Shih Tzu Dog Breed

Shih Tzu Dog Breed at a Glance


The Shih Tzu dog breed, also known as the Chrysanthemum Dog and the Chinese Lion Dog is friendly, loyal, and affectionate, but also confident. Though it doesn’t shed much, it does come with high-maintenance grooming needs. But, that doesn’t stop it from being the 20th most popular dog, according to the AKC. While difficult to train, it is a good dog for new owners without much dog ownership experience, but may not be the ideal pet for kids, unless raised among them and has had many pleasant experiences with them, in which case they can be the best of friends. This dog makes an excellent watchdog, instantaneously informing owners of strangers.

shih tzu puppies

Breed Group: Toy Group

HISTORY of the Shih Tzu Dog Breed

One of the oldest dog breeds, the Shih Tzu’s presence has been documented as far back as 8000 BCE! DNA testing has led to the belief that the Shih Tzu is related to the Papillon, the Pug, and the Long-haired Chihuahua. It was a favorite of Chinese royalty since the Manchu Dynasty. It only made its way into North America in the 1930’s.
Origin: China


This courageous and alert small dog is also friendly, gentle, cheerful, out-going, social, and very intelligent. The Shih Tzu is sensitive and sometimes difficult to train, so it requires owners be patient and use positive training methods rather than firm reprimanding. The sweet Shih Tzu is a wonderful lapdog that enjoys relaxing with its family at the end of the day.

This breed may bark, and at times, for extended periods of time, which is another good reason to keep your dog indoors.

According to the biting statistics that date back to 1982, the Shih Tzu dog breed has been linked to 5 human attacks causing bodily harm. Two of the victims were children and three victims were adults. No deaths have been attributed to this breed.

Caution need not be exercised with this breed as it is very unlikely to cause death.

Physical Characteristics of the Shih Tzu

This little charmer has a double coat, with a long, silky, and flowing outer coat, which grows past the feet. The Chinese Lion Dog has long ears and its tails fluffs into a feathery plume, curving over its back. It has a flat muzzle and nose, with wide, round eyes, and a warm expression.

The Shih Tzu carries itself arrogantly, holding its head and tail high, befitting of its royal history. It holds its head and tail Its body is solid and compact, and walks with effortless, smooth strides.

The common colors of the Chinese Lion Dog include white, black, brindle, blue, gold, liver, red, and silver, and any color combination of these colors.

The Shih Tzu weighs between 9 and 16 pounds, and stands between 8 and 11 inches tall.

Shih Tzu Dog Breed

Shedding is minimal with the Chrysanthemum Dog, so it is a good match for anyone with allergies. This is a hypoallergenic dog breed.

HEALTH and CARE of the Shih Tzu Dog Breed

Life Expectancy

The life expectancy of the Shih Tzu is between 11 and 14 years, which is average for small dogs.

Common Health Concerns

Each dog breed is susceptible to certain health issues. In general, this is a healthy dog breed but it may develop:

  • Arachnoid Cysts
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Eye Disease
  • Distichiasis and Ectopic Cilia
  • Entropion
  • Juvenile Renal Dysplasia
  • Fold Dermatitis
  • Patellar Luxation


Exercise is required, but a brisk walk in the neighborhood will suffice. Keep in mind, this is not a companion for jogging. As any brachycephalic dog, it does not fare well in high temperatures. The Shih Tzu is a more indoor type dog. With its short muzzle and large eyes, injuries may occur, so seek immediate veterinary care.

Dog Breeds
Shih Tzu with Show Coat

Shih Tzu Dog Training Tips:

    1. Introduce new desired behaviors slowly and gradually. Be firm, positive, and never give in if it is misbehaving.
    2. Ignore unwanted behavior, like jumping or nipping. Once settled, offer praise and rewards.


Feed your dog a high-quality dog food to ensure health and longevity. With the average Shih Tzu weighing 13 pounds, feed your furry friend between 1/2 and 1 cup of kibble each day.


This is a high-maintenance breed that requires grooming every 4 to 8 weeks, depending upon the length of its coat. Frequent brushing (every other day) reduces tangles and matting, and if it is a show-length coat, brush it every day. A teddy bear cut is much more manageable for those who don’t show their dogs. Also, the hair around their faces must be kept away from their eyes to avoid eye problems from developing.
The AKC officially recognized the Shih Tzu dog breed in 1969.