Shih Tzu, often known as the Lion Dog, has Chinese ancestry. Having graced the laps of royals for years, the dogs are clingy and make excellent lapdogs.
They have won admiration for their beautiful looks, intelligence, and endearing nature.
The dogs were introduced to the rest of the world comparatively recently and have gained much popularity.
Due to their low shedding coats, minimal exercise requirement, and ability to adjust well to apartment life, the dogs have become a favorite family pet.
If you are one of those impressed by the breed and are planning on bringing one home, here are a few things you should know.
Shih Tzu Puppy
How Much Is A Shih Tzu Puppy?
The price of a Shih Tzu varies greatly. They can cost you anywhere between $500 to $6000.
This is because a puppy’s lineage, an ethical breeder, registration, and other factors contribute to the final cost.
Also, if you are behind a special kind like a Teacup Shih Tzu or a rare color, the puppy will cost much higher.
Let’s look at the pricing in several scenarios:
Shih Tzu Puppies In Classifieds
Looking for ads from local breeders is one of the cheapest ways of having a Shih Tzu, and you get a pup for as cheap as $250. However, the authenticity of the breeders is in question, and you will most probably receive a puppy that comes from non-health-tested parents, has not received veterinary care, is more likely to acquire congenital disorders, and so on.
An inexpensive Shih Tzu almost always equates to an unhealthy one. When the previous litter of the same parent begins to exhibit congenital ailments, breeders might anticipate that the current litter will experience the same condition and so sell puppies at a lower price without any health certificates or a health guarantee.
Rescue Shih Tzu
Getting your pup from a rescue is another way to get a Shih Tzu. Rescues vaccinate, microchip, and deworm the pups before putting them up for adoption.
Some may even spay or neuter the dogs, while others may give a free voucher so that you can do it later.
A puppy from a shelter will cost around $350. And while the price is higher than that of pups advertised in classifieds, the pups arrive vaccinated and with other benefits that will save you money in the long run.
However, when getting a pup from a rescue, you may not receive adequate information about the dog’s breed, pedigree, likelihood of developing a congenital disease, and more, which is a major drawback.
Shih Tzu From A Responsible And Ethical Breeder
The starting price for puppies from ethical breeders is $1200 and can go up to $6000. This is due to the amount of time and money that breeders invest in raising a litter.
Some steps involved in an ethical breeding program include :
- Carefully selecting parent dogs belonging to known pedigrees, health tested, registered, with excellent temperaments.
- Pairing the right parents eliminates any possibility of the pups developing congenital diseases.
- Raising the puppies with puppy culture and other methods—socializing, health testing, vaccinating, deworming, and so on.
When you desire characteristics like rare patterns and colors, champion bloodlines, or teacup Shih Tzus, the puppy’s cost skyrockets, and you will have to pay $3500 and up.
Buying the puppy is not the only initial cost. Other costs go into the initial stages— traveling, supplies, vet visits, spaying or neutering, and so on.
Later, there will be a monthly expenditure, including dog food, health care, grooming, toys, training, insurance, and environment maintenance.
What To Look For When Buying A Shih Tzu Puppy?
Now that you have decided to bring the little bundle of joy home, there are certain things you should keep in mind.
- Shih Tzu is an attention-loving breed. You must have enough time to devote to your dog.
- They are indoor pets and must not be left alone. Shih Tzus do not do well in the hot outdoors and warm temperatures.
- Although the breed loves being indoors, you must include short walks and playtime in their daily routine to keep them healthy and meet their daily exercise needs.
- The dogs do not shed much; however, they still need enough grooming. You must brush them daily and bathe them once a month.
- You must get your Shih Tzu regularly health checked by a reputable veterinarian and vaccinate and deworm them at appropriate ages.
- The breed is used to getting what it wants, thanks to its cute looks and pleasing personality. However, you must train these dogs with firm persistence and positive reinforcement to make your dog-owning experience lovely and worthwhile.
- The breed is susceptible to specific health conditions. So take utmost care when selecting the breeder, and ensure you adopt a pup only from an ethical and responsible breeder.
What To Know About Shih Tzu Puppies?
