling

“Optimal salivation.”
Salivation containment is optimal if the Shih Tzu has excellent dental conformation that, although prognathic, does not allow salivation to escape from the lips.

Ease of cleaning

“Ease of cleaning average.”
Daily cleaning covers the eyes and ears, and a brief mouth inspection. Regarding grooming, it is easy to maintain if the Shih Tzu has a baby cut, i.e. with shortened hair. However, someone who can comb and care for the long hair down to the ground must support it.

We conclude by saying that the Shih Tzu’s beautiful coat should be kept intact, but for the convenience of the new owner and the dog’s hygiene, it is best to keep the skin at a certain length and to devote at least a quarter of an hour a day to cleaning and grooming.

Health and illness

“General health condition good.”
The health condition of the Shih Tzu is generally reasonable. He has a long life expectancy and has no particular genetic problems, except for a rare form of haemophilia that may only afflict three other breeds: Prekallikrein deficiency (KLK). Macrothrombocytopenia is another condition to which he might be prone. This genetic form is associated with a low platelet count and increased mean platelet volume. Careful investigation will cover patella dysplasia and eye disease.

Tendency to put on weight

“He has a slight tendency to put on weight.”
If the Shih Tzu is well-fed and exercised, it will not tend to put on weight. It indeed likes to be indoors a lot, close to the family, but the walks and short runs will be the crowning glory to the beautiful days spent in the company of this graceful breed.

Shih Tzu breed Learning

This complete guide covers everything you need to know about the charming and affectionate Shih Tzu breed, including appearance, temperament, health, care, and exercise needs.
Shih Tzus love to learn, and training is an excellent way for you to bond with them. But you shouldn’t leave training too late, as they can be strong-willed.

Intelligence and training

“Excellent intelligence and independence.”
The first quality listed in the Breed Standard describes the Shih Tzu as “intelligent”. He is an innate intelligence that Shih Tzu uses in socialisation, education, and relations with his family, his owner, and the rest of the world. He will never be a dog-robot because, among his virtues, he is also ‘independent’, as are almost all Tibetan and Chinese breeds. Our fur will undoubtedly be polite and please his owner by following his directions, which will be highly reasonable and kindly given.

Loyalty and escapes

“Very loyal and not very prone to escapes.”
The Shih Tzu breed integrates perfectly into the family environment and has an excellent relationship with everyone. Escapes are not his priority, but he must be kept on a leash during walks (as the law prescribes). However, his loyalty is unquestionable, and he prefers to stay close to his owner instead of walking away voluntarily.

Tendency to bite

“Quiet and not very prone to biting.”
The Shih Tzu is a cheerful but calm and responsible dog who would never bite unless disproportionately upset. He has excellent self-control, which he puts into action whenever he is in trouble. Like all dogs, grinding is the only act a dog can practise, whether in self-defence or to defend property. It does not, however, tend to bite and is also very respectful of children who will be kept under strict control.

Tendency to chase prey

“It is not interested in hunting prey.”
Despite the great stimulus of curiosity, which may lead the Shih Tzu to consider chasing an animal for fun, there are very few occasions when it is inclined to hunt prey. It has no significant predatory drive.

Tendency to bark or howl

“It is an excellent spotter.”
It was initially the guard dog of Tibetan monks, and therefore, its disposition is not to call attention to itself except to warn of danger. The barking is a way of reaching the owner’s attention during an ‘invasion’ of his territory. It is an excellent detector that only makes its voice heard when necessary.

The Shih Tzu breed Needs Exercise.

Energy level

“Lively and full of energy breed.”
Despite its small size, the Shih Tzu is a breed that needs Exercise as it is an energetic and full-of-life dog. The breed standard, among other things, calls it ‘active’. Always elegant and harmonious in all its manifestations, it is nevertheless a great show-off who knows the charm it exerts and does not disdain bears. It is lively and full of energy.


“Mild, quiet and calm.”
The Shih Tzu is a mild and calm dog. Liven enough to interact appropriately in play and family life. However, it is a calm, fun-loving dog that tends to be well-behaved and friendly.

Exercise needs

“Average exercise requirement.”
The limit for adequate daily Exercise for the Shih Tzu is a couple of walks a day and a few play sessions; however, it should not be forced. It is necessary to allow it to recover from its exertions as, given its small size, excesses are to be avoided.

Tendency to play

“Average tendency to play.”
The Shih Tzu likes to play a lot and loves to interact with its owner and more minor children. He has a lot of fun, but you must limit the duration of play sessions as it may be too tiring for a small dog. Interaction with children always needs adult supervision.

Thank you for reading the article to the end. Your reading contribution was significant to us.

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The "Frenchie Breed" website is a blog aimed at dog owners. We regularly publish articles about our four-legged furry friends. Among the contents of our blog, you will find ample space on the latest news in the sector, with information and in-depth analysis dedicated to the world of dogs in all its forms, the latest trends and news of the moment, curious facts, events devoted to dogs, product reviews, as well as an intense activity of information regarding the health and well-being of pets.

Please Note: The articles in the 'Frenchie Breed Blog' are for information purposes only; nothing published can or should be construed as an attempt to offer professional advice or consultation with a physician, veterinary surgeon or another health professional.

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Written by Frenchie Breed

The "Frenchie Breed" website is a blog aimed at dog owners. We regularly publish articles about our four-legged furry friends. Among the contents of our blog, you will find ample space on the latest news in the sector, with information and in-depth analysis dedicated to the world of dogs in all its forms, the latest trends and news of the moment, curious facts, events devoted to dogs, product reviews, as well as an intense activity of information regarding the health and well-being of pets.

Please Note: The articles in the 'Frenchie Breed Blog' are for information purposes only; nothing published can or should be construed as an attempt to offer professional advice or consultation with a physician, veterinary surgeon or another health professional.

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