11 Shih tzu Temperament Facts You Need to Know


The Shih Tzu is one of the most popular dogs in the United States. It's the 20th most popular breed out of a total of 196, according to the American Kennel Club. In most countries, Shih Tzus are categorized as a toy breed, with a height of 8 to 11 inches and a weight of 9 to 16 pounds (4 to 7 kilograms). The Shih Tzu puppy, despite having a pompous, arrogant appearance and a joyful, sweet-natured temperament, is less demanding and bossy than most other toy breeds. A Shih Tzu puppy matures quickly, reaching adult size in around 10 months. They've been bred to be lap dogs. The Shih Tzu has a long flowy, silky coat and are 10 inches tall, which makes them cute, small dogs. The build of these adorable dogs is a robust body and a good-sized head. The Shih Tzu can be a slightly tall breed with an underbite and a relatively short snout but, their eyes are prominent in their rounded skull. The tail curls up over their back in a playful manner. For such a small dog, their pace is lengthy and quick. The life expectancy of a Shih Tzu is about fourteen to fifteen years. The Shih Tzu is frequently referred to as the "Chrysanthemum Dog" because of the way its facial hair flows out in all directions with a perky nose in the middle, resembling the flower of the same name. Because this breed is prone to heart and spinal problems (both of which can be exacerbated by obesity), feeding your Shih Tzu a nutritious diet or the best dog food is very important.

Shih Tzu laying on carpet floor

Origins of The Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu is an ancient breed that originated in Tibet in the 7th century. Shih Tzus were brought as gifts to Chinese royalty from Tibet on China's western border.  Purebred Shih Tzus were presumably mixed with Pekingese or Pugs by Chinese breeders, resulting in the modern-day Shih Tzu dog breed. Chinese royal families had Shih Tzu dogs throughout the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), and the "small lion dogs" or "chrysanthemum-faced" canines were recorded in various texts from that time period. They were described as little, intelligent, and peaceful dogs that looked a lot like lions. Tzu Hsi was an Empress who had a great love for animals. The Dalai Lama sent Empress Tzu Hsi a pair of exquisite Shih Tzus during her reign, which is said to be the source of the imperial palace's small lion dogs. When the Empress came to visit, the Shih Tzus were believed to have their own castle and were trained to sit up and wave their front paws. Maureen Murdock and her nephew, Philip Price, were the first in the United States to import and breed Shih Tzus. The American Shih Tzu Association in Florida, the Texas Shih Tzu Society, and the Shih Tzu Club of America were the three Shih Tzu clubs in 1960. The American Shih Tzu Club was formed in 1963 when the Shih Tzu Club of America and the Texas Shih Tzu Society joined. The American Kennel Club classified the breed as a part of the "Toy" group in 1969.

Shih Tzu Personality

Comfort and attentiveness are two things that Shih Tzu adores. Their demeanor is fantastic, making them one of the best small family dogs. As obedient companion dogs, these tiny creatures enjoy being a part of the family when they're at home. While their confidence is generally evident, this doesn't imply that they're arrogant. The Shih Tzu is known as a lap dog for a reason; they adore cuddling and snuggling into soft pillows, and they make an excellent pet for seniors. Let's look at 11 temperament facts of this dog breed to see why it's so popular.


Known as the Little Lion

The word Shih Tzu is a mandarin Chinese word pronounced as 'SHEED-zoo.' They were bred and crossed with other dog breeds to look like ancient Buddhist paintings depicting lions. According to legend, there was a Buddhist God of Learning who used to travel with a little lion puppy who could transform into a full-grown lion. A white patch on the head of many Shih Tzu's is considered to be the location of Buddha's kiss. Much like a lion's "king-of-the-whole-world" attitude, a Shih Tzu is known as a true method actor. Despite being raised as royalty for generations, they interact with commoners and make your home their castle, just like a royal member.


