The Popular Shih Tzu
'Chrysanthemum Dog'

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Shih Tzu
Chrysanthemum Dog/Lion Dog
Weight: 9 — 16 lbs
Height: 8” — 11”
AKC Rank 2008 #10
Lifespan: 14—16 yrs
Group Toy
Origin China and Tibet

Dog breed info - The Shih Tzu

"Hey! This IS my nap time!
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Breed Overview

The original function of the this guy was that of a lap dog. Today, his purpose is to be a lap and companion dog. This breed probably originated in Tibet, as early as the seventh century where it was the statue as a “holy dog.”

The Shih Tzu, as it is known today, developed most distinctly in China during the reign of the Dowager Cixi 1861— 1908. In 1935 it was exhibited as a Lhasa Lion Dog: by that time it was becoming very popular.

A similar state of confusion existed in England, where a Lhasa Apso and Shih Tzu were both lumped together as the Apso (meaning “shaggy”) In 1934, soon after the Apso was first shown, it was divided into two separate breeds with the wider, smaller-skulled, shorter-nosed dogs from Peking dubbed Lion Dog, their colloquial Chinese name.

The Shih Tzu came to the USA after WWII. They come in numerous colors. White is most common around here.


Difficult to train. The breed is intelligent but has a mind of his own. Be patient and repeat the commands over and over. Stop by your pet store and get a CLICKER. clicker training works with difficult dogs better than anything I know of. Give it a try. A clicker only costs around $3.

Crate Training

Want to crate train your Shih Tzu? It's easy and if you're interested, take a look and you'll see what to do. Crate training your puppy will save many headaches and problems.

Potty Training

The Shih Tzu puppy can, in some cases, be difficult to house train, potty train, toilet train, housebreak or whatever you want to call it. If you have a puppy, decide if you want to crate or paper potty train it. For the best results, we have a page at Crate vs Paper Potty Training which will help you decide and from there you can get all the information you need to get the job done. Always praise the pup profusely when she goes potty in the RIGHT PLACE so she knows she has done a good thing. Either method will work for this breed.

If you have an older dog, take the dog outside every two hours until she gets the idea which door leads to her potty area. Older dogs catch on to the potty or housebreaking pretty fast once they are shown what to do.

What? You called ME?

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Sweet, gentle lap dog. Lives to play and romp around the house. Affectionate with family and older kids. Has a stubborn streak.

If you happen to get a Shih Tzu with a separation anxiety problem, that can be dealt with by investing a few hours of work on your part and some "tough love."

Friendly Toward Other Dogs

Gets along with other dogs fairly well. A little selective, but then many dogs are.

Friendly Toward Other Pets

Yes, introduce the him to your other pets on common turf. He’ll blend in.

Friendly Toward Strangers

Yes, pretty friendly little dog. Usually gets on with strangers OK.


Yes, quite playful.


Yes, an affectionate dog. Spend time with him. Give him lots of attention and he’ll give love and affection in return.

Good with children

Children up thru 6 years, NO.A bit sensitive for very young kids. Children over 6 years, OK as long as the kids are schooled in the etiquette of behavior around small dogs.

Good with Seniors over 65?

Excellent for seniors. Exercise requirement is low and this dog is easy to manage, easy to pick up and just wants to be a lap companion and door stop. Locate a Shih Tzu rescue or kennel for an older dog is longevity might be an issue.

Living environment

Apartment, farm, big city, anywhere. NOT outdoors. This breed does not tolerate heat and cold very well. He should be in air conditioning in the hot summer.

Energy level

Moderate. A rank of 6 bars out of 10.


Exercise needs, daily

Minimal. A few runs around the house or a short walk in the park is all he needs.


A Shih Tzu will sometimes bark at the doorbell or mailman and has been known to alert his family in case of a fire.

Guard dog

No, he’s too small. His pushed-in nose doesn’t make him very intimidating!




See the groomer every 4 to 6 weeks.

Daily combing and brushing is needed to keep the coat nice. can have your pooch groomed to look like a regular dog, as most people do, and you can then go to the groomer every 6 to 8 weeks for a trim.



Suggested Reading About The Shih Tzu
Click on the cover photos for more book information.



Shih Tzu Breeders

In the event you decide to go looking for Shih Tzu puppies, be SURE to find reputable breeders that really know what they are doing. Be sure the puppy has been well socialized and started in obedience training.
Shih Tzu Breeders with puppies for sale.

Shih Tzu Rescue

In the event you are seriously considering the adoption of a Shih Tzu and are looking for a Shih Tzu rescue group or groups in your state, here are several links that might help:
Petfinder - Dog Rescue - (Nationwide)

Adopt A Pet This is an interesting site that may give you some ideas. Also, check Shih Tzu rescue online and don't forget your local kennels and dog pound.


Dog Health Issues For The Shih Tzu
Below: The dog illness / illnesses or medical problems listed for the Shih Tzu by various vets.

