Shih Tzu – The Complete Breed Guide

DINO THE SHIH TZU 4, from Mavis

Welcome to our guide to the Shih Tzu.

The website aims to ask questions to breeders, vets and experienced owners to get the answers to your most frequently asked questions about the Shih Tzu breed of dog.

You can also help too!

If you can answer any of the questions further down this page, then please add your comments to the box at the bottom of the page or you can email us at

We would love to feature your dog and publish any photos or pictures of your Shih Tzu you would like to email us.

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Shih Tzu Owner Interview

Below we feature a Shih Tzu named “Dino” as shared with us by his “mommy” Mavis Lee.

Can you tell us who you are and where you live?

We live in a city called Ipoh in Malaysia. Both my boyfriend and myself are dog lovers. Dino has a sister named Shiloh and she is a Jack Russel.

How long have you owned a Shih Tzu?

I had owned a Shih Tzu about 8 years now but Dino is 15 years old this year. I got him when he was about 7 years old.

DINO THE SHIH TZU 4, from Mavis

Dino the Shih Tzu – Photo by Mavis Lee


Where did you buy him from?

Dino was adopted from a close friend that shifted from a landed property to a condominium that do not allow pets. Dino was adopted together with his daughter, another Shih Tzu called Jill. Unfortunately Jill ran away few years ago and we searched for a long time but couldn’t find her. This left us and Dino heartbroken. A week after she was missing, our door was left accidentally open and he escaped from the house and went roaming around our housing area, probably missing her. He’s never done that before and it gave us a fright. Luckily I found him after walking an hour or so around our housing area.

From your experience what makes this breed so special?

From our experience, this breed is very loving and loyal. Dino is very good at letting us know about his needs and wants. He knows his rules and boundaries but he is good at telling us by his facial expressions and gestures. He loves to be around us and that is what makes him at his happiest.

What type of personality/temperament do they have?


Dino the Shih Tzu – Photo by Mavis Lee

Shih Tzus are generally lap dogs. They are not really active dogs. They are happy even with less walks. They spend most of their time taking naps and spending time with their owners. They are eager to please their owners most of the time but they have a stubborn trait too so that makes them a little difficult to train. It will take a while to master tricks but house breaking might not be as difficult. Dino had not learned any tricks despite we tried to teach him, LOL. But it’s all good, we love him just the same as he’s a very obedient dog. Dino gets along with less active and dominant animals (we have cats in the house and Dino gets along with them just fine).

I believe the Shih Tzu is quite a popular dog on social media/Internet these days, can you tell us how this started?

I started Dino’s Facebook page years back because I saw some dog owners have their fur kid’s pages up and it was a good platform to socialise with other dog owners. It was also for Dino’s previous owners, so they are able to see how he is doing.

What are your feeding routines, such as how often and what types of food do you feed the Shih Tzu?

Dino’s feeding routines are 2 main meals, 1 in the morning another in the evening. He gets a snack in the afternoon and at night before bed. His main meals are Kibbles. I feed him kibbles specifically for Shih Tzus to take care of his coat. His snacks are jerky. Dino sometimes is a picky eater so sometimes I mix chicken meat with his kibbles.

Have you encountered any health issues?

DINO THE SHIH TZU 5, from Mavis

Dino the Shih Tzu – Photo by Mavis Lee

Dino has typical health issues of his breed now that he is in his golden age. He is experiencing cataract, breathing problems and itchy skin. It is very crucial to take care of what he eats as he has very sensitive skin allergies. He can only take chicken and no other meat.

Obviously grooming is another major aspect of owning a Shih Tzu. Can you offer any tips, advice and popular accessories for your Shih Tzu?

Proper grooming is very important for Dino. We live in a hot and humid country, so it is very important for him to have frequent bath, at least twice a week or minimum once a week. I keep his coat short because it is very hot for him although we often turn on the air conditioning for him. Brushing his coat is also important to keep his coat smooth and not matted. Shih Tzu’s fur get matted very easily so they need brushing daily. Shih Tzus have high grooming needs due to their long fur and skin sensitivity.

Any other useful tips and advice that you can offer to potential new owners?

For new potential owners considering to own a Shih Tzu, please make sure they truly understand this breed by doing research well. Shih Tzus are not for people lifestyle where they want a dog that can hike and jog with them. They need to be patient with Shih Tzus due to their stubborn nature but do not expect them to master tricks fast although it might be easy to house break them. Shih Tzus have high grooming needs so they need to be prepared. They have strong personality as Shih Tzus are said to be owned by the Chinese Emperors so they are royalty, LOL. Given time, they are very loving and give no trouble at all, and all they crave is their owner’s companionship. Although once in a while a treat won’t hurt anyone! 😊

Thanks Mavis for this wonderful interview. If you want to know more, you can visit this page:

DINO THE SHIH TZU 3, from Mavis

Dino the Shih Tzu – Photo by Mavis Lee

Why Choose a Shih Tzu?

