Shih Tzu

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The Shih Tzu is ranked as the 6th most popular small breed, and 20th overall

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Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu is an outgoing, playful, and affectionate breed that loves nothing more than to relax on the couch with you. One of the more appealing attributes of the Shih Tzu is that it’s not a very demanding dog, so is less likely to yap or misbehave to grab your attention.

With their beautiful long coats, it will take regular grooming to stay that way and to reduce shedding.

If you are a family with young children, the Shih Tzu may not be the best choice. Not because the breed is not an ideal family dog, but because of their small size which makes it easy for them to get hurt due to rough play. It’s a much better idea to wait until the kids are able to be more careful around smaller dogs.

A fully grown Shih Tzu has an average height of 9–10.5 inches, and will weigh somewhere between 9–16 pounds.

The average life expectancy of a Shih Tzu is around 10–18 years.

Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu Average Statistics

Average size and life expectancy of a Shih Tzu.


9–10.5 inches


9–16 pounds

Life Expectancy

10–18 years

Shih Tzu: A Very Popular Dog Breed

The Shih Tzu has been a popular breed for many years, ranking within the top 20 most popular dog breeds since 2013, and has consistently ranked within the top 10 small dogs since 2013.

In 2020 this breed was the 6th most popular small dog, as defined by the AKC (American Kennel Club). Only the French Bulldog, Miniature Poodle, Dachshund, Yorkshire Terrier, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel rank higher.

Shih Tzu Characteristics

Just like humans, dogs have unique personalities. But did you know that there are common personality and character trends unique to each breed?

This means that it’s worth taking the time to understand the differences in personality, character, and needs of each breed before choosing the right dog for your family, for you, and your lifestyle.

Below is a table we created to show the personality and character traits commonly associated with Shih Tzu‘s in an easy-to-read table. Each row contains a character trait, a score ranging from 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest), and a description.

Affectionate5How affectionate a breed is with family members or close friends. Some breeds are reserved around strangers, while others treat everyone as a close friend.
Playful3How eager a breed is to play, even as an adult. Some breeds will want to play tug-of-war or fetch until they are old, while others will be content to lounge on the couch with you.
Energy3A breed’s need for exercise and mental stimulation. High-energy breeds are always ready for their next challenge. They’ll spend the day running, jumping, and playing. Low energy breeds are like couch potatoes who enjoy a good nap.
Trainability4How easy it will be to train and how eager your dog will be to learn. Some breeds only want to please their owners, while others prefer to do their own thing, whenever they want!
Grooming Requirements4How often a breed’s coat needs to be brushed, trimmed, or otherwise maintained. When looking at the grooming effort required, consider your time, patience, and budget. Nail trimming is required on all breeds.
Shedding1How much fur and hair the breed will leave behind. High-shedding breeds require more frequent brushing, are more likely to cause allergies, and require more frequent vacuuming and lint-rolling.
Drooling1A breed’s drool-proneness. If you’re a neat freak, dogs that slobber on your arm or wet your clothes may not be the best choice.
Watchdog3How often the breed will bark or howl. Some breeds will bark at every passer-by or cat in the window. Some barkless breeds can still communicate using other sounds.
Good with Children5The breed’s tolerance to children’s behavior and overall family-friendly nature. Always supervise dogs around young children or children of any age unfamiliar with dogs.
Good with Dogs5How sociable a breed is with other dogs. Interactions and introductions with other dogs should always be supervised, but some breeds are naturally more likely to get along, both in public and at home.
Good with Strangers3How friendly a breed is towards strangers. Some breeds are reserved or cautious around strangers, whether at home or in public. In contrast, others will be excited to meet a new human!

Keeping your Shih Tzu happy & healthy

Did you know that each dog breed has different needs to keep them both physically and mentally healthy?

That means things like exercise requirements, grooming needs, mental stimulation, frequent training, and bonding time will need to be taken into consideration before you decide whether a Shih Tzu is right for you.

So let’s start with listing out the needs of the Shih Tzu, and describe the minimum expectations that will be required to keep your dog happy and healthy, helping you to decide if they’re the right breed for you.

Exercise Requirements for Shih Tzu‘s

While a Shih Tzu doesn’t require extensive exercise, it will need moderate levels of activity each day to stay happy and healthy.

We suggest aiming for daily exercise between 30 and 60 minutes, which can be spread across several daily walks or playtime in the backyard.

Are Shih Tzu‘s a playful breed?

While Shih Tzu‘s do like to play sometimes and only for short periods, they have a tendency to lose interest quite quickly. They much prefer to spend time resting and cuddling up on the couch with you.

Are Shih Tzu‘s easy to train?

Shih Tzu‘s are known to be quite a challenge when it comes to training, but with some persistence, consistency, and patience, you can be sure to reap the benefits from taking the time to train him.

Just remember that as with any element of training, but especially potty training your dog, positive reinforcement and consistency from you is one of the most important aspects of training.

Random Facts about Shih Tzus

For a bit of fun, here are some facts about Shih Tzus:

  • Shih Tzu originates from Asia, and you would traditionally find them to be companions to Chinese emperors.
  • With their beautiful long hair and cute little noses, the Shih Tzu does not do well in hot or humid climates. But as long as you have air conditioning to keep your pup cool, all should be fine.
  • Patience and positive reinforcement are the way to go when training this breed. Even though the Shih Tzu definitely likes to play the cute card when it comes to training, be sure to heavily praise good behavior by way of the odd treat, or better still, additional playtime!
  • Not only does the Shih Tzu have a lovely long coat, but it’s also a double coat that is fast growing. We suggest regular grooming to reduce shedding. Fairly regular trips to a groomer are also recommended – unless you are confident enough with a pair of clippers.

Medical Conditions

Some breeds are prone to medical conditions, so severe, others mild. But either way, it’s important for you to be aware of such issues as a responsible dog owner, so you know what potential symptoms to look out for, and what steps to take if you spot any in your dog.

FAQs about Shih Tzu‘s

People also regularly ask the following questions about Shih Tzu

What is the average height of a Shih Tzu?

The height of a fully grown Shih Tzu will be somewhere around 9 to 10.5 inches. Don’t worry if your Shih Tzu is slightly over or under those figures, as this is just a breed average.

What is the average weight for a Shih Tzu?

Ideally, your Shih Tzu should weigh somewhere between 9 and 16 pounds. This is an average for the breed overall, so if your pup comes in slightly over, or slightly under this weight, don’t worry too much.

How to tell if my Shih Tzu is overweight?

In surveys conducted by Pet Obesity Prevention since 2012, more than 55% of dogs are now classified as overweight or obese. This number has been steadily increasing from 52.5% in 2012, with the most recent numbers in 2018 being 55.8%.

That’s an increase of 3.3% in just six years, showing that dog obesity is a problem that is only getting worse over time.

We’ve created an easy-to-use dog calorie calculator to give a pretty good idea of how many calories your dog needs to maintain energy requirements (or MER).

Keep your dog happy and healthy, and be sure to regularly check the weight of your dog to ensure a long and healthy life.

What is the life expectancy of a Shih Tzu?

The average life expectancy for a Shih Tzu is 10 to 18 years, although don’t be surprised if your dog lives longer!

It’s not uncommon to fall outside of this age range, mainly due to health and medical conditions. So keep your dog happy and healthy, ensure your dog’s weight is kept within the ideal range, with plenty of exercise and playtime to keep his mind and body healthy, helping to extend his life!

References, and Further Information