The Ultimate Shih Tzu Puppy Ownership Guide

16 minute read By Lucy Hughes
Reviewed by: Pawrade Team
March 17, 2023

A shih tzu puppy is wrapped in a shawl and front carried by a woman wearing glasses with a man wearing glasses peering over her shoulder

If you're looking for a furry companion with a personality that's equal parts adorable and diva-like, then a Shih Tzu puppy for sale might just be the one for you!

These little pups, affectionately called little “lion dogs,” are known for their spunky and confident attitudes as well as their affectionate and loyal dispositions. But don't let their small size fool you – they can be quite stubborn at times and may have a tendency to think they're the boss.

Some say that Shih Tzus have a certain "royal" attitude, and it's not hard to see why. With their luxurious, flowing coats and regal demeanor, they could easily pass as miniature kings and queens. They often demand attention and love to be pampered but will repay your affection with their constant companionship.

Today, the Shih Tzu remains a popular companion animal, known for its friendly temperament and affectionate nature. The breed is also widely used in dog shows, where their distinctive appearance and lively personality are sure to capture the hearts of judges and spectators alike.

Find out what it’s like to be a Shih Tzu pawrent with our comprehensive Shih Tzu puppy ownership guide! 

The Rich History and Origin of Shih Tzu Puppies

“Shih Tzu” translates to “Lion Dog," and this sweet, spunky companion has truly roared through history, enjoying ancient roots while also being saved from near extinction. Read more to learn about the fascinating history of a Shih Tzu puppy for sale

Tibetan holy dogs

There is evidence as far back as 1000 BCE of small, square dogs from various records and found artifacts. While these may have been the predecessors of the Shih Tzu we know today, the Shih Tzu is believed to be a combination of Pekingese, Lhasa Apso, Tibetan Spaniel, and Pug breeds considered Tibetan holy dogs originally bred from various Persian, Maltan, and Grecian small dogs gifted to emperors and royal family members.

Little lion dogs

A Shih Tzu puppy’s appearance was carefully curated through genetic pairings after they arrived in China. Lions play an important role in the Buddhist religion representing power and prestige. But because there were no actual lions in China, Shih Tzus were specifically bred to look like little lions. Several ancient myths involve a Shih Tzu and its magical powers. 

In addition to their unique lion-like look, Shih Tzus were also designed as companion animals for the imperial families of the Ming and Qing dynasties. They liked to hang around the palace and served as little watchdogs. Over time, Shih Tzus became loyal lap dogs and were often carried in the sleeves of their owners' robes!

You can still see the resemblance of the Little Lion Dog demonstrated in “Fu dogs,” translated loosely to mean “happiness” in Manchurian, which are statues of what is believed to be Shih Tzus guarding the temple of Buddha.


Forbidden City Imperial Guardian "Fu dog" Lions, photo by Allen Timothy Chang 

From near extinction to popularity

The Chinese were extremely protective of their special dog and did not even allow them out of the country to be exported to the West. However, over time, the dogs became nearly extinct with only a handful surviving due to mismanagement of kennels and crossbreeding. It was a precarious situation to be a Shih Tzu in the early 1900s!

In the early 20th century, the breed was brought to Europe by soldiers returning from China where breeding programs began. Shih Tzu puppies quickly became popular among European royalty. It wasn't until September 1, 1969, that the breed was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club.

Today, the Shih Tzu has emerged from a relatively unknown breed to one of the most popular dog breed choices today. Celebrities such as Jon Stewart, Jane Seymour, Mariah Carey, Bill Gates, Betty White, the Dalai Lama, Annie McDowell, Nichole Richie, and Vidal Sassoon have all called a Shih Tzu a loyal four-legged friend. 


What Does a Shih Tzu Puppy Look Like?

Shih Tzus are a small, fluffy dog breed known for their long, luxurious coats. A Shih Tzu puppy for sale’s coat is typically thick and flowing, with a soft undercoat and a long topcoat that can grow up to several inches in length.

Speaking of small, a Shih Tzu puppy will grow to be 8-11 inches tall and weigh only 9-16 pounds. They’ve got bright, protruding, round wide-set eyes that stare right into your soul, a short muzzle, neck, and legs, and feature square-shaped heads and a flat chest. 

What’s up with their squished noses? 

