everything shih tzu

Everything Shih Tzu 2023: Ultimate Guide for Care & Info

From grooming to feeding, here’s everything shih tzu enthusiasts should know about their beloved breed.


Shih Tzus are one of the most beloved dog breeds around the world, known for their adorable fluffy faces and loyal personalities. As a breed, they require a great deal of care and attention to ensure their health and well-being. This comprehensive guide will cover everything you need to know about caring for your Shih Tzu, from their history to proper nutrition and grooming practices.

Brief History of the Shih Tzu Breed

The Shih Tzu breed originated in China over 1,000 years ago as a royal lapdog for the Ming dynasty. They were highly prized as companion animals and were often given as gifts to foreign dignitaries. The breed was kept within Chinese borders until the 1930s when they began to be exported to other countries. In 1969, the first Shih Tzu was imported into the United States from England, where breeders had been working on creating dogs with more refined features. Today’s Shih Tzus are descendants of those early Chinese dogs that were selectively bred by Chinese royalty over centuries. They have become one of the most popular breeds in North America due in part to their compact size, low-shedding coats that make them ideal for people with allergies or asthma.

The Importance of Proper Care and Information for Shih Tzu Owners

As with any pet, owning a Shih Tzu comes with great responsibility. These small dogs may be cute and cuddly but require much more attention than larger breeds due to their delicate nature. Providing proper care is essential because it not only ensures your dog’s comfort but also helps prevent many potential health problems. Shih Tzus have specific needs when it comes to nutrition, exercise, grooming, socialization training, among others. An owner who is well-informed about these needs can give them an excellent life and better bond with their pets. These dogs crave human interaction, so spending enough time with your Shih Tzu is crucial for their mental and physical well-being. Owning a Shih Tzu can be a joyful experience if the pet owner is well-informed about the breed’s unique characteristics and needs. This comprehensive guide will offer valuable information on how to care for your furry friend properly.

Understanding the Shih Tzu Breed

Physical Characteristics and Traits

Shih Tzus are known for their distinct appearance, which includes a small, sturdy body with a round head and large, expressive eyes. They have a long, flowing coat that comes in a variety of colors, including black, white, red, and gold. Their coat can be either straight or wavy and requires regular grooming to maintain its health and beauty. In terms of size, Shih Tzus typically range from 9 – 16 inches in height at the shoulder and weigh between 9 – 16 pounds. They have a lifespan of between 12 – 16 years when properly cared for.

Personality and Temperament

Shih Tzus are renowned for their affectionate nature and outgoing personality. They thrive on human interaction and make excellent family pets due to their gentle nature. However, they can also be stubborn at times due to their independent streak. As with any breed of dog, socialization from a young age is key to ensuring that your Shih Tzu develops into a well-behaved member of society. This means exposing them to different people, places, sights and sounds from an early age so that they learn how to behave appropriately in different situations.

Common Health Issues and Concerns

One of the most common health issues seen in Shih Tzus is brachycephalic airway syndrome (BAS), which is caused by the breed’s short snout. BAS can cause breathing difficulties if left untreated so it is important to monitor your dog’s breathing patterns carefully. Other health concerns include hip dysplasia (a genetic condition affecting the hip joints), patellar luxation (dislocation of the kneecap) eye problems such as cataracts or progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), and dental issues such as gum disease. Regular vet check-ups, exercise, and a healthy diet can help to minimize the risk of these health issues. Understanding the physical characteristics, personality traits and common health issues associated with the Shih Tzu breed is essential for any owner. With proper care and attention, your Shih Tzu can live a long and healthy life.

Shih Tzu Care Essentials

Nutrition and Feeding Guidelines

The first step in providing proper care for your Shih Tzu is ensuring that they receive a balanced and nutritious diet. As small dogs, Shih Tzus have unique nutritional requirements that can be met with high-quality commercial dog food or a balanced homemade diet. When selecting commercial dog food, it’s essential to choose one that is formulated for small breed dogs and meets the nutritional guidelines set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). It’s recommended to feed your Shih Tzu two to three small meals throughout the day instead of one large meal. When feeding your Shih Tzu a homemade diet, it’s important to consult with a veterinarian or canine nutritionist to ensure that their dietary needs are being met. A homemade diet should consist of high-quality protein sources like lean meats, whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. Avoid feeding your dog table scraps or foods that are toxic to dogs like chocolate, grapes, and avocado.

