Shih Tzu

Lifestyle Needs

Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu is a small dog – one of the Toy breeds.  He is generally described as lively and outgoing and despite his size requires plenty of exercise.  He makes a delightful companion and family dog but as with all breeds temperament will vary.  His coat will become very long unless trimmed and will need regular grooming to avoid matts and tangles.

Inbreeding Coefficient - COI
(Should be as low as possible)

The UK Kennel Club breed average COI is 5.4% - see 'A Beginners Guide to COI'

Effective Population Size - EPS


EPS is a measure of how many individuals are contributing genetically to a breed population. It is a measure of the size of the gene pool in a breed. Lower than 100 is considered critical by conservationists and below 50 brings a breed close to extinction. For more information see the Kennel Club article.

Health and Welfare Problems due to Conformation
(Body shape and physical characteristics)

  • The Shih Tzu’s long coat, unless groomed and regularly trimmed, will impact on his quality of life.  Care should be taken especially with the hair around the face and eyes.
  • Brachycephalic ocular syndrome – due to the extremely short head shape and consequences on the shape and position of the eyes – causes several eye conditions that lead to chronic irritation and pain.
  • Brachycephalic airway obstructive syndrome (BOAS) (breathing problems caused by too small head, too short a muzzle and pinched nostrils)
  • Poor dentition and overcrowding due to small mouth size
  • The Shih Tzu has short legs, a curly tail and immobile ears, all of which give him difficulties in signaling and communicating with other dogs.

BVA/KC Health Schemes:

None applicable

Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) are now available for Hip Dysplasia and Elbow Dysplasia:

DNA Tests Available

  • Thrombocytopaenia
  • Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)
  • Prekallikrein Deficiency

Unofficial (Breed Club) Schemes

None known

Ask the breeder to show you the certificates for the above tests/screening for both parents. If any of the above tests have not been considered necessary by the breeder (and there may be good reasons), ask her to explain why.

Other Diseases Reported
(For which there are currently no genetic or screening tests for sire or dam)

  • Atopy (hypersensitivity to pollens and other protein particles – causes intense itching)
  • Corneal ulcerative disease
  • Heart disease: Degeneration of the mitral valve
  • Patellar luxation (dislocated knee cap)
  • Urolithiasis (formation of stones in the urinary system)
  • Intervertebral disc disease (rupture of a disc with compression of the spinal cord, leadng to pain and weakness, sometimes paralysis)
  • Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (dry eye) (an autoimmune disease)
  • Necrotising leucoencephalitis (inflammation of the brain, often fatal) (autoimmune disease)
  • Cancer: perianal gland tumors
  • Cataract
  • Distichiasis (double row of eyelashes turnedagainst the eyeball)
  • Entropion (inward turning eyelashes, causing irritation and pain)
  • Cushings syndrome (over production of corticosteroids leading to lethargy, thirst, increased appetite)
  • Congenital portosystemic shunt (an abnormality of the blood circulation, resulting in blood from the heart bypassing the liver and entering the general circulation)

Ask the breeder about the medical history of the parents, grandparents and great grandparents.  Consider carefully whether to purchase a puppy if some of these or other diseases are in the family line.

Ask about the breeder’s policy in cases of serious genetic diseases occurring to your puppy in later life. Good breeders will request to be informed of such events in order to improve future breeding decisions. Some breeders will also agree to contribute towards medical costs or refund purchase price.

You are strongly advised to buy from a breeder who uses (or is prepared to use) the RSPCA / BVA AWF Puppy Contract and Puppy Information Pack (PIP):

You are also advised to buy from a breeder who follows the Dog Breeding Reform Group’s (DBRG) Standard for Dog Breeding:

Or the Kennel Club’s Assured Breeders Scheme Standard and Guidance:
Standard PDF | Guidance PDF

List of Dog Breeds