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Is The Shih Tzu Dog Breed Falling Out Of Fashion?

The Shih Tzu is a longhaired, brachycephalic companion dog that many people think is a toy breed, but which is in fact classed as a utility breed. This is one of the most enduringly popular dog breeds in the UK every year, and based on the number of adverts placed here on Pets4Homes for Shih Tzus for sale in the last year, is the ninth most popular dog breed in the UK overall.

However, the Shih Tzu, like many brachycephalic dog breeds, may potentially suffer from health problems as a result of their flatter than normal faces, particularly in dogs of the breed that are bred for a high degree of exaggeration in terms of how flat their faces actually are.

A modern trend for ever-more flatter faced dogs has put the spotlight on the Kennel Club and dog breeders alike, as all parties involved in the breeding, showing, registration and purchase of brachycephalic dogs are cautioned to make good, healthy choices and not breed for, buy, nor reward in the show ring exaggerated features in dogs.

The Kennel Club is often criticized for not doing enough or going far enough to police harmful breeding practices or educate potential puppy buyers about brachycephalic health, but their recently published breed statistics for the Shih Tzu comparing new puppy registrations from the first half of 2018 to the first half of 2019 indicates that the breed has dropped in popularity within the two comparable time frames. The Kennel Club cites this as a result, at least in part, of their campaigns to raise awareness of brachycephalic health – a trend reflected in some other brachycephalic breeds too.

In this article, we’ll share the Kennel Club’s published figures on the apparent fall in popularity of the Shih Tzu in the last year for registered pedigree puppy registrations – and compare it to our own advert data for Shih Tzu dogs, puppies and litters offered for sale here via Pets4Homes and see if the real picture out on the street in the UK reflects the same trend.

Read on to find out if the Shih Tzu dog breed is falling out of fashion here in the UK, and if so, by how much.

What do the Kennel Club’s figures show?

The Kennel Club logs the details of how many new Shih Tzu puppies are registered with them as pedigrees each year, and has just published and shared data for the first six months of 2018, compared to the first six months of 2019.

Here are what the Kennel Club’s puppy registration figures show about the Shih tzu’s popularity this year compared to last year:

  • In the first six months of 2018, a total number of 1,346 new Shih tzu puppies were registered with the Kennel Club.
  • In the same six-month time period of 2019, a total number of 1,065 new Shih tzu puppies were registered with the Kennel Club.
  • This difference is a drop of 281 fewer puppies this year compared to last.
  • As a percentage comparison, this means that just over 23% fewer pups were registered with the Kennel Club in the comparable window this year compared to last.

What do the Pets4Homes advert statistics show?

We’ve collated advert data from the most recent twelve-month period to date (October 2018-September 2019) and compared it to the prior twelve-month period, October 2017-September 2018. Our data reflects dogs, puppies and litters listed as Shih Tzus advertised for sale here across these two respective timeframes, and encompasses both pedigree and non-pedigree dogs of the breed.

These key differences between the timeframes and inclusion parameters when you look at our figures compared to the Kennel Club’s mean that this is not a like for like comparison; rather, it is intended to broadly agree with or contradict the Kennel Club’s findings, and see how their claims really stack up out on the streets and in the dog parks, as opposed to just within the formal breed registry.

Here’s what we found.

  • During the twelve-month period of October 2017 - September 2018, a total number of 6,820 adverts were placed here for Shih Tzu puppies, litters and dogs for sale in the UK.
  • Over the most recent twelve-month time period to date (October 2018-September 2019) a total number of 5,869 adverts were placed here for Shih Tzu puppies, litters and dogs for sale in the UK.
  • That is 951 fewer Shih Tzu adverts placed here in the year to date compared to the prior one.
  • As a percentage comparison, this means that just under 15% fewer adverts for Shih Tzus for sale were placed here in the last twelve months compared to the prior twelve months.

Is the Shih Tzu falling in popularity in the UK overall?

Both our own advert statistics and that of the Kennel Club indicate clearly that across the two like for like time periods we respectively considered, the Shih Tzu breed is faring more poorly in the popularity stakes this year compared to last.

However, whilst our own indicative 15% drop in popularity is hugely significant on its own, the Kennel Club’s own 23% drop is even steeper. 

Factoring in the longer and more recent timeframe we worked with, and the fact we considered both pedigree and non-pedigree Shih Tzus within our own stats, this difference indicates either one of two things – or a combination of both – to account for the difference.

Either pedigree Shih Tzu popularity is falling faster than that of non-pedigrees, or the drop-off levels out later in the year (the Kennel Club’s own figures reflecting only up until the end of June, whilst ours go up until the end of September) or both elements are playing a part.

When a little longer has gone by, we can compare the Kennel Club’s results from the latter half of the year to our own in a few months, to try to identify what the causes are – and why.

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