Cutest Dogs in the World: Chihuahua vs. Shih Tzu

Written by Katelynn Sobus
Published: April 21, 2023
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Chihuahua vs. shih tzu…now that’s a difficult decision! Both are lap dogs with royal ancestry. They’re clingy, loving, and playful.

Chihuahuas have easy to groom coats, large upright ears, and a ton of bravery. Shih tzus have beautiful silky fur, floppy ears, and are very outgoing. Both breeds have round heads, large eyes, and tiny bodies that are sure to make you say, “aww.”

In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about the cuteness of these breeds to help you determine whether Chihuahuas or shih tzus are cuter. We’ll also talk about what it’s like to care for these adorable pups.

What Makes Chihuahuas Cute?

Two longhair apple head Chihuahua dogs
Chihuahuas can be either short or long-haired.

©Volodymyr Burdiak/

Infrequent Shedders

Chihuahuas do shed (more so than Shih tzus), but not abundantly. They’re also tiny, which means they have less fur overall to leave on your couch or carpet.

Compared to other short-haired pups, they actually shed very little.

Can Be Short or Long-Haired

Although most of us picture short-haired dogs when we think about Chihuahuas, they can actually be either short or long-haired.

Long-haired Chihuahuas look even fancier than short-hairs, but they do need to be brushed at least once a week to keep their coats pristine and tangle-free.

Chihuahua coats can be various colors as well. These include:

  • Black
  • Black and tan
  • Blue and tan
  • Chocolate
  • Chocolate and tan
  • Cream
  • Fawn
  • Fawn and white
  • Red

Cute Markings

My favorite markings are the “eyebrows” above the eyes of some Chihuahuas. They’re stunning!

According to the AKC breed standards, Chihuahuas can also have black brindling, black masks, black sabling, spots on white coats, white markings, and merle markings.

Black brindle Chihuahuas have black and tan striped coats. Sabling means the fur is lighter at the root and darker at the tip. Lastly, merle is a spotted or patchy pattern.


These small pups are adorable! Their tininess also makes them easy to walk on a leash or carry during emergencies. Chihuahuas are cheaper to feed than larger dogs as well.

They stand just five to eight inches at the shoulder and weigh less than six pounds.

Upright Ears

Chihuahuas look a lot different than their wolfy ancestors – but they do retain the large, upright ears! Long-haired Chihuahuas also have a lot of feathering on the ears, making them even cuter.

Big Eyes

Science says that humans find big eyes cute as an evolutionary mechanism, which helps us to love and care for our offspring. Like babies, Chihuahuas have large eyes. They also have round heads, which is another factor in the “baby schema.”

Waggy Tails

Waggy tails are the cutest thing ever! Chihuahuas have long tails that they wag excitedly when they’re happy. They might even wiggle their whole bodies if they’re especially wound up.

High-Pitched Barkers

Chihuahuas are prone to overbarking, which not everyone will enjoy – but I don’t think you can deny the cuteness of their high-pitched voices! 

At least, not the first time you hear them…but maybe on the hundredth.

It’s also sweet that our furry friends choose to watch out over us, despite being about thirty times smaller than the average human. They can be quite protective!

Snuggle Bugs

Chihuahuas are often cold and love the warmth of a snuggle buddy! They’re also bred lap dogs that enjoy clinging to their humans.

Don’t be surprised if your Chi follows you around the house or climbs into your lap at every opportunity.

Long-haired Chihuahuas
Chihuahuas are lap dogs that enjoy clinging to their humans.



They love their rest, but Chihuahuas also love to play! They’re lively, energetic little dogs, but they can get most of their energy out in the living room. Lots of play and a quick daily walk will keep them happy.


As we discussed above, these are small dogs with big voices! They’re incredibly brave and often think they can take on threats much larger than themselves.

This can be really cute! However, if your Chi becomes reactive, you’ll want to take care of that as it can decrease their quality of life. You don’t want them to constantly exist in a state of fear.


Chihuahuas are smart dogs! They can learn new things quickly, but they also know how to think for themselves. This might make them quite stubborn during training!

Use high-value rewards like their favorite treats or even play. Remember to avoid aversive training methods, as these can harm your relationship with your pup.

Chihuahuas are smart dogs
Being smart dogs, Chihuahuas can often learn new things quickly.


What Makes Shih Tzus Cute?


Shih tzus are known as non-shedding dogs, but this isn’t completely true. Rather, Shih tzus shed around the same amount as humans.

They have human-like hair that grows constantly and will trail to the ground if not cut. Other dogs, like Chihuahuas, have shorter coats that shed more heavily.

Regal Coat

Shih tzus are perhaps best known for their lengthy regal coats. Their hair can be styled and is often tied out of their eyes with bows. It can also be trimmed or even shaved to make it easier to maintain.

Shih tzus have many coat colors, including:

  • Black
  • Black and white
  • brindle 
  • Brindle and white
  • Gold
  • Gold and white
  • Red
  • Red and white
  • Silver
  • Silver and white
  • Blue
  • Blue and white
  • Liver
  • Liver and white

They may also have a black mask around their eyes or black or tan markings on their bodies.

Shih tzu (Canis familiaris) - standing in grassy field
Shih tzus have human-like hair that grows constantly and will trail to the ground if not cut.


