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Breed Portrait - The Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu's are great little dogs, who are often lively, playful and energetic well into old age, making them incredible family dogs.

Shih Tzu running

Origin of the Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu was kept as a beloved companion in many Tibetan monasteries, known as the "lion dog's brother" (Pekinese). Due to the geographical separation of the monasteries, different types of dogs quickly emerged. They were passed on as tribute to the Chinese imperial court, where they were carefully bred. In the end, the first animals were brought to Europe by English residents in China, and a breeding program for the Shih Tzu as a companion dog began.

Breed Traits

The Shih Tzu is a robust little dog with a lively temperament and a friendly nature. They are very attached to their humans but also maintain a certain level of independence. Intelligence and trainability are among the Shih Tzu's strengths, and despite being lively, they never appear nervous (of course with socialisation!). These characteristics make them an ideal companion dog for both families and individuals.The Shih Tzu has a long, luxurious coat which consists of a dense undercoat and long, dense outer hair, which forms a luxurious chin and cheek beard. All colors are allowed, but white markings and white-red tips should be present. The Shih Tzu's coat requires regular grooming, which is why they are often seen with a shorter haircut. The withers height should not exceed 26.7 cm, and the ideal weight is between 4.1 to 7.2 kg.

Training Advice

Dogs that require a lot of grooming should be introduced to it early on. With targeted "medical training," it is possible for the dog to voluntarily tolerate actions that may be bothersome or unpleasant for them.

Therefore, it is important that the training is positive and reward-based to maintain the dog's motivation.

Another important aspect of the training is getting the dog used to having their ears, eyes, teeth, and paws handled and examined. This can help the dog to be more relaxed during veterinary examinations or other medical procedures.

And of course, as with any other breed it is recommended to socialise the dog to different environments and situations to train their behaviour in various contexts.

This can help the dog to remain calm and composed even when surrounded by other dogs or people.

Shih Tzu Training

Breed Fulfilment

Shih Tzu do not require long walks. They prefer to be mentally challenged. Due to their intelligence, they can have a low repetition rate in learning new content, constant repetitions quickly lead to boredom.

Therefore, owners must think more about how to make their shared lives exciting and thrilling. Building new exercises with "luring" through treats is very risky with these dogs. They quickly associate the luring with the exercise and then demand it. The dog only cooperates when their human has food in hand. This is a clear training mistake!

The intelligence of these mostly self-confident dogs often makes it difficult for dog owners to find the balance between consistency, leadership, and assistance in training.

Remember that training is an ongoing activity that requires regular practice. With patience and consistency you can help your Shih Tzu to become a well-behaved and cooperative dog.


Overall, Shih Tzu's are incredible dogs who are suitable for people who can't go on long walks yet would still like to do intensive training with their dog. Shih Tzu's can be independent, which can make training challenging at some times, however owner's who are committed and consistent will be enjoying their training journey very much since Shih Tzu's are highly intelligent. Lastly, the Shih Tsu has a long dense coat, which will require regular grooming, so doing the right training from the start and finding the right groomer is essential.

Sources: Udo Gansslosser, Yvonne Adler, Gudrun Braun; Hunderassen, Zoologie, Zucht und Verhalten neu betrachtet. 2021 Franckh - Kosmos-Verlags-GmbH & Co.


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