The Shih Tzu dog is a breed that wins hearts easily, and while there is no doubt that you will fall in love with the dog at first sight, here are some fun facts you must know about the breed.
- They are one of the most ancient dog breeds, and their country of origin is still unclear. Both Tibet and China claim credit for the breed.
- The breed has graced the laps of Chinese royalty, and it is only after the second world war that they were introduced to the rest of the world. The American Kennel Club recognized them in 1969.
- Shih Tzu means Lion dog. They were named so because they were bred to resemble the lion, which stands for strength, bravery, and royalty and is largely associated with Buddhist mythology and Buddhism.
- They are also called chrysanthemum dogs. This is because the hair on their face grows in every direction and the flowing top knot.
- The breed was on the verge of extinction during the first half of the 20th century. The 14 remaining dogs were used to rebuild the breed.
- The Shih Tzu is among the top 10 most popular breeds and has been a companion to many celebrities like Beyoncé, Mariah Carey, Queen Elizabeth II, and many more.
- Due to their long, flowy coats, many people do not consider the breed sporty. However, they are pretty agile, and many Shih Tzus have even won agility competitions.
- The breed cannot handle hot weather. This is because they are a brachycephalic breed with short muzzles and face breathing problems.
- The toy breed is a dwarf breed due to a genetic mutation called fgf4.
Shih Tzu Puppy Adoption (US)
Puppies are frequently given up for adoption because their owners have changed their lifestyles or have decided that the breed is not the best fit for them. As a result, locating a Shih Tzu through rescues and adoption organizations is relatively common.
There are several benefits and drawbacks to getting a Shih Tzu from a rescue rather than a breeder.
- Most dogs from rescues have been neutered or spayed and are microchipped.
- The dog has likely completed the initial medical procedures and is housebroken.
- If the owner’s migration or other problems led to the dog ending up in a rescue, the dog may already be well-trained and exhibit good behavior.
- Most rescues have older dogs; it is rare to discover puppies.
- As they are adults with established behaviors, it might be very challenging to train them.
- Dogs often end up in a shelter due to behavioral issues.
- You may not find the desired color, trait, and other attributes.
However, it is always better to house a neglected, abused, and abandoned dog rather than buy one from a pet store or a breeder. Many organizations rescue, rehome, and rehabilitate these unprivileged dogs.
Here are some of them:
Most of these rescues not only rehome the dogs but also take care of the dogs that are unable to find new homes due to age, behavior, or health issues. They provide the dogs with shelter, food, and medical aid and raise them with love and care.
Shih Tzu Puppy Breeders
If a Shih Tzu puppy is what you strictly desire, then rescue is not an option for you. You will have to get a puppy from a breeder or a pet store, and the earliest you can take home your new family member is usually 8 weeks.
Until then, the puppy needs to be under the breeder’s care along with the mother and littermates.
Due to the surge in the breed’s popularity, breeding has turned into a lucrative industry for many.
Puppy providers like puppy mills breed for quantity and not quality, and the results are disastrous for both the dog and the owner.
Puppy mills and backyard breeders do not health test the parent before including them in their breeding program.
They do not necessarily keep the pups and dogs in a sanitary environment, nor do they train and socialize them.
Such dogs develop negative behaviors, have bad temperaments, and do not socialize well with children or other pets. It is such dogs that end up in shelters.
It is always preferable to adopt a puppy from a reputable breeder who health tests the parent dogs, registers the dogs and the puppies with the AKC to avoid financial implications and heartache.
Also, ensure the breeder socializes the puppies, raises them using the puppy culture method, provides a health guarantee, vaccinates, and deworms them.
Such breeders follow strict breeding protocols and do not use any dogs that might be potential genetic defect carriers. They raise puppies with love and care with proper socialization, enrichment techniques, and more so that they prove to be excellent companions.
The AKC marketplace or any other reputable breeders who offer a registered puppy are good places to start your search for a Shih Tzu.
It is always ideal to adopt from a breeder who shares your love, passion, and enthusiasm for the particular dog breed and isn’t simply doing it for the money.
Before making a purchase, visiting the breeder and their facility is generally advisable. This way, you know if the breeder is legit, how they raise their dogs, their living conditions, and more.