Grooming and Hygiene Practices

Shih Tzus are known for their long, luxurious coats which require frequent grooming to maintain their softness and luster. Daily brushing helps prevent matting and tangling of the hair while also distributing natural oils throughout the coat. Regular bathing is also essential but should be done no more than once every three weeks as frequent bathing can dry out the skin. In addition to coat maintenance, proper dental care is critical for overall health in Shih Tzus. Routine teeth brushing with veterinarian-approved toothpaste can help prevent periodontal disease which can lead to tooth loss and other health issues. Trimming nails regularly will also help avoid discomfort or injury from overgrown nails.

Exercise Needs and Activities

While Shih Tzus may be small in size, they still require daily exercise to maintain their health and well-being. A daily walk around the block or playtime in a fenced yard is recommended for most adult Shih Tzus. It’s important to remember that they can overheat easily due to their flat faces, so avoid exercising during the hottest parts of the day. In addition to physical exercise, mental stimulation is also necessary for Shih Tzus. Puzzle toys and interactive games like hide-and-seek can provide mental stimulation while strengthening the bond between you and your dog.

Preventing Common Health Concerns

Shih Tzus are susceptible to several common health issues including eye infections, dental problems, and ear infections. These issues can be prevented by practicing good hygiene routines like regular grooming and dental care. Other preventative measures include keeping your home clean and free of allergens like dust and pollen. It’s also important to keep up with routine veterinary exams which can help detect health issues early on before they become more severe. Regular examinations will include a check-up of vital signs, weight monitoring, evaluation of teeth condition as well as eyesight checkups.


Proper care of your Shih Tzu requires attention to nutrition, grooming habits, exercise needs as well as preventative measures against common health concerns. By following these guidelines discussed above, you will ensure that your furry friend lives a healthy life that spans many years!

Training Your Shih Tzu

Basic Obedience Training Techniques

Training your Shih Tzu is an essential part of their overall care. Basic obedience training techniques will help you to establish a healthy and loving relationship with your furry friend. Start with basic commands such as “sit,” “stay,” and “come.” Use a firm, clear voice and praise your dog when they respond correctly. It’s important to be consistent in your training, so set aside time each day to work on these skills. Once your Shih Tzu has mastered the basics, you can move on to more complex commands such as “down” or “heel.” Keep in mind that positive reinforcement works best with this breed. Reward good behavior with treats, toys, or verbal praise. Avoid using physical punishment as it can damage the relationship between you and your dog.

Housebreaking Tips

Housebreaking can be one of the most challenging aspects of owning a Shih Tzu. It’s important to start early and be patient during the process. Set up a regular routine for feeding and taking out your dog to go potty. Praise them when they use the designated spot outside. If accidents happen inside, don’t punish them or rub their nose in it as it will only confuse them. Instead, clean up any messes thoroughly with enzymatic cleaner to remove any odor that may attract them back to the same spot. Consider crate training if needed so that they have a comfortable place to sleep while also learning how to hold their bladder for longer periods of time.

Socialization Methods

Socialization is crucial for all dogs but especially for breeds like the Shih Tzu who may become anxious or aggressive if not properly socialized from a young age. Introduce them slowly and positively to new people, animals, and environments. Take them on regular walks, visits to the park, and enroll them in obedience classes. This will not only help with socialization but also provide mental stimulation and exercise. Be sure to supervise all interactions and avoid overwhelming them with too many new experiences at once. Remember that training your Shih Tzu is a lifelong process. Consistency, patience, and positive reinforcement will go a long way in establishing a strong bond between you and your furry friend.


