Shih Tzu: dog breed appearance, character, training, care, health

Among all the characteristics of the shih tzu, its beauty, robustness and elegance stand out. A pet that has a fun, cheerful and jovial character. At Petlifey, we explain everything about the shih tzu dog breed.

Shih tzu character

The shih tzu dog, due to its spectacular beauty and its jovial, cheerful and funny character, although with a strong temperament, has now become one of the favourites by those families who are looking for a good companion dog, so it can be find in any corner of the planet.

With an alert and active demeanor, happy, resistant and with a solid, but sweet and mischievous character, this dog is an extraordinarily sociable animal that makes friends very easily.

For example, its relationship with other dogs is quite good, although it always likes to lead the way and as it is a leader at times, this excessive dominance can cause them some problems or confrontations, which it will never look for but those who, if it dan, it will not shy away either, for it is brave and determined.

Also with children its relationship is good, since it becomes an excellent accomplice of their games and adventures, but, again, sometimes problems can arise if it tries to impose its will and wants children or other humans to do what it does wants.

In any case, the ideal family for a Shih Tzu is one that has enough time to spend most of the day with your dog, whatever its level and style of activity.

Because if something must be taken into account when considering the possibility of acquiring a copy of this breed, it is how badly loneliness can endure; It cannot tolerate spending many hours a day without the company of its family.

In that case, it can develop serious separation anxiety disorders and become a surly, overprotective and noisy animal, all of which are quite far from the ideal prototype of the breed.

Likewise, this dog also stands out for being an excellent guard dog that warns of any unexpected presence, although, due to its small size, it cannot be trusted with the defence and protection of the house.

Not because the animal is not able to face any intruder or danger, which it does, because it is brave and does not shy away from confrontation if the situation arises, but because in those cases it has everything to lose. However, it does not stand out for being a quarrelsome dog.

  • Energy: high. It is a very active, energetic and vigorous animal that needs to do a lot of exercise on a daily basis. It must be busy with something.
  • Temperament: with a strong and somewhat dominant character, it is an independent, cheerful, jovial, mischievous and alert animal. Calm and balanced, it is brave.
  • Adaptability: adapts to living in any environment, but does not support loneliness.
  • Sociability: it adores its family and is very sociable with children and other dogs, but warns of the arrival of strangers.
  • Health: it is very healthy.
  • Longevity: very high. It usually exceeds 15 years.
  • Utility: company. It was originally a guard dog, a task that it can still perform perfectly, but today it stands out above all as a companion animal.
  • Use: companion dog.

Shih tzu characteristics

This breed of dog is very peculiar. Among the characteristics of the shih tzu, it should be noted that it is a small but vigorous dog, with a haughty bearing and elegant lines, which is profusely covered with beautiful long and straight hair.

Its body structure, rectangular in shape, has a straight and broad back, but is hidden under a profuse and long fur that covers it from head to toe. Its bearing is haughty and elegant.

Always keep your head upright. It is wide and rounded, but it appears longer because the hair on the skull and that which rises from the nose is usually gathered in a high pompadour.

Their eyes are large, round and usually dark, they have a loving and tender look. If the hair that falls from the forehead is not collected, they are completely camouflaged behind it.

The ears are set slightly below the crown, they are long and hanging. They are covered in such a dense hair that they seem to blend into the fur on the neck.

Their feet are rounded in shape and covered with abundant hair, which makes them appear larger than they are. They have thick foot pads.

Regarding its tail, it is set high and the dog carries it raised and perched on its back. An abundant fringe of long, straight hair covers her completely.

The shih tzu’s hair is long, abundant and with a dense undercoat, it is usually straight, but sometimes it has a slight wave. Very varied in color, some specimens have white streaks on the forehead and the tip of the tail.

