In this space, you will find a general description of the common characteristics of the breeds. Each dog is unique and may not exhibit all the typical traits of its breed. A dog's temperament and behavior are influenced by a variety of factors, such as genetics, environment, imprinting, upbringing, and individual experiences. The breed does not absolutely determine or condition a dog's temperament, energy level, or needs.

Shih Tzu


As history tells us, this teddy bear moved from the hands of Tibetan monks to Chinese emperors, where they became the focus of entertainment for these families. It’s no wonder that they developed a strong need to feel the center of attention. They are charming with every step they take. In seconds, they can convince you of whatever they want, because more than being intelligent, they are cunning, charismatic, and have an inflated ego, a combination that makes them experts in manipulation. Although they are generally kind, friendly, and enjoy company, especially if you have any kind of game to play with him.

Despite their small size, and their sweet and gentle appearance, they need attention, with quality time where bonds and hierarchical positions are developed. If not educated from an early age, they can develop strong resource guarding, especially towards the people they spend the most time with. If this protective behavior is not addressed, it can extend to other resources.

No matter how small their head is, it’s well-furnished, especially in the emotional aspect, and you’ll see it because they do not appreciate being deceived at all. They will show their displeasure if they perceive a lack of honesty, perhaps by turning their back on you or ignoring your call, and they can even spend hours manifesting their discontent, like a teenager locking themselves in their room, making you regret having dared to betray a member of the Chinese dynasty.

Returning to their temperament, they are always ready to play. If they have been socialized from a young age, they will have no problems with other beings; they come loaded with a lot of energy, but don’t be surprised if you see them lying in the sun or on the sofa all day, they adapt to your life. So if you wonder what you’re really like, just look at them.

Regarding their emotional intelligence, they quickly recognize which behaviors ensure them attention or the acquisition of a benefit. They store these images, associate them, and archive them in a corner of their brain and gradually reproduce them during the day, in the form of whimpers, sneezes, and unexpected stretches, generating friction in those moments when no one is paying attention to them. You’ll even see them trying to hypnotize you with a penetrating gaze that does not leave your eyes, to get that attention you haven’t given them because you’ve been away working for an eternity, bad person.

The Shih Tzu is usually adorable with everyone, as if they were programmed for it. They generally do not have problems, but the situation can vary with other dogs, especially if they are larger. This behavior usually develops due to a lack of socialization, which produces fear and insecurity. Therefore, it is crucial to socialize them from an early age, calmly starting at 10 weeks, beginning in a controlled and gradual manner, taking them to busy and noisy places, allowing them to meet people and animals of all sizes, ensuring the experience is 200% positive. This stage is crucial, it’s your opportunity to make them confident, radiating brute confidence among other dogs thanks to their social skills, and as a bonus, avoiding behaviors that develop into entirely negative actions.

When they go outside, they are natural explorers. It seems they are on a mission, walking determinedly with their ears bouncing rhythmically. Considering that the dogs you might meet are relatively balanced, I’d say the danger to avoid is cats. Mainly because cats don’t trust any kind of dog, and due to the anatomy of Shih Tzus, even a minor confrontation could end badly for their eyes. So, stay alert. Because in the presence of their guide, they lack fear and can face any challenge, but they are not foolish. When they feel vulnerable, they act as if they haven’t seen anything, sniffing the ground and heading in a safe direction.

Due to their cute face, this breed faces certain health problems. Flat-faced dogs (brachycephalic) have narrower nostrils (allowing air in) and an elongated soft palate. This makes it difficult for air to enter and exit, so with restricted airflow, it becomes harder for them to pant efficiently, which is the primary method dogs use to regulate their body temperature. And on top of that, they will snore as if you were dragging a sofa across the floor.

If you’re thinking of bringing one of these into the family, keep in mind that they need specific care, more than other breeds.

The Shih Tzu’s Mane
We cannot deny that part of their charm is their silky hair. Maintaining it is very important for their health. The good thing is that you only need a brush with rounded tips and a daily session. For some, it might be too much, but do you brush your hair every day, right? Brushing is like therapy; it helps relax the dog, create a bond with the person doing it, and maintain the hair’s health, eliminating dead hair that accumulates and generates bad odor. That’s why we have to be consistent, and if possible, always at the same time (because of the routine, you’ll understand below).

