Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu History

Shih Tzu in bagShih Tzu dog history starts in ancient China area of Tibetan or Central China. The elites of the society were known to hold these behind dogs inside of their palace.

People who were known to breed these dogs were showered with gifts and given special treatment due to the affection the royal families held for this breed.

The only time this breed ever left China was for a very special gift from one elite family to another. The world was closed off from Shih Tzu’s for a very long time.

It took a long time before the house dog became a world-wide item. The amount of time it took to become popular in other countries is a reflection of how long they were held in their country.

One of few dogs from the region to be called a lion, but only a small little dog. Shih Tzu’s are an ancient breed and they’ve been around since before common era (BCE) or before Christ.

Around the late 1800’s there were still strong efforts to keep the dog inside of China. The dog was hard to find and that made it difficult to buy, sell, or give away any dog from their bloodline.

Once someone was able to peel their grips away from the Shih Tzu their first stop was to U.K. The United Kingdom is still a place where they are favorable and popular. The United States was the next stop for the breed.


Shih Tzu’s have registration with the American Kennel Club and the Kennel Club in the United Kingdom.

Since they had a later introduction to the rest of the world you see that their first registration was in the mid 1900’s. England and Norway first saw this dog in the 1930’s and it took a while before they got their own recognition.

America didn’t get a chance to register this beauty until the 1950’s during the post-World War II era. The breed standards were written in England and continue to serve as a guide in choosing how these dogs should look to get papers.


You can find a Shih Tzu in the following colors:

  • Black
  • White
  • Silver
  • Red
  • Gold
  • Brindle
  • Blue

There are times when you see these dogs with solid colors, but you will see them with a mixture of colors often.

You can combine most of the colors at the top with white. Sometimes you get different variations of colors.  


Height 9-10 inches

Weight 10-16 pounds

Shih Tzu’s are known to have a very compact body type for their size. They’re little in size but still present a stock weight in comparison to other little dogs their same size.

Exercise Needs

There is a terrible myth that has been legend for decades. That terrible myth is that little dogs don’t need exercise. That is something that needs to change for all dog owners of little dogs.

No reputable dog trainer will tell you that exercise will not help train your dog and I’m no different.

You must exercise every dog and I want to give you an example of why this makes sense.

If this dog was in the wild without humans how much would they exercise? Would they say I’m little I don’t need exercise? Or would they be walking, running and hunting looking for food and water?

Don’t make exercise decision because of what you think is right. Remember what the dog will do instead. Here’s what we would recommend in terms of exercising this dog.

                1 Hour walk

                1-hour treadmill

                30-minute run

You need to do this at least once and see if the produces good dog behavior. If this isn’t good enough increase to an hour walk and 30 minutes treadmill for a total of an hour and a half per day.

They will need more exercise at a younger age and will gradually decrease as they get older.

Once the dog is 3-5 years old you can possibly decrease to one hour. Remember you can decrease if they still hold great behavior.

6+ you should look to give them around 30 minutes to an hour. Again, this is all going to depend on how the dog is behaving. If misbehaving gives them more and if they’re acting good it will be ok to decrease.


Like most small dogs who require no exercise you will experience more issues without exercise. It is hard to pinpoint if small breeds are harder to train or if we are not giving them the proper exercise.

Once we have this simple necessity down, we can finally move forward and look at training this dog with commands and corrections.

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You will need to teach the basic commands of sit, lay, stay, and others by using our repetition model to make these commands second nature to the dog.

Doing this is easy, but you need to put in the repetition to make sure it is down pact.

Next, you must correct dogs. Why do you have to correct? Because dogs correct each other all the time. As the owner, or pack leader, it is no different.

A correction is not something that hurts the dog or affects them in a negative manner, but you need to understand the basics. Corrects are done because the dog isn’t paying attention and you need to get their attention.

Once you get this you make sure they sit or lay. You can get their attention with a verbal, leash, or hand correction and use the lowest amount of force possible to get the attention.

If you keep everything at an attention basis you will never overuse the correction and resort to excessive force. Stay at the lowest level on intensity and work your way up only if needed.


Life Span

10-18 years

Shih Tzu lives a very long time sometimes reaching close to two decades. That is a major undertaking for owners to make sure they know that you will have this dog, possible, 20 years of your adult life.