What type of owners buy a Shih Tzu?

What in your opinion are the best things about the Shih Tzu breed?

Why do you think the Shih Tzu is special?

What are your favourite things about the Shih Tzu?

Are you glad you choose to buy a Shih Tzu and not another breed?

How would you describe the Shih Tzu temperament?

What advice might you give to people thinking about whether they should buy a Shih Tzu over other breeds?

History & Origins

What are the history and origins of the Shih Tzu?

About The Breed

What colors of Shih Tzu are most popular?

What does the Shih Tzu look like?

What are the pros/cons of the Shih Tzu breed?

What can a new owner expect in terms of differences between the Shih Tzu and other breeds?

Do they attract a lot of interest and curiosity from the public?

What type of typical personality does the Shih Tzu have?

Is it possible to describe a fairly typical Shih Tzu?

What is the breed standard/description for the Shih Tzu?

Were there particular colors people preferred and that maybe you focused on?

Are there any downsides to owning a Shih Tzu that prospective owners should be aware of?

Is the Shih Tzu breed of dog suitable for first-time dog owners?

Some breeds can be described as greedy and prone to weight issues, would this apply to the Shih Tzu?

What are the key differences when compared to other breeds?

Is the Shih Tzu breed suitable for a person or family that are out at work all day?

Some owners seek a breed suitable for barking and offering a guard dog role – how does the Shih Tzu match up to that role?

Are there myths about the Shih Tzu – in other words do new potential owners come to you with misconceptions about this breed?

We asked a number of breeders in the UK and America what essential advice they would give to new owners of Shih Tzu puppies and this is what they said:

What types of questions do you get once owners get their Shih Tzu home?

Can you tell us something most owners would not know – tips, secrets etc from your years of experience?

What is the typical temperament of a Shih Tzu, so people know what to expect from their new pet?

When fully grown how much on average does a Shih Tzu weigh?

When the Shih Tzu is full grown in size what is the maximum height and length expected to be?

Is the Shih Tzu ever crossed or mixed with other breeds of dog?

Does the Shih Tzu smell or drool a lot?

Do you have a Shih Tzu growth chart?

What breed group does the Shih Tzu come under?

What type of coat do they have?

Can they swim?

What does the movement of the tail show, does it mean they are trying to ‘talk to us’ or give us some message?


Are there some types of people that you can suggest the Shih Tzu is not suitable for, perhaps families?

How is the Shih Tzu with children?

Do you think the Shih Tzu is suitable for families with young children?

How does the Shih Tzu get along with other (existing) pets and do you have any tips or advice for new Shih Tzu owners in terms of successful integration?

Is it better to buy one Shih Tzu or two?

Should prospective new owners be aware of any differences between males and females?

Would the Shih Tzu be suitable as a guard dog?

Can I leave my Shih Tzu during the day while I go to work?


What is the expected average lifespan of the Shih Tzu?

In terms of life expectancy, how long on average would the Shih Tzu breed live to?

Food & Diet

Do you have any special feeding routines or diet?

Do you have any feeding advice or brands that you prefer?

How to handle the Shih Tzu puppy to start off – how much food, what type, how often?

What feeding routines and types of food/supplements do you recommend?

What to buy in terms of equipment? Bowls etc

Do owners need to consider supplements for their Shih Tzu?

How about for older dogs?

Buying – How Much Do They Cost?

How much did your Shih Tzu cost to buy?

Can you offer advice to people looking to buy a Shih Tzu and how much should they spend?

What advice would you offer new Shih Tzu owners?

What types of people are buying the Shih Tzu and why?

Where can I buy Shih Tzu rescue dogs or find a Shih Tzu for adoption? Please note that buying or searching for a ‘cheap’ Shih Tzu can be false economy as they may have health issues that cost you far more in the long-term – always buy from a good and responsible breeder!

Do I need public liability insurance or a license?


How would you describe the Shih Tzu puppy to potential new owners?

What types of owners are best suited to owning a Shih Tzu?

What colors and sizes are most popular?

Are there things new owners do that perhaps frustrate you?

What can people expect when they become a new owner?

What inspired you to become a breeder and did you start with the Shih Tzu?

As a Shih Tzu breed expert, are there any ‘essential’ tips you would like to share with new owners?

Are there specific times of the year that you breed?

Choosing a puppy from a litter, what advice could you offer potential new owners in terms of selecting ‘the one’?

How long does it take to housetrain/potty train a Shih Tzu?

When can you take them out in public and how do you handle them around other dogs?

Will they run off – when is it safe to let them off the lead?

We invite you to email us your Shih Tzu’s pictures, in particular we are looking for photos showing Shih Tzu puppies at 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 weeks old as well as early pictures such as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 months old to a year old.

