Shih Tzu Information


Long recognized as a cherished breed in China, the Shih Tzu has been the dog of choice for everyone from royalty to everyday people. Long flowing coats, along with a sweet and playful arrogance, make the Shih Tzu truly one-of-a-kind.

Whether owned as a show dog or a family pet, the Shih Tzu is a breed that will bring excitement and contentment to any owner's life. A dog that can win Best in Show or a child's heart with its devotion, the Shih Tzu has proven to be a great choice as man's best friend for thousands of years, and will continue to do so for many more years.

Shih Tzu
Basic Info
NameShih Tzu
Other NameChrysanthemum Dog, Chinese Lion Dog
Size Type Small Dog Breeds
Breed Group Toy Dog Breeds
Life Span10-15 Years
TemperamentActive, Playful, Happy, Intelligent, Social, Alert, Spunky, Outgoing, Friendly
HeightFemale: 7.9–11 inches Male: 7.9–11 inches
WeightFemale: 8.8–16.0 lbs Male: 8.8–16.0 lbs
ColorsLiver, Brindle, Blue, Black & White, Liver & White, Black, White, Gold, Brown
Puppy Price$600-$1200

Shih Tzu

Physical description

Body Type

Considered to be a small yet compact dog, the Shih Tzu is a toy breed offering large dark eyes and a short muzzle. Offering a long, soft double coat as one its most striking features, they stand just under one foot tall with an average weight of 12-14 pounds. Ears that drop down are often covered with long fur, as is the tail that curls over the back. Usually a bit longer than they are tall, the breed is known to carry itself with an air of distinction. As with many dogs of similar build, the Shih Tzu has a distinctive under-bite that adds to its character. The American Kennel Club offers a number of physical requirements for the Shih Tzu including frontal shoulders, muscular hindquarters, large eyes that face the front and a standard head looked upon as big and round, with the face looking forward or up.


The breed comes in a variety of colors and markings. White is a standard color, with other colors including brown, gold, red and even blue also available. Many are tricolored, with such combinations as white, black and grey or liver, white and grey. The less common yet very desired version of the breed is the solid blue Shih Tzu, which can be difficult to find and can cost much more than a standard version. Common markings of the breed include white, tan, black and a black mask.


The Shih Tzu's coat is one of its most striking features. Silky and straight, it flows effortlessly and reaches the floor. Known for having very fast-growing hair, the coat is left in its natural state for show dogs. However, for most others the coat is clipped to make it easier to manage.

Good with Kids
Cat Friendly
Dog Friendly
Hypoallergenic  Yes


One distinctive feature of the breed is its lack of shedding. Most Shih Tzu lose little hair except when bathed or brushed. While some refer to them as being hypoallergenic, evidence had been inconclusive as to these claims. Because of the high-maintenance needed for their grooming and the cost involved in doing so, those thinking of owning a Shih Tzu should take that into consideration before having one as a pet or show dog. 


The history of the Shih Tzu offers a fascinating tale spanning from the Ming Dynasty to World War II and beyond. With a name meaning "lion dog," the Shih Tzu is sweet and playful, yet displays a courage to defend itself and its owner that is as big as any dog possesses.

Genetically linked to wolves, the breed originated in 800 B.C. in Ancient China during the Ming Dynasty, and can be seen in numerous paintings from the era. They found their way to Europe in 1930, first appearing in England and Norway before spreading throughout the continent. The United States discovered the breed after World War II, when returning soldiers brought them back home. Recognized as an official toy breed by the American Kennel Club in 1969, the breed has since gone on to become one of the most sought-after in North America.


The temperament of the Shih Tzu is generally very friendly and outgoing. A breed that needs to be socialized at a young age to instill the discipline of obeying basic commands, it's one of the most loyal, affectionate and alert breeds available. Not known as a guard dog by nature, it nevertheless will alert its owner at the first sign of trouble. They interact very well with other dogs as well as kids, and can be a great family dog. A companion that likes to be close to its owner, they have been known to become clingy and cry often after their owner if not trained as puppies. Overall, a Shih Tzu can be a faithful companion throughout its lifespan, which averages anywhere from 10-20 years.

Interesting Shih Tzu Facts

  • It's called the "Chrysanthemum-faced Dog" due to the way their facial hair grows
  • They were typical house pets for Chinese royalty
  • Many Buddhists believe in an association between the breed and their Deity
  • Also called the "Xi Shi" dog after a beautiful woman of Ancient China