Shih Tzu are small hypoallergenic dogs that ordinarily weigh about 7 to 10 lbs. In addition, they sport beautiful, long, silky locks. The dog’s name is of Chinese origin and means ‘lion dog’ – the dog was bred to resemble an oriental lion.
A Shih Tzu dog typically has fur colors from the shades of gold, brown, white and red. Its fur’s color is commonly gold, white and red. But other rare colors one may see are black, silver, liver and brindle. Shih Tzus (also informally called Shitzu/ Shitsu) have long and hairy fur and a short snout.
Its regal appearance can be accredited to its silky and brightly-colored fur, which further enhances its adorableness. The dog breed, as mentioned above, originated in China and are one of the oldest breeds. In traditional Chinese, it is also known as “Shih-Tzu Kou”. The dog was bred to be a lapdog for Chinese nobles and loves to be pampered.
This small dog measures no more than 26.7cm when standing (at the shoulders). The dog has an average lifespan of eleven to sixteen years – old age is the leading cause of death for this regal dog breed. Newborn Shih Tzu puppies are very sensitive and vulnerable, especially to high temperatures.
Shih Tzu Dog: Shih Tzu Puppies, Temperament, Personality, Mixes, Price, History and Breed Information
These dogs are brachycephalic (they have broad and short skulls). This is the reason why they are sensitive to high temperatures. Nursing newborn puppies requires more amount of attention and patience, and like other dog breeds, the puppies should not be separated from the mother until they are a year or two old.
About Shih Tzu Temperament and Personality
Shih Tzu are well-known for their playfulness. This is what makes this hypoallergenic dog breed one of the most popular dog breeds in the world. They also do some cute behaviors, like cuddling you when you’re not noticing him or her, as if they are begging for your attention. Celebrities worldwide usually own this breed (next to Chihuahuas, another popular breed), and smother them with affection and unneeded decorations.
The dogs are intelligent and lively. They are clever and love to play. Though they are lapdogs, these non-shedding dogs can be independent and clever. Above all, this affectionate dog breed loves human companionship. Other words that aptly describe the temperament and personality of this dog are alert, loyal, happy and courageous.
Shih Tzu Colors
Most Shih Tzu puppies will have a combination of coat colors. But the following coat colors also do exist.
- Solid Black – Though most come in shades of several colors, black Shih Tzu do exist. But they are uncommon. In addition, most of the black dogs will have one or more white markings. A black puppy is rare but cute. Black and white coat colors are more common than pure black.
- Pure White – Pure white Shih Tzu are also rare. This is because the Piebald gene that causes white color is a recessive gene. This is why a solid white of this breed will have pure white parents. There are brown Shih Tzu as well. But this brown coat might actually be classified as liver, and there is a wide range of possible brown color – from light brown to dark brown.
Shih Tzu Price
Shih Tzu price depends on many factors. These include age, pedigree, the breeder, registration status, and supply and demand. The price for puppies aged 6 weeks to 14 weeks generally range from $500 to $1,000.
Teacup (Imperial) Shih Tzu
A variant of this dog breed is the Teacup dog. As the name suggests, a Teacup Shih Tzu is relatively smaller than the ordinary dog breed. But they have the same features and colors. However, unlike its name, the price for the Teacup is almost double that of the ordinary ones.
Not only that, for well-known breeders and sellers, Imperial Shih Tzu are in such high demand that buyers are usually kept on the waiting list. Bred to fit inside a large tea cup (hence their name), Teacup dogs have many health problems due to their small size. These include missing/ misaligned teeth due to the tiny jaws. They are also genetically inferior to normal sized dogs since teacups are frequently produced from runts (smaller and weaker parents).
Japanese Shih Tzu are also referred to as JaTzu. They are obtained by mixing a Shitzu with the Japanese Chin dog. But these dogs are rare to find outside of Japan.
Shih Tzu Mixes
Dog breeders have experimented with these cuddly lapdogs for many years. This has resulted in many mixed breeds. These are new mixes that are equally as cuddly and can be equally as expensive as the purebred dog. For the mixed breed to be sought for and priced high, it has to be a recognized mix breed by the American Canine Hybrid Club. You may view recognized mixes of this and other dog breeds here.
- Maltese Shih Tzu Mix (Malshi/ Mal-Shi) – One popular Shih Tzu mix breed is a cross between a Shih Tzu and a Maltese. Malshi puppies and adults can appear to be pure Shih Tzus as the color of the coat and the length of hair is almost the same as the purebred. Rarely, though, Malshi have a pure white coat taken from the Maltese genes.