Do they have any nicknames or does the Shih Tzu have popular names?

If my Shih Tzu is pregnant what might the litter size be?

Could the Shih Tzu be dangerous around young children?

Problem Behaviors

How do you deal with a problem barker – any tips and advice to new owners?

How do you prevent a Shih Tzu biting?

How do you prevent a Shih Tzu chewing?

How do you stop a Shih Tzu jumping up?

Does the Shih Tzu have an issue with excessive digging?

Why does my Shih Tzu keep growling and barking?

Is there a reason my Shih Tzu dog is often scratching excessively?

Do they suffer from separation anxiety and how can I prevent this?


In comparison perhaps to other breeds what can you say about the Shih Tzu and their exercise needs and do you have any tips or advice for new Shih Tzu owners?

As a breeder of the Shih Tzu , do you prefer a collar or harness?

As an expert of the Shih Tzu breed do you prefer a standard leash or retractable?

Can you offer any dog walking tips for Shih Tzu owners?

Playtime & Tricks

What games and toys can you recommend for the Shih Tzu?

Are there toys you suggest avoiding?

How intelligent is the Shih Tzu compared to other dog breeds?

How much can they understand?


Do you have any special grooming routines or tips and advice for new Shih Tzu owners?

How much time is involved?

What accessories are required to be purchased for grooming a Shih Tzu?

Any advice/tips you can give concerning maintenance of nails?

How much do Shih Tzu shed and how do I maintain their hair and how often?

How can I prevent or cure ear infections?

Do you have any tips for eye care?

Is the Shih Tzu a hypoallergenic breed?


Any advice/tips you can give concerning cleaning and bathing your Shih Tzu?

Can you offer new Shih Tzu owners advice concerning fleas and maybe products you use in treatment and prevention?


What advice and tips could you offer to owners who might wish to follow your path in showing the Shih Tzu?

What started your interest in showing the Shih Tzu?

If a new owner perhaps wanted to meet other owners or find out more – perhaps they have an interest in joining a local club or maybe they wonder how they can start showing their Shih Tzu – where would they begin?

Can you offer any advice to others who may be wondering if they can also start showing?

How would an owner know they have a show-quality Shih Tzu and how would they start off?

Can you give away any of your secrets?!

Is showing very expensive and why do you think people like to do it?

What do judges look for in a winner?


What inspired you to become a breeder and did you start with the Shih Tzu?

What official organisations are there for the new Shih Tzu owner and what benefits or services do they provide?

In buying a Shih Tzu, can you offer advice and tips to new owners?

How did you go from being an owner to getting into breeding?

Do you think the breed’s popularity has increased, decreased or remains the same?

How did you progress to becoming a breeder and why focus on breeding the Shih Tzu out of all the breeds you could have chosen?

What do you think makes the Shih Tzu special to you?

Are there things that you see owners doing that frustrate you?

As a breed expert, are there any ‘essential’ tips you would like to share with new owners?


In comparison perhaps to other breeds what is it like to train a Shih Tzu and do you have any tips or advice for new Shih Tzu owners?

How should new owners approach bringing a new Shih Tzu home, any advice and tips you can give?

Should I allow my Shih Tzu to sleep in my bed or elsewhere in the house?

Do you recommend crate training and how long does this take?

Should my Shih Tzu sleep in a kennel or crate?


Health is always a major concern when buying a dog, do you have any advice for new Shih Tzu owners to be aware of in particular?

Are there any health-related tips you can give to owners?

What sort of health issues should owners be on the lookout for?

What is the recommended schedule for vaccinations for your Shih Tzu?

Can you offer any advice on how to treat and prevent worms?

What type of health issues can a Shih Tzu have and how do you deal with preventing these?

Why does my Shih Tzu have diarrhea?

Do they suffer from itchy and sensitive skin and if so why?

Why is my Shih Tzu vomiting and do I go to the vets?

When should I take my Shih Tzu for vaccinations and which ones do they need and how often?

How often will my Shih Tzu be in heat?

Should I consider getting my Shih Tzu spayed or neutered and when and how much does this cost and what are the benefits?

My Shih Tzu is limping, what should I do and should I go to a veterinarian surgeon?

Do they suffer from allergies?

Why is my Shih Tzu not eating?

How much does it cost to insure my Shih Tzu?

What healthcare issues or diseases might be excluded from companies that provide Shih Tzu dog health insurance?

Old Age

What age would you class as an ‘older or senior’ Shih Tzu?

Do you notice any changes in their behaviour?

What changes in food and diet would you suggest making for an older Shih Tzu?

Do you feed any supplements to an older Shih Tzu – or anything else which helps them as they age?

Are there any health issues particular to a senior Shih Tzu dog?

Do you have any advice for owners of an older/senior Shih Tzu or tips you can pass on?

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