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Optimeal® Blog

Optimeal® Blog

Shih Tzu Temperament: What Sets Them Apart

By Optimeal Team


Choosing the perfect furry family member to add to your home is exciting. Whether you’re already a pet parent or are looking for your first pet, there’s a lot to consider. If you’re interested in welcoming a dog into your home, one of the first decisions you’ll have to make is what breeds and temperaments you like.

There are small breed dogs, large breed dogs, and everything in between. Shih Tzus sit at the smaller end of the spectrum, a small breed that’s not quite toy-sized. Shih Tzus are unique in many different ways, but their temperament is a quality that sets them apart from other small breeds.

Here’s what you need to know about Shih Tzus, their temperament, and how to care for these short-legged companions.

Shih Tzu Temperament

Originating from China, this smaller breed brings a lot of energy and playfulness to the table. Where a Shih Tzu goes, mischief, affection, and friendliness follow. This dog breed is excellent for any home, especially if you have a family, young children, or other dogs.

The Shih Tzu’s temperament is set apart by the following qualities:

  • Playful
  • Clever
  • Outgoing
  • Spunky
  • Lively
  • Happy
  • Alert
  • Slightly independent
  • Loyal
  • Gentle
  • Active

Another interesting fact about the Shih Tzu temperament is that the breed originated as a common pet for Chinese royalty. Because of this, Shih Tzus are used to staying indoors most of the time. If you live in an apartment or don’t have a lot of yard space, this breed may be perfect for you.

Shih Tzus love to cuddle on the couch and enjoy TV, so if you’re a homebody and prefer a night in, this breed is a no-brainer. Overall, this happy breed makes a great type of pup for any pet parent.

Everything Else You Need To Know About Shih Tzus

When it comes to choosing the perfect furry friend to welcome home, it’s important to consider a few other factors, too. Here’s everything else you need to know about Shih Tzus to see if they’re right for your home.

General Breed Characteristics

Shih Tzus as a breed have distinct characteristics that set them apart from other breeds. With large, dark eyes, a thick, fluffy coat, and a range of colors in their fur, Shih Tzus are also nicknamed “the little lion dog.”


Many dog parents choose to groom this breed with longer, straight hair, while others prefer a look resembling a teddy bear. If you choose to keep your Shih Tzu’s coat longer, expect to brush it once every day or two.

Every three to four weeks, it’s a good idea to give your Shih Tzu a bath, too. Because many Shih Tzu haircuts frame the face, hair and dust particles can get into the eyes easily. While bathing and grooming your pup, gently wipe the sides and corners of the eyes with a clean, damp cloth. This will help get any gunk out of the hard to reach places.

You can also ask your groomer to trim around the eyes so they’re a little bit shorter than the rest of the head. This can help keep the dust and dirt out of your pup’s eye. Be sure to trim their nails and clean their ears regularly, as well.


One of the key characteristics of dogs that sets breeds apart involves training. Some breeds train better than others, and each breed has different motivation behind their training. Where do Shih Tzus fall on the spectrum? Here’s what you should know.

Training a Shih Tzu can be more difficult than training other types of dogs, but if you’re prepared, you can effectively train your pup in no time. Shih Tzus are little charmers. They know how to bend the rules while appealing to your sympathetic side as a pet parent. If you can withstand your pup’s charm and stay firm, you should have no problem training your furry friend. Otherwise, you may run into a few roadblocks.

Shih Tzus are people-pleasers and love to be social and outgoing. Because of this, using rewards, attention, and praise are the best ways to train your pup. You can also include treats while you give them praise for following your instructions.

Many recommend hiring professionals to train Shih Tzus, especially if you can start at a young age. It can also help to integrate early socialization for your pup. If possible, help your dog interact with other Shih Tzus and dogs of all breeds to support their social skills and mental health.

Health & Nutrition

Shih Tzus may be at a higher risk for some health problems, like obesity, hip dysplasia, kneecap issues, and vision problems like cataracts, dry eye, blindness, and retinal detachment. Most breeders will perform tests to make sure your pup is healthy and to check for these conditions.

With the right tools and resources, you can help support your Shih Tzu’s health, wellness, and keep their tails wagging for years to come.

Exercise Needs

Just like every dog, Shih Tzus do need some exercise. However, the exercise they can get in the house is sufficient for this breed. A short daily walk and a sufficient amount of indoor playtime and cuddle time will help keep your pup happy and healthy.

It’s important to note that, while Shih Tzus are active animals that love to play, they lack the athletic capabilities and agility of many larger, short-haired breeds. Because of their thick coats and small bodies, they don’t swim well and prefer cooler weather conditions over hot weather. In fact, extreme heat can lead to heatstroke in your lap dog, so it’s best to keep them cool when possible.

Nutrition Tips For Taking Care of Your Shih Tzu

If you’re new to the world of dog parenting, don’t sweat it. Having your very own furry friend to share your time and home with is a great privilege you’ll enjoy. However, there are some things to know about how to take care of your Shih Tzu.

When it comes to taking care of your Shih Tzu, what you feed them matters. Your dog gets most of their nutrition from their food, so what should you feed them? Here’s what you should know.

First, look for real meat as the first ingredient! While your pup should also be getting a range of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, real meat should always be the first ingredient. Avoid any dog foods that list “meat meals” on the ingredient list. Meat meals can contain all the by-products of an animal in addition to the meat, which isn’t the best quality for your pup. Meat like lamb, chicken, turkey, salmon, and duck are excellent ingredients to look for on the dog food label.

It’s also important to feed your furry friend a variety of whole fruits, vegetables, and the right kind of grains. Grains with gluten can do more harm than good, so it’s best to look for alternative whole grains. Quinoa, oats, and rice are excellent grain alternatives to look for that are more nutritious than filler grains like corn or soy. If your dog has dog food allergies, it can also be a good idea to look for hypoallergenic dog food.

Your Shih Tzu’s diet should also be curated according to your dog’s age. If you’re planning to get a puppy, you’ll need to have puppy food first, then move on to adult food and senior food as they get older.

Here at Optimeal®, we have a range of premium, natural dog foods formulated specifically for toy breeds like the Shih Tzu. Enjoy peace of mind as a pet parent with food that supports immunity, wellness, and health for years to come.


Shih Tzu Dog Breed Information | AKC

What is in Pet Food | The Association of American Feed Control Officials

Learn About The Shih Tzu Dog Breed From A Trusted Veterinarian | Countryside Veterinary Clinic



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