Shih tzu dog on white background

Shih Tzu

Breed Characteristics

Sturdy. Likes everyone. Enjoys participating in family events and does not care to be left alone all day. Cannot handle hot weather. Shih Tzus tend to wheeze and snore, and can have respiratory issues.

Is the Shih Tzu allowed as a pet in a Singapore HDB flat?



Probably Tibet, 600s; later, China, 1600s. The Shih Tzu is believed to be a descendant of the Lhasa Apso and the Pekingese. Being a favourite dog of the Chinese royals during the Ming Dynasty, the Shih Tzu was kept within the country. It was not until the late 1920s when Lady Brownrigg exported a male and female pair to England. These dogs were subsequently bred with another Shih Tzu that was brought to Ireland. The breed was later recognised in UK in 1946.

Original Purpose

Pet; companion dog.

Behaviour and Temperament

Outgoing, sweet, independent, spunky, stable, friendly.

What are some Physical Features of the Shih Tzu?

Up to 25.5 cm; 4.5 to 7.5 kg. All colours permitted.

Coat Type and Recommended Grooming

Long, dense. High maintenance required; daily brushing to prevent tangles. The hair grows upward on the bridge on the nose, purportedly giving the Shih Tzu a chrysanthemum look. When kept in long coat, a topknot can be tied to keep the hair out of the eyes. Professional grooming is recommended. The Shih Tzu sheds little to no hair.

Life Expectancy of the Shih Tzu

The life expectancy of the Shih Tzu is between 11 and 16 years.

Have a Shih Tzu?

Health Concerns

Pinched nostrils, eye problems (distichiasis, conjunctivitis), obesity, allergies and dermatitis, ear infections, cancer, nephritis, congestive heart failure.

Exercise Needs

Low. The Shih Tzu’s exercise needs are met with daily short walks, and self play.


The Shih Tzu can adapt well to town or country, although he is a household dog and should not be kennelled outside. Fairly active indoors. Like other short-faced breeds, the Shih Tzu does not tolerate heat well at all. It is recommended that he remain in an air-conditioned room (or at least a well ventilated room) on hot days to prevent heat exhaustion.


Bonds to whole family. Very good with children; in very rare cases may be snappish. Though good with children, the Shih Tzu is not the best choice for family with toddlers, as its small size puts him at risk of unintentional injury. Good with other pets when socialised early.


Low; can be obstinate, which hampers training. However, with patience he can be trained. The Shih Tzu is known to be difficult to housetrain.

Recommended Activities

Companion, therapy dog.