Although the Shih Tzu is a very small dog, he has the heart of a lion. This is probably due to his self-confidence and his original task as a watchdog for Buddhist temples. At the same time, this dog is very lovable, cheerful and playful. Therefore he is suitable as a companion and family dog.

shih tzu temperament

In order for him to be a faithful companion, you should know his qualities and characteristics. This article will inform you about everything you need to know about Shih Tzu dogs.

Shih Tzu Character & Temperament

The Shih Tzu is an intelligent and lively dog who stands out through his independent and proud appearance. He is reserved towards strangers but without aggression. The Shih Tzu belongs to the companion dogs and adapts to almost every living situation. He has little hunting instinct, which also makes it possible to allow the free run.

The Shih Tzu is a friendly, attentive dog who likes to cuddle and play with his owners and always wants to be close to them. As a family dog, he is also suitable for families with children. But like every dog, he should also have places of retreat and the children should be instructed not to harass him and to treat him respectfully. He is well compatible with other dogs and pets if his owners take enough care to a good socialization. After all, he likes to learn here as well and can be guided to show the right behavior without much resistance.

The Shih Tzu: An Excellent Guard Dog

Already in the temples of Tibet, the small Shih Tzu were used as watchdogs. Their excellent and above-average hearing made them aware of changes and intruders at an early stage. They are suspicious of strangers, but not aggressive.

And those who are allowed to wander alone through the temple complexes are, of course, also brave and self-confident. The Shih Tzu likes to enjoy his freedom and is sometimes a little stubborn.

A consistent dog training is therefore absolutely advisable. You will soon forgive the small and pretty lion bad habits and let them pass. The Shih Tzu knows how to take advantage of such misconduct of his owner later on, and he will consistently demanding his rights he has won once.

Nevertheless, this dog breed is very loyal and affectionate. The Shih Tzu loves his family and develops a strong bond to his “herd”.

The Shih Tzu as a Family Dog

The Shih Tzu is a calm and well-balanced dog and gets along very well with other species and also other animals in the household. But not only that: He is very friendly, gentle, clever and playful and is therefore ideal for families with large and small children, as long as the children respect the dog and have learned how to handle it correctly.

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The Shih Tzu, on the other hand, should be well socialized and know people of all ages (including babies and toddlers). Because of course, no dog breed is without learning certain rules and making different experiences an optimal family dog.

You can only achieve this by an early socialization, respectful cooperation, and a good education. Then there is no reason why your Shih Tzu should not get a lifelong friendly and playful companion. The socialization begins already in the early puppy age with the Shih Tzu breeder.

The active and sociable Shih Tzu also wants to be there always and everywhere and shows again and again how much endurance can be in such a small dog. But he can also stay alone for a few hours because he is very courageous and independent.

shih tzu temperament

He often even decides for himself when he needs a portion of attention and care and is by no means a lap dog that everyone can pick up and touch at his will.

He has nothing against a house with a garden, in an apartment, the Shih Tzu feels well with sufficient occupation and run. Great for town dwellers and families who want dogs, but have little space.

Shih Tzu male or female?

Many Shih Tzu breeders recommend choosing a dog by feeling and according to how well dog and future owners harmonize with each other at the first meetings.

After that, you should look below and think about the sex of your new dog. Unfortunately, there are still many prejudices against males and females, which have little or no basis.

Gender does not play a role in character and temperament. Here are some common prejudices about Shih Tzu male and female dogs.

Female Shih Tzu dogs are:

  • Easier to Raise
  • More Obedient
  • Cuddly and Affectionate
  • Fond of Bitching

Male Shih Tzu dogs are:

  • Mark a Lot
  • Sniffing at Every Blade of Grass
  • Dominant and Aggressive

Of course, some of these statements are true, but they do not really gender specific, but apply to males and females alike. It depends very much on the individual character of each dog, which traits he develops later.

Even if the Shih Tzu dogs have a similar basic character, many components play a role in the strengthening of the character.

This starts with good or bad rearing and socialization and does not stop with good dog training.

READ: When to Start Training a Puppy – Starting Your Puppy Off Right

You as the owner have a significant influence on the dog.

