Caring for a Shih Tzu

by Janice Jones     |Last Updated 05-10-2021

Just how does one go about caring for a Shih Tzu? 

I asked that myself about 35 years ago when I obtained my first Shih Tzu, a little black and white girl named Susie. 

Dog ownership was not new to me, but the breed was and likely new to many people. 

The American Kennel Club accepted the Shih Tzu breed into the Toy Group in 1969 some ten years later Suzie joined my family.  She was everything to us, our pet, our companion, the daughter of a childless couple.

Naturally I knew I had to bathe her once in a while and clip her nails.  I knew she needed to be fed and taken to the vet, but I was clueless about everything else.  This started my life long journey of getting to know the breed, from the inside—out.

Black and White Shih TzuMeet Susie, born 1979

Shih Tzu dogs make wonderful pets because they are so versatile and their personalities seem to mesh with anyone who will love them. 

They want nothing more in life but to be by your side and share your life whether you are an active family always on the go or a tired old retired couple looking for some company. 

I know this because I was energetic in my 20s, and then even more active as a parent of two small boys.  Somehow I managed to slow down after my children were all grown, and I left the hectic lifestyle that accompanied long work days and numerous after work duties.  

Now I have time to enjoy my Shih Tzu dogs thoroughly and get to know them even better.

What Does Caring for a Shih Tzu Dog Mean?

Just like caring for any dog, caring for a Shih Tzu has different meanings for different people.

Here is an overview of the Shih Tzu breed to help you get to know your little furbaby.  

Puppy and Dog Development

Your puppy begins his long development journey the minute he is conceived.  Development in the uterus, early neonatal environment, puppy development and subsequent experiences all contribute to his overall personality. 

The environment, however, is only part of the story, genetics play a major role in how a puppy will develop. The milestones that a puppy reaches is a very interesting read.

Read about Dog Development

Understanding Your Shih Tzu

Would it not be great if we could just talk to our Shih Tzu and they could tell us how they are feeling?  Of course this will never happen, but there are so many clues our Tzus give us just by how they hold and move their body.  There are also some behaviors that we don't like.  Luckily many of these problems can be dealt with either through training or changing the environment.  

Feeding Your Shih Tzu

Finding the right food for your puppy or adult dog is so important to his overall health. 

With that said, there is no, one size fits all diet for dogs but rather a combination of quality ingredients, taste and appropriateness for your dog.  "Experts" can make suggestions, but it is ultimately your choice to determine what is right for your dog.

Read about Feeding Your Shih Tzu Dog

Grooming Your Shih Tzu Link

This breed is meant for those who don't mind doing a little grooming.  The Shih Tzu has a double coat which includes a soft undercoat that can get tangled and matted if not regularly maintained. 

If brushing and combing is not your thing, this breed may not be an ideal choice for you. 

Even professional grooming visits every other month will not make up for the daily care these dogs require.

Learn about Shih Tzu grooming or those tasks you might need to do in between grooming sessions.

Shih Tzu Health Link

The Shih Tzu breed is neither healthier or sicker than other small breed dogs, but dog ownership requires that we take health care seriously. 

Many problems can be avoided by providing preventative care that includes vaccines, wormings, parasite control and yearly visits to the vet. 

Beyond that, Tzu owners should be aware of the various types of diseases that have been identified in the breed.

Read about Health care resources on this site as well as genetic diseases identified in this breed.

Shih Tzu Safety

All dogs deserve to live in a safe home which includes keeping them isolated from hazards that can take years off of their life.  Understanding what constitutes a safe environment is the first step, but it doesn't stop there. 

There are some things specific to this breed worth mentioning so that new owners can create their own plan for keeping their puppy and growing adult safe from harm's way.

The best way to accomplish this is to learn what safety measures are most important for this breed. Learn ways to keep your Shih Tzu Safe throughout the year. Shih Tzu Safety Articles.

Shih Tzu Play and Exercise

It has been said that Shih Tzu dogs do not need a great deal of exercise and that is true, but they still need some.  Following you from room to room is one way they get their daily exercise, but a vigorous romp in the back yard helps them stay fit and also improves their mental well-being. 

A walk around the neighborhood is also welcome daily activity for most Shih Tzu dogs. 

They won't need to accompany you on a marathon run, but daily exercise will keep them healthy and fit and improve the chances of a long life span.

Learn ways you can keep your Shih Tzu at the top of his game.  Physically & Mentally.

Shih Tzu Training Link

Many owners of small breed dogs do not take training as seriously as their neighbors with medium to large breed dogs. 

This is unfortunate as it can lead to behavioral problems including Small Dog Syndrome which is typical of spoiled small breed dogs. 

Unless your dog is bound for the canine sports world, or for work as a therapy dog, training doesn't need to be intense, but a few rules in doggie etiquette and basic commands can make your dog a star in any setting.  Read about the Shih Tzu Training Resources on this website.

Socialize your Shih Tzu Link

Along with training, puppy socialization is important to provide a solid base for a puppy to grow and develop adequate skills and coping mechanisms that will serve him throughout his life.

Poorly socialized puppies become fearful or anxiety ridden adults that may not make the easiest canine companions.  Luckily socialization is not difficult and the process if done properly will lead to a well adjusted dog that is a pleasure to be with, whatever the situation.

It takes a village to raise a child, or so I'm told, and I would suspect that in today's world the same could be said for our puppy children. 

From veterinarians, to dog daycare, to groomers, to walkers and trainers, there are many professionals you may encounter as your puppy grows from babyhood to a fully functioning adult dog. 

Learn about the various professionals that can help you along the way and tap into their expertise.

Canine Professional Articles

Going Beyond.  Breeding Your Shih Tzu dog.  If you have come to the conclusion that this breed is perfect for you, you may also be thinking that breeding your female might be in your future. 

We have anticipated your interest and provided a series of articles that might be of interest to people interested in breeding their dogs. 

While not extensive, we hope this collection of posts may help you decide if dog breeding is in your future.

Living With a Shih Tzu

I am sure there is much more, but these are the essential elements of caring for a Shih Tzu.  Within this site are many articles specific to the Shih Tzu dog.  

At last count, if I were to put all the information into one volume, the book would have over 600 pages.  I may do that someday, but for now, I just want to help all people who love Shih Tzu dogs as much as I have the information that I have accumulated over the last 35 years.  

Much of what we thought was relevant or accurate about owning a dog has since been proved wrong.  Owning a dog in the 21st century is different than what it used to be.  Like everything else, it is important to look at our history for wisdom, but accept new research as it becomes available.

If you ever find a topic that needs more explanation, please do not hesitate to contact me.  I may not be able to answer everything, but I will do my best to research and provide guidance. 

Remember, I am not a veterinarian, and the information supplied on this site is for informational purposes only.  If your dog is ill or suffering from a disease, please call your veterinarian.  Never use the information provided here instead of the advice of a licensed vet.

About Janice

Janice is the voice behind Miracle Shih Tzu. Having lived with dogs and cats most of her life, she served as a veterinary technician for ten years in Maryland and twelve years as a Shih Tzu dog breeder in Ohio.

Her education includes undergraduate degrees in Psychology with a minor in biology, Early Childhood Education, and Nursing, and a master's in Mental Health Counseling.

She is a lifelong learner, a dog lover, and passionate about the welfare of animals. Her favorite breed for over 50 years has been the Shih Tzu.

When not writing, reading, or researching dog-related topics, she likes to spend time with her eight Shih Tzu dogs, her husband, and her family, as well as knitting and crocheting. She is also the voice behind Small Dog Place and smart knit crocheting.