Shih Tzu adult in black and white

Shih Tzu

Despite its name translating as "Little Lion," the Shih Tzu has a calm and affectionate temperament and makes an excellent family or companion dog.

About the Shih Tzu

These intelligent, active, and lively little dogs thrive in human company, but also like to retain a little bit of independence.

When trained and socialized well from an early age, Shih Tzus make delightful family pets and play well with children.

Source: key facts and characteristics sourced from Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI)

Breed specifics

FCI Group 9, AKC Toy Group
Size category
Avg life expectancy
11–16 years

Intelligent / Lively / Alert / Friendly / Independent

Key facts

  • Requires a lot of grooming
  • Struggles in warm weather
  • Needs little exercise
Shih Tzu adult in black and white

Origins of the breed

The roots of this breed lie in Tibet, but it was developed in China, where dogs like these lived in the imperial palaces. China became a republic in 1912 after which examples of the breed found their way to the West, though the first recorded importation to Britain was not until 1931. 

It was recognized as a breed separate from other Oriental breeds in 1934 and granted a separate register by The Kennel Club in 1940, with challenge certificates on offer from 1949.

A Shih Tzu's life story

Find out more about the lively Shih Tzu in each stage of their life.

Up to 10 months

Shih Tzu puppy

Shih Tzu puppies are energetic and intelligent, with a naturally friendly nature, making them a good choice as a family pet. As Shih Tzu puppies are very small, it is advised to set aside an enclosed space in your home when they first arrive, to keep them safe and secure.
Shih Tzu puppy sitting down

Grooming a Shih Tzu

Due to their long, luxurious coat, daily brushing is needed to prevent tangles and remove any dead hair. Regular trimming will also be required for this breed, so it is a good idea to start their professional grooming sessions at a young age so they can get used to the process and see the visits as a positive experience. 

As well as caring for their coat, it's very important to pay close attention to a Shih Tzu's eyes. As they are so close to the ground, Shih Tzu's are prone to collecting dirt and debris which can cause infection. Their eyes should be checked daily and cleaned regularly with a damp cloth to prevent irritation.

From 10 months

Shih Tzu adult

Adult Shih Tzus are very adaptable dogs and will happily assimilate to life in the city or in the country, with single owners, couples or families with children. That being said, adult Shih Tzus require a lot of human contact and don't like to be left alone for long periods of time.
11 in Height
10 - 18 lb Weight
11 in Height
10 - 18 lb Weight
Shih Tzu adult standing

Caring for a Shih Tzu

Although Shih Tzus are energetic little dogs, they do not require a yard to live comfortably. Shih Tzus will adapt to life in the city easily and are well suited to small homes or apartments.

The Shih Tzu's flat face and long coat mean that they are less able to moderate their body heat so care must be taken during hot weather to ensure that they do not over exercise or spend too much time in the sun.

During the summer months, it is recommended to walk Shih Tzus in the mornings or in the evenings to reduce the chances of your dog overheating.

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Shih Tzu health and aging

Shih Tzu dogs are considered senior dogs when they reach ten years old. With age, your Shih Tzu may experience some hearing loss and vision impairment.

This is common in older dogs but will impact their lifestyle and how much they are able to do. You may also notice reduced motivation to exercise, often due to stiffer joints, so it is important to make sure your aging dog is kept comfortable to ease any joint pains.

Tailored nutrition for your Shih Tzu

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Health condition

Shih Tzus belong to the brachycephalic family that have physical features such as a flat face and short nose due to their flat and wide skull shape. These anatomical attributes can cause some health issues like skin, eye and breathing problems as well as a poor ability to tolerate heat. For all brachycephalic breeds, we advise you to choose a dog with physical features that are not over-exaggerated, to acquire from a responsible breeder or shelter and to seek advice from your veterinarian as needed.

Health checklist illustration

A healthy start to life

Puppyhood is a time of massive physical and behavioral change, and a steep learning curve for new owners. Find out how you can provide your puppy with the best start to life so they develop into strong, healthy dogs.

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Lifetime of health

Get advice and information on how to provide the best care for your dog at every stage of life.

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