The Shih Tzu is a toy dog breed that originated in China. Also known as Chrysanthemum Dogs or Lion Dogs, these little charmers have now spread all across the globe. Read on to learn everything you ever wanted to know about this adorable breed.

What’s in a Name? Shitzu, Shihtzu, Shih-Tzu Breed?

As the name comes from Mandarin, there are different ways of transliterating the name into our alphabet, hence all of the different spellings! Shih Tzu is the most common spelling, however, and the one used by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

The Appearance of the Imperial Shih Tzu Dogs 

Though small, this breed is surprisingly solid and sturdy. These dogs are famed for their amazingly long, silky coats that come in a variety of colors. Their drop ears and curled tails are also covered in long fur. They have short, snub noses (brachycephalic head shape), an underbite and large dark eyes, giving them a “teddy bear” appearance.

Average Weight and Size 

The average size is 7.9 to 11 inches (20 to 28cm) for both males and females. The breed’s average weight is 8.8 to 16 pounds (4 to 7.25 kg) for both sexes.

Adorable Teacup Shih Tzu Puppy!

There is only one official variety of this pup, according to the AKC breed standard. Some breeders will market Toy, Miniature, or Imperial Shih-Tzu puppies, which will typically fall just under the recognized breed weight at 7 to 8 pounds. Take care though, as a dog bred under this weight is likely to be very unhealthy.

Black, Brindle, Brown, and More: The Many Coat Colors of these Doggos!

These beautiful show dogs come in a wide variety of colors, most of which are shades of shades of white, black, brown and gold, plus patterns and combinations of these colors, all of which are permitted under the breed standard.

Black and White Shih Tzu

This is a very commonly seen color combination for this breed. It can either be white with patches of black, or vice versa.

White Shih Tzu 

While pure white Shih Tzu dogs do exist, they are quite rare, as the white gene is recessive.

Black Shih Tzu 

Dogs of this breed with pure black coats will usually have a distinctive sheen to their fur.

Brindle Shih Tzu 

Brindle is a striped pattern of many shades of black, brown and gold. It can either be seen alone or with white patches.

How to Achieve The Grooming Level: Expert!

These dogs do not shed their fur like other dogs, and will only lose fur when brushed. As such, they need a great deal of grooming and frequent trims to keep their silky double coats looking their best.

You can either take your dog to a professional dog groomer (though be prepared for the expense!) or try doing it yourself.

The Pup with the New Fresh Look: Shih Tzu Haircuts!

To trim your dog’s hair yourself, you’ll need to make sure you have the right kit! This includes a suitable dog brush, gentle dog shampoo, sharp scissors, electric clippers, and a steady hand.

Show dogs tend to keep their coats long and straight, with the top section tied up on top of the head with a dog bow. They tend to have shorter coats to allow for ease of movement, called a “puppy trim”.

Allergies Be Gone! Shih Tzu: Hypoallergenic Dogs Are the Best!

As these dogs do not shed, they are classed among hypoallergenic dog breeds for people with fur allergies.

However, the breed will still produce dander and saliva, which can trigger allergies for some people. Anyone with allergies hoping to get a Shih Tzu should meet and spend time with these dogs in advance to see if they trigger allergies.

Adding This Pup to the Mix! The Top Mixed Breeds!

This breed can be crossed with other breeds into “designer dogs,” often with specific aims to change size, temperament, or appearance. Before we look at some of these adorable crossbreeds, here’s a note on responsible puppy shopping.

The rise in designer dogs has unfortunately led to a rise in irresponsible breeding and puppy farming. These breeders will cross dogs without doing the relevant health checks, as well as over-breeding them.

Not only is this practice cruel, but it can also result in unhealthy puppies with bad temperaments. Always buy from a registered breeder, and ask to meet the parents, as well as seeing where the puppy was born and raised.

Maltese Shih Tzu

Also known as a Mal-Shi, these dogs are low-shed with a good temperament.

Shih Tzu Poodle Mix 

The amusingly named Shi-Poo is also hypoallergenic, though may inherit a stubborn streak from the Poodle side.

Shih Tzu Chihuahua Mix

Nicknamed the Shichi, this mix produces a tiny dog with a big personality; that sass from Chihuahua sticks!

Other Mixes!

Shih Tzu Terrier Mix

Tzus can be crossed with all sorts of Terriers, resulting in many different little dogs. Boston Terriers, Cairn Terriers, and Toy Fox Terriers are all popular options.

Shih Tzu Yorkie Mix

Though the name Shorkie-Zu may be a little far-fetched, this cross produces a sweet little dog that takes more after its Yorkie side.

Lhasa Apso Shih Tzu Mix

This mix (also known as a Shih Apso) can be a little more reserved, due to the shy nature of the Lhasa Apso.

Bichon Shih Tzu Mix

Some people describe the “Shichon” as the best miniature designer breed, thanks to this crossbreed’s sweet temperament and teddy bear looks.

Shih Tzu Pomeranian Mix

The Shiranian, as it is known, is likely to be a playful, energetic little dog.

The Ultimate Cuddle Bugs: Shih Tzu Temperament and Personality

The breed standard calls for a sweet-natured, outgoing and affectionate temperament. Dogs from responsible breeders should follow this standard, as they will breed for temperament as well as looks. The same cannot be said for puppy-farmed or pet store dogs.

How Long do They Live? Shih Tzu Life span! 

The typical lifespan for these dogs is 13 to 16 years.

As with other brachycephalic breeds, these dogs can face respiratory issues (known as brachycephalic syndrome), as well as other health problems common to toy breeds, including hip dysplasia and Von Willebrand’s disease.

4 Facts You Didn’t Know About This Breed

  1. These dogs were once the lapdogs of Chinese emperors and were unknown to the outside world until the 1930s.
  2. They are popular pets for many celebrities, from Beyonce and Miley Cyrus to Queen Elizabeth II.
  3. This breed is thought to be more than 1,000 years old!
  4. The name Shih Tzu means “little lion” in Mandarin.

Shih Tzu Puppies for Sale!

The AKC keeps a directory of registered, reputable breeders. This is a great place to start your search for Shih Tzu puppies for sale.

Expect to pay $700 to $900 for a purebred puppy, and up to $1,200 for a champion bloodline.

Adopt, Don’t Shop! Ask an Animal Shelter About Shih Tzu Rescues! 

The American Shih Tzu club helps with Shih Tzu rescue.