American Shih Tzu – All Information You Need To Know

The American Shih Tzu is a purebred that passed the standards of the American Kennel Club (AKC). These dogs qualify from the norm this breed requires. They come with the proper weight and height, and they remain the cute and adorable lap dogs you expect. Moreover, these dogs come in the best health more than the other types.

If you want to get the Shih Tzu breed’s best, the purebreds are the ideal ones for you.

Before you go out there and get an American Shih Tzu, you need to understand a bit more about this breed. Moreover, you need to know the standards so you can check if the dog you’re taking qualifies.

In this article, we’ll tackle all the essential information you need, so you won’t have to do all the searching.

Without further ado, let’s get into it!

General info

Shih Tzus have been around for quite some time, and it’s even one of the oldest breeds. As time passed, this breed came around in different sizes and appearances. Thus, there are many types of Shih Tzus up to this present day.

However, for the American Shih Tzu, there’s a certain standard that will help you see if your pet is a purebred or not.

In general, we can sum it up with the following details:


  • 9-16 lbs is the average weight of both male and female
  • 10 inches is the average height of both male and female


  • Shih Tzus have a squashed face and floppy ears.

What to expect

  • Needs 20 minutes of exercise per day
  • Has an average energy level
  • Has an average lifespan of 11-14 years
  • Does not drool much
  • Does not snore much
  • Barks Quite Loud
  • Does not dig much
  • Requires close attention and care
  • Requires high and constant grooming

Bred type

  • Lapdog


  • Long Fur Coat
  • Straight Coat
  • Color varies

Club Recognition

  • AKC Classification – Toy
  • UKC Classification – Companion Dog

If you want an in-depth take on each aspect of this breed’s characteristics, take a look at the following.


American Shih Tzus are sturdy, lively, and alert toy dogs wrapped in a long flowing double coat.

The head of an American Shih Tzu is usually round, broad, and is wide between eyes. Its size is always in balance with the body. Thus, it’s neither too large and too small.

Their expression is warm, wide-eyed, sweet, trusting, and exceptionally friendly. 

The body is short-coupled and sturdy, with no waist. This breed is also a bit longer than tall.

The coat is a luxurious one. It’s double-coated, long, flowing, and quite dense.

The shoulders are well-angulated, well laid-in, and well laid-back. It fits smoothly in the body as well.

The legs are relatively straight, boned, muscular, and well-apart under the chest.

American Shih Tzus also have healthy and perpendicular pasterns. The feet are quite firm, well-padded, and point straight ahead. It has dewclaws that you can remove.


As I said earlier, American Shih Tzus have small sizes, making them perfect lap and toy dogs.

Both male and female Shih Tzus have an average weight of 9 to 16 lbs. Both also have an average height of 10 inches tall.

Of course, some types of Shih Tzus are smaller than the others, like teacups and imperial. However, such classifications are prone to many more health issues due to having tiny organs.

Coat colors and quality

American Shih Tzus come in a variety of colors and color combinations and styles. They have long and silky coats that are gorgeous in everyone’s eyes. Their coats may come in the following:

  • Black (Solid Black is rare)
  • Black and White
  • Gray (or silver) and White
  • Brown (Solid brown, which is often considered Liver)
  • Brown and White
  • Red and White

Tails that have white tips and foreheads with white blaze are quite expensive. Shih Tzus that come is Solid Black is the rarest of all.


One theory states that Shih Tzu descended from a cross between the breeds Pekingese and Lhasa Apso in the 17th century.

Shih Tzus back then earned the favor of many emperors and royals. Thus, they don’t allow any selling or trading of such pups.

It was only in 1930 that the first dogs of such breed got imported into Europe. Its first European Standard happened in 1935 by the Shih Tzu Club.

It was in 1969 that the American Kennel Club recognized it as belonging to the Toy Group.

In 2013, the Shih Tzu breed ranked the 15th of the most popular among all species.


American Shih Tzus make the perfect family and lapdogs due to their warm temperament. Thus, if you plan on getting one, you can’t go wrong with their attitude.

Here are five of the personalities you’ll surely love with your American Shih Tzu:


American Shih Tzus love to play, and they’ll play and spend time with you as long as you want.

Whatever the activity may be, expect this dog to be always ready for it.

Thus, no matter what game you choose to play, your pet will likely be the same as long as you enjoy it.


American Shih Tzus can be quite stubborn, especially in following commands. The reason is that they may find it challenging to catch on.

Thus, when training your pet, it’s essential to be consistent and patient. Moreover, expect that training would take you longer and will require you more time.


Unlike other dog breeds, Shih Tzus are more on the quiet side. The reason is that this isn’t a breed designed to be watchdogs.

For this reason, don’t expect your pet to be alert when a stranger comes. It’s ideal for those of you who stay in an apartment, wishing for a quiet but adorable companion.


American Shih Tzus see everyone as their friends. Thus, if you have visitors, your pet may think they’re visiting him and not you.

