Living with a Shih Tzu Dog: A Guide to Laughter, Laps, and Long Hair

Living with a Shih Tzu Dog A Guide to Laughter, Laps, and Long Hair

With lineage tucked into the chilly Tibetan mountains 2,000 years back, the signature double coat of the Shih Tzu dog was likely a cozy adaptation. Appreciated for their warmth, these mini creatures kept Chinese emperor’s toes toasty at bedtime. Bred by royal dog whisperers, the Shih Tzu’s roots are thought to weave together the Lhaso Apso and Pekingese.

Crossing the pond in 1928, they’ve since charmed their way into becoming one of the most popular toy dogs in the US and UK. Let’s dive into the unique aspects of the Shih Tzu’s realm.

KingdomPhylumClassOrder FamilyGenusScientific Name
AnimaliaChordataMammaliaCarnivoraCanidaeCanisCanis lupus
Taxonomic Classification of Shih Tzu Dog (Canis lupus)

Origin and Evolution

Evolutionary History

In conjunction with Shih Tzu origin, most evidence points to Tibet, where they’re bred by monks around 2,000 years back in time. As per some genetic studies, their strong relationships with the Lhasa Apso and Pekingese, proposing potential cross-breeding or shared root within ancient Tibetan “Lion Dogs.”

Shih Tzu, esteemed by Chinese emperors from the Tang Dynasty forward, were pampered palace residents, with the Dowager Empress Cixi (1861-1908) being a prominent patron.

Genetic Composition and Diversity

While some concerns are present pertaining to potential health issues interlinked with brachycephaly, studies propose moderate to high genetic diversity within the breed.

Environmental Adaptations

The Shih Tzu’s double coat, in the annals of time, an adaptation to the harsh Tibetan climate, now offers warmth and shield in distinct environments. The shortened muzzle of the dog can result in breathing difficulties in hot or humid weather. Concerning Shih Tzu adaptations, they’re astonishingly adaptable to different living situations albeit their royal heritage.

Distribution and Population

Geographic Range

When it comes to the Shih Tzu distribution, they sport immense popularity in the US, ranking in the top 20 most popular breeds as per the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 2023. Moving to Europe, the UK and France set the pace with significant Shih Tzu populations.

Notwithstanding the fact that the breed’s roots lie in China, they’ve conquered the hearts of dog lovers across Asia, with prosperous populations in Taiwan, Japan and South Korea.

Population Dynamics

Albeit these cute creatures aren’t the fastest-growing breed, their population has typically encountered a steady boost in recent years, mirroring their lasting popularity.


Continent(s) Asia
CountriesPrimarily China, also bred and found in many countries worldwide
Bio-geographical RealmsPalearctic (Temperate Eurasia)
BiomeDomesticated; primarily adapted to indoor environments
Climate ZonesHighly adaptable to various climates, but prefer temperate conditions

Types of Shih Tzu

Types of Shih Tzu

Though major kennel clubs, like the American Kennel Club, recognize solely one breed of Shih Tzu dog, there’re distinct varieties with respect to size, coat color and markings. Let’s dig deep into the Shih Tzu’s types.

By Size

  • Standard Shih Tzu – the most common type of Shih Tzu, recognized by the AKC and weighing between 9 and 16 pounds. In addition, they measure about 9 to 11 inches in height.
  • Imperial Shih Tzu – not an official AKC breed – is a smaller version of the standard Shih Tzu, normally weighing less than 9 pounds and standing around 8 inches.
  • Teacup Shih Tzu – even smaller than Imperial Shih Tzus, weigh no more than 4 pounds and measure less than 6 inches in height. Nonetheless, owing to their small size, these the pups are most often than not prone to health problems.

By Coat Color

  • Solid-colored Shih Tzus come in a plethora of colors, such as black, white, brown, gold and brindle.
  • Bi-colored Shih Tzus possess two different coat color, including black and white, brown and white or gold and white.
  • Parti-colored Shih Tzus have three or more colors in their coat.

By Markings

  • Mask Shih Tzu: Some Shih Tzu varieties sport a darker marking on their face that’re identical to a mask.
  • Brindle Shih Tzu: These varieties have a coat with two or more colors that’re streaked or brindled together.
  • Piebald Shih Tzu: It has large patches of white on its coat, coupled with other colors.

