Shih Tzu Dog Breed Personality, Health, Coat Colors and More

The Shih Tzu Dog Breed


The fancy name “Shih Tzu” (pronounced SHEED Zoo, SHID Zoo, or SHEET Sue) means little lion. It is no surprise when you look at its majestic mane and it is not a fierce dog like a Chihuahua. This dog is a cuddly pup meant to be another companion in your home.


If you are looking for a small bundle of joy that can tolerate apartment life, sit on your lap for some cuddles, and give you a whole lot of love, then the Shih Tzu will not disappoint you. Want to know more? Read on!


Size and Weight


As the name suggests, Shih Tzus are about 9 to 10.5 inches tall and weigh between 9 to 16 pounds on average.




Shih Tzus are meant to be little more than a companion. They just want to hang out with you, so they would not be very effective as a guard or hunting dog. You will find your Shih Tzu most content when it is sitting on your lap, receiving all the attention from you. In a typical small dog fashion, Shih Tzus are quite lively and may alert you whenever someone comes by, although they will make friends with your visitors the instant they come inside.




Shih Tzus are normally healthy, provided you feed them properly, but they are prone to some diseases and conditions such as:


  • Allergies: Food allergies, contact allergies, inhalant allergies, which may require medication, a diet, or environment change.
  • Caning hip dysplasia
  • Patellar luxation
  • Juvenile renal dysplasia (JRD
  • Bladder stones and bladder infections
  • Eye disorders: Keratitis, proptosis, distichiasis, ectopia cilia, progressive retinal atrophy, dry eye.
  • Ear infection
  • Retained baby teeth/tooth and gum problems
  • Umbilical hernias
  • Portosystemic liver shunt
  • Snuffles
  • Reverse sneezing: Occurs when the dog eats too fast, is overly excited, or as an allergic reaction, resulting in the nasal secretions dropping onto the soft palate and close the windpipe. It may make a wheezing sound and becomes alarmed. Try to relax it by talking to it gently. Some Shih Tzu owners say they pinch the nostrils closed, forcing the dog to breathe through their mouth to clear the windpipe and stop reverse sneezing.




Shih Tzu can live pretty much everywhere thanks to their petite size. They are a housedog and should be kept inside, although you can let it out in the backyard from time to time. Daily short walks are enough as they get plenty of exercise from wandering indoor and playing with their toys, other animals, or the neighbor.


Shih Tzus are also prone to heat exhaustion due to their short faces, so keep them indoors in a room with fans or, better yet, an air conditioner during hot days.


Shih Tzus are also too brave for their good as many owners reported that their pets would jump from a bed or a chair without a second thought, which often up in injury. They tend to crash forward, hit their head, and may result in a concussion. So, hold your pet firmly when you need to take it with you, and certainly do not let them jump off your arms or furniture.


Though friendly, Shih Tzus need to learn socialization and be trained early on. Otherwise, they may become timid or unpredictable. Also, they are hard to housebreak. You should teach your Shih Tzu to use the litter box so you don’t have to clean after them. This process can take up to 8 weeks. Crate training is also handy and also gives your dog a private space or when you need to travel.




The recommended daily amount is ½ to 1 cup of dry food (high quality preferred) a day. This is just a rough estimate since all dogs are different and you should cater to their needs. The food quality is imperative as the better food you can provide, the healthier your dog will be and the less food you need to put in the bowl.


Coat Color And Grooming


Shih Tzus beautiful and silky coat comes in a wide variety of colors such as gray and white, black and white, black, red and white, etc. Consider yourself very lucky if you could find one with a white tip on the tail and a white blaze on the forehead.


However, such beautiful fur comes at a cost of constant maintenance. That means, daily brushing and combing, not to mention weekly bathing, to keep the coat gorgeous. However, many Shih Tzu owners would just hire a professional groomer to trim the locks short. Your pet wouldn’t look as majestic, at least grooming would not be so much a chore anymore. So, if you decided to keep the fur short, you would need to make a grooming appointment every 6 to 8 weeks.


Grooming your Shih Tzu yourself is not recommended, but doable. When brushing, make sure to reach down to the skin. Getting the dog to lie down on their side may help as it is comfortable for the dog and you can brush in sections.


But fur is not the only thing to pay close attention to. You should trim your Shih Tzu’s nails every month, check their ears once a week for dirt or any signs of infection and wipe them with a cotton ball dampened with pH-balanced ear cleaner. Hair also grows inside the ear canal and may need to be plucked if ear infections are frequent.


Take special care for the Shih Tzu’s face since it gets dirty easily after eating and their eyes tear up frequently. Wipe with a soft cloth dampened with warm water. Shih Tzu’s teeth are especially prone to dental issues. Keep their teeth and gums healthy with regular brushing with a soft toothbrush and dog toothpaste.


Children and Other Pets


The Shih Tzu is a wonderful addition to any household. They can get along with other animals and even children without a problem thanks to their charming yet docile personality. That said, an animal this size should be treated with care. Kids should sit on the floor to play with the Shih Tzu to avoid the risk of dropping them. The Shih Tzu’s eyes are easily injured as well given how prominent they are, so children should keep their fingers away.


Adoption Options


Unfortunately, many people do not have a clear idea of how to care for Shih Tzus. Many of these adorable dogs end up in shelters or abandoned on the streets. If you would like to bring a Shih Tzu into your life, consider checking in with the local shelter or rescue group. They can help you find the dog that you will love and tell you everything you need to know to care for your new pet. You will give those poor dogs a new lease on life by adopting them. Plus, it is a lot cheaper to adopt than buy.