If you want to adopt a dog, especially a friendly one, a Shih Tzu is an excellent choice. Their cheerful, energetic, and welcoming demeanor are what makes them so endearing. Every dog breed has a distinct personality or dog temperament; some are extroverted, while others are introverted. Shih Tzus tend to get along well with people of all ages, as well as other dogs and animals. Some Shih Tzus can be snippy, but most are quite lovely pets. Many will happily jump onto a stranger's lap or rush into friendly play with another dog, regardless of whether the other dog wants the attention. They're self-assured and have no qualms expressing themselves.

Therapy Dogs 

Shih Tzus make great therapy dogs.  From older people to those who live alone they are sure to find comfort in the unconditional love and attention a Shih Tzu brings into their home life. Their sweet, charming, and always-happy nature can make you feel loved and adored. Having a Shih Tzu as a pet also can effectively reduce your feelings of loneliness. They're excellent emotional support pets. Shih Tzus desire attention and will go to great lengths to please you. These amusing little furballs enjoy even a small amount of praise. Shih Tzus are a great choice if you are looking for a quiet and content companion who'll spend the day cuddling with you on the couch, rather than running around the house. Not only that, but this breed requires less activity than others, which is beneficial if you have a hectic schedule or simply have no desire to walk your dog every day. When you're feeling down and out after a long day, all you need is a nice laugh, which you can get from your Shih Tzu. These dogs have a reputation for making their owners happy. They can make you giggle simply by gazing at you in a specific way. Whatever they do, they'll always be cute.



The Shih Tzu breed tends to score high on objective playfulness indexes. They fall into the toy breed and have a very affectionate and playful nature. Shih Tzus enjoy being around people and are happiest when they're at your feet or by your side. They're best suited for owners who can stay at home most of the time. If a Shih Tzu has a flaw in temperament, it's that they can have severe separation anxiety when their owner is away from them.  They are often clingy dogs, and while this small dog can squeeze into even the tiniest of spaces, their yearning to feel loved can lead to severe separation anxiety when their owner isn't there. The life span of Shih Tzus is relatively long.  Throughout their life, they can be your best bud, keep you company, and provide unconditional love. Shih Tzus enjoy playing tug-of-war and fetching items, even in their puppyhood.

Good Around Other Pets 

If you have multiple dogs, Shih Tzus will usually get along with them well. They rarely have problems with other dogs or animals, which makes them excellent pets for cat owners too! They approach most dogs with little concern and generally mind their business. A Shih Tzu's cheerful and sociable disposition allows them to easily adjust to any well-behaved canine. Although they may play with both large and small dogs, they normally prefer canines that are closer to their own size. Like with other dogs, how well these dogs get along with other animals is largely determined by how well they were socialized as a puppy.

Destructive Behavior

If pet owners are asked to name one personality trait that might annoy them, it's destructive behavior. Housebreaking issues are a common complaint among dog owners who seek behavioral assistance for their dogs. Nobody wants a dog who pees or poos in the house. There are some golden rules which help you train your dog for housebreaking.  One is confinement and regular access to go to the right place. Shih Tzus, like most small breeds, have a small bladder that takes a long time to grow to the point where they can "hold" urine for longer than a few seconds. They need a lot of training with a patient dog parent to get it all under control. You can plan on taking your Shih Tzu out every 2-3 hours for a little stroll around, especially after you’ve fed them. This can help you potty train them, too!

shih tzu dog sitting on couch

Close Proximity to Humans 

They adore people and get along with practically anyone, even youngsters, strangers, and other pets. Toddlers and little children, on the other hand, might be harsh with them and treat them like toys, which the dogs don't appreciate, and this can make them angry. They get along well with older children who've learned to treat them with gentleness and love. Shih Tzu puppies were bred to be nice companions, not to hunt, herd, or guard, and they're exactly that. Nothing makes them happier than greeting friends and strangers alike. A Shih Tzu is known for making friends wherever they go. Wherever you go or whenever you come home, you'll find your Shih Tzu rolling at your feet and licking you showering you with devotion and love. This Toy breed is good-natured, kind, and also extremely adaptive. They're equally at home in city apartments as they are on a country farm. Because of their jovial demeanor, you'll need to hire a dog walker or have someone come over to take the dogs out for a walk if you work long hours or plan on going on a trip. If a Shih Tzu dog goes too long without human interaction, he or she will invariably feel neglected. Your dog will become stressed as a result, and you may notice destructive behaviors in your cherished pet. Their dominating quality is affection, and your lap is their preferred destination. When they're with their family, giving and receiving attention, they're at their happiest.