5 Shih Tzu Facts

  • In Tibetan monasteries, Shih Tzu were in times past guard dogs.
  • Chinese emperors used to dote on these cute creatures, even sleeping parallel to them in elaborate “dog beds” within the palace.
  • The havoc of China’s 20th century just about wiped out these lovable friends. It were the dedicated Shih Tzu dog breeders who brought them back from the edge.
  • Their unparalleled jaw structure implies they smile even when grumpy!
  • The luxurious coat of the Shih Tzu dog may stun you, but it grows like crazy, making daily brushing essential.



Physical Characteristics

  • Size: Speaking of the Shih Tzu size, they stand at 8 to 11 inches at the shoulder and weigh in at 9 to 16 pounds.
  • Shape: These compact and sturdy little dogs’ bodies are rather longer than they’re tall, with a level back and a rounded chest.
  • Coat: Concerning the Shih Tzu coat, undoubtedly it’s the most striking feature it has – the long flowing double coat. The luxurious fur of Shih Tzu dog showcasing a spectrum of colors, including black, white brown, red, bridle, gold and even parti-colors and tri-colors.

Shih Tzu Anatomy

Color(s) Combination of white, black, brown, red, brindle, cream, silver, and gold.
TonguePink, long, and lolling out slightly
ClawsBlack, white, or brown, depending on coat color
MouthBroad and round, with prominent underbite
Jaw Underjaw slightly wider than upper jaw
Teeth Small and incisors can sometimes protrude due to underbite
Nose Black, flat, and broad, with wide nostrils
FeetRound and padded, with long fur between the toes
SkeletonSimilar to other small dog breeds, with delicate bones and a compact frame

Life Cycles

Life Cycles

Reproductive Biology

In line with other dog breeds, the Shih Tzu dog is seasonal breeder, generally coming into heat twice a year, approximately 6 months apart. This “heat” period – when female Shih Tzu are receptive to mating – persists around 18 to 21 days. In terms of Shih Tzu litter size, they produce 3 to 5 puppies in average. There’s also a mashup of the Bichon Frise and Shih Tzu, giving rise to a cute teddy bear dog known as Zuchon.

Gestation Period

The moment breeding takes place, the magic of pregnancy takes hold. The Shih Tzu gestation period normally holds up around 58 to 63 days.

Life Cycle Stages

  • Neonatal Stage: At this stage, from 0 to 2 weeks, pups are holistically rely on their mother for milk and warmth.
  • Puppyhood: This energetic stage, from 2 weeks to 1 year, is characterized by swift growth, developing motor skills and learning social behaviors.
  • Adulthood: This is the stage, from 1 to 6 years, where these cute creatures touch physical and sexual maturity.
  • Seniority: When Shih Tzu age stepped into 6+ years, they become calmer and may entail less exercise. Nonetheless, they still crave affection and attention.

Shih Tzu Lifespan

This toy dog, renowned for its long, flowing coat and mischievous personality, enjoys a lifespan of 10 to 18 years. Astonishingly, a Florida Shih Tzu dog called Smokey holds the record for the oldest of its kind, having lived 23 years.


Reproduction SeasonNot seasonal, can breed year-round with proper heat cycles
Litter SizeAverage of 3-5 puppies, with a range of 1-8 possible
Gestation Period58-63 days
Baby CarryingMother carries and nurses puppies for 8-10 weeks
Independent AgePuppies fully weaned and ready for adoption by 12-14 weeks
Female NameLulu, Bella, Maya, Daisy, Lola, Coco, Sophie, Penny, Luna and Pepper
Male NameCharlie, Oliver, Max, Bentley, Teddy, Milo, Cooper, Leo, Duke and Rocky
Baby NamePeanut, Mochi, Kiwi, Pip, Toby, Winston, Gus, Baxter, Scout and Gizmo

Shih Tzu Dog Diet

Diet - Shih Tzu Dog

As for as Shih Tzu diet is concerned, they entail high-quality protein, healthy fats, and easily digestible carbohydrates to fuel their mischievous personalities. Here’s a dissection of the core nutrients:


Maintain approximately 25 to 30% protein content in their diet as it assists in building and maintain muscle mass, which is ultimately pivotal for keeping them active. Sources of protein can encompass lamb, chicken, beef, fish or eggs.


It’s the healthy fats that offer energy and let your Shih Tzu pet absorb needed vitamins and minerals. Aim for the Shih Tzu dog food that comprises omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids – beneficial for coat and skin health.


Carbohydrates, undoubtedly, offer energy, but they should be confined in a Shih Tzu’ diet. Opt for intricate carbohydrates such as whole grains, sweet potatoes or brown rice over simple carbohydrates like corn syrup or white flour.

