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 approved 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

The original purpose of the Shih Tzu was to be a companion for the Chinese emperors and their families. They were bred for their small size, long flowing coats, and sweet personalities. Shih Tzus were considered to be sacred animals and were often given as gifts to important dignitaries.

In the Chinese imperial court, Shih Tzus were pampered and lived a life of luxury. They were often carried in the sleeves of their owners' robes and were given their own beds and servants. Shih Tzus were also used in religious ceremonies and were believed to bring good luck.

Today, Shih Tzus are still popular companion dogs. They are known for their affectionate nature and their love of being close to their owners. Shih Tzus are also relatively easy to care for, making them a good choice for first-time dog owners.

Behaviour and Temperament

Shih Tzus are known for their playful, affectionate, and outgoing personalities. They are often described as being "happy-go-lucky" and "full of life." Shih Tzus love to be the center of attention and will often follow their owners around the house. They are also very social dogs and enjoy meeting new people and other animals.

What are some Physical Features of the Shih Tzu?

The Shih Tzu is a small, sturdy dog with a long, flowing double coat. They typically stand not more than 27 cm at the withers and weigh between is 4.5 and 8 kg (10 to 18 pounds). The body is slightly longer than tall, with a good-sized head and a short muzzle. The muzzle is about 2.5 cm (1 inch) from tip to stop, and the distance from stop to occiput is slightly greater than the distance from stop to tip of nose.

The Shih Tzu's coat is one of its most distinguishing features. It is long, silky, and straight, and can be found in a wide variety of colours and patterns, including black, white, brown, red, and brindle. The coat requires regular brushing and combing to prevent mats and tangles.

Shih Tzus are known for their "chrysanthemum" face, which is created by the way the hair on their face grows out in all directions. They also have a distinctive undershot bite, where the lower jaw is slightly wider than the upper jaw.

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.

Shih Tzu Puppies in the Community

Have a Shih Tzu?

Health Concerns

Shih Tzus are generally healthy dogs, but they are prone to a number of health concerns, including breathing problems due to their short noses, eye problems, dental problems, patellar luxation, portosystemic shunt, allergies, intervertebral disk disease, hypothyroidism, and Legg-Calve-Perthes disease. It is important to be aware of these health concerns so that you can take steps to prevent them or detect them early.

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.

Shih Tzu Dog Club / Communities in Singapore

There are over 3,700 Shih Tzu lovers in the Singapore Shih Tzu Club (Facebook).