Thus, if you have companions around the house, you’ll be sure this pet will be everyone’s friend.


American Shih Tzus are the ideal breed designed for long-term companionship. Thus, being devoted as your partner or buddy is what he boasts of all the time.

As long as you treat your pet right and you take good care of it, you’ll end up having the best buddy that devotes itself to you.

American Shih Tzu and family

With all those qualities, it’s no question why American Shih Tzus are the ideal family pets.

One great thing about these dogs is that they get along with other pets and even with children. Thus, as long as the kids know how to deal and play with small pups, they won’t pose any problem.

This breed boasts of being an affectionate pet towards all family members. Moreover, it sees everyone as friends. Thus, it is an ideal pet, even for a household that receives many visitors.

Affection is this breed’s dominant trait. Moreover, your lap is its favorite place. Thus, they are at their happiest state when they are with you or your family as they give and receive attention.

This breed also gets along with other dogs or animals. They have that docile personality that makes them an ideal companion for kids.

While they are friendly, they can be a bit clingy and only follow their owner’s orders. However, that trait usually happens only through training.

Although you can entrust kids with this breed, it’s always a great idea to supervise them when they play. This way, you can ensure the safety of both your kids and your pet.

Care and life with American Shih Tzu

Before you take an American Shih Tzu home, you must learn and understand how to care for this pup. You must also understand what to expect with your life with this adorable companion.

Of course, as owners, you’ll need to adjust your preferences to suit your pet. Moreover, it will also change the way you see things.

A Shih Tzu would need constant care to keep good health. It requires regular feeding and food planning to have a good diet.

Moreover, it needs to play, exercise, and train regularly. Without further ado, let’s have an in-depth take on the things to keep in mind.


American Shih Tzus may have the best health among all Shih Tzus. However, it doesn’t mean they won’t get sick. Like all other breeds, Shih Tzus are prone to some health issues.

As owners, you need to be aware of such conditions so you’ll know how to respond if your pet experiences it.


Allergies come first in line when it comes to possible health issues for this dog. Generally, there are three main types of allergies, namely:

  • Food allergies
  • Contact Allergies
  • Inhalant Allergies

Eye Problems

The eyes of Shih Tzus are one of the usual roots of issues. Thus, extreme care and protection are essential for Shih Tzu’s eyes. Some of the eye problems include the following:

  • Keratitis
  • Proptosis
  • Distichiasis
  • Ectopia cilia
  • Progressive retinal atrophy
  • Dry eye

Other Health Issues

Other health issues that may happen to Shih Tzus are the following:

  • Canine hip dysplasia
  • Patellar luxation
  • Juvenile renal dysplasia
  • Bladder stones and bladder infections
  • Ear infections
  • Tooth and gum problems
  • Umbilical hernia
  • Portosystemic liver shunt
  • Snuffles
  • Reverse sneezing

It would be best to consult a vet to learn and understand your pet’s care. Your vet will give you recommendations on how you’ll deal with such conditions as well.

American Shih Tzu dog


The recommended amount you should give is 1/2-1 cup of high-quality dry food for the day when it comes to feeding.

It’s important to remember that the size of food you should give will depend on things such as:

  • Size – Big size means it needs more food
  • Age – Adults need more food than pups
  • Build – Bigger builds need more food
  • Metabolism – Faster metabolism needs frequent feeding.
  • Level of Activity – High levels of activity needs more food for sustenance.

Since American Shih Tzus are companion dogs, it may be tempting to share human foods as treats. Still, it’s essential always to be cautious when doing such things.

Of course, you can give the following as treats and only in small amounts and pieces. You can offer small amounts of cheese and fruits like apples and mangoes.

If you have ice cream, you can give your pet a taste. Still, remember not to give ice cream with chocolate flavor or any food with chocolate.

It’s also better to give small amounts of meat since it’s rich in protein. As long as you keep it as treats, you can provide pork and chicken. Still, when doing so, always make sure you offer it plain, cooked but without excess oil, and with no seasoning.

Here’s a list of toxic food that you shouldn’t give your Shih Tzu:

  • Chocolate
  • Raisins and Grapes
  • Macadamia Nuts
  • Nuts in general
  • Onions
  • Sweets and Candies (mostly sugar-free since they contain xylitol)
  • Mushrooms
  • Raw Egg
  • Cow’s Milk (due to being lactose-intolerant)
  • Products with Caffeine
  • Green potatoes (also toxic for us)
  • Bread dough
  • Moldy Food
  • Avocado
  • Cherries
  • Garlic

To learn more about feeding Shih Tzu, you can check out these related articles in our blog.


American Shih Tzus are the types of pets you can enjoy playing with all day long. This trait makes them adorable and easy to love. However, when it comes to training, they could be quite stubborn.

Of course, he’ll learn basic commands and tricks. However, it may take a lot more time than training other breeds.