Before making a purchase, make sure the breeder is ready to take back the puppy or dog if the need arises.
Genuine breeders are always willing to find a new home for a puppy or care for them until they do. This way, the puppy will have a safe place to go, even if you are unable to care for them any longer.
Best Shih Tzu Food For Puppies
Some dogs eat just about anything, but you will never have this problem with a Shih Tzu. Shih Tzus are picky eaters and will turn away from anything that displeases them.
This benefits them, as the breed is very sensitive to food. Feeding an improper diet that lacks the necessary nutrients can be detrimental to the pups’ health.
The breed faces health issues affecting the skin, coat, and digestive health when fed a diet containing additives, coloring, and chemicals.
Also, Shih Tzus require age-appropriate nutrition. They have different nutritional requirements at each of the three stages of their development—puppy, adult, and senior.
So, a growing puppy will have significantly higher calcium needs than an adult or senior dog.
A diet with less protein may not be suitable for an older dog, but it would be ideal for a puppy. Similarly, their fiber and calorie intake requirements vary significantly.
Naturally, any owner would want to feed their dog the best food for its long-term health. To ensure this, owners must consider the dog’s age and developmental stage.
The protein, fat, and fiber content must be age appropriate. They must also make sure the dog’s daily exercise requirements are met, as it is crucial to its overall physical and mental well-being.
Some Shih Tzu have allergies. When buying food for these puppies, keep in mind a few things. Dog food must not contain allergens like chicken, wheat, corn, and soy.
Choose foods that are easily digestible and hypoallergenic while being nutritionally complete and balanced.
Some ingredients are detrimental to your dog’s health. If you find any of these in your dog’s food products, it is best to discontinue using them.
Some of these harmful ingredients are:
By-products: This is a part of an animal deemed unfit for human consumption. Feet, tails, beaks, lungs, spleen, and undeveloped eggs must not be used in dog food.
Fillers: These are cheap food ingredients that only serve to add volume and do not offer any nutritional value. These include hulls, corn bran, meat mill run, soybean mill run, dried grain, and corn distillers.
Generic meats: It is the meat of dead animals who have succumbed to an accident, disease, or other reasons. This meat is unsuitable for consumption and must not be included in dog food.
Chemical preservatives and artificial additives: A wide range of preservatives, coloring agents, and flavoring agents have been known to cause short and long-term health problems. Some include skin outbreaks, loss of pigmentation, gastrointestinal issues, poor coat health, cancer, and neurological issues.
Wheat or soy gluten: These ingredients cause skin issues, stomach upset, food intolerance, and other problems. High wheat content may cause an imbalance in the protein-fat ratio.
If you are dissatisfied with the dog foods available in the market, you can also make dog food at home. This is a fantastic option for people who love cooking; it is cheaper, so you can also save money.
Also, you know exactly what you are feeding your Shih Tzu, so you can add or eliminate ingredients according to your dog’s age, growth, and development.
Some nutritious and healthy foods you can incorporate into your homemade dog food are fish, lamb, white chicken meat, lean beef, veal, green beans, sweet peas, sweet potatoes, raspberries, blueberries, baby carrots, brown rice, and whole yogurt.
Also, certain foods are toxic to canines and must be avoided at all costs. These include onion, salt, coffee, soda, tea, chocolate, raisins, grapes, fruit seeds and pits, macadamia nuts, and xylitol.
How To Take Care Of A Shih Tzu Puppy?
Caring for the puppy begins even before the animal enters the house, from puppy proofing to providing proper veterinary care. Caring for a puppy is not an easy task. It requires hard work, commitment, and love for the animal.
If you have a puppy or are planning on bringing one home, here are some tips that will help you take care of your four-legged family member:
Puppy-proofing: You are bringing an inquisitive baby home who has no awareness of danger. It is essential to lock away any item that may pose a threat to the puppy. Lock away cabinets containing chemicals, cleaning products, and plastic bags. Also, keep chewable items like shoes out of reach.
Also, dogs are attracted to human food, which can be harmful to their health, so make sure no half-eaten packets of chips or treats are lying around. Remember to keep toxic food items like onion, garlic, dried fruits, and chocolate out of your dog’s reach.