Let’s now see in more detail what the shih tzu is like and the breed standard:

Shih tzu breed standard

  • General appearance: it is a small but vigorous and robust dog, with a haughty and elegant demeanour.
  • Size: miniature or toy.
  • Height at the withers: 27 cm maximum, both males and females.
  • Weight: between 4.5 and 8 kg for both the male and the female.
  • Origin: Tibet / United Kingdom Patronage.
  • Body: it is long and rectangular in structure, since the length of the body measured from the region of the withers to the birth of the tail is greater than the height at the withers of the dog.
  • Head: broad and rather round, it is covered with very abundant hair that is dishevelled and falling over the eyes. It also has a well-bushy beard and mustache, and, furthermore, as the hair on its nose grows upwards, all this gives them a very characteristic appearance reminiscent of a chrysanthemum.
  • Skull: has rounded shapes.
  • Muzzle: it is short, wide, square and flat, and the muzzle is straight or slightly inclined upwards at the tip. It does not present wrinkles, it is covered with hair and its pigmentation is uniform. Its lips are firm.
  • Nose: it has wide and open nostrils, and it usually appears pigmented in black, but on occasions it can be dark liver in color, especially in those specimens that have all the fur of this color, or that present spots of this tonality. The upper part of the nose is on the same line or slightly below the edge of the eye.
  • Eyes: they have a rounded shape, they are large and they are quite separated from each other, without being bulging. They are dark, but specimens with liver-colored fur, or liver spots, may have a lighter pigmented iris. Its expression is very sweet and affectionate.
  • Ears: they are large and hanging, with a long pinna. Their insertion area is slightly below the crown of the skull and they are covered with dense hair, which creates the impression that they blend into the fur on the neck.
  • Nose-frontal depression (stop): it is well defined.
  • Jaws: the mouth is wide and has a pincer bite or with a slight undershot.
  • Neck: well proportioned and delicately arched, long enough to allow the animal to carry its head raised haughtily.
  • Chest: it is wide and deep.
  • Back: straight and with a well attached and robust loin.
  • Forelimbs: they are short and muscular, according to the thorax of the animal, which is wide and deep. Its shoulders are firm, they are well leaning back. In the forearms and arms it has strong and straight bones.
  • Hind limbs: they are short, strong and with broad bones. Seen from behind they are straight and thanks to the abundance of hair their appearance is voluminous. Well rounded and muscular thighs can be seen on its legs.
  • Feet: they are rounded, robust and firm, they have thick foot pads. They are covered with such abundant hair that they appear larger than they really are.
  • Tail: it is set high, in general the dog carries it happily on its back, and it is quite common for it to reach the same height as the skull, so that it gives the figure of the dog a very balanced profile. abundant hair in the form of fringes.
  • Color: the shih tzu can show practically any color in its coat , either in a uniform tone, or in a multicolored combination. And in many specimens with various colors there is a white tuft on the forehead and another on the tip of the tail.
  • Hair: the coat is very abundant and thick, it is long and smooth, although sometimes it presents a slight wave that does not become a curl. The hair on the head is often collected in one or several ponytails, to avoid hiding the eyes and making it difficult for them to see.
  • Movement: the advance of this dog is harmonious, easy-going and haughty, as the forelimbs are directed well forward and the hindlimbs provide a strong impulse.
  • FCI Classification: FCI No. 208. Group 9 – Companion Dogs. Section 5 – Tibetan dogs.

Shih tzu puppies

If you are looking for information on the shih tzu, it may be because you are considering the possibility of adopting or buying a shih tzu puppy.

If that is the case, we believe that there are a series of considerations that we believe you should know before making the final decision.

The puppies shih tzu are very playful and almost hyperactive. Therefore, you should play with them and be patient if small “accidents” occur in your home.

Since in their first months of life the little ones are very active, mischievous and curious, it is convenient to keep them entertained and to monitor them almost constantly.

In the same way, despite not being one of the most patient races with children, it can participate in their games and follow them in all their activities and mischief.

The coat of puppies is very different from that of adults, who acquire their long and beautiful coat around 10 or 12 months of age.

Despite its fragile and delicate appearance, the shih tzu is a robust, strong and very energetic dog that loves to exercise outdoors. Therefore you must take it out for a walk several times a day.

On the other hand, if you buy the puppy from a Shih Tzu breeder, make sure it is a serious and responsible one. Ask them all the questions you have and look for opinions about them on the internet or in a breed club .

Shih tzu education and training

As for how to educate a Shih Tzu, it is very important to subject the animal in its first months of life to a deep socialization process and a firm and stable training.

Constantly stimulating it, so that the dog always finds some activity or work in which to occupy its hyperactive mind without the need for them to want to take the initiative.

However, due to its joviality and intelligence, this breed responds very well to training provided it is properly motivated, so it can be a good choice for almost any type of owner and is a perfect introduction to the canine world for inexperienced owners.