Cultural Significance and Symbolism

Since the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), their pampered lives infused them with regal symbolism in Chinese palaces. They’re regarded as guardians of the emperor’s fortune and happiness.

Honored in Tibetan monasteries, these toy dogs were thought to manifest the souls of monks. Their existence signified good luck and spiritual purity.

Shih Tzu as Pets

Mexican Hairless Dog as a Pet


In conjunction with the Shih Tzu temperament, they prioritize the cozy confines of home. They’re both stubbornly independent and affectionate, requiring attention with an endearing, if once in a blue moon insistent, charm. You’re to breed merely for companionship for they lack the instincts for guarding or hunting. The very undivided focus can reflect as a severe yearn for attention.

The irresistible urge to be a lap dog is among their conspicuous traits, basking in the warmth of human company. In addition, they’re relatively quiet – another delightful characteristic – making them adaptable to a plenty of living situations.


Speaking of the Shih Tzu maintenance, they entail regular baths for hygiene and comfort. Ensure a monthly bath or every 3-4 weeks, built upon their activity level. Notwithstanding the coat length, Shih Tzu grooming is pivotal on daily basis. The long-haired companions entail daily attention to prevent matting, while medium-length fur requires brushing every other day.


Despite their energetic personalities, adult Shih Tzu are gratified with moderate exercise. They’ll readily frolic in the house or yard – their mischievous bursts fueled by daily walks. In terms of the Shih Tzu exercise, schedule two outings a day, each lasting 20-30 minutes to keep them physically and mentally fired up.


Since their independent streak can surface later on, kicking off the Shih Tzu training early is essential. They’re most often than not titled “stubborn” in terms of housebreaking, so positive, consistent reinforcement techniques are key. Albeit they can learn striking tricks, note that they do march to the beat of their own drum. Here, enticing snacks can work wonders as motivators to make them learn new skills and master desired behaviors.


The Shih Tzu adoption, certainly, brings immense joy, but also necessitates awareness – on the part of the owners – of their unparalleled needs, expressly Shih Tzu puppies. Their striking double coat demands regular brushing and grooming. Hold daily sessions with the right tools – consider fine-toothed combs and gentle brushes – to maintain that luscious fur.

Common Health Issues

  • Brachycephalic Syndrome: Owing to flat face, breathing difficulties, conceivably entailing surgery.
  • Eye Issues: Irritation from fur resulting in discomfort, treated with vet-prescribed eye drops.
  • Ear Infections: Recurrent due to floppy ears, needing regular cleaning and vet attention.
  • Intervertebral Disk Disease: Spinal issues frequent in toy breeds, affecting mobility.
  • Hypothyroidism: Thyroid disorder in middle-aged dogs, treated with medication.
  • Dental Problems: Higher tendency relative to other breeds, entailing consistent care.

Unique Characteristics

Forge a path through an intriguing journey as we unfold fascinating facts about Shih Tzus – truly captivating animals that start with S. Join us in shedding light on their remarkable rundown!

Common NameShih Tzu
Other Name(s)Lion Dog, Chrysanthemum Dog
Number of Species 1
Lifespan 11-16 years 
Weight 4-7 kg (9-15 lbs) 
Length 20-28 cm (8-11 inches)
Predator Larger dogs, birds of prey, wild animals in certain environments
Most Distinctive FeatureLong, flowing hair and flat face with prominent underbite


Generally speaking, Shih Tzus are not hostile toward strangers or young kids. They are an adorable dog breed that is well-known for being gregarious, sociable, and loving.

Yes, they are as hypoallergenic as dogs come, because they don’t shed much. With a Shih Tzu, people who are allergic to fur might be okay.

Shih Tzus are generally thought of as intelligent dogs, and they have even helped craftsmen and farmers in the past.

They are eager to learn new skills and are quite trainable, yet they pick up new skills far more quickly than their owners do.

Shih Tzu are known for having lively, joyful dispositions. They are gregarious and energetic.

Although they might be a nutritious supplement to a Shih Tzu diet, bananas shouldn’t take the place of a well-balanced diet.

Mudassar Ahmad

He is a seasoned blogger since 2012 and an M.Phil graduate in English Linguistics. He captivates readers with his eloquent prose and insightful perspectives. His passion for language and dedication to crafting compelling content make him a trusted voice in the online sphere. Explore the world through Ahmad's literary lens.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button

Adblock Detected

Disable your Ad Blocker to continue!