This is basically a healthy breed. Don’t let the list below scare you! Your own dog will probably never have ANY of these problems. These are the dog health and medical issues this breed is prone to that have been listed by various veterinarians at different times over the past decade or so and some pertain to puppies and very young dogs that a breeder would deal with.

The information contained herein has been gathered from numerous books by veterinarians and is intended as general information only. Every dog and situation is different. You must see your vet. Our information is for general interest only and not intended to replace the advice provided by your own veterinarian.

  • Shih Tzu limping 1 of 2
  • Hind Leg Limping, CHD Hip dysplasia - Hind end limping, back leg acts lame. Wear and time causes the femur to fit poorly into the pelvic socket with improper rotation causing great pain, lameness, arthritis and difficulty walking. You may notice the dog “hopping”” like a rabbit when running plus hesitating to climb stairs, all due to pain in the hind quarters. The problem actually starts as a very young puppy with an abnormal formation of the hip joint and grows progressively. A vet can locate this with a diagnostics test.

    Shih Tzu limping 2 of 2

  • Rear Leg Limping, Hind Leg Bent Patellar luxation—Limping, Hind Leg Held Up, Can’t straighten back leg. Caused by an unusually shallow spot on the femur, weak ligaments and misalignment of tendons and muscles that align the knee joint and allow the knee cap (patella) to float sideways in and out of position. This can be caused by injury or be present at birth and can affect both rear legs. It’s most common in small and toy dogs like the Shih Tzu. If your dog has trouble straightening the leg, is limping, or is walking on three legs and holding one hind leg up, look for patellar luxation. Several of my dogs have had the problem and all I’ve done is reach down, massage the knee a little until they drop their leg, and we’re good to go for another 3 or 4 months. Severe cases require surgery for a fully lame leg.

  • Renal dysplasia—Disease of the kidney. Improper function of the kidney. If you own a Shih Tzu, check twice a year with your vet for kidney function or.... sooner if you observe any unusual symptoms such as... increased drinking, increased or decreased urination, very little color to the urine, depression, loss of appetite, bad odor in breath plus any other unusual behaviors in your Shih Tzu. See vet immediately!

  • Entropion—Eye irrational caused by the eyelids and lashes rolling inwards. The problem is usually inherited and found in young, adult dogs. It can come from an eyelid spasm. Affected eyes will be held partially shut and tear excessively. Both eyes will usually be affected the same. Treatment for the condition requires eye surgery.

  • Trichiasis— is a hereditary condition where normal eyelashes growing from normal sites turn inward and irritate the eyes by rubbing on them. Sometimes the eyelashes grow unusually long causing further problems. When the problem becomes serious, cryosurgery is normally used to remove the errant lashes and follicles once and for all.

  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy—An inherited, untreatable disease of the retina affecting both eyes causing blindness. It’s in the genes of the dog and is not painful. Starts with night blindness and progresses as the retina gradually deteriorates

  • Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca—(Keratitis) A fancy way of saying “dry eye.” Inadequate tear flow causes painful eye infections of a chronic nature. Causes vary from distemper to certain medications to removing the third eyelid tear gland.. Often treated with cyclosporine drops. or an ointment called cyclosporine topical therapy.

  • Dermoid sinus—Hereditary—An infection and inflammation noticed at birth in the sinus or tubes running along the spine from the rear end to the neck. These are a thick-walled tubes with skin cells, fiber tissue, hair and oils. When the sinus becomes infected with bacteria and inflamed, it can cause swelling and infection in the spinal cord which causes encephalitis and abscesses. Surgery is the remedy.

  • Otitis externa—Infection and inflammation of the outer ear canal. Dogs with floppy ears or long floppy ear canals are prone to this because of the soil and moisture that builds in the ear canal. This creates a tempting environment for yeast and bacteria infections. It is treatable and is sometimes called “stinky ear syndrome” due to the odor produced

  • Malassezia dermatitis—A highly itchy skin infection, usually around the ears, muzzle, inner thighs, eyes or feet. The Shih Tzu may become frantic, chewing and scratching the ears and feet. If an ear infection, there might be a waxy discharge and smelly odor. The dog will be rubbing and pawing at the ear. Look for Malassezia in the summer, humidity and allergy seasons. Your vet will treat this with appropriate medications and bathing after a diagnosis.

  • Brachycephalic syndrome—Difficulty breathing in dogs with a short face and head such as the English Bulldog, Pug, Shih Tzu etc. They have a soft, fleshy palate, narrowed nostrils and larynx. Dogs with this will snort, cough, have a low tolerance for exercise, possibly faint easily, especially in hot weather, and breath noisily. This puts a strain on the heart. There can exist a lack of coordination between trying to breathe and swallow. Gastrointestinal problems can follow. Heat stroke is highly possible so keep your dog COOL.


Other health problem could occur with your Shih Tzu. If you notice any problems with your pet, take it to the vet immediately. This website is for general information only and is not intended to, in any way, be a medical guide.

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