Shih Tzu – Affectionate and Playful

The origin of Shih Tzu is ancient and is covered in a lot of mystery. It has been established that this dog is among the 14 oldest breeds and bones excavated in China proves it has been in existence in 8,000 BC. Some believe it was created by Monks in Tibet by crossing breeds then gifted to the Chinese royalty. It is true this dog was treasured companion of the high in society as evidenced by writings, paintings, and art from the Tang Dynasty.

Shih Tzu
Shih Tzu

It is referred to as a lion dog that trained with hunting lions to keep them calm. Writings report that this dog breed was small, shaggy, intelligent, strong and docile resembling lions. Competition in breeding the best looking dog produced both good quality and poor quality Shih Tzu breeds. The good quality ones were at times smuggled from the palace and gifted to visiting foreigners and Chinese nobles. This is how the Shih Tzu found their way to England in 1928, and a few years later, they entered the US. By 1960, there were already three clubs for Shih Tzu owners in America, two of these merged in 1963 forming one club.

Shih Tzu Personality/Temperament

Even though their name means the little lion, these shaggy dogs are not ferocious or fierce as the lion. It is the best breed all-around and can live in any home size, can live well with other pets in the house. The Shih Tzu is excellent with families and even single people and is an excellent companion for the senior citizens. They are well behaved, easy to train and are cute to look at. It is a lovely pet to have around to make friends with and hold.

Shih Tzu Personality
Shih Tzu Personality

Shih Tzu Exercise Needs

The Shih Tzu has short adorable legs that need exercising. If you let it be dormant, the dog will become frustrated and obese, and since every type is different, you can figure out what works best for your Shih Tzu and your schedule.

Shih Tzu Exercise Needs
Shih Tzu Exercise Needs

Once Daily
A 30-minite walk every day is adequate for the dog; you can break this into sessions throughout the day instead of taking a walk at once. It will take breaks to sniff, pee and take in the environment as you walk so do not rush it with walking continuously without letting it enjoy the outdoors.

Twice Daily
When you break the dogs walk into two short walk sessions, your schedule is easy to manage. 15 minutes n the morning and the other half in the evening is good for both of you. It will tire quickly due to their short legs that force them to make many steps to match yours. The moment he Shih Tzu begin to drag its walk, pants heavily, lie on the ground or totally refuse to walk is the time you stop since the walk has become too long for it.

Shih Tzu Walk
Shih Tzu Walk

No Walks
Walking may not be necessary if the dog gets enough play around the yard or house. You can also plan play activities with the dog every day for exercises and bonding.

Shih Tzu Suitability as a Family Pet

The Shih Tzu is a very friendly dog breed and likes children. Their comical personality makes them suitable for family. They are also well suited for both country and town life. If left alone for extended periods the dog will develop tendencies that are antisocial including defecating and barking in the house. They learn to accept other dogs and pets if you introduce them early enough. Their loyalty to family is assured but is wary of strangers. It lives for about 10 to 15 years making a perfect dog for a family since they grow up with the children. They love to be cuddled and petted by children.

Shih Tzu Family Pet
Shih Tzu Family Pet

Shih Tzu Known Health Issues

Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome
Shih Tzu commonly develops breathing issues like collapsed larynx, elongated soft palate, trachea issues and stenotic nares. With one problem, the dog can breathe on its own but it if has more than one issues, the health issues can be severe. The symptoms can occur from age 1 to 6 even if they are born with the health issues.

Shih Tzu Health Issues
Shih Tzu Health Issues

IVD Disease
The invertebral disk disease is common in the breeds with a longer back and shorter legs. The enormous pressure can cause a disk to slip in the back then press on its spinal cord.

Patellar Luxation
Dogs weighing under 25 pounds can develop this issue with the knee cap. The kneecap slips out of place and can happen anytime if not present at birth.

Hip Dysplasia
This disease happens when the hip ball joint slips out of place. This can happen as early as 4 months of age but may show symptoms when the dog is an adult.

Shih Tzu Affectionate and Playful

The Shih Tzu with its playful and affectionate behavior makes it one of the top 20 dog breeds in America. Its small size and moderate exercise needs make it an ideal pet for city living.