- Shih Tzu Poodle Mix (Shih-Poo/ ShihPoo) – The Poodle is the most popular of all hypoallergenic dogs. There are three Poodle sizes: Toy, Miniature and the Standard Poodle. A Shih-Poo is a cross between the two non-shedding dog breeds. As a result, ShihPoo are one of the best Poodle mixes.
- Shih Tzu Chihuahua Mix (Shichi/ Chi-Tzu) – Chihuahuas shed. They are a tiny and feisty dog breed whose origins are in Mexico. Since Chihuahua are the smallest dog breed, you can expect your Chi-Tzu puppy to grow up to be a tiny dog with the personality of the giant dog breeds. It’s called the “small dog syndrome”.
- Shih Tzu Bichon Frise (Zuchon/ BichonTzu/ Shichon/ Shih-Chon/ Shihchon) – Another popular mix is the Zuchon. Bichon Frise are small dogs that are usually white in color. The combined breed (Zuchon) produces cute little dogs with two or more shades of colors. Bichon Frise are cheerful but sometimes cheeky and feisty. The Bichon Frise name in French means “curly lap dog” – and the hybrid Zuchon loves to be cuddled and pampered.
- Pomeranian Shih Tzu (Shiranian) – Pomeranian dogs are cute and fluffy. The fluffy toy breed are one of the Spitz dogs. Shiranian puppies inherit the best qualities of both parent breeds and weigh between 3 and 16 pounds. They are also called Pomshi, Pom-Tzu and Shih-Pom. Shiranians are a popular designer dog breed.
- Shih Tzu Pekingese (Shinese) – Pekingese are almost similar in appearance to the Shih Tzu. They are classified among the toy dogs. This breed also has its origins in China. Pekingese are stubborn, aggressive but intelligent. Shinese are small, intelligent and affectionate companion dogs.
Other Crossbreeds Include:
- Shih Tzu Yorkie Mix (Shorkie) – The Shih Tzu Yorkie are obtained by mixing purebred Shitzu with the Yorkshire Terrier. Yorkshire Terriers are another toy dog breed which were first bred in Yorkshire, England. They are hypoallergenic, intelligent, bold, independent and courageous. Consequently, Shorkie are non-shedding and affectionate dogs that are great for the whole family.
- Jack Russell Shih Tzu Mix (Jack Tzu/ RusselTzu) – The Jack Russell Terrier is a small and energetic dog breed from England. This dog was bred to hunt small game and vermin such as rats. They love to dig and enjoy being in the outdoors! Jack Tzu usually inherit the body of a Jack Russell but with the fur of a Shih Tzu. Jack Tzu are intelligent, friendly but more energetic than a purebred Shitzu. They need a good amount of exercise.
- Pug Shih Tzu mix (Pug-Zu) – The Pug also originated in China. This is an ancient dog breed who was also bred to be a companion dog for Chinese nobles. Pugs are muscular but very docile. They are playful but can be independent. These dogs have a distinctive face: short muzzle, wrinkly face and a curly tail. Pug-Zu are small, intelligent and affectionate – but sometimes stubborn.
- Shih Tzu Dachshund (Schweenie) – Dachshund are also called wiener/ sausage dogs. They have long bodies and short legs – resembling a sausage. This small hound is clever, playful and courageous. They love to cuddle and are loyal pets. Shitzu Dachshund inherit the long body of the sausage dog and the small size of the Shitzu. Schweenie are loving, loyal and intelligent.
- Shih Tzu Schnauzer (Schnau-Tzu) – Schnauzer dogs have a unique bearded snout. They come in three sizes: Miniature, Standard and the Giant Schnauzer. Schnauzers are muscular and energetic dogs who were bred to hunt and guard. Therefore, a Schnauzer needs a lot of exercise. Schnau-Tzu are a mix between a purebred Shih Tzu and a purebred Miniature Schnauzer. The Schnau-Tzu hybrid dogs are smart and friendly – and like both parents, hypoallergenic.
- Lhasa Apso Shih Tzu Mix (Shih Apso/ Lhasa Tzu/ Shihapso) – Another popular mix is the Lhasa Tzu, a mix with the Lhasa Apso dog breed. Shih Apso puppies have a darker coat and shorter fur. The bold, alert, devoted and intelligent Lhasa Apso were bred by Tibetan monks to guard Buddhist monasteries. Lhasa-Tzu inherit the alertness of the Lhasa Apso and the intelligence, friendliness and gentleness of the Shih Tzu.