Provide appropriate bedding, accessories, and toys: You want to ensure the puppy is comfortable in its new home. You want the puppy to find your home appealing and inviting.
- Provide a crate with proper bedding; it will provide a safe place for the puppy and help you potty-train it.
- Make sure the puppy has access to clean water and food at all times. To do so, buy stainless steel bowls in advance, and keep food and water ready for your puppy when it comes home.
- Shi Tzus are known to have a very rough teething period. To minimize the pain and discomfort, and to save your furniture, stock plenty of hard rubber chew toys. You can also get freezable toys that help alleviate the pain.
- Get a collar and leash that will secure the puppy without causing harm and will grow with the puppy.
Get the puppy vet checked: This is a non-negotiable step. An initial health check-up will determine if the pup is prone to certain health issues. Also, as most breeders require the puppy to be vet checked within the first three working days to validate health guarantees, getting the pup vet checked is mandatory.
Get pet health insurance: Many dog owners often neglect this. Vet costs pile up quickly and grow as the puppy matures. With pet insurance, you can save on bills.
Potty-training: Shih Tzus are known for their stubborn nature and can be very difficult to housebreak. Starting the puppy on potty training as soon as you bring them home will help you speed up the process. Also, as many breeders initiate potty training before the puppies leave for their forever homes, it is better to continue the process and stay consistent. Use positive reinforcements and praise the puppy whenever it does what you want.
Devote love, time, and attention: Shih Tzu is a breed that does not do well when left alone. They are clingy and want to sit on their owner’s lap all day long. And although they do not have a very high exercise requirement, they still need regular exercise, which you can help meet with short walks and playtime.
Train and socialize the puppies: Start your Shih Tzu puppies early on in training and socializing, as they are stubborn and slow learners. Take them to dog parks and introduce them to new noises so that they get accustomed to other animals, new environments, and strangers without exhibiting troublesome behaviors.
Feeding: Feeding your puppy a well-balanced, nutritious diet is a must. Pick a brand that will fulfill all the requirements and does not have too many additives and fillers. Choose a brand with multiple protein sources, has ingredients like chicken, rice, egg, and duck, and is free of toxic elements.
Also, make sure the dog eats at least 3 meals a day, with snacks and treats in between.
Grooming: Shih Tzus have long coats and thus require daily grooming. You will need to brush the coat daily so the hair does not get matted. Also, regularly trim facial hair that may obstruct the dog’s view. Your dog will also need professional grooming every 4 to 6 weeks.
Here are some other tips to keep in mind:
- Give your dog filtered or spring water
- Provide supplements if necessary
- Use quality products for grooming and skin health
- As they are a brachycephalic breed, pay special attention to dental hygiene.
- Make special arrangements during the summer and winter months
- Use tick, flea, and heartworm prevention
Shih Tzu Puppy Colors
While many coat colors are typically restricted or not recognized by the AKC, this is not the case for Shih Tzus, and all hues are acceptable.
All the leading breed recognition clubs like American Kennel Club (AKC), United Kennel Club (UKC), and Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) state that the colors must be treated equally.
However, UKC disqualifies albino Shih Tzu, and FCI prefers those with a white blaze on the forehead and a white-tipped tail.
Due to the wide variety of colors and patterns, two Shih Tzus are rarely alike. However, this diversity is confusing because the coat often loses its color.
To avoid this confusion due to coat colors, Shih Tzus are registered according to their skin colors and not coat colors.
Let’s take a closer look at the 9 solid colors and the different color patterns that bring so much diversity to the breed.
Black Shih Tzus are very rare. And although they do exist, many black Shih Tzu have shades of chocolate and blue. Also, black Shih Tzus with white markings are very common.
A black Shih Tzu has a black nose, black paws, and dark-colored eyes. And although the black color may fade with age, the black points—the nose, paws, and rims of the eyes—remain black.
Black Shih Tzus do not have any color-related health issues. However, they do not fare well in hot temperatures, as black absorbs a lot of heat. Further, they are difficult to spot at night and may meet with accidents. It is always better to use a LED collar when walking a black Shih Tzu at night.