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43 thoughts on “Shih Tzu – Affectionate and Playful”

  1. I would appreciate a tea cup Shih Tzu puppy.
    Does anyone in the bay area have one?
    Vallejo, Oakland, Sacramento, Concord, Walnut Creek, or any near city ?

    • Reach out to Karen Shih Tzu Garden- here’s her email. She’s up in Gilroy, CA. I purchased my 5lb girl from her. She’s now 5 years old. Our girl was named Faberge when she was in Karen’s care. We love our Bailey; small package of love.

  2. I have had “Peter” my Shih Tzu in my life since 2015. I am single, handicapped and live by myself. He is my constant companion although I have to hire local children to walk him as I have a “vertical limit” of about 5 minutes…walking or standing. He was effectively a rescue dog living with a family who was almost never home and he spent long hours by himself in a cage, in a diaper. With me he has the run of the house. He still sleeps in his cage if he feels like it, but also on my bed, curled up on me or beside me, under my bed (when the thunder strikes), on the floor if it’s cooler there..or wherever he deems his “spot du jour”.
    I have a different theory of why they are called “Shih-Tzu”. If you are around one and share your life with one…you will soon notice that they answer questions like “do you want some dinner?”, “do you want a ride in the car?”, “do you want to go for a walk?” with a sneeze. It sounds suspiciously like Shih-Tzu”. When I asked him if that was him speaking “Shih-Tzu” he answered with the traditional “Shih-Tzu”…sounded almost like “shit yes”. When I told him I understood he got very excited. In the middle of the night if I failed to fill his bowl with water he stands on his hu=ind legs beside my bed and speaks softly to me. It does not take much imagination to hear the soft “wa wa” grumble and figure out what he is trying to tell me…..Can you tell he has me?…I love this little character like no other animal I have ever had the privilege to share space with in my life…..Mike

    • Mike, it’ wonderful that you have given this little guy the home he deserves. God bless both of you with many happy years together. I have had three Lhasa Apsos and 4 Shih Tzus and now have a ShihPoo. Can never be without a pup or two and I’m going on 77.

    • Great for both of you. We brought into our home a 7 week old Shih Tzu puppy a little of a year ago! Gabby makes us laugh daily with her mischievous play. Our Gabby loves to chase a ball, her stuffed animals, and her sister, our cat! She is full of love and kisses, except at bedtime! She turns her head away from us and refuses to kiss us goodnight…talk about a shit…LOL

    • I had one for 13 years, she was the love of my life, and very, very smart, she refused to drink her water if it had a speck of food in it ! She would come and bark at me in the living room take me to her water bowl and bark at it and then look up at me for me to changs it, yes she could talk and communicate in so many different ways.

    • Hi Mike, I had a Shih Tzu/Maltese little girl, & she was exactly the same in temperament & understanding as yours.
      Unfortunately, I had to have my little girl put down July 2019 at 17 1/2 yrs old. She was blind & deaf & got to the stage where she couldn’t control her bladder, so it was the only humane thing to do.
      I miss her so much.


  4. I have had a ship tzu named Max and he has been gone for a year now. He was with me for 18 years!
    I miss him terribly. My kids have all grown and my wife is wanting another. I’m not sure I could do it. Max was more than just a pet. He was one of my kids. He was just the best companion I have ever had the privilege to love. Max didn’t bark unless he was chasing bunnies in his sleep. My family traveled all over the place and max was right there with us. He never complained.
    As he got older he lost sight and really couldn’t get around very much. But his tail would light up when we where near. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done taking him to the vet so that he could be taken out of his suffering. I could not hold back the tears, even in the parking lot. I just moved in to a new house and the next door neighbor has the same dog. Even looks a little like Max.
    It’s tough. I’m just not ready. Maybe a pug next time. I don’t know

    • Curtis, I have a 1 year old Shih tzu puppy Max and he is like our son. I have been researching a lot on foodie his long and healthy life but so confused . Great that your pup Max is with you for 18 years ,Can you guide me or give tips what kind of food and healthy habits you practiced with your Max . Hey

  5. I have a sweet girl that was around 3 when I adopted her from a shelter. She’s been with me (us) for 3 yrs now. I’ve never had a shit tzu but Hettie Rae, is the love of my life! So smart! She’s not a cuddly dig but does want to walk, play & have your attention. That’s ok with her momma tho😘

