The ‘Lion Dog’: The Shih-Tzu Dog Breed

shih-tzu dog breed info aka 'the lion dog'

You’ve seen them on TV, you’ve seen them in the arms of celebrities, but what are shih-tzu, or “lion dogs”? Wondering how much grooming goes into a shih-tzu look? Do they shed a lot? Do shih-tzu make good pets? Are they incessant barkers? Are shih-tzu easy to train? Learn more about the shih-tzu dog breed.

Do Shih-Tzu Bark a Lot?

Shih-tzu is a breed prone to barking for just about any reason. Although barking is a way for dogs to communicate, the shih-tzu can take it to another level, barking at everything that moves and even those that don’t. This breed barks for several reasons, such as people or other dogs passing by your house, kids on bikes, when visitors arrive or even when they spot a person or animal off in the distance. These barking opportunities are, of course, in addition to typical reasons dogs bark like boredom, attention-seeking, and separation anxiety.

How to stop shih-tzus from barking?

To succeed with dog training, your shih-tzu needs to exercise every day. A regular routine of physical exercise and mental stimulation will leave her less likely to bark obsessively and incessantly.

You’ll need time, patience, and consistent corrections when you’re training any dog, especially the smart-as-a-whip shih-tzu.

Step one, identify what triggers your shih-tzu to bark. If you can’t eliminate the sights and sounds that set her off, try to distract her. For example, if your shih-tzu reacts to strangers or visitors to your house, give her something else to do while you answer their call. You might also ensure she gets a good walk or play time early in the day, to tire her enough so she does not care as much about visitors.

Step two, use our train, treat, repeat training techniques laid out in our guide to stopping dog barking. This method combines firm voice commands with the BarxBuddy ultrasonic training tool and positive reinforcement. Always be sure to share immediate praise in the form of head scratches, belly rubs and kind words … and treats. Be careful with giving too many treats to your shih-tzu, because obesity can become a big issue with this breed. Although it can be frustrating to hear your pet bark constantly, using harsh corrections or yelling at her will teach her to be afraid. On the other hand, if she barks and you yell, she might think you just joined her in the fun!

Step three — and this is an important one — make sure everyone in your home is on the same page about correcting your dog’s behavior. They need to understand and be willing to practice the same training techniques. Shih-tzus are smart, and they’ll quickly figure out who they can fool and who doesn’t let them get away with naughtiness.

Learn more about training devices for dogs

Facts About Shih-Tzu 

Shih-tzus love being around humans, and as such are easy to spoil. They are happy, lively and very friendly. Shih-tzu get along well with other animals and people of all ages, making them a great choice for a house pet. Although they do enjoy a good walk, shih-tzus are equally content sitting on your lap. When you do take a shih-tzu for outdoor activities it’s crucial you don’t do so in hot, humid weather, as the breed is prone to heat stroke.

  • Size: The height range for shih-tzu is 9-10.5 inches and the weight range is 9-16 pounds.
  • Life expectancy: A healthy shih-tzu has an average lifespan of 10-18 years.
  • Coat:The coat of shih-tzu is long, flowing, and dense.
  • AKC group: Shih-tzu belongs to the AKC toy group.

Are Shih-Tzu Easy to Train?

Shih-tzus are charmers, and as such, can get away with just about anything, which can make training a challenge. Incorporating food rewards and lots of praise goes far with shih-tzu. Harsh corrections aren’t necessary, but firmness is warranted. Remember: Don’t give in to a shih-tzu that’s misbehaving, even if they captivate you with their sweet demeanor, or you can find yourself back at square one. When introducing new behaviors do so a bit at a time. As with any other breed, early socialization and puppy training benefit you and your pet.

Do Shih-Tzu Need Grooming?

The shih-tzu needs more grooming than most breeds. They don’t shed a lot, making them a good pet for allergy sufferers. Daily brushing is required to maintain their long coats. Using a pin brush, you need to layer the hair until you reach the skin. To prevent a shih-tzu’s eyes from being irritated from the hair on its brow and head, keep the hair short or tie the hair above the eye into a topknot. To help keep the coat clean it’s recommended that shih-tzus are bathed every three to four weeks. Regular ear cleaning, nail trimming with proper tools like the BarxBuddy nail clippers, and teeth brushing must be included in your shih-tzu grooming routine.

What If My Breed Is a Shih-Tzu Mix?

Just about any mix with a shih-tzu will bring you an affectionate, friendly and happy companion. Common mixes with fellow toy group breeds ensure your mix will retain their small stature. Since shih-tzu mixed breeds inherit the traits from both parents, you might find a mix sheds more than a purebred shih-tzu.

Here are some popular shih-tzu breed mixes (shoot for 10-12 mixes if possible, alphabetize)

  • Bully-tzu — shih-tzu + bulldog
  • Mal-shi — shih-tzu + Maltese
  • Pug-tzu — shih-tzu + pug
  • Schnau-tzu — shih-tzu + miniature schnauzer
  • Shichi — shih-tzu + Chihuahua
  • Shichon — shih-tzu + bichon frise
  • Shih Apso — shih-tzu + Lhasa apso
  • Shih-poo — shih-tzu + poodle
  • Shinese — shih-tzu + Pekingese
  • Shiranian — shih-tzu + Pomeranian
  • Shorke — shih-tzu + Yorkshire terrier
  • Silky-tzu — shih-tzu + silky terrier