There are many Shih Tzu mix breeds for sale around the world. Other popular cross breeds include Bulldog and the Pit bull Shitzu mixes. For first time pet owners, it is important that you research the breed of dog you wish to buy. It is still more recommendable to buy the pure breed because then you can trace the lineage of the dog.
For hybrids, dog breeders usually warn buyers of the possibility of change in the temperament of the dog. The combination of genes can affect the behavior of the dog. With this said, it is best to read about the breed that you like the most and see what other dog owners have to say about it.
Shih Tzu Grooming
Essentially, combing the hair of these dogs regularly is necessary. These dogs naturally possess long hair that can effortlessly tangle. To keep their hair knot-free, you need to allot a certain amount of time to comb their hair every day. Cleaning their face is also important. One good way of cleaning the face of the dog is to use a moist cloth and wash the hair to remove the food scattered all over their face. Bathe the dog once every 2-3 weeks.
Just like human beings, their hair also needs to be trimmed. Depending on your preference, there are several hair styles that can be used. Keep the hair on the face, especially around the eyes, short to avoid eye infection or irritation. In addition, keep your dog healthy through regular bathing and grooming. Shih Tzu puppies also need attention and exercise. The dogs easily get depressed when left alone for long. One effective way of spending time with them is to go out with them for a good walk through the vicinity.
Shih Tzu life cycle and Development Stages
The body development and growth rate of this dog breed is quick. Their age rate is about seven times that of a human. They go through the following cycles from birth to an adult dog.
- 21 days old: The Shih Tzu puppies are very small and delicate. The puppies start to open their eyes. Initially the vision may not be totally clear. But it improves gradually.
- 42 days old: At this stage the body movement of the puppies is very delicate and slow. They are just learning to walk and move here and there. Though 42 days old puppies are very active and love to run around, they should not be allowed to walk or wander in outdoor places until and unless they have been fully vaccinated. This is because they can be susceptible to viral infections.
- 56 days old: These puppies are ready to move to their new home. At this stage you can start to train your puppy. The puppies are totally weaned from mother and should be eating healthy dog food. Sometimes few puppies will take a longer time to wean – until about 9 to 10 weeks old. The development of small teeth is complete at this stage.
- 150 to 180 days old: This is called the Teething stage. The previous temporary teeth of Shih Tzu puppies come off and the puppies start to develop a new set of permanent teeth. At this stage the dog owner should give his puppies ice cubes (but not too many) to help reduce aching of their gums. Also there are different types of chew sticks and toys that are helpful to make a young dog’s teeth stronger.
- 180 days old: It is the time for your dog to have her initial menstrual cycle. It is always suggested by the veterinarian to have the bitch spayed in order to slow down the possibility of dangerous diseases like cancers and to avoid unwanted pregnancies.
- 365 days old (1 year): Your puppy is totally developed in terms of bones and body. Now it is an adult dog. You should change your dog’s food from puppy food to food recommended for adult dogs.
- 8 years old: At this stage your best friend has become a senior dog. Now you can feed your dog senior dog food that is more nutritious for their advanced age instead of the normal adult dog food. Note that an older dog has limited physical activity. Also you can reduce feeding times from 3 times to once per day. This is because senior dogs can comfortably eat once in a day! Older dogs develop more health problems. As a result, you should expect to have more veterinary visits – at least once every 4 months.
Note that it is a great idea to give your puppies balanced homemade dog food. This is because packaged dog food contains some chemicals and preservatives.
Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q)
Are black Shih Tzus rare?
Black Shih Tzu are very rare to find. But they do exist, most commonly with one or several white markings.
Do black Shih Tzus stay black?
Yes, black puppies may stay black. But they can also lighten as they mature. But adult black dogs will stay black.
Can a black Shih Tzu turn brown?
Yes, Shih Tzu puppies may change color as they mature.
Are liver Shih Tzus rare?
Yes, the liver color (a coat color between light brown and chocolate brown) is very rare among this dog breed.
What is the rarest color of Shih Tzu?
Black is the rarest color of these dogs.
What is the most popular Shih Tzu color?
The most popular Shih Tzu color is a combination of black, silver and white. But the most common coat color is a combination of gold, white and red.
The Shih Tzu dog breed is a great pet for the whole family. Moreover, this intelligent dog does not shed and gets along well with other pets.