Shih Tzu

Life expectancy
10 - 16

If you would like to buy a Shih Tzu, then you are interested in a small breed of dog from Tibet. This dog breed is also called lion dog, because these four-legged friends are said to have a lot in common with lions. Above all, they are absolutely delightful furry friends, which are also perfectly suited for first-time dog owners and are the kind of dog that also feels absolutely comfortable in a city apartment. It is also a fact that the Shih Tzus are one of the oldest dog breeds. What this special dog breed is all about is what we would like to tell you more about in the following article.

Where exactly does the Shih Tzu come from?

It is not clear whether Tibet or the People's Republic of China is the exact country of origin of the Shih Tzus. However, legend has it that these small dogs first came to the country as a gift to the Emperor of China. Therefore Tibet is likely to be the country of origin.

The last Shih Tzu, which was given to the Empress Cixi during a ritual, is one of the reasons why this breed has not ended up extinct. While these dogs used to be found exclusively in Buddhist temples and the imperial palace, some of these four-legged creatures were smuggled out after the death of the Chinese empress in 1908. So the Shih Tzus were able to gain a foothold in the real world where it took no time for them to delight many people.

These small dogs were bred, because in the Buddhist temples they wanted to own a dog that resembled a small lion. The fascination for animals with this kind of appearance comes from the fact that according to the story, Buddha himself had a small dog that could transform into a lion and take the Buddha around the world on its back.

In the Buddhist monasteries these amazing dogs were therefore bred with great devotion and Buddhist monks were true masters in the breeding of the Shih Tzu. The temple dogs attended religious ceremonies, shared their life with the monks in the monasteries and also acted as guard dogs of the facilities.

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Alternate Name Shih-Tzu
Origin Tibet
Life expectancy 10 - 16 years
Care requirements high-maintenance
Activity level low
FCI group Tibetan breeds
AKC group Toy Group
KC group utility group

What are typical characteristics of Shih Tzus?

These dogs are very intelligent, docile and also extremely playful. In monasteries and imperial palaces these cuddly dogs always performed many tricks and conquered every hearts by storm. They are considered to be beginner's dogs and are very popular with elderly people and families.

Shih Tzus are also:

  • loving and
  • trusting
  • affectionate, but also
  • stubborn

Therefore a consistent education is also necessary with this small dog breed. It is advisable to attend a dog school with a Shih Tzu puppy as well and to socialise the small animals well from the beginning.

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What are typical diseases of Shih Tzus?

Shih Tzus often suffer from eye infections. These can be avoided to a great extent if the hairs of the animals do not hang into their eyes all of the time. To avoid inflammation of the skin, the coat must be brushed and combed regularly. Otherwise the coat can quickly become matted. Ticks and other insects also like to hide in their dense undercoat after a walk. This should also be checked and groomed daily.

Shih Tzus can also suffer from knee problems and patella luxations. Many Shih Tzus suffer from breathing problems. This is due to the fact that the noses of the animals are getting shorter and shorter. Also the so-called backward sneezing occurs frequently in this breed. This is caused by their soft palate being too long.

What should be considered in regards to the breeding of Shih Tzus?

In general, only experienced and certified breeders should breed dogs. Anything else would be a multiplication and getting a dog from a multiplier is strongly discouraged. Trust in a good Shih Tzu breeding. Your money is well invested, if you think about the possible costs at the vet. A Shih Tzu puppy costs about 900-1200 Euros.

A responsible breeder only mates healthy parents. Both male and female dogs should be examined for all genetic defects before they are admitted and only healthy dogs should be mated with each other. A fresh bloodline should also be paid attention to, because many diseases can arise from inbreeding otherwise.

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Their long mane is of course the ultimate breed characteristic of this dog breed. Especially in summer the coat of these four-legged friends is often cut short. Typical for Shi Tzus is also to put a bow on top of their heads, which prevents their long hair from hanging over the eyes of these four-legged friends.

Shih Tzus do not only have a lush top coat, but also their undercoat is very dense. Therefore, regular grooming is absolutely necessary when keeping these dogs.

Look and coat of the Shih Tzu

Shih Tzus have a very compact physique. Their delightful hanging ears are mostly covered by their mane. These dogs are well coated across the whole body. The Shih Tzu can have many coat colours. The animal can be either unicoloured, multicoloured or spotted.

What size can a Shih Tzu reach?

This dog breed reaches a maximum size of 27 cm. As a general rule, that also applies to these dogs, the males can get somewhat larger and heavier than bitches.

How much does a Shih Tzu weigh?

The Shih Tzu reaches a weight of 4.5 kg to a maximum of 8 kg. Bigger males are of course a bit heavier than petite bitches. Since these dogs are very charming and also like to beg for food, there is a high risk that their owners are too generous with treats. But you are not doing your Shih Tzu any good with that. Please pay attention to a balanced diet and sufficient exercise with these little dogs.

How old can a Shih Tzu get?

If kept in a species-appropriate way, given they are fed a healthy diet and the Shih Tzu comes from a responsible breeding, this dog can reach an age of 12 to 16 years. Therefore, it is also important that you put your trust into a good Shih Tzu breeder.

Fur length medium
Fur flat coated
Ear shape Floppy Ear
Tail rolled up
Anatomy rugged
Size ♀ 20 - 28 cm
Weight ♀ 4 - 7 kg
Size ♂ 20 - 28 cm
Weight ♂ 4 - 7 kg
Suitable For Beginner, Seniors


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  • Eye infections

    Chronic eye infections can be very painful in dogs and can be treated with medication. In rare cases, the cornea must be treated.

  • Breathing problems

    Dogs with shortened muzzles can often experience respiratory problems.

  • Patellar luxation

    Patellar luxation is the term used to describe a displacement of the kneecap, which is one of the most common causes of lameness in dogs.

  • Knee injuries

    Some breeds, unfortunately, especially suffer from knee injuries of various kinds.

  • The dog costs about 2000 Euro - depending on the colouring and if it is sold with or without papers.

  • Yes, the dog can be left alone if it has been taught to do so. A lot of training is needed.

  • The Shih Tzu does not go through a coat change and therefore it sheds very little.

  • On average 5-12 times a year you should go to the groomer with your dog.

Sources and relevant links

Offizielle Seite des FCI

Accessed on 30.01.2023

American Kennel Club

Accessed on 30.01.2023

Gabriele Lehari (2004). Ulmers Großes Lexikon der Hunderassen. Ulmer.

Alex Seymour (2014). Shih Tzu Dogs. CWP Publishing.


Accessed on 01.02.2023

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