So You Want A Shih Tzu


You have decided that you would like to become the proud parent of a Shih Tzu puppy. Congratulations! Few things in life are more satisfying than giving a good home to a loving and lovable puppy! But right now, before you start your search, a little research will go a long way to ensure that ours is the breed for you--and that the puppy you choose is likely to grow into the healthy, happy companion you expect it will be.

Before you fall in love with the first adorable Shih Tzu face you see, take the time to ask yourself some questions to be sure that you can offer a good home to a Shih Tzu puppy for the rest of its life. You may decide that this is not the time for you to get a dog, that the Shih Tzu is not the right breed for you, or that you would rather provide a home to an older Shih Tzu who needs one.

Rescue dogs in need of loving homes may or may not have been responsibly bred. However, since they are adults, we are able to evaluate them for any signs of a problem before you fall in love, something that can't be done with a puppy. Our rescue workers think this is only one of the advantages to adopting an older dog!


  • Take full responsibility for this dog and all its needs for the next 10-18 years? (Shih Tzu live for a long time, and this is NOT a task that can be left to children, no matter how well-meaning! It requires committment from an adult.)
  • Invest the considerable time, money, and patience it takes to train a dog to be a good companion? (This does not happen by itself!!!)
  • Always keep the dog safe - no running loose or being chained outside?
  • Make sure the dog gets enough attention and exercise?
  • Spend the money it takes to provide proper veterinary care including, but certainly not limited, to vaccines, heartworm testing and preventative, spaying or neutering, and annual check ups?
  • Become educated about the proper care of the breed, correct training methods, and how to groom? (Many good books are available. Invest the time to read a few to learn about our breed.)
  • Take the time needed to keep your Shih Tzu well groomed? You must at least be responsible for daily maintenance. If you can't do it all, can you afford to take the dog to a groomer regularly and/or be willing to keep it in a "puppy cut?" (Those long flowing coats you see at dog shows are the result of a lot of hard work and expertise.)
  • Keep the breeder informed and up to date on the dog's accomplishments and any problems that may arise?
  • Take your questions to the breeder or other appropriate professional before they become problems that are out of hand?
  • Have the patience to accept (and enjoy) the trials of puppyhood and each stage afterward?
  • Continue to accept responsibility for the dog despite inevitable life changes such as new babies, kids going off to school, moving, or returning to work?
  • Resist impulse buying and instead have the patience to make a responsible choice?

  • If you answered YES TO ALL of the above, you are ready to start contacting breeders. Start early because most responsible breeders have a waiting list ranging from a few months to several years. Remember, the right dog is worth waiting for!

    All Shih Tzu puppies are cute, so take the time in an initial phone call to ask the right questions. You may not find a breeder who fits 100% of these criteria, but if you receive more than two negative responses, consider another breeder.
    Remember, your puppy will be a part of your family for many years. Now is not the time to bargain hunt!

    You may have known someone who has (or you may yourself have purchased) a "backyard" bred dog or a pet store or puppy mill dog and had great success. However, it is prudent to remember that such puppies may have health or temperament problems due to a lack of knowledge about breed health problems and genetics or a failure to provide proper socialization at a young age. Responsible breeders do all that they can to screen for and eliminate health and temperament problems. They also can provide you with advice about your puppy both before and after you take it home.

    Do not be in a hurry. If getting a Shih Tzu, any Shih Tzu, Right Now, is foremost in your plans, then you are not serious and will get what you ask for...just any Shih Tzu. You should read books on the breed, attend dog shows, and LEARN.

    Finally, responsible breeders are expected to produce Shih Tzu to high standards. They are entitled to respect and courtesy from the people they are trying to please. Always be on time for any appointments and be honest in explaining your lifestyle, family activity level, experience with dogs, and knowledge of Shih Tzu.

    Keep the following checklist by the phone when you make your calls. Good luck in your search!