10 Incredible Shih Tzu Facts

Shih Tzu Teeth - Shih Tzu Puppy
Daz Stock/Shutterstock.com

Written by Jeremiah Wright

Updated: August 15, 2023

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Shih Tzus might be tiny in size, but they are big on personality and love nothing more than to be your best friend. This pint-sized pooch is well-known for being an affectionate, calm, lively, and sweet-tempered companion. Most dog lovers believe that the Shih Tzu originates from ancient China, where for thousands of years royalty considered this dog breed a cherished household pet.

The name Shih Tzu is coined from a Latin word that means “little lions,” but there is nothing fierce and intimidating about this dog. Shih Tzus are bred solely to be companions; they are not hunters. They easily get along with other dogs and animals, making them excellent family pets and good companions for children alike. 

Today, we are looking at 10 of the most incredible Shih Tzu facts. Let’s go!

Infographic of 10 Shih Tzu Facts
Underneath their long and silky coats, Shih Tzus are sturdy, agile, and athletic dogs.

1. The Shih Tzu Is an Old Breed

Shih Tzus have a mysterious and controversial history. A recent study found that the Shih Tzu was one of the 14 oldest dog breeds, and dog bones found in China have proven that this dog has existed as early as 8000 BC. Although there is no exact evidence of their history, most dancers believe they were developed in China by mixing other breeds with the Lhasa Apso and Pekingese. Some people thought that Tibetan monks raised them on the Tibetan plateau and gave them as gifts to Chinese emperors.

Either way, this regal-looking dog has proven to be a treasured prized possession from early times. 

Shih Tzu (Canis familiaris) - standing in grassy field

The regal Shih Tzu is considered one of the 14 oldest dog breeds.

2. The Shih Tzu Has an Appealing Temperament

Historically, Shih Tzus were bred primarily to be friendly and loyal companions. Although these dogs’ temperaments can vary per individual, Shih Tzus are typically excellent watchdogs and bark to alert you of an approaching stranger or if something is wrong. However, their sweet and friendly nature means they don’t do well as guard dogs as they easily form bonds with people and other animals. This dog is content with laying on your lap and following you everywhere. If you are looking for a cuddle buddy, a Shih Tzu is an excellent choice!

Shih Tzu dog. 2

Shih Tzus make sweet, friendly, and loyal canine companions.

3. Shih Tzus Almost Became Extinct

This breed nearly became extinct during the Chinese Communist Revolution. The death of Empress Tzu Hsi also played a huge role in why Shih Tzu was close to extinction. This is because Empress Tzu Hsi, who had a great love for animals, was the first person to supervise the breeding program of Shih Tzu pups and Pekingese under the close watch of the palace eunuchs. The breeding program crumbled after her death in 1908. Fortunately, 14 purebred dogs — seven females and seven males — were used to rebuild this breed, which means that every Shih Tzu can be traced back to those 14 dogs.

brindle shih tzu

Shih Tzus came close to extinction during the Communist Revolution in China.

4. Shih Tzus Are Glamorous Yet Athletic Dogs

Typically characterized by long silky coats, it is easy to assume that these dogs are made for fashion or shows. However, it seems not to be the case. Underneath their coat is a sturdy, agile, and athletic dog. In 2014, it was recorded that a Shih Tzu dog won both the champion title and the agility title. What a commendable feat!

Prettiest / Cutest Dogs - Shih Tzu - running through grassy field near lake

Under the Shih Tzu’s long coat is a sturdy, agile, and athletic dog.

5. Shih Tzus Are Apartment Dogs

Shih Tzus have a social and outgoing personality and are adapted to staying anywhere. It doesn’t mind where it lives as long as it is with you receiving lots of attention. A Shih Tzu will be satisfied with wandering around the house, short daily walks, and play sessions with you. This attribute makes them a great choice for apartment dwellers. Shih Tzus are susceptible to heat and exhaustion and should be kept indoors when the weather is too hot. Luckily, their brachycephalic snouts provide them with low exercise and heat tolerance.

shih tzu dog is looking a snack

The Shih Tzu doesn’t mind if it lives in an apartment so long as it is with you receiving lots of attention.

6. Shih Tzus Have Great Hair

One of the fascinating physical attributes of Shih Tzus is their long, silky coat. The hair is certainly something to envy, which can either be wavy or coarse. Their hair grows quickly and often reaches the floor. Although not heavy shedders, Shih Tzus require constant grooming to keep their coats tangle-free. Their coats need to be brushed every day, as mentioned.

Shih tzu getting groomed

Shih Tzus require constant grooming to keep their coats tangle-free.

7. Shih Tzus Have Exceptionally Beautiful Coats

According to the American Kennel Club, the Shih Tzu comes in different colors and markings: gray, white with brown, black, gold, liver brown, red, or a combination of two or three colors. These dogs commonly have a darker brown on their shoulders and between their armpits. Most Shih Tzus have a little white spot on their forehead, which is supposedly known as the star of Buddha. Legend has it that Buddha was traveling with a little canine companion that closely resembles a Shih Tzu. When a group of robbers tried to attack Buddha, the dog transformed into a fierce lion and chased the thieves off, after which it transformed back into the dog. Buddha, filled with gratitude, kissed the dog on the forehead, giving it a little light mark.

shih tzu in front of black background

The Shih Tzu comes in gray, white with brown, black, gold, liver brown, red, or a mix of two or three colors.

8. Shih Tzus Are Hypoallergenic Breeds

Shih Tzus are called hypoallergenic dog breeds due to their low shedding pattern despite having long hair. Even though it does shed, the loose hairs are more likely to stick within the coat rather than go airborne. Shih Tzus do well with people who suffer from allergies due to their hypoallergenic fur. If you are sensitive, it is important to spend some time with a Shih Tzu to see if the breed incites your allergies before adopting one.

shih tzu with windblown hair

Even though the Shih Tzu does shed, the loose hairs are more likely to stay within the coat rather than be airborne.

9. Many Celebrities Have Owned Shih Tzus

The Shih Tzu is a popular dog breed known for its affectionate and outgoing personality; it’s no surprise that many celebrities own them. The Shih Tzu is often seen in the presence of celebrities from coast to coast and has been steady in popularity all over the world. Nicole Ricci, Beyonce, Bill Gates, Mariah Carey, Collin Farrell, and Queen Elizabeth are among the famous people who own them.

Portrait of a Shih tzu, shot in nature, vivid colors, blurry background

As Shih Tzus are known for their affectionate and outgoing personalities, it’s no wonder many celebrities own them.

10. The Shih Tzu Has a Long Lifespan

Shih Tzus can live a long time, and larger breeds have a shorter lifespan as compared to these dog breeds. On average, Shih Tzus weighs around 9 to 16 pounds and can measure up to 8 to 11 inches in height. Overall, Shih Tzu has a lifespan of between 10 and 18 years.

Fat Shih tzu dog sitting on weight scales with red measuring tape at home. Concept of pet health care, animal obesity problem and diet control.

The average Shih Tzu weighs between 9 to 16 pounds.

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About the Author

I hold seven years of professional experience in the content world, focusing on nature, and wildlife. Asides from writing, I enjoy surfing the internet and listening to music.

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