When searching, “Why does a Shih Tzu puppy for sale near me have a squashed face?” you’ll learn they are brachycephalic which means they have shortened skull bones and snouts. “Brachy” means “shortened” and “cephalic” means “head.” Their small nostrils, narrow windpipes, and small skull mean less area to contain their mouth tissue, and teeth, resulting in breathing and dental problems, so it’s important to always monitor a brachycephalic dog’s health. 

Shih Tzus come in just about every color and pattern imaginable 

If you think Shih Tzus are only white with a few patches of black or gray, think again! Shih Tzus come in a huge range of colors. A completely solid-colored Shih Tzu is considered rare, as most Shih Tzus feature a variety of colors and patterns in their coats:

  • Red
  • Gold
  • Liver
  • Black
  • Flare
  • Silver
  • Blaze
  • Sable 
  • White
  • Brindle
  • Saddle
  • Tuxedo
  • Masked
  • Shawl/collar
  • Blue (or diluted)

It’s totally normal for a Shih Tzu to change colors over time

When looking at Shih Tzu puppies for sale, it’s really important to understand that Shih Tzu puppies may naturally change colors as they grow. Why, you may ask? It has to do with the genetic makeup of their hair. All dogs’ colors are determined by just 2 melanin pigments. Over time, new hair growth, hormonal changes, nutritional choices, and other factors may cause your puppy’s coloring to fade or change completely. That’s why it’s imperative to know the puppy’s color you fell in love with may naturally change. 

Rare Shih Tzus do exist

The rarest color of Shih Tzu is solid black. In addition to no other color at all being present in the hair, you’ll also find their lips, nose, and paws are also black!

Other rare Shih Tzus include solid-colored liver and silver and those pups with blue eyes instead of brownish-black. 

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What’s the Personality of a Shih Tzu Puppy For Sale Like? 

Of course, like any breed, there are variations in personalities within the Shih Tzu community. Some Shih Tzu puppies for sale may be more independent and aloof, while others may be total attention hogs. But overall, these little fluff balls are a delightful addition to any household and will provide endless entertainment with their playful antics and charming personalities.

Always confident and curious

If there’s something amiss, a Shih Tzu puppy will be the first to investigate. They are not dogs that sit around and give the side-eye to things – they’ll trot right over to check it out. A Shih Tzu puppy has no sense of hesitation and will confidently approach just about any situation. 

They truly are stellar lap dogs

Even though a Shih Tzu puppy has a ton of energy, they love being right beside their humans. They will sit in your lap, put their little paws on you, and curl up during your favorite series marathon. In fact, if they’re asleep on your lap but it’s time to go, just go ahead and cancel the rest of the plans for today because you’re not going anywhere!

Shih Tzus will never know a stranger

With proper early socialization, you can take your Shih Tzu just about anywhere as your portable companion. They’re extremely friendly and outgoing to people, animals, and kids, so they’ll never know a stranger! Even if a Shih Tzu puppy barks, it’ll quickly warm up once you let it know there is no danger in meeting new friends. 

Shih Tzus are attached to their people

Do you think you’re going upstairs for a minute? Nope. How about a quick bathroom break? Wrong again. When a Shih Tzu is around, you will never have a moment of peace by yourself because they truly will do what they can to stay right by your side. They’ll be your ride-or-die buddy through thick and thin!


Shih Tzus are amazing companions for kids

If you’re looking for a pint-sized companion for your pint-sized people, a Shih Tzu puppy could not be a more perfect choice of dog breed. They are zippy and zoom around, are always up for a good time and love to chase and keep up with the kids. Shih Tzu puppies are excellent family dogs and love spending time with their loved ones. 

Actually, they’re great for all sorts of people

In addition to being a wonderful dog breed choice for children and families, a Shih Tzu puppy for sale is a low-maintenance dog breed suitable for people who live in smaller spaces, those with mobility issues, active seniors, or people who stay at home. Shih Tzus get along well in all sorts of living situations. 

Shh – don’t you dare tell them they are not actually big dogs!

Shih Tzus have no idea how tiny they are. They have a loud, confident bark, will insert themselves into doggy conversations when not invited, and make themselves right at home with the big dogs at doggy daycare. 