As the color of a Shih Tzu is defined by the skin color and not the coat color, a Blue Shih Tzu will not necessarily have a blue or a steel gray coat. Also, some shades of blue are so dark that they can be easily confused with black. However, the distinguishing factor is the lavender color of the lips, nose, and eye rims, which are not easy to detect either.
With dogs, white is always confusing because the white coat could also be due to albinism. White is a recessive color and will appear if both genes are white.
White Shih Tzus can also result from extreme dilution of the yellow or red pigment. A true white Shih Tzu will have black eye rims, dark eyes, and a black nose. Although the color is pristine and eye-catching, maintaining that snowy appearance is very difficult. With a white coat, the grooming requirements increase several folds.
Although the color appears on multi or parti-colored pooches, it is rare to find a pure Gold colored Shih Tzu. The color is very apparent at birth but fades to pale yellow as the dog matures.
As the color is closer to the coat color of a lion, a golden Shih Tzu with an orange or red hue resembles a lion more than a Shih Tzu of any other color.
This shade ranges from auburn to deep orange. The dog’s points (nose, lips, and eye rims) are black. If the points are any color other than black, like brown, the dog is considered liver and not red.
A red Shih Tzu may appear black at birth and show its actual color as the puppy grows. Similarly, a red Shih Tzu may change color over time.
The hue, also known as “chocolate,” is incredibly popular and coveted by Shih Tzu enthusiasts. While the color is not accepted in many dog breeds, it is quite the opposite when Shih Tzus are concerned. Breeders even charge extra high for a chocolate-colored Shih Tzu.
As with the color blue, a liver color is the skin color and not the coat color. A liver Shih Tzu may have a liver coat, but the deciding factor is that the points are brown. So, a liver Shih Tzu will have a brown nose, lips, and eye rims.
The color is difficult to distinguish from white, especially because, like a white Shih Tzu, a Silver Shih Tzu also has black points. The pale color and the silvery sheen help distinguish between the two coat colors. A solid silver Shih Tzu is quite rare, and the color fades as the dog ages. Alternatively, a black Shih Tzu may develop a silvery coat with age.
AKC registers only the above seven colors, however, these are two other colors available:
Isabella Or Lavender
The color is a result of the dilution of the blue genes. And although the color is unacceptable by AKC standards, many breeders charge extra for the beautiful color.
Sometimes, the unusual color is the result of the dilution of the liver color; hence, their skin has a lilac tinge and they may have hazel or amber eyes.
Albino is not a color but rather a lack of color. The lack of pigmentation in the skin, eyes, and hair results in the snowy white color of the coat, pink skin, and blue eyes.
Although the color is quite pristine, these dogs are prone to many genetic health conditions and are sensitive to light and other conditions.
The vast variety of Shih Tzu coats is not only due to so many colors, different color combinations and patterns also contribute to it. Let’s look at some of the most common color patterns.
Two Color Combinations
These dogs have a unique combination of two colors, which may be present in stripes or patches. As the coat matures, the colors may change, so a white and black coat may evolve into a silver and white coat and likewise for other colors.
The 7 different color combinations the AKC recognizes are:
- Black and white
- Silver and white
- Red and white
- Blue and white
- Liver and white
- Brindle and white
- Gold and white
Three-colored Shih Tzu
Tricolor combinations are very rare but come out beautifully when present. Initially, the third color is faint in many cases and establishes itself only as the dog matures.
The most common tricolor combination is gold and black with white markings. However, it is tough to distinguish a true tricolor from a double color with white markings, and even the most experienced breeder can get confused.
Brindle or tiger-stripes is a color combination wherein streaks of a color run through the base color, making a pattern. The stripes may be thick in some dogs and comparatively thinner for some. Hence, they appear different for all dogs. Also, puppies born with the brindle pattern may lose it as they mature.
Some Other Shih Tzu Patterns Are:
Collar or shawl: The dog has a single dominant color but a different color around the neck, which may appear like a collar or shawl.
Blaze: In this pattern, a streak of color runs between the eyes and may continue to the neck or even up to the back.
Flare: Similar to blaze, only that the stripes are wide and may even cover the entire neck.
Tuxedo: The pattern is as the name suggests. The coat has a dominant color with a white patch around the chest.
