Shih Tzu

Shih Tzus are first and foremost a companion dog; they like to be out and about with their owners and fully integrated within all family activities. However, they are alert watchdogs and will not let any strange noise pass without marking it.


This breed's Chinese name, Shih Tzu Kou, means "Lion dog". Its origins are in Tibet where it enjoyed the status of a "holy dog" as far back as the seventh century. These dogs were sometimes presented to visiting foreign dignitaries, which is probably how they entered China. After the death of the empress Tzu-hsi in 1908, the breed deteriorated and the best stock was sold. Outside China there was confusion as Shih Tzus were mixed with Apsos and were given different names. The first three dogs came to Great Britain in 1930, and by 1934 Lhasa Apsos and Shih Tzus were recognized as different breeds.

Both enthusiastic and remarkably intelligent, the Shih Tzu makes a very loyal and friendly family pet.


An amusing, independent pet which fades away without human companionship, this is undoubtedly a fun dog, bouncy with a great enthusiasm for life. A very intelligent, happy companion, the loyal Shih Tzu presents no problems in the home but, craving human contact, it dislikes being left alone, so don't consider owning one if you are out at work for most of the day. It tends to be quite aloof with strangers and people it does not know well.

must know

The Shih Tzu is generally a very healthy dog. Some pinched noses can cause breathing problems, so check the puppy's parents.


A short-legged dog with a muscled body under a profuse flowing coat, sometimes trailing down to the floor, the Shih Tzu comes in any colour, but a white blaze on the forehead and tail tip is much admired in parti-colours. While the top coat is very silky, the undercoat is quite dense. Some owners keep their dogs in a "puppy clip" with the hair cut to about 5cm (2in). Dogs and bitches should not exceed 27cm (11in) high.

Strangers 4/5

Very wary, will warn vociferously

Temperament 5/5

Outgoing character with a happy nature

Exercise 2/5

A walk twice a day and plenty of play

Grooming 5/5

Gentle combing every day plus conditioning

Other dogs 3/5

Non confrontational


A flue family dog with a hint of the orient

General care

Two walks a day and playing in the garden will suffice for this game little dog. The main attraction of the breed is the magnificent coat, but do not consider taking on a Shih Tzu unless you are prepared for all the work that is needed to maintain it. The hair knots and tangles quite easily and it requires daily attention. It should be kept clean and conditioned.

Gallery of Shih Tzu