Small Stature

Shih tzus aren’t quite as small as Chihuahuas, but they certainly aren’t big dogs. Their little bodies are just 9-10.5 inches tall at the shoulder and they weigh 9-16 pounds.

Large Eyes

As we discussed above, large eyes make animals really cute to humans! Shih tzus also have big, round eyes that are sure to con you out of an extra treat or two.

Short Snout

Short snouts on dogs are controversial because of the health detriments they come with. But, breeds like Shih tzus are bred this way for cuteness. Many people love this look!

It’s not worth risking their ability to breathe, however. We’ll talk more about the health risks of Shih tzu’s short snouts below.


These pups love chasing a ball around the living room, playing a gentle game of tug, or going for a slow-paced sniff walk. All of this should happen daily to keep them happy and healthy.

Luckily, this isn’t a hardship because it’s so cute to see these little furballs having fun!


Shih tzus are outgoing and loving. They’ll really become a part of the family and will enjoy spending time with everyone from you to your kids to your other dogs.

That’s not to say you can skip steps when it comes to introductions, or even skip supervising your children around them, but it does mean your Shih tzu is likely to get along with most people they meet.

It may take them time to warm up, though, since they can be wary of strangers.

Easily Trained

Your Shih tzu will aim to please you during training, and this should make it super easy to teach them new things. The only thing you have to watch for is that you don’t give in to their sweet puppy dog eyes when they’re begging for a second dinner or otherwise bending the rules.

Full of Personality

Shih tzus are a perfect balance of goofy antics and sophistication. They were once royal dogs, but they’re also known as “tomboys” by the American Kennel Club. 

Shih tzu dog
Shih tzus are a perfect balance of goofy antics and sophistication.


Chihuahuas vs. Shih Tzus: Pulling Back the Curtain

Now that we’ve gone over everything cute about these breeds, let’s talk about their care and some other not-so-cute parts of dog ownership. It’s important to know what you’re in for before adopting!


Shih tzus are high-maintenance when it comes to grooming. Their coats can quickly become tangled or matted, and mats in the fur are very painful.

Comb them daily down to the skin or keep their fur trimmed short. No matter the haircut you choose, you should keep up with it by visiting the groomer every four to six weeks.

Chihuahuas are a bit easier, needing only a weekly brushing no matter their fur length. Long-haired dogs can become matted, so take extra care when combing them to ensure you get all the way down to the skin.

It’s also important to keep up with dental care on these little dogs, as they’re more prone to dental disease than larger pups. This is especially true of Shih tzus since they have shorter snouts.

Brushing their teeth daily is a must, and you should also ask your veterinarian how frequently they recommend a professional dental cleaning.

Shih tzu getting groomed
Shih tzus are high-maintenance when it comes to grooming, needing frequent brushing and trimming to maintain their coats.

© Antonov


Both dogs can get a lot of their energy out indoors, but they should still get at least one daily walk. This is because walks are for more than exercise! They also provide mental enrichment, the ability to sniff new scents (a vital experience for a dog), and fresh air.

Play with your pup frequently throughout the day. When walking, take it at their pace. Remember their little legs are a lot smaller, and they aren’t built for rigorous exercise.


Shih tzus are known to push boundaries now and again, like they know they’re too cute to say no to! Otherwise, though, they’re very eager to please.

Chihuahuas are more known for their stubbornness and might take extra time and patience. Remember to keep training sessions short, positive, and fun. Change things up regularly to prevent boredom and make sure you’re providing high-value motivators.

These dogs also have small bladders and may take more time to potty train. Never punish indoor accidents, but instead stay consistent, give them frequent potty breaks, and learn how to catch them when they’re about to pee so you can redirect them.

Chihuahua in agility training
When training either a Chihuahua or a shih tzu keep training sessions short, positive, and fun.



Both breeds commonly suffer from eye problems, dental disease, and luxating patella. Chihuahuas might also develop heart disease, hypoglycemia, hydrocephalus, epilepsy, or tracheal collapse.

Shih tzus’ biggest problem is their short snouts. These dogs are considered brachycephalic. This means they struggle to breath due to their snout length, and are also prone to a host of other health problems including heat stroke, laryngeal collapse, tracheal collapse, and other effects of brachycephalic syndrome.

Are Chihuahuas or Shih Tzus Cuter?

So, what do you think? Are Chihuahuas or Shih tzus cuter?

Chihuahuas are great dogs for people who want one of the smallest breeds out there. They love to cuddle, play, and bark! They can also be very protective.

Shih tzus are great for those who want to rescue a dog, rather than adopt – since, as we discussed above, they’re poorly bred to have short snouts. I strongly recommend against supporting these practices!

They’re rambunctious, loving, and eager to please. Shih tzus may be easier for first-time dog guardians since they aren’t as hard to train as Chihuahuas. However, they’ll likely cost you more in grooming fees.

Neither dog is good for people who are away from home often and don’t have families to spend time with their dogs. They thrive in homes where someone is around most of the day, and can suffer if left for eight hours at a time.

Ultimately, it all comes down to personal preferences and which breed better suits your lifestyle.

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About the Author

I'm an animal writer of four years with a primary focus on educational pet content. I want our furry, feathery, and scaley friends to receive the best care possible! In my free time, I'm usually outdoors gardening or spending time with my nine rescue pets.

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