Whether it becomes a male or a female dog, in the end, has nothing to do with educability of the dog, nor about the degree of its cuddliness or dominance.

shih tzu temperament

However, there is an important and striking difference between the sexes and this is the heat:

About once or twice a year the Shih Tzu lady comes into the heat and needs special attention during this time. She loses drops of blood and special hygiene measures have to be taken in the household.

Also on walks, it is important to exercise caution and to keep a distance from male dogs. The behavior of the dog can also change during this time. Some females sleep a lot or withdraw intensively.

Others become however particularly affectionate and love-needy. Sometimes it also comes to a false pregnancy. Suddenly the Shih Tzu lady secretes milk, is mothering toys or stuffed animals and defends them against other dogs or persons.

With the males, the usual behavior can change also a little, if a dog in heat is present in the neighborhood. They sometimes refuse to feed, howl and bark heartbreakingly at their loved ones or are restless the whole day.

Prejudices Against the Shih Tzu

1The Shih Tzu is difficult to train

Bild von Robyn Randell auf Pixabay

The Shih Tzu is a very calm and balanced dog, without a tendency to aggressiveness or nervousness. However, they are very independent and have a small stubborn head.

Doggy Dan Easy Way Funnel

A consistent but loving training by the owner is very important so that there are no problems in living together later. When and how often the little lion gets his way depends only on the inconsistency of the person at the other end of the leash. After all, every dog can be educated!

2The Shih Tzu is not a “Full Dog”

The Shih Tzu is a great dog that quickly conquers the hearts!
Foot horn, lap dog, mop! What the beautiful Shih Tzu and his master have to hear. Especially the small breeds are unfortunately often a little dismissively smiled and not recognized as full dogs.

The Shih Tzu is in no way behind the big dogs! He is robust, persevering, very playful and teachable. He has the courage of a lion and is devoted to his owner.

In addition, a small dog does need just as much care and must be educated and treated in the same way as a larger dog.

However, there are many people who notice only the pretty and puppy-like appearance of the Shih Tzu and mercilessly underestimate the small guard dog and his ability.

3Shih Tzu are very maintenance-intensive

The animals need frequent and extensive care above all because of their fur, but they distinguish themselves through their lovable character.

The long, perfectly styled and silky fur of the Shih Tzu, as we know it from exhibitions, is certainly very time-consuming to care for. It takes a lot of dedication and time to bring the Shih Tzu into this show condition.

Even as a private person you can’t avoid regular brushing and felting of the coat.

After walks, it is best to remove leaves and dirt immediately. Brushing and combing once a week is certainly not enough.

However, more and more owners prefer to have their Shih Tzu sheared, mostly in Puppy Cut. This “short haircut” makes the care a lot easier afterward, but the special and unique look of this breed is also lost.

That’s why shearing among holders is often a much discussed and a controversial question.

4The Shih Tzu is a Yapper

shih tzu temperament 02

This breed is particularly attentive and vigilant but has very little tendency to bark and therefore Shih Tzu Dogs are not barkers.

However, the Shih Tzu should and is allowed to strike in case of danger or unusual noises. Therefore it was originally bred and used.

Origin and history of the Shih Tzu Dog

The Shih Tzu comes from ancient Tibet. In the Tibetan monasteries, there are supposed to have been dogs around the 7th century which resembled the Shih Tzu of today. It is said that Buddha possessed a Shih Tzu, which could turn into a lion. So, this is where the name Shih Tzu comes from. Because “Shih Tzu” is Chinese and means “lion”.

Already with the early breeding, much importance had been attached to the appearance of these dogs, in particular, their hair splendor reminding to a lion mane. The task of these dogs was to guard the temples. Here above all their pronounced hearing was of great use.

In the 17th century the Shih Tzu arrived in China as a gift for the emperor, whereupon his popularity increased again and the breeding was strengthened. The star of the little lion dog sank however again in the last century when the power structures changed in China.

But luckily there were lovers in Europe and America who continued the breeding with passion.

