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Shih Tzu

See Recommended Dog Foods For Shih Tzu

Size: Small

Weight: 9 - 16 lbs.

Height: 9" - 10.5"

Life Span: 10 - 18 years

Health Problems: Kidney problems; eye problems; hemophilia; kneecap slippage; hip dysplasia; ear infections. Avoid overfeeding; may gain weight. Prone to snoring and wheezing. Dental hygiene is important or tooth loss can occur. Genetic problems due to mass breeding can occur. Sensitive to heat.

Origin: Tibet

Also Known As: Chrysanthemum Dog

Group: Toy Breed

Category: Companion Dog, Watchdog

Exercise Needs

Shih Tzus require little exercise - one or two walks per day. The ideal environment for this breed is a small yard. Shih Tzus can become lazy if not exercised. Shih Tzus tend to make good apartment dogs, but do not do well in hot temperatures. This breed may be destructive if left alone for long periods of time.

Grooming Needs

The Shih Tzu requires extensive grooming because the long, fine dense coat needs daily brushing. However, this breed is a minimal shedding one. Bathe once a month. Professional grooming may be needed. Keep eyes and ears clean.


The Shih Tzu is active, alert, stubborn, dignified and arrogant. This breed can be snappish, difficult to house-train and needs plenty of attention. Under all that hair, Shis Tzus are actually very muscular. They are outstanding agility dogs and have been known to win agility competitions.

Compatibility with Kids

Can be jealous of small children or babies. Good with older, careful kids.


Where Did Shih Tzus Come From?

The breed has existed for several centuries. It is believed that Tibetan monks bred the first dogs as companions and to be given as gifts to visiting royalty. The breed is most likely the result of crosses between two even older Tibetan breeds, the Lhaso Apso and the Pekingese. Shih Tzus were known as Tibetan Lion Dogs because it was thought that the Tibetan God of Learning traveled with a small lion dog that could transform into an actual lion. For hundreds of years, this dog was a companion of royalty. The breed was nearly lost in the early 1900s during the Chinese Communist Revolution. Dowager Empress Tzu Hsi died in 1908 and her breeding program for Shih Tzus, Pekinese and Pugs was affected making it difficult to find dogs. Today, all Shih Tzus are related to the seven male and seven female dogs that rebuilt the breed. They remained at the palace until the late 1930s when breed clubs were set up in Peking and England. American soldiers brought the dogs home with them after WWII. In 1969, the breed became a part of the American Kennel Club.

Shih Tzus were mentioned in documents and seen in different paintings from Ancient China and Tibet dating as far back as 624 A.D. Many believe the breed developed by crossing miniature Chinese breeds with small Tibetan breeds such as the Lhasa Apso and Pekingese. The Shih Tzu was popular with royalty during both the Tang Dynasty (618 to 907 A.D.) and the Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644 A.D). In the mid-1600s small dogs resembling lions were brought from Tibet to China and were used to develop the Shih Tzu breed we know and love today.

After the Ming Dynasty, the Shih Tzu was favored by the Dowager Empress Cixi, a powerful and charismatic woman who controlled the Manchu Qing Dynasty in China for 47 years. She kept an important kennel of miniature breeds, including Pugs, Pekingese and Shih Tzus. After her death, in the early 1900s, the dogs were dispersed and the Shih Tzu breed became rare. During the Chinese Communist Revolution, Shih Tzus almost became extinct. Luckily, several breed lovers kept their Shih Tzus and bred them. It is thought that only seven males and seven females are the foundation of all modern Shih Tzus.

By the 1930s, many Shih Tzus had been brought to England. There, the breed was first classified as "Apsos;" however, the England Kennel Club soon ruled Lhasa Apsos and Shih Tzus were separate breeds. The Shih Tzu Club of England was finally formed in 1935.

During World War II, American soldiers became fond of this breed and brought some back to the United States. The Shih Tzu was recognized by the American Kennel Club and began competing in the Toy Group in 1969.

The modern Shih Tzu is a companion dog exhibiting a confident and dignified personality. It is friendly, affectionate and trusting towards family and strangers alike.

Pet Facts

The hair on a Shih Tzu's face grows in all directions, hence it's known as the "Chrysanthemum-faced dog."

Colors are black and white, grey and white, or tan and white.

Shih Tzus are popular with many dog lovers, including celebrities. Famous pet parents include Nicole Richie, Mariah Carey, Beyoncé, Colin Farell, Bill Gates, and Queen Elizabeth II.

Best Dog Food for Your Shih Tzu

Puppy, Diet, Senior & Sensitive Stomach Formulas

Small Breed Puppy 6 lb. Front Counter

Small Breed Puppy

For the care and nutrition of Small Breed Puppies.

Small Breed Adult 6 lb. Front Counter

Small Breed Adult

Carefully formulated for the care and nutrition of small breed dogs.

Small Breed Senior 6lb. Front Counter

Small Breed Senior

Helps support the lifelong health of small breed senior dogs.

Bil-Jac Picky No More Small Breed Dog Food package front on countertop

Picky No More™ Small Breed

Created to please even the pickiest of small breed dogs. 

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