This breed tends to give us active dogs that like to take their walks in the morning, afternoon, and evening. Although when it comes to exercise, they are not very athletic, but like many people, they need encouragement and incentives to exercise and stay active. It’s a good excuse to stimulate their senses; it’s essential to keep them fit and satisfied.

Like all dogs, everything is better when you know what will happen. Routines make the lives of these teddy bears more pleasant. Knowing what, who, and when is what keeps them stable. Think that they spend many hours locked in your house, and irregular events produce that disorder and mental emptiness that can lead to undesirable behaviors due to boredom, which is closely related to anxiety and stress.

The Shih Tzu may not be very studious; some call them "stubborn," so they need consistent education. Using positive reinforcement is key to training them effectively, as they respond well to rewards and praise that keep them upright. And of course, avoid punishments because, as I mentioned, they are quite resentful.

Essential Care:

- Daily brushing
- Oral and visual health
- Early education
- Balanced and high-quality diet

Common Conditions:

- Progressive vision loss / Cataracts
- Tear duct insufficiency
- Plaque and tartar buildup
- Breathing difficulties


- Excessive exercise
- Prolonged isolation
- High jumps
- Leaving food / toys freely available
- Tight collars that put pressure on the neck and trachea (due to weak breathing)

Recommended Activities:

- Early socialization
- Short but frequent social walks
- Daily obedience training sessions
- Play periods (small ball, piece of cloth)
- Mental stimulation with interactive objects
- Moderate/low exercise




Ease of training⭐⭐⭐

Energy level⭐⭐⭐

Exercise needs⭐⭐


Tolerance to solitude⭐

Care and maintenance⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Frequently Asked Questions about the Shih Tzu

How long does a Shih Tzu live?
- If you have a pool, be careful; if they don’t drown first, their life expectancy is between 10 to 16 years depending on the quality of food, the frequency of exercise, and your commitment to their routine.

Is the Shih Tzu hypoallergenic?
- Hmm, they shed little hair, but I wouldn’t risk it if you’re allergic. It might be better to look for another option 😅

Is the Shih Tzu suitable for apartments?
- It’s a dog, not created for an apartment, but it will adapt as long as you meet its needs. Stimulation, exercise, leadership, and empathy.

Do Shih Tzus need a lot of exercise?
- Think that no matter how small it is, it has 2 more limbs than you. With that concept, you’ll understand that it has plenty of capacity to walk. How much? Less than larger breeds, but we’re talking at least one hour a day and a good amount of time at home stimulating its brain.

How do I care for my Shih Tzu’s coat?
- With a good daily brushing session, finishing with a flannel glove, giving it a massage from the nape to the end of the tail. This way, you help spread a oil generated by the dog’s skin, providing natural protection and a salon-worthy shine.

Are Shih Tzus good with children?
- They have qualities compatible with children; they are patient and affectionate. However, I never recommend leaving them with children unsupervised.

Are they easy to train?
- Honestly, there are dogs that are easier. They are a bit stubborn and you have to know how to incentivize them because they can get bored quickly, making learning periods extra short.

Do Shih Tzus bark a lot?
- It depends on their socialization, but generally, they don’t make much noise.

What type of food can I give my Shih Tzu?
- Ideally, fresh food like meat, vegetables, and fruit. But at least ensure it’s breed-specific to avoid some problems.

Can they live with other pets?
- Absolutely. Some people don’t get along with others, just like it can happen to you, but everything is a matter of work. Whether it’s another dog or another species, it won’t be a problem; with work, anything is possible.

Do they need special clothing in winter?
- We can find out by researching the breed and its climate of origin. If you’ve moved to a very different climate, you can help it adapt but don’t overprotect it.

How do I prevent dental problems in my Shih Tzu?
- Unless you’re a canine dentist, you’ll need to take them regularly to the vet. Eating meaty bones helps clean tartar. You can also use treats or give them rubber chew toys that help maintain dental and gum hygiene.

Are they prone to diseases?
- Their homemade specialty includes respiratory, ocular, and dental problems, plus a few other low-probability issues in skin, and back bone.

What toys are suitable for a Shih Tzu?
- Anything small and soft, if its big make sure is very soft, made of materials specifically for dogs. Branded ones make a difference 😉 The interactive toys are amazing to make their mind active. But overall, toys they use with you, separate from those meant for when they’re alone. Differentiate them for better association.