  6. My husband bought me a Shihcon (Shih Tzu, Bichon mix) for Xmas, birthday, ANNI, mother’s day, name the gift giving day. She stole our 💕, we call her Stella. She really made a difference in our lives. I never thought that he would be so wound up with a little dog, but he is her go to person when she needs something. I’m 75 and limited in my movements, so he takes care of her willingly. 😆. When she senses our grandson coming home she stands on her hind legs, throws back her little head and barks like crazy, then she,pees on his foot. 😆. Stella is just the sweetest thing, and so affectionate. She does love attention. If I’m on my phone, she will come and lay on the phone, and lay on her back for a belly rub, which she gets. 😆.

  7. I have had shih Tzu since 1996 all females my first one lives to be 14 and a half Zoey she was like a person. Then we have Josey she is 15 and a half . And finally Lucy she is 5 i just love the breed they are so loving and playfull little dogs.

  8. It was very interesting to read others experiences as Shih Zhu dog owners. I have the same breed dog and it’s the first and only dog in my life. What I enjoy is that I’m retired 6yrs. now and at the age of 68 I can truly enjoy him. He is always under my care and I learned to love and care for him the best I could. I had him from the age of 4 and a half and he is now a year old. He is still with the same spunk and vitality as always. I hope he lives a long life for he also loves his life by being friendly curious all the time, affectionate, happy and playful.

    • I am also a 68 year old retired Shi Tzu owner with lots of spink and vitality. He has been with me since he was 6 weeks old and he loves other dogs(not concerned if they are big or little), children and people in general. He is 7 months old now and recently he has been tearing resulting in horrible,tear stains. Articles I have read lead me to believe he might be allergic to his food (Nutro Ultra Chicken Lamb and Salmon with grains). This food is the one and only food that solved his soft poop problem. So now I don’t know what to do , Dio you have any recommendations for food and getting rid of the tear stains?

      • Hi Patricia
        I have never heard of the food allergy theory.. i thought the eyes tear because of their protruding shape and the colour is because of red blood cells being dispersed? It happens with a large percentage of Shih Tzus – surely they are not all allergic? My jboy’s eyes only started tearing when he got to five years old. I bought some professional dog groomer’s facial scissors (they are round at the end like children’s scissors) and i trim upwards in his tear troughs to remove the sticky, stained fur. I also use them to trim round his ‘chrysanthemum’ when it is growing over his eyes between grooming appointments. I’ve got pretty good at it now 🙂. I hope this helps. Jo.

      • Our little Josie had that problem. Her little white face was orange with tear stains by the time she was 4 months old. Our groomer said to give her only distilled water to drink. We had tried all of the pet products at the pet stores and nothing helped. We were about to stop after about 8 months or more when we realized her face was as white as snow. She didn’t have the “mask”. She never had tear stains again. I have been told it’s chemicals and minerals in the water that cause this. Our little Josephine Marie came from a long line of show dogs and was as prissy as anyone could be. She was the joy of our lives! We miss her so much. Our Annie is dumb as a box of rocks, but so sweet and lovable. They are all different.

  9. I have 2 female Havanese both born April different litter 1 week apart..we live in Fayetteville NC if interested

    • My shih tzu was like that plus her little belly would rumble and squeal, found out she couldn’t digest any food that contained the enzymes that fowl have, changed her food to lamb and rice ( easy to digest) by NATURES RECIPE , NO CHICKEN , TURKEY, OR CHICKEN MEAL ETC:

  10. They eat the grass when they have a tummy upset, & it’s purpose is to make it vomit whatever was upsetting them. Make sure she hasn’t got a temperature or she may need to see the vet.


  12. I adopted my Roxy (Shinese; Shia tsu/Pekingese mix)- from the pound in June. She is so lovable. She’s around 3 years old. Is it common that the runoff when outside? As soon as she does her business in the front yard, she runs down the street to meet and greet neighbors. She’s not being aggressive to anyone, but I’d like to break her if this habit. I’ve had to chase her down street with car, or have had people driving down street to let her into their car to stop her from going further down street. Any suggestions?

