All About Shih Tzus!

shih tzu

"Anybody who doesn't know what soap tastes like never washed a dog."

-Franklin P. Jones

Shih Tzus - Bones Chart

(0 bones=Least, 5 Bones=Most)

General Breed Health
Easy Housebreaking
Low Maintenance? NO! Very high maintenance!!
Good w/Other Pets
Non Shedding

Watch Dogs Shih Tzus make great watch dogs. You can trust this breed to warn you to every new sound including knocks on the door and strange noises outside.

Size- Typically this breed from the toy group will stand no more than 8" to 11" high at the shoulders and weigh no more than 16 pounds, but this is only a general guideline. Apartment life will suit his exercise needs well, but another form of daily exercise should be provided to help stave off obesity.

People Friendly- Shih Tzus are people friendly, but all dogs should be socialized properly. Plenty of early exposure to sounds, environments and people will help to make any breed of dog a great family pet.

Trainability- Consistency in training is a must and the earlier you start, the better. Shih Tzus can be willfull when it comes to training, but don't let that scare you away. Check out our training page for lots of helpful advice on training.

Shedding-Shih Tzus are considered a non-shedding breed. This does not always mean hypoallergenic, however. If you're allergic to dogs, it's not always the dander that causes the allergic reactions. Many pet allergies come from the saliva of the animal. Be certain to test your tolerance before making the commitment to own this breed.

shih tzu, photo by samsaundersleed

Side Note: Why not consider Adopting a Shih Tzu?

With the popularity of this breed increasing, so too has the number of substandard, oppurtunistic breeders (puppy mills) fixed on taking advantage of our desire for a pure bred dog. They are over-producing inferior puppies for the sake of profit while their breeding dogs suffer unimaginably from disease and neglect... Most of the time living their ENTIRE LIVES in tiny cages.

Please learn more about how to avoid puppy mill dogs by reading our FAQ page... Then please spread the word to help put an end to them.

There is most definitely a Shih Tzu rescue group near you. Your dog could be waiting.

What You Should Know About Shih Tzus

Separation anxiety is common- Separation anxiety, to some degree, is a common trait with this breed. Destructive chewing, loud continuous barking or "accidents" on your carpet or furniture are a few of the possible symptoms. Crating a dog for long hours every day is not a solution. Check out our page on separation anxiety to learn what you can do to end these destructive behaviors.

Maintenance Needs- Regular grooming is very necessary to keep this dog's coat from becoming matted. Regular grooming is a very costly commitment that you should be aware of before owning this dog. Besides their coat, regular attention should also be given to nails, teeth, ears and pads.

Housebreaking difficulties- Small breed dogs are among the hardest to housebreak. You'll need to be very patient and probably clean up several messes in the process of housebreaking this breed. We highly recommend the positive and proven training techniques outlined on our dog training page.

Puppy Mill Prone- As we've mentioned, Shih Tzus continue to grow in popularity. Because of this, they are unfortunately a common breed in puppy mills and the suffering there is unfathomable. Rescue groups work tirelessly to save these dogs. Please consider the benefits of adopting a puppy instead of buying one. We are sure there is a Shih Tzu near you in need of your kindness.

Learn more about puppy mills by reading our FAQ page... Then please spread the word to help put an end to them.

Excitability and Behavioral Issues- As the demand increases, puppy mills focus on quantity with no regard for health or temperament. But there are ways to help ensure you get a healthy dog with a good disposition. Our FAQ page will tell you how.

Adopting an adult dog is GREAT way to ensure that you get all the breed characteristics you desire. Adult dogs come with several bonuses! Such bonuses Include: Already out of chewing phase, More likely to be housebroken and his temperament will already be established. Best of all, you will forever be his hero! Click here to learn even more reasons why adopting an adult dog is the smartest choice.

-Health Issues Related to Shih Tzus-

While not all shih tzus are unhealthy, their unique genetic make-up along with some environmental factors can make them more likely to develop any one or more of (but not limited to) the conditions listed below.

Breathing Difficulty- Some conditions which can contribute to making this problem worse are:

Cleft Palate and Stenotic Nares- Stenoic nares is a softening of the cartilage in the nasal cavity which makes it hard for a dog to inhale air. This can cause enlarging of the heart and and flattening of the chest. Symptoms include; nasal discharge, labored breathing followed by snorting and lethargy due to lack of oxygen.

This breed is heat sensitive and should never be left alone in a car. This goes for all breeds, in our humble opinion, but is especially true of any dog with a shortened muzzle.

Hypothyroidism- A condition of the thyroid gland which causes weight gain, hair loss and scaly skin.

Skin Problems- Several factors can lead to skin problems becoming more likely for shih tzus, besides hypothyroidism. On top of having thick, heavy coats, grooming is also necessary to help prevent dry skin, allergies and parasite, such as fleas and ticks.

Eye Problems- Another concern for the owners of this breed are eye problems. Dry eye, which is a lack of or inadequate tear production is one well-known issue, but cherry eye is also not uncommon with this breed. Cherry eye is easily recognizable once it happens. It is a prolapse of the gland of the third eyelid and occurs in the inner corner of one or both eyes. Treatment involves surgical repositioning of the gland.

Patellar Luxation (aka slipped stifle) is a joint condition in which kneecaps pop in and out of place. This is a common complication among many small breed dogs.

Hip Dysplasia is a developmental subluxation of the hip joints which can eventually lead to arthritis and/or lameness. It's causes are genetic as well as environmental. A secondary concern of this affliction is osteoarthritis.

The use of pet steps has been shown to significantly reduce the wear and tear on joints.

shih tzu, puppy, grass, photo by: Todd Morris

Still unsure if a Shih Tzu is the right dog for you?

If you're looking to share your home with a dog and you've got a soft spot for an animal in need, check into volunteering at a rescue... or better yet, become a foster parent for a dog in need of a temporary home. There are countless shih tzus in immediate need of someone like you who cares.

We hope you've found this page helpful in your search for your next best friend.

If you haven't done so yet, we urge you to read our FAQ page to learn how to find a reputable breeder... and why should NEVER buy a puppy from a pet store.

Check Out My Original Shih Tzu Dog Art, Garden Flags and More!

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