Shih Tzu running through forest

All about your Shih Tzu

Alert and lively, with a bouncy approach to everyday life.

    Shih Tzus are small, playful and known for their sense of companionship. Learn more about this cheerful and devoted dog, from his grooming and exercise needs, to the things you can do to keep him happy and healthy.

      Breed information & advice

      Pint-sized with a loving and friendly heart, the Shih Tzu will make the perfect house dog. He’s part of the utility breed group and despite his name meaning “little lion”, this breed is far from fierce, but full of character.

      • The Shih Tzu's main purpose is to be a companion – and he’ll want to be with you wherever you go
      • His beautiful, long, silky coat comes in many colours and will require significant grooming – daily brushing is a must
      • He’ll typically weigh between 4.5kg and 8kg when fully grown
      • A healthy Shih Tzu can live between 10 and 16 years

      Typical size of a Shih Tzu: Small: 22cm-25cm

          Recommended exercise & nutrition

          They may be known as a house dog, but you’ll still need to put your Shih Tzu through his paces on a daily basis - taking him out for two or three short walks a day.

          Using toys and treats will not only boost his affection for you, but also help keep his mind active – especially as a puppy.

          Feeding quantities will depend on the size, age and weight of your dog and always read the portion suggestions on the food packet.

            Up to one hour of exercise per day

            Taking your Shih Tzu for around one hour's worth of walks or exercise throughout the day will be enough to burn off all his energy. But remember, his small physique may find rough terrain difficult.

                Shih Tzu Running On Short Grass

                Common health problems & illnesses

                Your Shih Tzu will need all of the usual vaccinations and check-ups to help protect him against common ailments. There are some conditions which this breed is more prone to though, and you may want to familiarise yourself with the symptoms, so you know what to look out for.

                  1. Corneal ulcer

                  Due to the Shih Tzu having a flat face, his eyes can be vulnerable to damage – with corneal ulcers being a common condition. The ulcers can be caused by a scratch to the dog's eye and could potentially harm his vision. Look out for signs such as your dog’s eyes being red and more watery than usual, frequent blinking or rubbing, and sensitivity to being touched on the area around the eye. Your vet will be able to advise on treatment options such as eye drops or ointment.

                    2. Cushing’s Disease

                    The Shih Tzu breed can be susceptible to Cushing's disease, which is caused by an overproduction of cortisol and affects how the body regulates itself. Symptoms to look out for include a change in your dog's toilet habits, patchy hair loss and an excessive thirst, so speak to your vet if you notice anything out of the ordinary.

                      3. Gastroenteritis

                      Gastroenteritis (an infection of the gut) can be brought on by various factors such as an inappropriate diet and some infectious diseases. Symptoms can include diarrhoea, vomiting and loss of appetite. Ask your vet for advice on how to treat your dog if it doesn’t clear up.

                        4. Skin conditions

                        Skin conditions are common in this breed of dog and could be caused by anything from infections and allergies to fleas and even stress. If your dog develops red, itchy lumps on his skin or is visibly losing hair on his underbody, this may indicate some kind of skin irritation, so make an appointment with your vet to discuss treatment which might include antibiotics or topical therapy. Another tell-tale sign that your dog may need medical help is if he develops scaly and very dry skin, with excessive dandruff showing in his coat.

                          5. Epilepsy

                          Shih Tzus may be prone to epilepsy which is caused by over-activity in parts of the brain and may lead to a fit or seizure. Seeing your dog suffer from this condition can be a frightening experience – but fortunately it’s usually manageable. Seizures can range from full body convulsions to smaller partial ones which may involve twitching or muscle spasms. In most cases, it can be controlled through medication.

                              A Shih Tzu Facing Side On With Head Turned Towards You

                              Dog name popularity

                              If you’re struggling to think of a name for your Shih Tzu, take a look at the most popular ones at Tesco Bank Pet Insurance for inspiration.

                                1 Teddy
                                2 Bella
                                3 Alfie
                                4 Poppy
                                5 Lola

                                Average treatment costs

                                Wondering whether pet insurance for your Shih Tzu is worth it? We’ve put together the top five conditions claimed for by Tesco Bank Pet Insurance customers in 2019, and the average cost of treatment.

                                  Top five conditions and average costs

                                  Top five conditions and average costs

                                  Corneal ulcer


                                      Skin allergy




                                              Skin condition


                                                  Dry eye


                                                      Tesco Bank Pet Insurance claims data from paid treatments including excesses from 01/09/19 to 31/08/20.

                                                      Considering Shih Tzu insurance?

                                                      We know your dog is an important member of the family, so give them the protection they deserve with Tesco Bank Pet Insurance.

                                                      Tesco Bank Pet Insurance is arranged, administered and underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc.

                                                      Grooming advice

                                                      It’s important to stay on top of grooming your Shih Tzu, to keep his long, luscious locks in good condition. You may want to bathe him on a weekly basis, due to the dirt that collects in his hair.

                                                      Grooming your dog is a chance for you both to bond. Brush his coat every day to prevent knots and tangles - you may find this difficult in the puppy stages as his coat grows, but it should become much easier as he gets older. Some owners choose to have their dog’s coat washed and maintained by a professional every six to eight weeks.

                                                      Trim your Shih Tzu's nails every month, and clean his ears out once a week to remove any dirt and reduce the risk of infection.

                                                      Keep an eye on his dental hygiene too, as gum disease can be a problem in small breeds of dog. Brush his teeth regularly (ideally on a daily basis), using specialist brushes and pastes.

                                                        Fun & interesting facts

                                                        • Tibetan Monks call the Shih Tzu the ‘Snow Lion Dog’ and used to regard the breed as holy.
                                                        • The first mentions of the Shih Tzu date back to 500 B.C.
                                                        • The dog was the official breed of the Chinese Ming Dynasty.
                                                        • Shih Tzus are classed as adults at the age of one – the equivalent to 16 in human years.
                                                        • Celebrity owners have included Beyoncé, Frank Sinatra and Elizabeth Taylor.

                                                        Important information

                                                        Key information

                                                        The content on this page aims to offer an informative introduction to pet breeds, but does not constitute expert veterinary advice. If your dog or cat falls ill or has an injury, contact your vet immediately. Tesco Bank Pet Insurance has a partnership with vetfone™ which means that as a customer, you can benefit from their advice as part of your policy.

                                                        Tesco Bank Pet Insurance is arranged, administered and underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc. The vetfone™ service is provided by VetsDirect Ltd.

                                                        All facts and figures were correct at date of publication and were compiled using a range of sources.

                                                          What is vetfone?

                                                          Vetfone™ is a 24/7 unlimited, free telephone or video call service that provides expert advice from nurses qualified with the RCVS (Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons). If your pet has a medical emergency, or you need reassurance on grooming, feeding or general advice, vetfone™ is there to help.

                                                          As a Tesco Pet Insurance customer, you can access expert veterinary advice provided by RCVS registered vet nurses as a standard benefit with your policy, and the service is provided at no additional cost. A quick telephone call or video call could answer any questions you have about your pet, give you peace of mind and could even save you a trip to the vet.

                                                          Tesco Bank Pet Insurance is arranged, administered and underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc. The vetfone™ service is provided by VetsDirect Ltd.

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