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Shih Tzu Facts 
There are 2 very common mistakes made in regard to Shih Tzu facts and even experienced breeders make these mistakes!

The 1st is regarding the pronunciation of the name.  A huge majority of people, both owners and breeders will pronounce this breed as a “Shit Zoo”.  This is completely incorrect.  The proper pronunciation is “Sheet Zoo” per the Shih Tzu Club of America.

The 2nd biggest mistake that is made is the plural spelling and pronunciation of the word.  Just as a person may say that there is 1 fish and that there are many fish….so it is true for the Shih Tzu.  Whether one is talking about 1 dog or 50, there is no “s” attached to the word. Therefore, the sentence, “I have three Shih Tzu” is the correct way of saying this.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get to some interesting and helpful facts about Shih Tzu!

Facts & Stats

This is the 10th most registered breed in the U.S.

The translation of Shih Tzu means Lion Dog and this breed originated in Tibet where it was revered all the way back in the 1600’s.

The common nickname is simply: Tzu

Adult weight will be  9-16 lbs (4.08-7.26 kg).

Height will be: 8-11 inches(20.3-27.9 cm) from floor to shoulder.

Life span is 14 years on average with a range of 12-16 years.

Misleading Information You May Have Read

Aside from the above mentioned issues with mispronouncing the name and the mistakes that many make regarding the plural version of the name, another huge misconception is the issue of the Imperial Shih Tzu.   The word Imperial was connected to this breed due to the fact that long ago, only royalty and the very rich upper class would own a Tzu. 

Today, some breeders will advertise that they have Imperial Shih Tzu, written in a way that would lead many to mistakenly believe that they offer a different variety of the dog, different than the standard.  There is no such thing as a separate “Imperial” breed.  There is no separate variation that is smaller nor has different features. There are no Imperial bloodlines (they would have to go back hundreds of years and no breeder is able to keep records from that long ago).  It is only a marketing technique.  Therefore, an Imperial will simply be the wonderful, graceful Shih Tzu that exists...a wonderful canine to be treasured.

Color and Appearance

The Shih Tzu is a toy breed dog, that when fully grown will weigh between 9 and 16 pounds (4 to 7 kg).

Adults will reach a height of 8 to 11 inches measured from floor to shoulder (20-28 cm).

Shih Tzu life spanLife span is 16 years on average. (Toy breeds generally do have longer lives than larger breeds)

One Shih Tzu fact that no one can ignore is that this particular dog is a wonderful companion and a marvelous and graceful show dog.

An interesting and sometimes confusing Shih Tzu fact relates to the color of this dog.  Here we will explain…
There are blue and liver Shih Tzu, however this does not refer to the actual color of the coat, it refers to the pigmentation of the dog’s skin.  One will notice this where it is most easily seen: On the eye rims, nose and paws.

Therefore, if a dog has blue or liver pigmentation, it may (and often is) registered as a blue or liver… and this does not matter if the actual coat color is red, white & cream or any other color.

So, blue Shih Tzu will have charcoal color skin tint and liver ones will have brown.

Aside from this, Shih Tzu facts are that the possible colors in this dog are gold, red, silver, brindle, cream and white…A dog may be solid or multi-colored. 

facts about Shih Tzu dogsGrooming

One may choose to keep their Shih Tzu with a long coat…This is a show dog style in which the hair parts down the center of the back and flows to the ground.   Long hairs on top of the head are pulled back into a topknot and secured with a bow.  The other option that many pet owners choose is to have the dog trimmed down to what is known as a Puppy Cut…in which the fur is clipped from 1 to 3 inches long and is much easier to take care of.
Unless the cut is very short, owners should always be aware of the possibility of mats (tangled knots of hairs).   Brushing is recommended every other day for short coats and every day for show coats. Whenever brushing, always go slowly to check for mats.  If found, it is best to deal with it right away…if not it will continue to grow and become completely un-fixable.   One can usually work out a tangle by spritzing the area with a canine leave in conditioner or by applying some to one’s hands and working out the mat.

Shih Tzu puppy factsBoth male and females have what  is called a beard. This is hairs around the face that grow long down past the mouth.  This area should be comb with a fine tooth steel comb…Not only to keep it neat but to clean it, as it can often pick up small pieces of food and other matter.

Baths should be given only 1 time every 2-3 weeks (unless showing), as too many can dry out the skin.

Nails should be checked for trimming every 2 weeks.

Trimming is often done around the anus area so that pieces of feces do not stick to the dog during bowel movements.

Clipping is also usually done to the bottom of the paws, trimming away any hairs that grow out past the pads.

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This breed is not a shy one!  They are very friendly and lively. 

They love human companionship and quickly bond with their owners.

It is very common for this dog to copy the behavior of its human family members….For example, if an owner is outside and being active the dog will then begin to bounce around and show that he or she is up for a game of catch.  Alternatively, if an owner is relaxing on the sofa, the dog will tend to curl up in his or her lap and relax as well.

Despite its grand and regal appearance, this breed is not demanding at all and is not only a wonderful family pet but is also often perfect as a companion for the elderly.

Shih Tzu informationUsually getting along with other dogs, he or she may become jealous if too much time is given to other pets.


One important Shih Tzu fact to remember is that this toy dog is fragile. One of the most fragile areas on the body is the neck.  There is a condition called Collapsed Trachea that affects this breed and many other toy and small breed dogs as well.  The trachea is made out of rings of cartilage and when certain injury occurs, those rings can literally collapse.

This is preventable….it is often caused by having too much pressure and strain put on the neck.  For this reason, an owner should never use a collar and leash.  A harness and leash should be used instead.  Harnesses are very common and popular for toy dogs now and can be found just about anywhere and certainly in any pet supply store…

When the harness is used, it distributes any pressure from the neck and it spreads it out over the back and chest.  Therefore, when walking, the dog will not accidentally be injured and have to deal with this condition which can be very painful and take a long time to heal.


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