Fun Facts About Shih Tzu Puppies 

Different Shih Tzu categories within one recognized breed

While the AKC recognizes one Shih Tzu breed, potential puppy owners can choose from a variety of types of Shih Tzus. American Shih Tzus are what most people will find with Shih Tzu puppies for sale, and the smaller European Shih Tzu is recognized by kennel clubs in the UK and Europe. Even smaller styles like Imperial and Teacup can be available with careful research.

However, all Shih Tzus are certified goofballs and active little delights regardless of what official or unofficial type they’re considered. 


Shih Tzu puppies enjoy agility competitions

Flying through a timed obstacle course is easy and fun for a Shih Tzu! Obstacles like jumps, weave poles, contact obstacles (A-frame, teeter, and dogwalk), and the pause table are all challenges that the adept and agile Shih Tzu dominates. 

Training a Shih Tzu can be a breeze…well, sometimes

In general, a Shih Tzu puppy for sale will have no problems with training. They’re intelligent and very eager to please their humans.

However, you’ll quickly learn a Shih Tzu puppy may develop its own agenda and fail to inform you of its itinerary. They may get snobby with treats and pooh-pooh the delicious morsels they went crazy about the previous day. A Shih Tzu puppy can also be very stubborn and not want to listen.

For their funny little personalities, choosing a training technique that gives them an exciting, new reward through gentle and consistent positive reinforcement is a great way to train your Shih Tzu puppy. 

Fun in the shade

A Shih Tzu puppy is not quite the best choice for hot, humid climates, as they can overheat easily. It’s important to keep a Shih Tzu puppy as cool as possible in the heat by getting them appropriate haircuts on your trip to the groomer’s, limiting their time outside, providing plenty of water (both to drink and play in), and providing lots of breaks in cooler areas. 

Shih Tzus are considered hypoallergenic

Ever pondered the idea of welcoming a lovable ball of fluff into your home, but worried your allergies might deem it a sneeze-fest? Behold! Enter the Shih Tzu – not only the epitome of cuteness but also a hypoallergenic breed! 

These adorable little companions possess hair, not fur, meaning no shedding, leaving your home (and your nostrils) free from allergy-triggering furballs. Gifting their owners with unwavering affection and a dash of sass, Shih Tzus are the perfect low-allergen pets. 

Just remember, no dog is entirely allergen-free, so spend some quality time with your prospective Shih Tzu companion to ensure they won't have you reaching for the antihistamines.

Those giant eyes will get you every time

What exactly is it about those keen, all-knowing eyes of a Shih Tzu? Whether they’re trying to get you to throw the ball for the 3,524th time, comforting you during a moment of sadness, or staring you down for a treat, a Shih Tzu puppy’s eyes will always hit you right in your heart’s soft spot.

Watch your wallet!

It’s so incredibly easy to purchase a wardrobe full of fabulous accessories that is better than one you’d ever dream of buying yourself. A huge selection of sweaters, raincoats, bows, booties, bowties, kerchiefs, and costumes will have your Shih Tzu strutting up and down the runway, like they own Paris Fashion Week. 

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They love to swim

A Shih Tzu puppy may not be the exact dog breed you think of when you imagine a dog going swimming. Shih Tzus are actually huge fans of the water! They love to romp around in puddles and doggy paddle around the pool.

However, there are a few things you need to know before they go jump in a lake. You may want to start out with a little life vest so they don’t get too tired. Because of their short snouts, they may have a hard time breathing. Always monitor your pet around open water. 

You’ll “speak” Shih Tzu in no time

If you wish your Shih Tzu could talk to you, trust us, they can – but using a language only you will understand! Shih Tzus have a unique way of communicating with their owners. It's a mix of barks, whines, and adorable head tilts that you’ll learn to interpret.

Potty train a Shih Tzu early

Because they are so little and their messes aren’t huge like another large dog breed, it’s easy to get a little lazy taking them out, just putting a piddle pad nearby. But while teaching them to go on a puppy pad may be convenient for you, it is imperative that whatever potty method you use, you follow through so they are not soiling all over the house.

Grooming a Shih Tzu Puppy is Lots of Fun

The sassy and charming Shih Tzu may appear to be a pampered pooch with their opulent coat and expressive eyes, but beneath that luxurious exterior lies a breed with a rather high-maintenance grooming regimen.

The key to easy maintenance and better hygiene for Shih Tzu puppies for sale is to stay on top of their grooming needs. Mastering the art of Shih Tzu grooming involves a combination of brushing, bathing, trimming, and the occasional spa day - all tailored to your pup's unique style preferences. 

