Search Menu
  • Temperament: Affectionate, Playful, Outgoing
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 20 of 192
  • Height: 9-10.5 inches
  • Weight: 9-16 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 10-18 years
  • Group: Toy Group

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

Shih Tzu standing in three-quarter view facing forward
Shih Tzu head facing left
Shih Tzu sitting in three-quarter view facing forward
Shih Tzu lying in three-quarter view
Shih Tzu sitting facing forward
Shih Tzu lying in three-quarter view
Shih Tzu standing facing left
Shih Tzu long coat detail
Shih Tzu on NY Street
Shih Tzu nail clipping
Shih Tzu Raincoat Green
Shih Tzu

Find a Puppy: Shih Tzu

AKC Marketplace | PuppyFinder

AKC Marketplace is the only site to exclusively list 100% AKC puppies from AKC-Registered litters and the breeders who have cared for and raised these puppies are required to follow rules and regulations established by the AKC.
Find Shih Tzu Puppies

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Shih Tzu is a sturdy, lively, alert toy dog with long flowing double coat. Befitting his noble Chinese ancestry as a highly valued, prized companion and palace pet, the Shih Tzu is proud of bearing, has a distinctively arrogant carriage with head well up and tail curved over the back. Although there has always been considerable size variation, the Shih Tzu must be compact, solid, carrying good weight and substance. Even though a toy dog, the Shih Tzu must be subject to the same requirements of soundness and structure prescribed for all breeds, and any deviation from the ideal described in the standard should be penalized to the extent of the deviation.

HEAD

Head – Round, broad, wide between eyes, its size in balance with the overall size of dog being neither too large nor too small. Fault: Narrow head, close-set eyes. Expression – Warm, sweet, wide-eyed, friendly and trusting. An overall well-balanced and pleasant expression supersedes the importance of individual parts. Care should be taken to look and examine well beyond the hair to determine if what is seen is the actual head and expression rather than an image created by grooming technique.

BODY

Short-coupled and sturdy with no waist or tuck-up. The Shih Tzu is slightly longer than tall. Fault – Legginess. Chest – Broad and deep with good spring-of-rib, however, not barrel-chested. Depth of ribcage should extend to just below elbow. Distance from elbow to withers is a little greater than from elbow to ground. Croup – Flat.

FOREQUARTERS

Shoulders – Well-angulated, well laid-back, well laid-in, fitting smoothly into body. Legs – Straight, well-boned, muscular, set well-apart and under chest, with elbows set close to body. Pasterns – Strong, perpendicular. Dewclaws – May be removed. Feet – Firm, well-padded, point straight ahead.

COAT

Luxurious, double-coated, dense, long, and flowing. Slight wave permissible. Hair on top of head is tied up. Fault: Sparse coat, single coat, curly coat. Trimming – Feet, bottom of coat, and anus may be done for neatness and to facilitate movement. Fault – Excessive trimming.

HINDQUARTERS

Angulation of hindquarters should be in balance with forequarters. Legs – Well-boned, muscular, and straight when viewed from rear with well-bent stifles, not close set but in line with forequarters. Hocks – Well let down, perpendicular. Fault – Hyperextension of hocks. Dewclaws – May be removed. Feet – Firm, well-padded, point straight ahead.

1
2
3
4
5
6
shih tzu illustration

About the Shih Tzu

Shi Tsu (pronounced in the West “sheed-zoo” or “sheet-su”; the Chinese say “sher-zer”), weighing between 9 to 16 pounds, and standing between 8 and 11 inches, are surprisingly solid for dogs their size. The coat, which comes in many colors, is worth the time you will put into it—few dogs are as beautiful as a well-groomed Shih Tzu.

Being cute is a way of life for this lively charmer. The Shih Tzu is known to be especially affectionate with children. As a small dog bred to spend most of their day inside royal palaces, they make a great pet if you live in an apartment or lack a big backyard. Some dogs live to dig holes and chase cats, but a Shih Tzu’s idea of fun is sitting in your lap acting adorable as you try to watch TV.

National Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country.
Shih Tzu

Find a Puppy: Shih Tzu

AKC Marketplace | PuppyFinder

AKC Marketplace is the only site to exclusively list 100% AKC puppies from AKC-Registered litters and the breeders who have cared for and raised these puppies are required to follow rules and regulations established by the AKC.
Find Shih Tzu Puppies

Care

NUTRITION

The Shih Tzu should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.

GROOMING

A Shih Tzu with a long coat requires daily brushing. Use a good-quality wire brush with flexible pins, and layer the hair to be sure you reach to the skin. A bath about every three or four weeks will help to keep the coat clean and at its best. Remember to comb the mustache and topknot daily, and gently clean the corner of the eyes with a damp cloth. To protect the Shih Tzu’s eyes from being irritated, the hair on the top of the head should be trimmed short or tied up into a topknot. If you don’t want to have to spend time on your dog’s coat, the Shih Tzu can look adorable when clipped into a “puppy trim” by a professional groomer. Trimming nails and cleaning ears should be part of the Shih Tzu’s grooming routine.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Specialty/Professional
Daily Brushing

Shedding

Infrequent
Frequent
Infrequent

EXERCISE

The Shih Tzu was bred to be a house companion. As such, they require minimal exercise. Short daily walks with their owner and indoor playtime will satisfy the activity needs of this small, short-legged companion.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Regular Exercise

TRAINING

Training a Shih Tzu can be both an amusing and a frustrating experience. The breed tends to charm his owner into letting him have his own way, which can result in a chubby, less-than-completely-housebroken pet who is difficult to groom. Because Shih Tzu are such people dogs, training methods based on praise and rewards work best. Harsh corrections should not be used with this breed. Introduce desired new behaviors a bit at a time, be firm, and never give in while the dog is misbehaving. If he nips or jumps up on you, ignore him until he settles down, then praise him. Early socialization and puppy training classes are recommended and help to ensure that the Shih Tzu grows into a well-adjusted, well-mannered companion. When enrolling in a puppy class, be sure that the training methods used in the class are based on positive reinforcement.

Trainability

May be Stubborn
Eager to Please
Agreeable

Temperament/Demeanor

Aloof/Wary
Outgoing
Friendly

HEALTH

Because of their heavy coats and short faces, Shih Tzu do not tolerate heat well and are not good swimmers. Most Shih Tzu are generally healthy, and responsible breeders screen their stock for health conditions such as such as hip dysplasia, patellar luxation (a slipped kneecap), eye anomalies including cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy, retinal detachment, and corneal dryness and inflammation from excessive exposure to the air because of improperly closing eyelids.

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  • No recommended health tests

Read the Official Breed Club Health Statement.

Shih Tzu
Shih Tzu
Shih Tzu
Shih Tzu
Shih Tzu
Shih Tzu

History

When you own a Shih Tzu, you own a little bit of Chinese history. Imperial breeders in the palace of the Chinese emperor developed the Shih Tzu (meaning “lion dog”) centuries ago from Tibetan breeding stock. The breed is most likely the product of crosses of two even older Sino-Tibetan breeds, the Lhaso Apso and the Pekingese.

For hundreds of years, Shih Tzu lived the life of royal lap warmers and were pampered by emperors and their families. It is said emperors would give valuable gifts to breeders of Shih Tzu who produced the most beautiful and affectionate dogs.

The breed remained hidden behind palace walls, virtually unknown to the outside world, until the1930s. Breed clubs formed in Peking and later England further refined the breed, not without much debate among fanciers as to proper type. The Shih Tzu entered the AKC Stud Book in 1969.

Since then, the Shih Tzu has been one of the most popular toy dogs here and in the United Kingdom. And they still treat their owners, no matter who they might be, like royalty. Owners as diverse as Queen Elizabeth II and Miley Cyrus have succumbed to the Shih Tzu’s exotic charms.

Did You Know?