Train them right using our methods and you will have a great relationship with your dog.

Health Issues

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Slipped Kneecap
  • Eye Issues
  • Cherry Eye
  • Retinal Atrophy

Hip Dysplasia – is a condition where the leg doesn’t properly fit into the socket. When dogs experience this condition, they usually don’t tend to like exercising. Hips are hereditary and puppies get them from the parents. Make sure you are choosing a reputable breeder when purchasing.

The best way to find out if your dog has this condition is to take them to the vet and have the veterinarian conduct an x-ray or the body to determine if their bones fit properly into their sockets.

Slipped Kneecap – The knee dislocating is commonly referred to as a slipped kneecap. If your dog is walking funny, then you should take them to the vet and get some x-rays done.

If you have a little dog, they normally will suffer from this one often than other breeds.

Eye Issues – the eyes are a major cause for concern if you have a Shih Tzu. Make sure the dog is groomed and getting their regular vet visits so that any conditions can be given treatment.

Cherry Eye – you will notice a red bump on the inside of the eye. This is the dogs third eye that should be inside but when it is on the outside it is called cherry eye.

Retinal Atrophy – Happens to a lot of dogs, but Shih Tzu owners should be careful to look for signs that the dog has lost its vision.

These are some of the most common issues you will have with most small dogs when they get older in age.

Breed Group

Toy group has the honor of hosting the Shih Tzu. Dogs in this group aren’t known to be workers, hunters, or anything of that nature. They are known as lap dogs. They weren’t bred to accomplish any type of work or help with human survival.

They are known to look cute, small, and cuddly. Here are some of the dogs in the toy group


In America Shih Tzu’s are always around 15th to 20th most popular. They are very popular in the states and around the world. These dogs are very popular in the Orient as well.

After 14 dogs rebuilt the bloodline, they were nearly extinct at one point in time. Military personnel are responsible for bringing them to different countries including America.

Many celebrities own a Shih Tzu and are a huge reason for the continuation of elite people being owners of this breed.

How to Train a Shih Tzu?

A house dog should be given a lot of house rules. You must understand what kind of couch or bed rules to enforce. For example, are you allowing them to jump on at all? Ok, let’s say you do.

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Now if you are going to allow it, we want it to make sure that you request the dog on the couch and the dog doesn’t just get on the couch all by themselves.

By maintaining ownership of the couch, you will not to worry about dogs owning the couch and barking or biting when being asked to move from the couch.

This small adjustment will allow you to maintain strong leadership from day one and continue until the end.


Let’s not forget about my favorite training method. Little dogs get terrible comments about not needing exercise. We don’t subscribe to this line of thinking or think it is common sense.

A dog of any size or any breed will walk and run all day long without human intervention. So, we don’t want to say a dog doesn’t need something they’ll give themselves 7 days a week.

Since the dog would be more than willing to work out on their own, we think it is only fair to give them daily exercise.

We recommend one session per day for this breed. Preferable for an hour and a half for younger dogs.

1 hour for older dogs.

We explain the exercise model often. Your dog’s behavior should tell you how much they need.

If they are well behaved, you are exercising enough

If they are passed out days at a time you are exercising way too much

If they continue to tear up the house and not listen, we must be realistic and give them an outlet.


Shih Tzu’s are known to not be trainable, but nothing can be further from the truth. Almost every dog is trainable. Small get a bad rap because owners are prone to not exercise them.

Once we cure the most common cause there will be no reason to pretend like these dogs won’t train.

Training is a function of repetition and figuring out what works for you and your dog.


Shih Tzu’s are popular dogs that were held by the most elite people in the Central China region.

They are an ancient breed but still had a late introduction to the American Kennel Club due to the slow intro to the United States.

They come in many different colors, but usually in the combination with white. They are small but solid dogs and known for their stocky body build.

Don’t lose focus of what dogs do! Exercise. Don’t use the lame excuse of their size to not be a competent dog owner. Do what is right and exercise your dog.

Living an amazing 10-18 years can make this dog a member of your family for a large portion of your life.

Take this dog to the vet often and make sure you stay on top of any potential eye and hip problems.

Lastly, if you need any helping training your Shih Tzu make sure you find a professional dog trainer that is proficient enough to teach you how to train your dog. Train Your Own Dogs will make you the best dog trainer you can be.