The Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu  is one of the most popular dog breeds in the United States and in many other countries. They have a regal appearance but are actually quite playful and sweet. The Shih Tzu is a very old breed and was kept by Chinese emperors over a thousand years ago.


The Shih Tzu is thought to have been created by breeding the Pekingese to the Lhasa Apso or the Tibetan mountain dog more than a thousand years ago. It is a very old breed. The breed was very popular during the Ming Dynasty in China and royals in China continued to breed these beautiful dogs up until the end of the Imperial era. The Dowager Empress kept a kennel that included Shih Tzu but, after her death in 1908, the dogs in the kennel were spread around and breeding of the dogs mostly stopped. The breed almost became extinct following the Communist Revolution in China. During World War II British soldiers discovered the dogs in the Imperial Palace and brought some of them back to England.


The Shih Tzu is a playful, sweet dog. However, he is quite brave and he can look after himself. With his gorgeous long, flowing coat and his high head carriage, the Shih Tzu often looks quite arrogant, but these are lovable dogs. They are trusting and friendly. In the home they are alert and lively. They make wonderful apartment dogs and they usually get along well with other dogs and pets.

Shih Tzu Care

Shih Tzus are small dogs. They usually stand 8 to 11 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh 9 to 16 pounds. Because of their small size they do have some special needs. Like many small dogs, you should feed your Shih Tzu several small meals per day instead of one large meal. They will feel the effects or cold or heat sooner than a large dog would, so you should always be careful of temperatures with your Shih Tzu. Small dogs such as the Shih Tzu will also get tired easily. They don’t require much exercise.

This breed has a beautiful coat that is much-admired but it does require brushing every day. Use a good shampoo and conditioner to bathe your dog at least once a month. Clean the dog’s ears once a week to avoid ear infections. Shih Tzus can have tear staining below the eyes so you should gently wipe the area under the eyes regularly to prevent any staining. Be sure to trim your dog’s nails each week, too.

How to Care for Shih Tzu Puppies

As with other small breeds, it’s best to wait to take your Shih Tzu puppy home with you until he’s about 12 weeks old. If you take the puppy home when he’s too young he can suffer from serious health problems. Most small breed puppies are a little slower to grow and develop than large breed puppies due to their small size.

Shih Tzu puppies and other small breed puppies can be hard to house train. You can use puppy training pads to teach your puppy where he should potty, whether you train him to potty in the house or take him outside. Remember to praise your puppy and give him a reward when he relieves himself where you want him to go. Be patient when you are house training your puppy. Harsh methods will backfire.

Your Shih Tzu puppy should start getting his vaccinations when he is about six weeks old so he should already have some of them before he comes to live with you. You should continue his vaccinations when you bring him to live with you. It is usually recommended to keep giving puppies vaccinations for diseases such as parvo and distemper until they are about 16 weeks old. Be sure to vaccinate your puppy for rabies, too. This is required by law in all 50 states in the U.S. and many other countries. Your puppy will need booster shots when he is a year old. After that, you can usually get shots every two or three years, except for rabies. Ask your vet how often rabies shots are required in your area. Some places require annual rabies shots while other places allow you to get a rabies vaccination every three years.

It’s important to socialize your Shih Tzu puppy when he’s young. Take him places with you so he can meet friendly people who will pet him. Consider signing up for a puppy preschool or puppy kindergarten class so he can socialize with other puppies and learn some basic good manners. Dogs that are properly socialized when they are young will have fewer behavior problems later in life. They are less likely to be fearful or have problems with separation anxiety, for example.


The Shih Tzu is a very popular breed with a lively, playful personality. Their beautiful long, flowing coat needs regular brushing and bathing. These are friendly dogs who usually get along well with everyone. Vaccinate your Shih Tzu puppy for common diseases and socialize him to build his confidence when he’s young.

My Shih Tzu in baggage.