Despite its size and extraordinary coat, the shih tzu is an active dog that needs a lot of exercise. Leash walks are essential, but it should also be allowed to run freely in a confined and safe place, and enrolled in other types of sports activities such as agility or obedience.

In this sense, it is an excellent dog for sedentary and elderly people, since it forces them to go out, do a little exercise and interact with other people. And in addition, it can be made to participate in dog shows, since it is a very beautiful animal.

Shih tzu breed diet

Regarding how to feed a shih tzu, you should know that like the great maria of canine breed, it can easily gain weight if you do not do the adequate amount of daily exercise or we overfeed it.

The best advice for its owner is to keep the animal at its ideal weight by subjecting it to the appropriate doses of exercise for its age and condition, and using a balanced and healthy dog ​​food, rich in essential nutrients and with the appropriate proportion of fatty acids. essentials and proteins.

Luckily, at present, the main manufacturers have food for dogs of this breed on the market. It is not difficult to buy it in specialized pet stores, or more comfortably online.

Shih tzu health and diseases

The Shih Tzu is an active and basically healthy breed, its longevity is well above average, and it is similar to that of other Tibetan dogs, that is, it is easy to see specimens that are over 15 years of age without any problem.

However, there are some typical conditions or diseases of the breed, which occur in it with some regularity and which are often due to its special morphology and size.

For example, being a small dog, cases of knee dislocation are frequent, and since it has a long back and short legs, sometimes there are some spinal problems, especially herniated discs.

On the other hand, the eyes are also one of its weaknesses, since they are exposed to some conditions such as cataractsretinal atrophy or eyelid problems; Sometimes they lose teeth prematurely, and some specimens snore or suffer from respiratory problems, especially if they live in areas with extreme climates or if they are obese.

Obesity is precisely one of the most important and widespread illnesses among all dog breeds, and it also affects the Shih Tzu with a high incidence, since its owners often forget that, despite being a companion dog, this dog needs get plenty of exercise every day to stay physically fit and mentally balanced.

As in all breeds, the most appropriate health strategy is to act preventively by going regularly to the veterinarian so that it can monitor the condition of the animal (mouth, hair, ears, weight …) and administer the necessary vaccinations and deworming, In this way, its owner will be able to enjoy a healthy, strong, active, cheerful, happy pet for many years, willing to accompany its family in any adventure that it undertakes.

Specific care of the Shih tzu breed

Regarding how to take care of a shih tzu and the typical arrangement of the breed, this dog has a long, rich, abundant and beautiful coat that is very characteristic, and although the good condition of this coat depends in part on genetic inheritance, daily care that its owners give it are the main responsible for making it look healthy, bright and spectacular.

Shih tzu breed arrangement


The basic and most important routine in the daily maintenance of the shih tzu’s hair is brushing its coat.

This must be carried out as often as possible to avoid the formation of knots, and it is especially important during the melting season, since it is then that the danger of tangles and knots increases exponentially.

This tendency to knot is also influenced by the different texture of the coat, since it is much easier for it to occur in the silkiest of coats.

Brushing should be done using a natural bristle brush, which can be combined with soft metal bristles, and proceed by opening the hair by hand and working from the roots to the ends. And if the undercoat is very dense it may be necessary to use a rake-type tool.

It is very important to thoroughly brush the areas that have the greatest contact with moisture and dirt, such as legs, feet and hands, beards, fringes and the belly area.

Mustaches and beards, being an area of ​​great contact with saliva and water, tend to stain and oxidize. For this reason, after thoroughly combing them, it should be applied with a talcum brush, cornflour or some special drying product that removes moisture and finishes drying them with a small dryer, combing them and giving them volume.


Only proceed to the bath when the animal is well brushed and it is certain that there is no knot left, because if not the situation can be greatly aggravated, since with the water the hair becomes caked and then the cut or cut becomes inevitable. the shearing of the mantle.

To lather the animal, you should use a shampoo suitable for the type of hair, trying not to alter its texture, and then it is very important to rinse it thoroughly, ensuring that no soap remains.

Once well rinsed, as the shih tzu can accumulate a lot of water in the undercoat, thus increasing the creation of knots, you must first remove all the excess water with the help of your hands and then dry it well with a powerful air ejector or a good hair dryer, while brushing it with a soft brush and a metal bristle comb.


The most important part of the grooming of this breed is the face and head, since this is where a large part of its beauty and typicality reside.

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