Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu


Wonderful lapdogs, the shih tzu has a winning personality, and it can be hard to say no to these adorable pups. Shih tzus are sweet and bubbly, with moderate energy levels, especially if they grow up with children. They are very gentle but stubborn if they want to be.

Lifetime Care

Breed Profile


9 - 10.5



9 - 16


Life Span

10 - 18




Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (KCS)

of dogs

What is it?

Keratoconjunctivitis sicca, also known as dry eye, is a condition that causes your dog’s eyes to dry out, which causes pain and irritation.

Clinical signs:

Red, irritated eyes, yellowish discharge, squinting, excessive blinking, hyperpigmentation, keeping eyes closed, difficulty seeing, and dull eyes


Eye ointment, cleaning the eyes, surgical correction

Other risks:

KCS can lead to other eye issues, like infection and swelling (chronic conjunctivitis), corneal ulcerations, and chronic keratitis, so your dog should be treated as soon as possible to prevent further complications.

Average vet bill for Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (KCS)


Reimbursement Rate

Amount a Spot accident & illness plan would cover*


Your Net payment


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*Hypothetical reimbursement examples illustrate reimbursement of an eligible vet bill at the noted reimbursement rate, assuming the annual deductible had already been met.


Brachycephalic Syndrome

What is it?

Since your shih tzu has a shortened upper jaw and nose and the same amount of tissue that would normally be in a dog with a longer nose and jaw, they can have Brachycephalic Syndrome.

Clinical signs:

Respiratory distress, difficulty sleeping, snoring, sounds while breathing, difficulties exercising, and collapse (in severe cases)


Soft palate resectomy, correction of stenotic nares

Other risks:

Since your dog has difficulty breathing, exercise is harder for your pup. The condition also makes your pup more likely to have a heat stroke.

Sleeping is also difficult for your pup. The issues cause pauses in their breathing, and the amount of oxygen in the blood can drop often.

Average vet bill for Brachycephalic Syndrome


Reimbursement Rate

Amount a Spot accident & illness plan would cover*


Your Net payment


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*Hypothetical reimbursement examples illustrate reimbursement of an eligible vet bill at the noted reimbursement rate, assuming the annual deductible had already been met.


Patellar Luxation

What is it?

Patellar luxation is the name for a condition where your dog’s kneecap (patella) dislocates itself (luxates).

Clinical signs:

Limping, walking on three legs, kicking the affected leg out, and bowleggedness


Deepening the groove, correcting the point of attachment of the patellar ligament, implant, tightening of the capsule around the joint

Other risks:

If your dog is overweight, it can make dealing with patellar luxation more difficult. There is also a chance your dog may develop arthritis.

Average vet bill for Patellar Luxation


Reimbursement Rate

Amount a Spot accident & illness plan would cover*


Your Net payment


Click For Price

*Hypothetical reimbursement examples illustrate reimbursement of an eligible vet bill at the noted reimbursement rate, assuming the annual deductible had already been met.



Shih tzus are very sweet dogs who could spend all day with you if you were available. They love you, and they aren’t afraid to show it through snuggles and kisses.


A shih tzu has a bubbly and friendly personality. They know how to enjoy life, and they love making new doggy friends, although it may take them some time to warm up to human strangers.


If you’re looking for a great family dog, the shih tzu can be an excellent choice. They’re great with children since they’re very gentle.


Even though they can be calm and are great lap dogs, shih tzus also have plenty of energy to spend time playing with children.


These Tibetan dogs can be pretty resilient, but they can be pretty stubborn if they want to be. Most of the time, they are very easy-going, but there are times when you’ll need to hold your ground against their begging, soulful eyes.

Lifetime Care


Shih tzus have a long, double-layered coat that usually grows past their feet. They shed very little.


White, silver and white, silver, black white and silver, black and white, black, blue, blue and white, gold, gold and white, brindle, brindle and white, red, red and white, liver


Yes, shih tzus are hypoallergenic.


If your shih tzu has a long coat, brush them daily to prevent matting and tangles. If you have a groomer give them a puppy cut, they won’t need combing as frequently.

Long-haired shih tzus will need the hair at the top of their head pulled up into a top knot or trimmed to keep it from getting into their eyes.

They will need their teeth and ears cleaned regularly, and their nails should be trimmed on a regular basis as well.


Shih tzus are pretty easy to train, as long as you use positive reinforcement and don’t give in to their begging eyes.

Lifetime Care Cost:

$17,910 - $133,355

Learn more about the cost of caring for a Shih Tzu.

Shih tzu: Dog Breed Information Guide 2022

If you’ve ever seen a shih tzu, you’ll know how adorable and charming these little guys are. Whether they have a long, elegant coat or a fluffy puppy cut, shih tzus are sweet, affectionate lap dogs that fit in well with all sorts of families.

At Spot Pet Insurance, we want to help you become the best pet parent you can be. We’re hoping to provide you with enough educational resources to help you make the best decisions for your future fur baby.

If you’re thinking about adopting a shih tzu, you’ll need to know about their physical characteristics, personalities, and care needs, like how often to exercise or groom them. Continue reading to learn more about this amazing breed.

Meet the shih tzu

Shih tzus are small dogs that are classified as a toy breed.

Like the Lhasa Apso and the Yorkshire terrier, shih tzus can have coats that reach to the floor. However, unlike Lhasa Apsos and Yorkies, shih tzus have a double coat, so their hair looks full, and if they have a puppy cut, they are extremely fluffy.

Shih tzu coats can come in a wide array of colors. They can also have some markings too, such as black markings, a black mask, tan markings, or white markings, although white markings aren’t accepted under the AKC breed standard.

What is the history of the shih tzu? 