  13. Hello. My Shih Poo ‘Max’ has a really grubby mouth and I wonder if something yukky is leaking from his mouth. I know his teeth are not in good shape but the vet thinks he is too old to undergo an operation on them. Any ideas re the grubby mouth? Thanks.

  14. We lost our female shitzu Sept 1st 2019 Sweetpea She was 9 years old and had a heart condition WE miss her and would like to adopt Shitzu female of shitzu mix maltese or poodle

  15. Curtis: One never gets a dog to replace another one, of course. However, another little Shih Tzu is probably exactly what you need. You know how special they are already, get a different colored one. Sometimes a new fur baby can help you heal faster, just a thought.
    I have a little black & white with a Mickey Mouse hat on his back. He’s so much fun and they are smart little ones. He talks to me all the time, in his language. I keep trying to get him to say, “I love you mama”, no dice.
    Keep happy thoughts !!!!!

  16. Mike, my boy Louie does the exact same “wa wa” beside my bed so I can wake up n put him back in my bed. At least 3 times a night! Of course he knows I am going to put him back in bed w me. I tell people all the time that he talks to me. N I know exactly what he wants. I absolutely love your story because I dont feel so alone or crazy lol. Thanks for sharing your story!

  17. Linda Smith. I rescued a Brindle colour shihtzu called Lula she was in quite bad shape when I got her ,she had a Hernia and needed to be spaded and was under weight.when I saw her I just had to have her, she is now doing very well she has been spaded and her Henia done.She is the most gentle beautiful little fur baby you could wish for there’s not a bad bone in her tiney body, and she is so funny when she plays with her soft toys. I couldn’t imagine not having her around now.

  18. Hi all I have 2 shih-tzu crosses Charlie 5 & Boo Boo who turns 4 next week, Charlie is now 2months from recovering after IVDD ( exploding disc causing neurological damage) please anyone who has one of these beautiful fur babies arm yourself with all the info you can it may help you to avoid the issue altogether. I wish I had known to educate myself beforehand & that this is just one of the small breeds that are highly likely to have this happen . On a happier note my Charlie is almost back to his old cheeky always happy self !! Both of my Shih’s do the wa wa & sneeze thing . Beyond any doubt they understand what we say & for the most part I understand what they are trying to tell me too ..
    Jackie 😁

  19. A program on UTUBE said to put a few drops of vinegar in my dogs
    water bowl to change the PF balance. I have noticed that my little darling has less tearing. Also avoid giving him food with blue berries or cranberries as these foods are dyes. (the later a groomer told me)
    Wash around his eyes daily with a soft wet cloth.
    Hope this works for you.

  20. My Shih tzu does the same Mike! The little sneezes when he wants something. I always had big dogs until I saw this little guy the day he was born and knew I had to have him. Got him when he was 8 weeks old and he’s almost 10 1/2 years old now. He is my sidekick, my buddy, my friend and never leaves my side. He is funny, and so much fun! I get a kick out of his little stop and circle when he runs when he knows there’s a treat coming. I don’t know what I would do without him. He’s my soul mate. I know that sounds corny but it’s true. I’ll be devastated when his day comes.

  21. Shih tzus might be tiny in size, but they’re big on personality. Wanting nothing more than to be your best friend, this pint-sized pooch is an affectionate, lively and sweet-tempered companion. Most fanciers agree the shih tzu hails from ancient China, where for more than 1,000 years royalty regarded these lap dogs as cherished household pets.

  22. I brought Norman, shih-tzu, home from the shelter when he was about one year. He was not easy to potty train and I worked with him until he finally got it. He was full of energy and playful. I brought him to puppy school and he was so terrified. He sat behind me and was scared to try out some demands. But he received his diploma! I continued to work with him at home and he learned to sit, stay and stop. About two years later, Norm kind of quit playing and didn’t seem to bother him. A friend suggested that he was an “old soul” and I had to agree. He is ten yrs old now and pretty much the same, but I love him so much. I am 67 years old and live alone. He’s my best friend and I guess we are both old souls! He still amazes me with some new behaviors, like after he’s fed in the morning he now jumps to sit beside me. Oh, he quit giving me kisses years ago. Though he’ll slip one in once in a while if the mood suits him!! We try to go walking in the dog park every day, weather permitting. He loves this more than anything!! Norman is my precious little baby boy and he’s given me unconditional love.

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