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Shih Tzu

Published on 21 May 2021

Shih tzu dog with red bow on head running on leash on green grass.

From the temples of Tibet, the Shih Tzu is a beloved companion around the world. 

The name Shih Tzu is derived from the Chinese word for lion. Thought to have been bred in Tibet, they were popular in China amongst royalty.  

They are a small breed dog and their size ranges from 20 to 28 cm and weight from 4 to 7kgs. Females tend to be a bit smaller than males. 

They come in all dog colours and often have a mix of colours through the coat.

Dog Breed Facts & Characteristics



Bred for



Small, 20 to 28 cm, 4 to 7kgs

Weight range

4 to 7kgs


All colours, often have multiple colours in the coat 

Life expectancy

10 to 16 years 


Long, silky


Loyal, loving, alert 

Exercise requirements

Low – but still requires daily walks/exercise 

Best suited for 

Households with time for a loving companion 

Apartment friendly



Bred as a companion, the Shih Tzu is a friendly and loyal companion. They are popular with families for their good-natured disposition and if socialised when they are young, they will generally get along well with other pets. 

They are generally protective of their home and will bark at strangers. They are well suited to apartment living, but daily exercise is vital, and keep in mind that they are inclined to bark.


Their coats are long and silky. If the coat is kept long, daily brushing is needed to keep the coats tangle free as well as free from debris such as grass seeds that may become caught in the coat. Regular trips to the groomer for trimming are a part of life with the Shih Tzu. 

Prevent parasites by ensuring your Shih Tzu is on flea control all year round and tick prevention if you are in a paralysis tick area. With floppy, hairy ears, regular ear cleaning should also be a part of your regular grooming schedule to help keep the ears clean and free from debris as they are prone to ear infections. 

With a characteristic underbite, Shih Tzu’s are prone to dental problems so teeth cleaning should also be a part of the maintenance routine. 


When choosing a food for your Shih Tzu, select a premium food appropriate to your dog’s age and life stage. Make sure your pup always has a supply of fresh, clean water available.

An adorable white Shih Tzu dog portrait on coffee table.

Common health concerns 

With their big, wide eyes, Shih Tzu’s are prone to eye injuries, resulting in corneal ulcers as well as other eye problems including “dry eye” (keratoconjunctivitis sicca), and cataracts. 

Shih-tuz’s are also susceptible to allergic skin conditions, that often manifest and pruritus (itching), skin infections and ear infections

The five most common reasons for a Shih Tzu to visit the vet (excluding routine care visits) according to PetSure data from 2019 were:

RankConditionAverage cost for single treatment
(average pet insurance claim amount)
Highest cost for single treatment (highest pet insurance claim seen for this condition)
1Eye conditions (including corneal ulcers, conjunctivitis, keratitis)$204$6,187
2Skin conditions including allergies, infections and pododermatitis$162$1,517
3Ear infection$171$3,251
4Gastrointestinal Condition (vomiting, diarrhoea etc)$250$2,624
5Heart condition (including heart failure and mitral valve disorder)$226$2,200

Disclaimer: Reimbursement for these claims would be subject to limits, such as annual benefit limits or sub-limits, benefit percentage, applicable waiting periods and any applicable excess. Cover is subject to the policy terms and conditions. You should consider the relevant Product Disclosure Statement or policy wording available from the relevant provider.


A mixed colored Shih- Tzu puppy being mopey because of his haircut.

Most popular Shih Tzu names

In 2019, the most popular Shih Tzu names according to PetSure data were:

Most popular names 

  1. Coco
  2. Charlie
  3. Bear
  4. Bella
  5. Lulu
  6. Maggie
  7. Archie
  8. Gracie
  9. Leo
  10. Luna

Most popular female names  

  1. Bella
  2. Lulu
  3. Maggie
  4. Coco
  5. Gracie
  6. Luna
  7. Molly
  8. Daisy
  9. Ruby
  10. Betty

Most popular male names 

  1. Archie
  2. Bear
  3. Charlie
  4. Leo
  5. Max
  6. Hugo
  7. Milo
  8. Oreo
  9. Winston
  10. Buddy

Did you know?

Shih Tzu’s are also known as “Chrysanthemum” dogs because of the different directions the hair grows on their faces. 

Where can I get a Shih Tzu?

Check out your local breed specific rescue organisation for a Shih Tzu or a Shih Tzu cross. Also be sure to visit your local pet rescue shelters where you might just find your new best friend! 


  1. American Kennel Club, Shih Tzu, accessed on 19/11/20
  2. Wikipedia, Shih Tzu, accessed on 19/11/20
  3., Shih Tzu, accessed on 19/11/20

Terms, conditions, waiting periods, limits and exclusions apply. is issued by The Hollard Insurance Company Pty Ltd ABN 78 090 584 473, AFSL 241436, is arranged and administered by PetSure (Australia) Pty Ltd ABN 95 075 949 923, AFSL 420183 (PetSure) and is promoted and distributed by PetSure’s Authorised Representatives (AR) Pet Insurance Pty Ltd ABN 38 607 160 930, AR 1234944 and Pet Culture Pty Ltd ABN 69 644 613 098, AR 001284860. Any advice provided is general only and does not take into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs. Please consider the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) to ensure this product meets your needs before purchasing. PDS and Target Market Determination available at .

Kylie Mitchell

Kylie Mitchell


Kylie Mitchell is a veterinarian with over 17 years experience in animal health and welfare, including in the veterinary and pet insurance industries

She has three rescue cats (Noah, Bei Bei and Meeka), four very old cockatiels and a pond-full of fish.

Kylie Mitchell's Pets

  • MeekaMeeka
  • Bei BeiBei Bei
  • NoahNoah