Saddle: A different coat color than the dominant color rests on the back of the dog. It appears like a saddle, hence the name.
Shih Tzu Puppy Mixes
Shih Tzus are loved for their amazing personalities, friendly nature, trainability, intelligence, and more. Hence, it is no shocker that the breed has been used as a parent breed to develop mixed breeds.
The most popular Shih Tzu mixes include:
Breeding a Shih Tzu with a Toy Poodle results in a Shih-poo. The dog is tiny and is also called a Shoodle or Pooshi. The mixed breed is lovely and intelligent. They are also amazing family pets that adapt well to almost any surroundings. The dogs are an excellent choice for people with allergies, as they are hypoallergic, thanks to their poodle parentage.
The mixed breed has Shih Tzu and Chihuahua parents. The combination gives you a dog that is never at rest. Although small, the dogs are spunky, perky, and big-time cuddlers. The dogs have a life span of 10 to 18 years.
The breed is a result of pairing the giant Australian Shepherd with the tiny Shih Tzu. The dogs are playful, have luxurious, silky hair, and love socializing with humans and other dogs. And although they can inherit some of the aloofness and stubbornness from their Shih Tzu parent, they are generally sweet-natured.
4. French Bull Tzu
Frenchies are one of the most popular breeds. Add in a Shih Tzu, and you have an adorable mixed breed. The dog has a cheerful, scruffy face that you will adore and an equally cheerful personality. The dogs have minimal exercise needs and make great pets for urban residents.
5. Cava Tzu
The adorable designer breed results from the pairing between the Shih Tzu and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. The dogs are athletic and look adorable. They are fun to have around and make fantastic pets.
Shih Tzu Puppy Training
The Shih Tzu is a lovely breed, but it is also well known for its stubborn streak. This stubbornness makes housebreaking difficult, so the puppy needs to understand the family hierarchy and where it stands at an early age.
The dog does not do well with punishment. If the owner wants the dog to be obedient, they must be consistent, attentive, and use positive reinforcement.
When the dog obeys a command, rewarding it with treats makes training easier. Punishing the puppy will not help and will only reinforce its stubbornness.
Despite popular belief that puppy training must start after the dog has reached a certain age or developmental milestone, it is not so.
Puppy training must be initiated as soon as the pup walks through your door. It is an ongoing process, and the results are a well-mannered, well-behaved puppy that becomes an excellent lifelong companion.
Here are some training tips that will help you build a happy relationship with your Shih Tzu.
This is one of the most difficult tasks, as Shih Tzus are small dogs with even smaller bladders. You will need a crate, which will not only aid with housebreaking but also make trips and outdoor vet visits with your dog in a crate easier.
Remember never to use a crate as punishment; this will cause your pet to develop negative feelings against the crate, and it will not perceive it as a safe place again.
The crate must be a happy place where the animal can find alone time and relax. It must have a food and water tray and have ventilation on all sides.
You can train your dog to go potty outside or on paper depending on your preference.
Always reinforce the desired behavior with a treat so that your pet will remember and repeat it.
Never yell at your puppy when it misbehaves. Shih Tzus are attention seekers and will do anything to get it— even if it is negative attention.
Many small dog owners do not take leash training seriously. They frequently argue that if their puppy misbehaves, they can always restrain it.
Leash training is a must if you are after leisurely park strolls. Even very small dogs can be started on leash training. Just provide timely treats and quickly stop bad behavior to set the rules.
Shih Tzus are affectionate dogs that get along with almost everyone. However, if they spend too much time indoors without interacting with new people or animals, they may become skittish and shy away from them. Socialization has to start early, as it may not be as effective with older dogs.
The Shih Tzu is an amazing designer dog breed that is loving and fun to be around. One of the reasons they have become popular house pets in urban households is that they adapt well to apartment life.
Shih Tzu pups are becoming more expensive due to rising demand.
Dog enthusiasts frequently fail to consider many important aspects of dog ownership before bringing one home.
This results in a disastrous relationship between the owner and the puppy and often results in the puppy ending up in a shelter.
We hope this comprehensive guide has helped you learn all you need to know about Shih Tzus and how to take care of one!
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