Shih Tzu Health & Care

If you buy a Shih Tzu, you should be prepared for a rather complex fur care. This is due to the long hair that should be combed regularly. This will prevent matting and remove loose hair that would otherwise spread around your home. In the long coat, leaves, sticks and other things that are on or next to your walks, like to get caught. These should be collected when you come home. You may also want to check the Shih Tzu for ticks.

Some dogs are attracted to puddles and mud. If your four-legged darling comes home dirty with you, you can rub him with a damp towel. If he is very dirty, it is advisable to shower him in the garden, shower or bathtub.

shih tzu

Shampoo should rarely be used to wash the Shih Tzu, as it can destroy the skin’s natural acid mantle.

READ: Understanding Dog Behavior: 10 Common Dog Behavior Problems

If the hair around the eyes, nose, stomach, and legs has become too long, you should shorten it. This is especially important in the face because otherwise the eyes can be irritated. In the worst case, this can lead to inflammation of the eyes.

Due to the short nose, the Shih Tzu tends to have breathing problems. Therefore the nose should be as free as possible. You can achieve this by shortening his hair or putting it up with a hair clip or bow.

Shih Tzu Diseases

The most common diseases in this breed are those of the respiratory tract. This is due to the short nose that is characteristic of these animals. Furthermore, the so-called patella luxation is typical for the Shih Tzu. This is a hereditary disease that leads to frequent dislocation of the kneecap (patella). If you buy a Shih-Tzu puppy from the breeder, watch the papers shown to you carefully. If the parents are free of this disease, there is a good chance that their puppies will be too.

shih tzu temperament

Basically, it makes sense if you are concerned with the health of the puppies and their parents before you decide on a dog. You should also choose a breeder who is concerned with the health of the puppies and who has been to the vet with the puppies for examination and vaccination. If you take care to keep your Shih Tzu as healthy as possible, he can live up to 16 years.

9 Shih Tzu Facts You Probably Didn`t Know

  1. The Shi Tzu almost died out once. In the middle of the last century, there were only 14 dogs left worldwide, with which the breeding was finally continued and thus saved. One of these 14 breed founders was not even a Shi Tzu, but a Pekingese, which should refresh the gene pool, in order to avoid too strong inbreeding.
  2. DNA analyses have shown that the Shi Tzu is one of the oldest dog breeds. Its origin lies in the monasteries of Tibet and not, as is often assumed, in China.
  3. Shi Tzu means translated “lion dog”. The breed should have a consciously certain similarity with the king of the animals because Buddha himself allegedly possessed a dog, which could turn into a lion.
  4. Shi Tzu puppies are only born with a simple coat of hair. It takes about 7 months to develop the later adult coat forms, which consists of a top coat and an undercoat.
  5. The breed is also affectionately called Chrysanthemum dog because the hair grows from the middle of the face in all directions. This is particularly well to be recognized with the puppy.
  6. The little Shi Tzu is not made for sultry and warm regions. He tends to heat stroke and therefore feels most comfortable in mild to cold temperatures.
  7. Clever, but stubborn. The breed is extremely intelligent and can learn many tricks and commands. However, it is also considered to be extremely stubborn, a fact that does not make training easy. It takes a lot of patience, positive reinforcement, and many repetitions until the Shi Tzu finally executes a command correctly.
  8. While most dog breeds only need to be bathed in an emergency, a lukewarm bath is part of the Shi Tzu’s regular grooming routine. This makes the coat easier to comb and prevents matting.
  9. The Shih Tzu dog breed already served as society-dog, although the small Shi Tzu took over also other tasks quite. As palace guard, it was very estimated with the Tibetan monks and also as living “hot-water bottle” for feet or the lap it had to serve. Whereby he certainly liked to do that for a few extra pet strokes.
Shih Tzu Temperament

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  1. Don’t agree about you comments of the males. Just the opposite. I’ve had 3 males and 1 Female and would NEVER HAVE another female. My males were and are more loving, especially with kids. I’ve never HAD a Problem with any of them “marking”. The Female didn’t like children, not as loving. Very anti-social when kids were visiting, guess I should have been glad, as she would snap at them. I got her as a puppy, so she was never exposed to mistreatment.


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