20 Shih Tzu Facts You May Not Know

Check out these 20 Shih Tzu Facts to test your knowledge about the breed, its history, grooming needs, health care, and temperament.

by Janice Jones     |Last Updated 02-18-2020

Twenty Shih Tzu Facts

1. Shih Tzu: A Companion Dog

Shih Tzu Facts

Shih Tzu were bred for centuries to be a companion dog. They can't hunt, can't guard, can't protect farm animals, can't flush out vermin.  They can just be your friend!

Read more about the Shih Tzu Temperament

Read, 7 Common Misconceptions About Owning a Shih Tzu

2. An Ancient Breed

Shih Tzu Facts:  An Ancient Breed

According to DNA research, they are one of the world’s 14 most ancient breeds according to making them very close to the wolf.

Read about Breed History

3. Shih Tzu:  The Lion Dog

Shih Tzu Facts:  Lion Dog

They were called a lion dog, but they aren’t the only breed with that nickname:  Lhasa Apso, Pugs, and Japanese Chin were also bred to look like little lions.

Read about the Shih Tzu Breed Standard

4. Chrysanthemum Dog

Shih Tzu Facts:  Chrysanthemum Dog

Another nickname for the Shih Tzu is the Chrysanthemum faced dog.  They were called that because when their hair around their face and head grow out as a puppy, it grows in all directions resembling the flower.

5. Pronounced "Sheed zoo"

Shih Tzu Facts:  Pronounced Sheed Zoo

There is some confusion about how to pronounce the name Shih Tzu.  Pronounced "Sheed zoo" it means lion in Chinese.

Find out if the Shih Tzu is  Right For You

6. Protector of Palaces and Temples

Shih Tzu Facts:  Protectors of ancient temples and palaces

From ancient times, the main job of the breed was to guard palaces and monasteries in ancient china and of course, keep everyone happy.  They served as foot warms, hand warmers, lap warmers and bed companions.

History of the Breed

7. Modern Shih Tzu Descendents

Shih Tzu Facts:  All descended from 14 dogs

Of all the Shih Tzu facts, this one is least known:  The breed was almost completely destroyed by the Communist Party after 1949. All surviving Shih Tzu today descended from 14 dogs, one of which was a pekingese.

8. Double Coated Breed

Shih Tzu Facts: Double Coated Breed

The Shih Tzu has a thick double coat that consists of a harder outer coat and soft inner coat.  Puppies are born with a single coat and their adult coat begins to grow after about 7 months. 

Read More About Grooming Your Shih Tzu

9. Shih Tzu Grooming

Shih Tzu Facts:  Grooming

Shih Tzu dogs need much brushing and grooming to keep their coats looking good.  Daily brushing is ideal, but  coats that go more than a few days without grooming begin to mat.

Read More about Brushing your Shih Tzu

10. Hypoallergenic Breed

Shih Tzu Facts:  Hypoallergenic Breed

They do not shed, so may be appropriate for someone with allergies, but beware of claims of hypoallergenic breeds. 

There is no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic dog breed.

What is a hypoallergenic Dog Breed?

11. Shih Tzu Temperament

Shih Tzu Facts:  Shih Tzu Temperament

Shih Tzu dogs love to play, cuddle, snuggle or just be by your side.  These are not the type of dog to leave outside or away from human companionship.  They need your love daily to survive.

Read more about Shih Tzu Temperament

12. Travel Partner

Shih Tzu Facts:  How to travel with a dog

They are alert, friendly, playful, inquisitive and devoted to their owners.  They make great little traveling companions.

Read More about Traveling with Your Dog

13. Smart but Stubborn

Shih Tzu Facts

The Shih Tzu breed is a very smart breed, but can be stubborn, so gentle training methods work best.  Socialization and training should begin the minute you bring your puppy home.

Read more about Puppy Socialization

Read more about Shih Tzu Puppy Training

14. Shih Tzu Breed Standard

Shih Tzu Facts:  Puppy Weight Chart

The breed standard states that the normal Shih Tzu dog should weigh between 9 and 16 pounds.

Read More about the Shih Tzu Standard

Read More about Puppy Weight Charts

15. A Coat of Many Colors

Shih Tzu Facts:  Coat Colors in the Shih TzuColors

They come in a wide assortment of colors, solids, two colors and three colors.  The American Kennel Club says all colors are acceptable

Read More about Shih Tzu Colors

Read More About Shih Tzu Color Changes

16. Cool Climate Dogs

Shih Tzu Facts: Prone to Heat StrokeCold Climate Dogs

Shih Tzu do best in cooler climates;  They do not do well in hot climates are are prone to heat stroke.

Read more about Heat Stroke in Shih Tzu Dogs

Read about Cold Weather Advice

17. Brachycephalic Breed

Shih Tzu Facts:  A brachycephalic breed

They are considered a Brachycephalic breed:  This means they are prone to  breathing problems.  Some Shih Tzu dogs snore.

Read more about Brachycephalic Breeds

18. Long Life

Shih Tzu Facts:  A long life span

Their Life span is between 10 to 18 years and many do well into their senior years.

Read more about the Health of the Shih Tzu

19. Litter Size:  2 to 6 Puppies

Shih Tzu Facts:  Litter Size

They usually have litters that consist of between 2 and 6 puppies.  Average litter size is 4 puppies.

Read more about Puppy Development

20. Therapy Dogs

Shih Tzu Facts: Shih Tzu make good therapy dogs

Shih Tzu make wonderful emotional support animals and many choose this breed for that very reason.  They are also a great choice if you are considering training your dog to do therapy work.  They are gentle, friendly and take to strangers with ease. Not sure what the difference is between an emotional support dog and a therapy dog?  Learn what the differences are between the various assistance dogs.

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