Pleasant Energy Level 

Although the Shih Tzu can't herd sheep or sniff out objects, he does have an athletic side to him, albeit a fleeting one. Many people have excelled in agility competitions. Most Shih Tzus enjoy running, leaping, and jumping from time to time. If the walk isn't too lengthy and the weather is nice, they'll appreciate it. Their energy levels are short-lived, as they exert a lot of energy for a short amount of time before collapsing on the floor or a comfy pillow for a long nap. This makes them perfect for aging citizens and busy families who may not have the time to meet the high-energy demands of some breeds. The Shih Tzu can sit and relax all day or play with you, depending on how you treat them. These dogs aren't energetic to the point that you can't keep up with them. They're also not so laid-back that you won't be able to play fetch with them. Expect them to follow you around the house and insist on going for walks with you. At the same time, on a warm, bright day, your pet will most likely enjoy some relaxing sunning outside. A Shih Tzu's personality is neither extremely high energy or extremely low energy but rather, right in the middle, which is another reason for the breed's popularity!

shih tzu chihuahua sitting on grass

Glamorous and Athletic 

People tend to think of Shih Tzu dogs as more attractive than sporty because of their beautiful, flowing coats. However, beneath that beautiful coat comes a powerful body capable of doing well with agility. Several Shih Tzu dogs have excelled in agility events. A Shih Tzu became the first in the small breed section to win both a champion and an agility title in 2014. Celebrity Shih Tzu owners include Nicole Richie, Mariah Carey, Beyoncé, Colin Farell, Bill Gates, and even Queen Elizabeth II, due to the breed's opulence. But, as Shih Tzus are called glamour dogs, their long and flowy coat needs a lot of grooming and care too. An experienced groomer may give a pet Shih Tzu a short "puppy trim," which is also a popular choice for other dogs. This is a great option if your Shih Tzu's coat tangles easily or if you don't want to put in the effort that a ring-ready coat takes. There's also a more flamboyant cut that's still manageable. There are a lot of ideas on haircuts for your puppies or adult dogs according to their personality, so choose the best one to give them a little glamour!

Exercise Requirements 

The majority of Shih Tzus activity requirements can be met by following you around the house. A good walk is something they appreciate. Because the Shih Tzu is a brachycephalic breed, it becomes winded easily and doesn't fare well on lengthy hikes. Although puppies are more active than older dogs, not all Shih Tzu adults are lazy slobs. This appears to be a personal issue. This breed is ideal for the elderly and those who want a slower pace of life, but it can still cope with the needs of a busy household. In their puppyhood, too much exercise at this period could develop joint and bone troubles later in life, so five minutes per day should be plenty. An adult Shih Tzu dog could need around 30-60 minutes of exercise daily. shih-tzu-shih-cute-puppies

Smart but Stubborn 

They're intelligent, yet obstinate, and can have the attitude of "what's in it for me?" This stubborn tendency can make training challenging, particularly for dogs who are not motivated by food or toys. With this breed, housebreaking is frequently the most challenging task. Most dogs like to please their owners, so building a strong bond with your Shih Tzu will boost the chances of them cooperating with you…most of the time. Finding the right reward for this breed is crucial to training success. Some dogs respond well to praise and affection, but most dogs respond well to small, tasty treats. When considering getting a second Shih Tzu, most folks choose one of each gender since they get along better that way. However, this isn't always the case. Mothers and daughters get along nicely, while littermates get along well too. Two females can get along perfectly depending on their temperaments as long as they both respect the people in the household as the alpha dog. So, what are you waiting for? Your regal, yet easy-going dog is in need of more attention and love!

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