The Shih Tzu: A Loyal Lapdog with a Regal History

Mar 15, 2024

The Shih Tzu: A Loyal Lapdog with a Regal History

Table of contents:

  1. Breed Overview
  2. Physical Characteristics
  3. Personality and Temperament
  4. Exercise and Training
  5. Health and Care
  6. Living with a Shih Tzu
  7. Is the Shih Tzu Right for You?
  8. Conclusion

The Shih Tzu, often associated with Chinese royalty, is a breed that epitomises the term “companion dog.” With their beautiful flowing coats, sweet-natured demeanour, and affectionate eyes, Shih Tzus have been warming laps and hearts for centuries. These dogs are not only cherished for their adorable appearance but also for their friendly, outgoing personality and adaptability to various living situations. If you’re considering bringing a Shih Tzu into your family, it’s essential to understand the breed’s specific needs, characteristics, and temperament. This comprehensive guide will equip you with everything you need to know about owning a Shih Tzu.

Breed Overview

Originating from Tibet and later cherished in Chinese imperial courts, the Shih Tzu is a small dog breed that has long been revered for its luxurious coat and friendly disposition. “Shih Tzu” translates to “lion dog,” reflecting their noble and somewhat aloof appearance, although their personality is anything but detached.

Physical Characteristics

  • Size: Shih Tzus are small dogs, typically weighing between 4 to 7 kg and standing about 9 to 10.5 inches at the shoulder. Their compact size makes them excellent companions for apartment living and for those with limited space.
  • Coat and Colour: They have a long, flowing double coat that can come in various colors, including black, white, gold, and combinations thereof. While their coat is stunning, it requires regular grooming to maintain its beauty and health.
  • Lifespan: The average lifespan of a Shih Tzu is around 10-16 years, with many living well into their teens with proper care.

Personality and Temperament

Shih Tzus are known for their affectionate, happy, and outgoing nature. They thrive on human companionship and are known to be particularly good with children and other pets. Despite their small size, they have a sturdy body and an adventurous spirit, often displaying a curious and playful demeanour.

They are adaptable and can be content with both short walks and vigorous play sessions indoors. Shih Tzus are intelligent but can have a stubborn streak, making training a blend of patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement.

Exercise and Training

Shih Tzus have moderate exercise needs. Daily walks and playtime are sufficient to keep them healthy and content. They enjoy activities that involve being close to their owners, whether it’s a leisurely stroll in the park or a playful game in the living room.

Training should start early, focusing on socialisation and basic commands. Housebreaking can sometimes be a challenge with Shih Tzus, so crate training and consistent schedule are recommended. They respond well to gentle, positive training methods.

Health and Care

Shih Tzus are generally healthy but can be prone to certain health issues, including brachycephalic syndrome (due to their flat faces), hip dysplasia, and eye problems. Regular veterinary check-ups and a balanced diet are vital for their health.

Their coat requires daily brushing to prevent tangles and mats, and many owners opt for professional grooming to keep it manageable. Paying attention to their eyes and face is important to prevent irritation and infection.

Living with a Shih Tzu

Shih Tzus are ideal for families, singles, and seniors looking for a devoted companion. They are relatively low-energy dogs that are happy to cuddle on the couch as much as they enjoy playing. Their friendly nature makes them great pets for those with children and other animals.

Their small size and moderate exercise needs make them well-suited to both apartment living and homes with gardens. They do not tolerate extreme heat well, so precautions should be taken during hot weather.

Is the Shih Tzu Right for You?

If you’re seeking a loving, loyal companion that thrives on human interaction and can adapt to various living situations, the Shih Tzu may be the perfect breed for you. They are well-suited for anyone willing to invest time in regular grooming and who desires a pet that is both playful and affectionate.

However, if you prefer a more independent breed or are not prepared to commit to their grooming needs, a Shih Tzu might not be the best fit for your lifestyle.


The Shih Tzu is a breed that offers endless love, companionship, and joy. With the right care, environment, and commitment to their needs, a Shih Tzu can become an irreplaceable member of your family, enriching your life with their charming personality and affectionate nature. Whether participating in family activities, lounging beside you, or greeting you with their unique exuberance, a Shih Tzu brings a touch of royal elegance and heartfelt companionship to every moment.

© Vet Verified 2024