Ten Things You Need To Know About The Shih Tzu Before You Buy One

The Shih Tzu reliably turns up within the top ten list of the most popular dog breeds in the UK, and these small and very elegant-looking little dogs make for excellent pets and companions for many different types of owners.

As a small dog breed, the Shih Tzu is compact and versatile enough to suit a wide range of different types of homes and owners, and is widely considered to be one of the better choices of dog breeds for people who have never owned a dog of their own before too.

There are a huge number of good points about the Shih Tzu breed as a whole that helps to ensure that they are always in demand with puppy buyers, but the breed isn’t the right fit for everyone, and anyone considering buying a Shih Tzu needs to undertake a significant amount of research before they can make an informed decision.

If you are thinking of choosing a Shih Tzu as your next dog, this article will explain ten things you need to know about Shih Tzus – before you go ahead and buy one. Read on to learn more.

Shih Tzus are not actually toy dogs

The Shih Tzu’s small size and elegant, delicate features mean that many people assume that this is a toy dog breed, and the Shih Tzu can indeed make for a great lapdog. However, Shih Tzus are not actually classed within the Kennel Club’s toy dog grouping and instead, fall within the utility group – which reflects dog breeds that historically carried out a unique working role.

For the Shih Tzu, this was a watchdog role in the temples of Buddhist monks in Tibet, where dogs of the breed were highly valued, and were used to patrol the monastery walls and bark to alert the monks of potential strangers approaching.

…Which means they often make for good watchdogs

This historical working role means that even today, Shih Tzus are considered to make for good watchdogs, which will often be very vigilant about checking the boundaries of their homes and gardens to alert their owners if someone is approaching.

However, the Shih Tzu doesn’t make for a good guard dog, due to their small size and unaggressive tendencies.

But they can be quite vocal

Watchdogs carry out their role by barking and making a lot of fuss to alert their owners if someone is coming, but this type of trait does serve to ensure that Shih Tzus tend to be quite vocal dogs in general, which often bark a lot and for no good reason.

This can be a problem to curb and manage, particularly if your dog is apt to bark a lot when you are out, which can quickly begin to annoy your neighbours.

Shih Tzus are not the smartest of dog breeds

Most dog owners think of their dogs as intelligent and will often argue strongly against claims to the contrary, but some breeds and types of dog are simply smarter than others – and the Shih Tzu breed as a whole cannot lay claim to a high level of intelligence.

In Stanley Coren’s ranking of dog breeds based on working intelligence levels, the Shih Tzu falls within the very lowest ranked intelligence grouping, which is reserved for dogs that need anything up to 100 repetitions of a new command before they begin to understand it, and that are only likely to respond to the command the first time around 25% of the time.


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The Shih Tzu coat needs a significant amount of grooming

Shih Tzus naturally grow very long, luxurious coats, which make the dogs look very beautiful and that are lovely to touch. However, a coat of this type needs a lot of daily brushing and grooming to keep it in good condition, without which it will soon become tangled, matted and unkempt. An alternative is to have the coat clipped off shorter, which changes the dog’s appearance but makes coat care more manageable.

On the plus side, Shih Tzus are not hugely heavy shedding dogs, so don’t make too much mess within the home.

They’re not a hugely high energy dog breed

If you’re looking for a dog breed that isn’t going to run you ragged when it comes to their need for exercise, the Shih Tzu is one of the better choices.

All dogs need sufficient daily walks and exercise and the Shih Tzu is no exception, but just a couple of walks per day lasting for around half an hour each is generally perfectly sufficient for dogs of the breed.

Shih Tzus really hate being left alone

One of the downsides of Shih Tzu ownership is that they tend to be highly intolerant of being left alone, and will often make a huge fuss if made to keep their own company, potentially even acting out and becoming destructive.

Training the Shih Tzu puppy to accept short periods of time left alone when they are young can help to counter this, but the Shih Tzu does need company for the greater part of the day in order to thrive.

The Shih Tzu is brachycephalic

The Shih Tzu has a brachycephalic face, which gives their face a slightly flattened appearance with a shorter than normal soft palate.

Whilst they’re not one of the most extremely brachycephalic breeds, this is something that prospective owners need to bear in mind.

…Which can have implications for their health and care

Being brachycephalic has certain implications for the dogs that possess such a trait, and they may have problems keeping themselves cool enough in the summer, or not being able to get enough breath when exercising hard.

Dogs with extremely brachycephalic faces can suffer from a range of complex health problems as a result of this, some of which may require surgical correction, and others of which can have a daily impact on the dog’s life in general.

Shih Tzus are a good potential choice for the first-time dog owner, with some caveats

The Shih Tzu is generally considered to be a viable option for people who haven’t owned a dog of their own before, and they’re one of the less complicated breeds to understand, care for and provide for.

However, getting a dog of any type is a large commitment that should not be undertaken lightly, and you need to research the breed in much more depth than you will be able to glean from this article, and make efforts to meet lots of Shih Tzus and get to know them before you can make an informed decision.


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