Shih Tzus make great companions in any sized home. They are friendly and bubbly dogs, making them a joy to be around. Even though this breed is small, it is also stubborn, so the initial training period with this breed can sometimes be longer.

This dog is the perfect house pet and man’s best friend as they love to be around their owners. Shih Tzus have a long and luxurious coat that will require daily brushing to avoid knotting and keep your pooch looking their best. 

 

Pet profile

Great for smaller households who can devote time to training and grooming.

  • Small (22cm to 25cm)
  • Typically weighing between 4.5kg and 8kg
  • 10 to 16 years life expectancy

Exercise and nutrition

Even though these dogs are small, they still require a significant amount of exercise. Taking your Shih Tzu out for two or three shorter walks a day should be enough to keep them happy and healthy. A Shih Tzu will also benefit greatly from treats and toys to keep their mind active. 

How much you feed your Shih Tzu will depend on its weight, size and age, however most require two high-quality meals per day. Consult your veterinarian for further advice around nutrition and the best type of food for your dog.

 

Common health problems and illnesses 

Shih Tzus do have their share of health issues, which is why it’s a good idea to take out insurance for your Shih Tzu while they’re still a puppy.

Portosystemic shunt, or liver shunt, is a condition which commonly affects Shih Tzus. Waste that the liver would normally expel from the body is still present, and the condition can develop into a serious health problem. Usually, surgery is necessary to treat a liver shunt; however, surgery is not always appropriate, and sometimes the condition will need to be managed with medication.

Shih Tzus can also suffer from thyroid issues, which can cause weight loss, tiredness, and in severe cases, even heart problems. Drugs are needed to treat thyroid disorders, which often hits Shih Tzu when they reach middle age.

Shih Tzus have a flat face, making their eyes more vulnerable to injuries or health problems. Corneal ulcers are a common issue that can affect this breed. These ulcers can create scratches in a dog’s eye which can impair their vision. Signs that your pet may have a corneal ulcer are: red and watery eyes, frequent blinking or rubbing and sensitivity. If your dog is experiencing any of these issues, then consult your veterinarian for advice around the best treatment for your dog’s condition.

Cushing’s disease is a common health problem in Shih Tzus. The condition affects how the body regulates itself, and causes an overproduction of cortisol. The common signs of this condition include patchy hair loss, excessive thirst and a change in toilet habits. Consult your veterinarian if you notice any of these symptoms and they will be able to advise you on the best course of treatment.

Brachycephalic airway syndrome can also affect Shih Tzus due to their broad head shape. This condition can make breathing more difficult. If you notice that your dog is having difficulty breathing, consult your veterinarian for advice straight away.

Intervertebral disc disease, also known as a slipped disc, is also common in Shih Tzus. Treatment is dependent on the location and cause of the injured area. Medication, rest and sometimes surgery are needed to help return your dog to full health. If you think your dog is suffering from a slipped disc, then consult your veterinarian as soon as possible for advice on treatment.

Bladder stones commonly occur in Shih Tzus. Curing this disease involves changing your dog’s diet or, if severe, the stones may need to be removed surgically. 

 

 

Fun facts 

  1. The Shih Tzu breed is over 1,000 years old.
  2. Their name translates into “Little Lion” because of their relation to the Tibetan Buddhist God of Learning, who legend says travelled with a small lion dog that could transform into a fully-grown lion.
  3. Celebrities love a Shih Tzu! Nichole Richie, Mariah Carey, Beyoncé, Colin Farrell, Bill Gates and Queen Elizabeth II have all owned a Shih Tzu.
  4. Shih Tzus are a double-coated breed. A second coat develops when your dog reaches around seven months old.
  5. They are a hypoallergenic breed, making them ideal for those who suffer from allergies as their fur does not shed.

Shih Tzu