Shih tzus are thought to have originated in Tibet. They were brought to China, where they were popular as watchdogs and companion dogs for Chinese royalty in the Ming Dynasty. They bred with other Chinese dogs in the Dowager Empress T’zu Hsi’s kennels, where there are records of “little lion dogs.”

A few were brought over to England in the late 1920s, where they were nicknamed “chrysanthemum dogs.”

This member of the toy group almost became extinct when the Communist Revolution in China occurred. The remaining 14 shih tzus made their way to America.

In the late 1960s, the American Kennel Club recognized the shih tzu as an official breed, and the popularity of this little dog has grown ever since.

What are the types of shih tzu?

Although there is only one shih tzu breed, there are variants of the breed with slightly different features.

There are four or five different types of shih tzu, depending on how you classify them: American, European, Imperial/teacup, and blue-eyed. Some of these variations are because shih tzus developed differently in different areas. Others are due to genetic mutation or breeding manipulation. All are adorable and share that small size.

American shih tzus have heads that are more square, and their eyes tend to be wider, even though they are smaller than the European breed. Their necks are shorter, and their chest is small. Their legs face forward, and they have frontal shoulders.

The European shih tzu has a rounder head with large, soulful eyes and a longer neck. Their legs bend back slightly, and their chests are broad compared to the American shih tzu. Both the American shih tzu and the European are purebreds.

The Imperial shih tzu may have an intimidating name, but these dogs are smaller than a typical shih tzu. Teacups are the smallest, but both the Imperial and the teacup shih tzu are considered impure breeds. Both are usually the products of runts of the litter, which means they may have health issues from genetic defects.

Blue-eyed shih tzus can be descended from purebred dogs or impure, but the reason for their blue eyes is a genetic weakness. They don’t have the gene that allows for the black pigmentation in the eyes, which also causes their noses to be lighter than the shih tzus usual black nose.

What are the potential health conditions for shih tzus?

Shih tzus can be prone to certain conditions, like Brachycephalic Syndrome, patellar luxation, cataracts and other eye problems, ear infections, hip dysplasia, and renal dysplasia.

One possible condition is dry eye, which occurs because the tear gland doesn’t produce enough tears to keep the eye wet.

Your pup has a third eyelid which is supposed to help protect your dog’s eye and help spread the watery tears that prevent your dog’s eye from getting too dry. Because the tear gland doesn’t produce enough tears, there isn’t much for the third eyelid to spread around.

Since the shih tzu’s eyes tend to stick out more prominently, it is also possible for there to be incomplete eyelid closure, which affects the eyelid’s ability to protect the eye. Treatment for dry eye is simple, but it is lifelong.

As long as your dog doesn’t have a pre-existing condition, we can help you by assisting you when your dog does have health issues. We can’t be there with you physically, but we can offer you a plan that will help you help your pup.

How to be the best pet parent for a shih tzu?

Every dog breed has their own specific care needs, and individual dogs have their own quirks. The best way to be a good pet parent to your pup is to get to know and understand them. That way, you know what your dog needs, from how often they need to be groomed to how often they should go for a walk.

How much does a dog or puppy cost?

Adoption fee: $50-$6,000

[Expense: first year, following years]Food: $50-$130, $45-$135

Water/food bowls: $5-$20, N/A

Treats: $40-$240, $40-$240

Collars: $5-$40, N/A

Leashes: $5-$20, $0-$20

Dog bed and crate: $35-$145, N/A

Toys: $15-$50, $0-$50

Vaccines and routine care: $385-$1,095, $280-$645

Heartworm and flea prevention: $120-$210, $155-$220

Total: $660-$1,950, $520-$1,310

Learn more about the costs of a Shih Tzu.

Basic training and behavior etiquette for your dog

Early socialization is necessary for all dogs, even the loving shih tzu. They aren’t fans of strangers, but they should be introduced to new places, people, and dogs.

Shih tzus should be housetrained and learn commands like sit, stay, come, and heel. They can be difficult to train, mainly because they are stubborn and really good at begging. Don’t fall for it. Instead, use positive reinforcement and be consistent with the rules.

Shih tzus learn well if there is a game or treat involved. They learn best when they want to learn, so try to make the process fun!

What type of foods should a shih tzu never eat?

There are quite a few foods that are toxic for shih tzus. Some of these foods are:

Exercising tips to keep your dog to stay fit and healthy

Since they are lap dogs, shih tzus don’t need a lot of exercise. Too much exercise can also cause breathing problems since shih tzus tend to be brachycephalic, but they should still get a daily walk.

A short walk or two and indoor playtime should be sufficient for your pup’s exercise needs.

Shih tzu life stages

Puppy: 0-2 years

Adult: 2-9 years

Senior: 9-13 years


  • 8 Types of Shih Tzu [All You Need to Know] | AnimalFate

  • Brachycephalic Syndrome | American College of Veterinary Surgeons | ACVS

  • The Cost of Shih Tzu Puppies & Adult Dogs (with Calculator) | PetBudget

  • Dangerous Foods for Dogs | American Kennel Club

  • How Old is Shih Tzu in Human Age? Shih Tzu Age Calculator |

  • Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca Kcs Or Dry Eye In Dogs | VCA Animal Hospitals

  • Luxating Patella In Dogs | VCA Animal Hospitals

  • Patellar Luxations | American College of Veterinary Surgeons | ACVS

  • Proactive Breeders Improve Outcomes For Dogs With Ocular Diseases | American Shih Tzu Club

  • Shih Tzu - Brachycephalic Airway Obstruction Syndrome (BAOS) | UFAW

  • Shih Tzu Dog Breed Hypoallergenic, Health and Life Span | PetMD

  • Shih Tzu Dog Breed Information |

  • Shih Tzu | VCA Animal Hospitals