His name means little lion, but there’s nothing fierce about this dog breed. The Shih Tzu is a lover, not a hunter. Bred solely to be a companion, the Shih Tzu is an affectionate, happy, outgoing housedog who loves nothing more than to follow his people from room to room. In recent years, however, owners have started taking the Shih Tzu off their laps and into dog sports, training him for obedience, rally, and agility competitions.
Dog Breed Group:Companion Dogs
Height:9 inches to 10 inches tall at the shoulder
Weight:9 to 16 pounds
Life Span:10 to 16 years
- There is no such breed as an “imperial” or “teacup” Shih Tzu. These are simply marketing terms used by unscrupulous breeders use to indicate a very small or large Shih Tzu.
- Shih Tzus are difficult to housebreak. Be consistent, and do not allow a puppy to roam the house unsupervised until he is completely trained. Crate training is helpful.
- The flat shape of the Shih Tzu’s face makes him susceptible to heat stroke, because the air going into the lungs isn’t cooled as efficiently as it is among longer-nosed breeds. He should be kept indoors in air-conditioning rooms during hot weather.
- Be prepared to brush and comb the Shih Tzu coat every day. It mats easily.
- While Shih Tzus are trustworthy with children, they’re not the best choice for families with toddlers or very young children because their small size puts them at risk for unintentional injury.
- The Shih Tzu tends to wheeze and snore, and can be prone to dental problems.
- While all dogs eat their own or other animals’ feces (coprophagia), the Shih Tzu seems especially prone to this behavior. The best way to handle the problem is never let it become a habit. Watch your Shih Tzu closely and clean up poop right away.
- To get a healthy pet, never buy a puppy from a backyard breeder, puppy mill, or pet store. Find a reputable breeder who tests her breeding dogs for genetic health conditions and good temperaments.