Shih Tzu coat maintenance

Shih Tzu puppies possess a double coat that requires consistent attention to prevent tangles, mats, and even undesirable odors. Fear not, aspiring Shih Tzu puppy aficionados, as regular grooming sessions can miraculously transform your fluffy companion into the envy of your dog-walking buddies!

The outer, coarse hairs of the overcoat and the fine, lofty, downy undercoat of a Shih Tzu puppy’s coat will need to be maintained with regular haircuts every 4-6 weeks. Regular trimming of the hair around the face and ears is also necessary to keep the dog comfortable and prevent infections. 

By embracing these grooming demands, not only will your Shih Tzu turn heads, but the bond between the two of you will undoubtedly flourish. After all, who can resist the charm of a pristinely groomed Shih Tzu strutting their stuff through the neighborhood?

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Speaking of looking good…hairstyle cuts for your Shih Tzu puppy 

Depending on your preference, you can choose to go fancy, practical, or somewhere in between when you’re deciding on which trim style to choose for a Shih Tzu puppy’s hair. 

There are several different haircut styles for Shih Tzus, and all are up to the owner's preference. While not an exhaustive list, here are some descriptions of the more popular styles so you can choose one for your Shih Tzu puppy for sale:

  • Puppy cut: A shorter style that is easier to maintain and can help keep the dog cool during the summer months
  • Lion cut: Emphasizes the hair around the face for a mane-like shape to be shaggier with a more trimmed cut overall
  • Teddy bear cut: A fluffy, round style that gives the dog a cute, cuddly appearance
  • Practical top knot: A popular style that involves pulling the hair on top of the head into a ponytail or bow
  • Top knot show cut: Your Shih Tzu’s hair is extremely long falling from the back down to the paws, and this style requires the most daily maintenance

Keeping Your Shih Tzu Puppy Healthy

When thinking about how you will keep your Shih Tzu puppy healthy for their lifetimes, you can rest assured that a Shih Tzu puppy for sale from Pawrade is a great way to find a healthy, happy puppy. We partner with responsible breeders that follow strict mandatory guidelines for starting off their Shih Tzu litters on the right paw.

Remember when we were talking about a Shih Tzu puppy’s short snout? Along with the shape of their skulls come some possible health conditions you need to be aware of when you are a Shih Tzu puppy owner:

  • Brachycephalic syndrome – The Shih Tzu's short muzzle makes it exceptionally prone to snoring and wheezing problems.
  • Dental problems – Also due to their small mouths, their teeth can get crowded easily. Stay on top of dental care to prevent health issues down the road!
  • Obesity – Shih Tzus easily gain weight, so you want to provide high-quality nutrition, limit the treats (it’s so hard, we know), and give them plenty of exercise opportunities.
    Eyes and ears – Because their eyes are so big, they can be prone to infection. Make sure to keep their eyes and ears clean and contact your vet if you notice anything abnormal. 
  • Other health issues: Shih Tzus may experience slipped kneecaps, kidney disease, and certain types of cancers. 

Like other small dog breeds, Shih Tzu puppies for sale can live long, fulfilling lives lasting 10-16 years old. One of the oldest Shih Tzu puppies named Smokey is said to have lived 23 years!

Choose a Shih Tzu Puppy For Sale From Pawrade

Responsible Shih Tzu breeders truly understand that they are not just creating bundles of smoosh-faced, tail-wagging joy, but are also artfully preserving the rich lineage and exceptional genetic traits of this beloved ancient breed. 

The dedicated Shih Tzu puppy breeder meticulously scrutinizes their Shih Tzu's health, pedigree, and overall disposition while providing a nurturing and stimulating environment. This captivating dance of genetics and environment ultimately aims to produce healthy, affectionate, and well-rounded Shih Tzu puppies.

At Pawrade, we are proud to partner with reputable breeders following responsible breeding practices that reflect a genuine passion for safeguarding this cherished breed's legacy. Browse our Shih Tzu puppies for sale to find your perfect, tiny tornado of love and mischief!


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Lucy Hughes

Lucy Hughes has been teaching and writing professionally for half her life. She has a passion for helping people choose a puppy and lead an exciting life with their new furry companion. She enjoys spending quality time with her family and her beloved Golden Retriever, Bowie.

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