During the Tang Dynasty, K'iu T'ai, King of Viqur, gave the Chinese court a pair of dogs, said to have come from the Fu Lin (assumedly, the Byzantine Empire). Mention of these dogs (Shih Tzus) was again made in AD 990-994 when people of the Ho Chou sent dogs as a tribute.
Shih Tzu means lion, and in Buddhist belief, there is an association between the lion and their Deity; thus, the dogs were bred in court.
The Shih Tzu was the house pet for most of the Ming Dynasty.
First classified as Apsos, but after a ruling by the kennel club (England), became a separate breed, culminating with the formation of the Shih Tzu Kennel Club of England in 1935 and admittance to the AKC stud book in 1969.
The Shih Tzu is often called "the chrysanthemum-faced dog" because of the haphazard, round-face way their hair grows in the front.

The Breed Standard

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Shih Tzu is a sturdy, lively, alert toy dog with long flowing double coat. Befitting his noble Chinese ancestry as a highly valued, prized companion and palace pet, the Shih Tzu is proud of bearing, has a distinctively arrogant carriage with head well up and tail curved over the back. Although there has always been considerable size variation, the Shih Tzu must be compact, solid, carrying good weight and substance. Even though a toy dog, the Shih Tzu must be subject to the same requirements of soundness and structure prescribed for all breeds, and any deviation from the ideal described in the standard should be penalized to the extent of the deviation.

HEAD

Head – Round, broad, wide between eyes, its size in balance with the overall size of dog being neither too large nor too small. Fault: Narrow head, close-set eyes. Expression – Warm, sweet, wide-eyed, friendly and trusting. An overall well-balanced and pleasant expression supersedes the importance of individual parts. Care should be taken to look and examine well beyond the hair to determine if what is seen is the actual head and expression rather than an image created by grooming technique.

BODY

Short-coupled and sturdy with no waist or tuck-up. The Shih Tzu is slightly longer than tall. Fault – Legginess. Chest – Broad and deep with good spring-of-rib, however, not barrel-chested. Depth of ribcage should extend to just below elbow. Distance from elbow to withers is a little greater than from elbow to ground. Croup – Flat.

FOREQUARTERS

Shoulders – Well-angulated, well laid-back, well laid-in, fitting smoothly into body. Legs – Straight, well-boned, muscular, set well-apart and under chest, with elbows set close to body. Pasterns – Strong, perpendicular. Dewclaws – May be removed. Feet – Firm, well-padded, point straight ahead.

COAT

Luxurious, double-coated, dense, long, and flowing. Slight wave permissible. Hair on top of head is tied up. Fault: Sparse coat, single coat, curly coat. Trimming – Feet, bottom of coat, and anus may be done for neatness and to facilitate movement. Fault – Excessive trimming.

HINDQUARTERS

Angulation of hindquarters should be in balance with forequarters. Legs – Well-boned, muscular, and straight when viewed from rear with well-bent stifles, not close set but in line with forequarters. Hocks – Well let down, perpendicular. Fault – Hyperextension of hocks. Dewclaws – May be removed. Feet – Firm, well-padded, point straight ahead.

1
2
3
4
5
6
shih tzu illustration

Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
Black Check Mark For Standard Color 007
Black & White Check Mark For Standard Color 019
Blue Check Mark For Standard Color 037
Blue & White Check Mark For Standard Color 045
Brindle Check Mark For Standard Color 057
Brindle & White Check Mark For Standard Color 059
Gold Check Mark For Standard Color 091
Gold & White Check Mark For Standard Color 092
Liver Check Mark For Standard Color 123
Liver & White Check Mark For Standard Color 125
Red Check Mark For Standard Color 140
Red & White Check Mark For Standard Color 146
Silver Check Mark For Standard Color 176
Silver & White Check Mark For Standard Color 182
Black Gold & Silver 235
Black Gold & White 310
Black White & Silver 033
Silver Gold & White 188
White 199

Markings

Description Standard Markings Registration Code
Black Markings Check Mark For Standard Mark 002
Black Mask Check Mark For Standard Mark 004
Tan Markings Check Mark For Standard Mark 012
White Markings 014
If you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact us at enewsletter@akc.org
https://www.akc.org/wp-admin/admin-ajax.php
https://www.akc.org/wp-admin/admin-ajax.php
https://www.akc.org/subscription/thank-you
TOP