If you’re considering adding a new member to your family, you may be spending a lot of time researching the perfect breed for your lifestyle. There are many things to consider from the makeup of your family to where you live that will inform what kind of dog might be the best fit. For those looking for a smaller pup, the Shih Tzu may have popped up in your research. Learn more about these adorable and expressive pups to decide if this might be the right dog for your family.
About the Shih Tzu
The American Kennel Club ranks the Shih Tzu 20th out of 197 on their most popular breeds list, and this is for good reason! These “affectionate, playful, and outgoing pups” pack a lot of personality into their small frames. They weigh between 9 and 16 pounds and are only about 10 inches tall on average. This makes them suitable for living in most environments including smaller apartments.
The average life expectancy for these pups is 10 - 18 years, this means your dog may be an almost two-decade commitment. So before you bring one into your home, ensure this is a responsibility that you want to take on.
Four pros of Shih Tzus
1. Have gorgeous coats
Shih Tzu’s can be found in a wide variety of colors. These include gold & white, red & white, gold with a black mask, black & white, liver, solid black, and brindle & white. These pups may also have blue eyes. Their coats can be kept long or groomed shorter depending on your lifestyle and preferences.
2. Affectionate with children
Shih Tzu’s are known to be affectionate with kids and make great therapy dogs due to their friendly nature and charming personalities. We always remind parents to supervise young children with dogs and teach children (age appropriately) to respect animals.
3. Happy to spend time indoors
While these pups can compete in dog sports like agility, most of them prefer to spend their time with you indoors. They were bred to be companion dogs so that is what they do best. Their idea of a great time is probably going to be crawling into your lap while you binge whatever’s on Netflix.
4. Great lapdogs
Since these pups were bred for companionship they really are the perfect lap pups. If you are older or considering a pet companion for a parent the Shih Tzu might be the perfect pup.
Four cons of Shih Tzus
1. Those gorgeous coats can be high maintenance
The Shih Tzu who is rocking a longer hairstyle will need almost daily brushing. If you can’t commit to keeping up with the brushing you risk letting their coat get matted which can be painful or if left too long can cause skin issues. Even if you do brush daily, you will need to get your pup to a groomer (or learn to DIY) on a regular schedule and the cost of all this grooming can add up quickly.
2. They need a high-quality food
These small pups have specific nutritional needs and they benefit from a high quality, fresh or homemade diet. At Ollie, many of our customers are Shih Tzus. Word got out that our delicious recipes kept their bellies happy and we’ve seen many of these pup’s parents reaching out to us to get their pups set up with regular deliveries. We generally don’t recommend going the home made route without chatting with your vet or a nutritionist as if you aren’t careful you can cause nutritional deficiencies or imbalances. That’s why we have a veterinary nutritionist on our team at Ollie, to make sure your pup is getting everything they need from our Recipes!
3. Can be stubborn
While these pups are charming and friendly they can also be a little … bossy. They can use those cute faces for evil instead of good if you don’t start with training and socialization early. When you bring home a puppy you will want to start house training and obedience training quickly to help your puppy learn how things work and help them bond with you.
4. Prone to health issues
Like any other purebred dog, the Shih Tzu is prone to certain health issues. The most common include conditions 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.
While it is not exactly a health issue, you do also want to consider because of their longer coats, many of these pups don’t tolerate heat well and they don’t tend ot make good swimmers.
Before purchasing a pup from a breeder inquire about the health of the bloodline and any testing that the breeder does before breeding to ensure the best possible chance of healthy pups.
Is a Shih Tzu a good first dog?
Yes, the Shih Tzu can be a good choice for a first-time dog owner. Their friendly nature and desire to be close to their humans can make them a great choice. That doesn’t mean that these pups aren’t hard work to raise and train. Like any puppy, you want to make sure you are giving them enough time and attention, avoiding behavioral issues, and providing adequate nutrition and veterinary care.
Whether you are a single person looking for a companion or you feel that your children are finally old enough to have a puppy of their own, a Shih Tzu can be a great choice for your family - no matter what that looks like.
Once your Shih Tzu is settled in at home - its time to think about food. At Ollie, we know plenty about feeding and nourishing Shih Tzu's because it is one of the top 5 most popular breeds among all of our pet customers (number four to be precise).
Shih Tzu parents find that our delicious Recipes keep their pups happy, healthy and full of only the good stuff. They tell us all the time that their pups love to see the big orange boxes get delivered and dig into the good stuff straight from our signature Puptainers!
The Ollie blog is devoted to helping pet parents lead healthier lives with their pups. If you want to learn more about our fresh, human-grade food, check out MyOllie.com.