For this reason, training your pet requires consistency, gentleness, and understanding.

If you wish to teach your dog the basic commands, it’s essential to prepare yourself to be patient and consistent.

As always, remember that despite being adorable, they can be challenging to train.

American Shih Tzu breeders

If you plan on getting an American Shih Tzu, you need to start looking at the best and reputable breeders. If you don’t know where to begin, the list below may be a great starting point for you.

T-Amore Shih Tzu

The owner, Julie King, has owned Shih Tzu for 30 years. She delivered her first litter in 2003.

In her shop, you can be sure of the quality puppies she raised herself. Thus, you can be sure your pup gets the love and care in the best way possible.

Be sure to check out the website as well.

  • 40 miles southeast of The Dalles in the beautiful Columbia Gorge, Oregon
  • (541) 993-4860

Fantasy Shih Tzu

With almost 30 years of experience, this shop boasts of its quality Shih Tzu Pups raised with love and care.

If you’re planning to get an American Shih Tzu, this shop is worth looking into as you head with your quest.

  • Green Lake, WI 54941
  • (920) 896-3017 / (920) 748-5659

Intuition Shih Tzu

This shop’s owner loves to show and breed Shih Tzus. Thus, you can expect beauty and quality in her pets.

She believed that breeding is always to produce offspring for the betterment of the breed. Thus, they still breed the American Shih Tzu Club standard, having health and temperament their priority.

Go and check out her site as well as you look.

  • (417) 839-8397

Ultra Shih Tzu

This shop is another one that’s been around for more than 30 years. They boast of their dedication to breeding exceptional beautiful Shih Tzu pups to the standard set by the ASTC or American Shih Tzy Club and AKC or American Kennel Club.

  • Northern New Jersey
  • (201) 485-8334

Halfway to Heaven Shih Tzu

This shop’s goal is to produce top-quality show dogs with delightful personalities. They also boast of their pups as well-socialized and healthy.

If you plan on getting an American Shih Tzu, you may find your ideal pet on this site, so be sure to check it out!

  • 101 S Maple Tree Ln, Pleasant Hope, MO 65725
  • (417) 467-2166 / (417) 327-9570

Interesting facts

American Shih Tzus have some interesting facts to tell its fans. Thus, if you’re curious to know more about this breed, you may find these few trivia interesting.

Here are some things you didn’t know about Shih Tzu:

They have been around for more than a thousand years.

The Shih Tzu breed has been around for more than a thousand years. If you go back to the ancient period, emperors and royals of China have them in their laps.

In fact, they don’t even want to trade and sell these dogs. They want themselves to be the only ones who have Shih Tzus.

They originated from Tibet instead of China.

Many people think Shih Tzus have China as its origin due to its name. Still, they came from Tibet, a neighboring country of China.

Their name roughly means Little Lion.

The term Shih Tzu roughly translates as “Little Lion.” Still, their name contradicts them. These dogs have no fierceness hiding in them.

Instead, they are much more adorable and companion pets rather than hunters.

They are usually called “Chrysanthemum-Faced Dogs.”

They are chrysanthemum-faced dogs due to their facial hair grows in every direction. Thus, these dogs have their nose as the center where the hair grows outward.

They Got Wiped Out During the Communist Revolution

During the communist revolution, a breeding program died down due to the death of its founder. After that period, it’s nearly impossible for people to get a Shih Tzu.

14 Dogs saved the breed from extinction.

All Shih Tzus today are traceable down to 14 dogs. It’s precisely seven pairs of male and female Shih Tzus that saved the breed from extinction.

Some Military Personnel are the ones who brought them to the US.

The first Shih Tzus imported were from China to Europe. Afterward, the American military personnel stationed there are the ones who brought these pups to America.

Many Celebrities and Even Emperors have Owned Shih Tzu.

If you don’t know yet, many celebrities favor Shih Tzus and own one. Thus, aside from emperors and royals, famous persons also like this breed.

Among the famous persons with Shih Tzu are Mariah Carey, Beyoncé, Bill Gates, and even Queen Elizabeth II.

Types of Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu is a breed that comes with a variety of distinctions. In general, there are eight specific types that you need to know.

Understanding the difference is essential in choosing your preferred pet to take home.

Aside from the American Purebred, the other types of Shih Tzus are:

All eight types of Shih Tzus come from one of the same breed – the Shih Tzu. Thus, the traits and personalities are similar.

The main aspects that set them apart from each other are their appearance and health.

If you wish to know an in-depth take regarding this matter, you may read our article Types of Shih Tzu.


The American Shih Tzu is the type ideal for persons who want a purebred. If you’re looking for the best of this breed, this type of Shih Tzu is for you.

American Shih Tzus offer top quality of their kind. Moreover, they still have that adorable and warm trait, making them excellent pets.

Of course, like any other breed, American Shih Tzus also have specific needs. Still, it’s not something to worry about so long as you understand the information and how to deal with them.

Share on: