If you’re considering a smaller dog, you may be considering Shih Tzus. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC) breed standard, Shih Tzus are lively and sturdy toy dogs that make excellent companions. Originally the pets of Chinese nobility, Shih Tzus have become popular pets, ranking 20th most popular AKC breed. Although very popular dogs, it’s important to know both the positives and negatives of the Shih Tzu when deciding if the breed is right for your situation and environment. Here are the positives and negatives of the Shih Tzu breed.
Shih Tzu Size
Depending on whether you’re looking for a large or small dog, the Shih Tzu may be right for your situation. Shih Tzus have a relatively big size range for a Toy breed. With a height between 9 and 10½ inches at the shoulder and a weight between 9 and 16 pounds, the Shih Tzu can be very tiny or a bit larger. Regardless, Shih Tzus are sized as good apartment and traveling pets.
Shih Tzu Temperament
AKC states that Shih Tzus should be outgoing, affectionate, and happy for all people, making them an ideal pet for a lot of social contacts. However, regardless of the breed, it is important to socialize your Shih Tzu early so that you do not have an atypically shy or standoffish pet.
Shih Tzus are Good for Seniors
Although Shih Tzus require some exercise, they were bred to be companions and lap dogs for royalty, so they are more than happy to sit on the couch and look cute while you watch television. They are happy to be where their owner is and be a good companion. Because of this, they are great for less active people or people with mobility issues such as seniors.
Shih Tzus are Good with Children
Well trained Shih Tzus are good with children, provided that the children are taught to be well behaved and gentle with dogs. Shih Tzus are relatively sturdy little dogs for their size, but even they can have problems with children who pull ears, tails, or pet too hard. If you have children, it is better to wait until the children are grown up enough to understand that the dog is a living being capable of feeling pain and responding if feeling threatened.
Shih Tzus are Not Hypoallergenic
No breed of dog is hypoallergenic, and Shih Tzus are no exception. Some allergy sufferers find that because the Shih Tzus sheds less than other dogs that they can tolerate Shih Tzus better than other dogs. Be aware that most people are allergic to the dog’s saliva and not the actual fur or even the dander.
Shih Tzus Need a Lot of Grooming
Depending on how much work you want to do on your dog’s coat your Shih Tzu will need frequent brushing and combing or having them trimmed in a short pet cut regularly to avoid tangles. Most Shih Tzu owners take their pets to a groomer to maintain the coat, so be sure to factor that into your pet’s care.
Shih Tzus are Less Yappy than Other Dogs
While Shih Tzus can and do bark, most prefer to be quieter, which works well if you have neighbors and noise ordinances. This means plenty of quiet time with your Shih Tzu. On the negative side, your Shih Tzu may not bark when people come by, thus making them less than optimal watchdogs.
Shih Tzus Are Stubborn and Need Training
All dogs need training, but Shih Tzus require extra effort when it comes to listening to commands and house training. Their attitude is “what’s in it for me?” which is why they are best trained with positive reinforcement techniques. Otherwise, you may be very frustrated with a badly behaving dog.
Shih Tzus Have Hereditary Problems Like Other Dogs
Although the American Shih Tzu Club does not have mandatory testing for hereditary diseases, they recommend that their breeders screen for the following hereditary and congenital diseases: renal dysplasia, portal systemic shunt, hip dysplasia, Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, patellar luxation, eye problems, Von Willebrands disease, allergies, inguinal hernias, and allergies. It’s imperative that the breeder furnish proof that they screened their breeding stock for these diseases by providing certificates from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and any lab screening from veterinarians.
Shih Tzus are Brachycephalic
Shih Tzus are what is called brachycephalic, meaning that they have a shortened head. In particular, the breed was created to have an unnaturally shorten nose to get that oh so cute look. Unfortunately, that look can cause breathing problems. Shih Tzus can overheat quickly because their noses can’t get enough cooling air into their body, especially if they’re doing physical things, like running. They are more prone to allergies and infections due to their shortened noses.