Shih Tzus are companion dogs that love to spend time with their owners and interact with other people. They are a very social animal, quite small in size, so it is easy for them to travel along on errands or trips. Their luxurious coat does require daily care because it tangles easily, but the task only takes a few minutes each day.
Although some individuals can weigh as much as 16 pounds, the average size is somewhere closer to the 10-pound mark. These dogs will grow to a maximum height of about 11 inches, although some can be as short as eight inches as an adult.
There are several pros and cons of Shih Tzus to consider before bringing this breed home, especially since pricing starts at $500 or more. Here are some of the critical points to consider.
List of the Pros of Shih Tzus
1. This breed excels in small home living situations.
Shih Tzus are perfect for people who live in apartments or condominiums where small pets are allowed. They are typically quiet when you are with them, especially if they get lots of attention every day. You won’t hear the constant barking from them, even if you are away from home because of work or you’re running errands. Some individuals can develop high levels of social anxiety if they are left alone consistently, so make sure there is enough time to cuddle and play with your pup before deciding on this breed.
If you are concerned about bringing home a small dog that is “yappy,” then a Shih Tzu is an excellent choice to consider. They are typically quieter and more full-throated then the other toy breeds that are popular today.
2. These dogs provide excellent companionship.
Almost every family situation allows for the introduction of a Shih Tzu to the fold. These dogs are essentially companion animals, helping to provide friendship and love to those who need it the most. Even if someone is living in a stressful situation, this breed can help to provide more comfort and peace. That’s why you will often see these pups living with seniors, older couples, and in nursing homes or assisted living facilities. Younger adults and families with older kids love having this breed around as well.
3. This breed doesn’t need a lot of outdoor exercise.
The size of the Shih Tzu makes this dog the perfect option for people who aren’t or can’t be active each day. They don’t need a lot of outdoor exercise because of their size. If you have a porch or balcony, that could be enough to keep them healthy. A few trips to the grass to go potty (or the use of an indoor device) can help you to manage their needs rather effectively. You’ll want to have a variety of toys available for them to play with inside to keep them mentally engaged, but that is typically the extent of what you need to do.
4. Shih Tzus are sturdy and strong for their size.
Shih Tzus don’t usually get into a lot of trouble compared to other breeds. They are very eager to please, grateful to have a home that they can call their own. Even when there is the urge to be slow in obeying a command, you’ll find that most individuals are easy to forgive because of the unconditional love that they offer so freely. They tend to be aristocratic in appearance and demeanor, with definite preferences and things they don’t like. You’ll find them to be a sturdy breed that is surprisingly strong when looking at their overall size.
5. This breed is generally peaceful with other pets.
There are Shih Tzus who like to think that they are in charge. It is the reason why they tend to be as stubborn as they are at times. You’ll also find that this desire to be the “alpha” in your family back doesn’t interfere with their desire for a peaceful experience. This breed usually minds its own business instead of trying to confront other pets that might be four times its size. Even if you have cats around, your pup will prefer spending time with you or running around with everyone else over picking a fight or creating a commotion.
6. There is less shedding with a Shih Tzu in some circumstances.
If you don’t like the idea of having a dog shedding profusely at home, then trimming the long coat of a Shih Tzu will help you to manage the situation. This breed isn’t a good choice for someone with dog allergies, but these toy-sized pups do shed a lot less than most other breeds. This advantage is partly due to their size, but you can also control how much of their coat they lose throughout the week with regular brushing and trimming work. You’ll still want to purchase one of those sticky rollers for your clothing though since their fur can go everywhere.
7. The Shih Tzu is usually polite with strangers.
Shih Tzus are not the best guard dogs in the world. They’ll alert you to the presence of a stranger, but it is usually with playful barking and tail-wagging delight. Even if you haven’t completely socialized your dog, you’ll find that this breed tends to be at least polite with the strangers that you’ll meet throughout each day. Many individuals are downright friendly, gratefully accepting a gentle scratch of the head in return for some happy smiles and some tail wiggling.
8. Shih Tzus adapt easily to their new homes.
Shih Tzus love whoever wants to take care of them. They will quickly blend into the routine of your home without much effort. Although their size can make them a challenge to manage if there are large pets or small children in the home, you’ll find that they can adjust pretty easily to whatever it is you need them to do. The only real exception to this advantage is their potty training habits, and even that is easy enough to manage with some treats, patience, and an extra helping of persistence.
List of the Cons of Shih Tzus
1. This breed can be challenging to housetrain.
Shih Tzus are like most of the other small breeds of dogs when dealing with housetraining. Getting them to the point where they recognize the need to go to the bathroom and having enough time to get them on the grass can be a bit of a challenge. This breed is somewhat stubborn with its habits too, but you can get there eventually if you are persistent enough with your training techniques. If you’re used to potty training other dogs, be prepared for this process to take longer than expected.
Even when you have a successful experience, their size does make them a little more prone to accidents when compared to other breeds.
2. The grooming needs for some dogs can be extensive.
You must take time to care for the Shih Tzu’s coat every day if you want them to keep looking their best. Some individuals love the extra attention, especially when you heap loads of praise on them for looking fantastic. There are others who would rather be doing anything else than sitting still for your brush. You can reduce some of this disadvantage by keeping the bangs of their coat pulled back over their eyes and keeping it a little shorter than normal, but you won’t get out of the work entirely.
If your dog doesn’t like the idea of using a traditional brush, then there are some de-shedding gloves on the market that can help you to pet your Shih Tzu while getting rid of the loose fur every day. This method is rather effective if your pup tends to be a little squirmy.
3. Shedding can be problematic with this breed.
Although some breeders might try to suggest otherwise, Shih Tzus are not a breed that is hypoallergenic in any way. These dogs have a double coat, and each follicle has its own life cycle that will eventually cause it to fall out and drift along your hardwood floors or stick to your carpet. If you leave the coat long, the undercoat hairs get caught in the outer coat. That’s why their fur can get tangled and matted so often. You can clip the coat so that the outer one is gone, but then the undercoat will spread everywhere. The trade-off is that a short coat is easier to brush.
4. There are some health issues to consider with Shih Tzus.
The shape of the Shih Tzu’s face creates some unique health considerations that you’ll want to take into account before bringing one into your family. Your most important habit change will be to stop smoking near the dog because their respiratory system is compromised. You’ll need to keep the dog away from freshly-cut grass and pollen whenever possible as well.
Shih Tzus need more indoor activities during the hot and humid months of the year. They have a high risk of heatstroke because their panting cannot cool them off enough to lower their body heat. You’ll also want to double-check your vet to ensure that their heart and blood pressure levels are consistently monitored.
5. The Shih Tzu is a stubborn breed of dog.
You will discover that Shih Tzus are very sweet-natured, but they are also surprisingly stubborn for their size. Some individuals can also become manipulative over time. It is up to you as the pack leader to be absolutely consistent about meaning what you say. These dogs are strongly motivated by food, but only using this method for training will create a pup who only wants to listen when there are treats available. One of the most important words that you can teach your new furry friend is “no.”
Life with Shih Tzus can be challenging if you fail to teach your dog to respect you and your family pack. Their stubborn streak can get them into a lot of trouble, but they don’t have the same curiosity drive that you can find in some other dogs. If you don’t mind doing the daily brushing or watching the quality of the environment around your pup, then bringing one home can be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.
Brandon Miller has a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a seasoned writer who has written over one hundred articles, which have been read by over 500,000 people. If you have any comments or concerns about this blog post, then please contact the Green Garage team here.