Training your Shih Tzu is an essential part of their overall care. Basic obedience training techniques such as “sit,” “stay,” and “come” are important for establishing a healthy relationship with your dog. Housebreaking can be challenging but setting up a regular routine and using positive reinforcement will help them learn quickly. Socialization is crucial for this breed, so introduce them slowly to new people, animals, and environments. Take them on regular walks to the park or enroll them in obedience classes for mental stimulation and exercise. Remember to be consistent, patient, and use positive reinforcement during the training process. With time and effort, you’ll build a strong bond with your furry friend that will last a lifetime.

Health Concerns & Preventative Measures

Common health concerns for the breed

Shih Tzus are generally healthy dogs, but like all breeds, they are susceptible to certain health issues. One of the most common issues is allergies, which can cause skin irritation and itchiness. Another common problem is dental disease; Shih Tzus have small mouths and crowded teeth, which can lead to tartar buildup and gingivitis. Other potential health concerns include eye problems like cataracts and ear infections. It’s important to keep up with regular veterinary checkups to catch any potential issues early on. A good diet, regular exercise, and proper grooming can also help keep your Shih Tzu healthy.

Preventative measures to keep your dog healthy

Prevention is key when it comes to keeping your Shih Tzu healthy. Regular brushing and grooming can help prevent skin irritation and dental disease by removing excess hair and debris from their coat. A good diet that includes high-quality protein sources and essential nutrients will provide your dog with the building blocks they need for a strong immune system. Another important preventative measure is vaccination. Vaccines protect against a range of dangerous diseases, including rabies, distemper, parvovirus, and more. Your veterinarian can help you determine which vaccines are necessary based on your dog’s lifestyle.

Breeding & Raising a Litter of Shih Tzus

Breeding considerations for responsible breeding practices

Breeding should only be done by responsible breeders who prioritize the health and well-being of their dogs above all else. Before considering breeding your Shih Tzu, ensure that both parents have been screened for genetic disorders that may be passed down to their offspring. Responsible breeders also ensure that their puppies go to loving, permanent homes. They provide socialization and early training to give their puppies the best start in life.

Raising a litter from birth to adoption

Raising a litter of Shih Tzu puppies requires patience, attention, and a lot of work. From the moment they are born, puppies need round-the-clock care and feeding. As they grow, they require socialization and training to help them become well-adjusted adults. It’s important for breeders to be honest with potential adopters about the time commitment required when bringing home a new puppy. Additionally, breeders should provide ongoing support to ensure that their puppies continue to receive proper care throughout their lives.

Traveling with Your Shih Tzu

Preparing for travel with your dog

When traveling with your Shih Tzu, it’s important to plan ahead to ensure that both you and your dog have a safe and comfortable trip. Start by checking all travel requirements (e.g., vaccinations) for any plane or train rides. Additionally, make sure you have all necessary supplies such as food, water bowls, leashes/harnesses collars etc. When traveling by car: – Bring blankets or towels for your dog – Make frequent stops for exercise – Ensure that the temperature inside the car is comfortable

Tips for traveling safely with your dog

Safety is paramount when traveling with your Shih Tzu: – Always keep them restrained in a carrier or harness while driving – Don’t let them stick their head out of the window – Never leave them alone in a parked car By following these tips and taking extra precautions while on the road, you can ensure that both you and your furry friend enjoy stress-free travels together.

Conclusion & Additional Resources

Recap of important information covered in the guide

In this comprehensive guide, we’ve covered everything you need to know about caring for your Shih Tzu. We’ve discussed their unique characteristics, common health concerns, preventative measures to keep them healthy, as well as tips for traveling with them. Remember to prioritize your Shih Tzu’s health and well-being by providing them with a nutritious diet, regular exercise, and proper grooming. If you’re considering breeding your dog or adopting a puppy, ensure that only responsible breeding practices are used.

Additional resources for further learning about caring

There are many excellent resources available online for those who want to learn more about caring for their Shih Tzu. Check out reputable websites such as the American Kennel Club or consult with a trusted veterinarian for additional information and guidance.

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