Shih Tzu

Lifestyle Needs

Shih Tzu
Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu is 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.

Genetic Diversity
(Known as Coefficient of Inbreeding: 'COI'. It should be as low as possible.)

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

Gene Pool Size
(Known as 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 obstructive airway 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:

Hip dysplasia (HD) breed 5 year mean score 27.7 (parents should be much lower)

Eye disease: glaucoma (annual testing); cataract (annual testing); Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) annual testing; Brachycephalic ocular syndrome (annual testing)

Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) : No EBVs are currently available for this breed

DNA Tests Available
DogWellNet and IPFD Harmonisation of Genetic Testing for Dogs (HGTD)


  • Chondrodysplasia (Type 1 IVDD)

Availability of a DNA test does not mean that it is always necessary or even desirable for breeders to use this test.

Other Breed-Specific Health Screening Schemes

  • Patella test (Patella luxation)
  • Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS) test

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)


  • Dental problems due to overcrowding
  • Brachycephaly (shortened face and narrowed nostrils)
  • Corneal ulcerative disease
  • Keratoconjunctivitis sicca ‘Dry Eye’
  • Distichiasis
  • Autoimmune haemolytic anaemia
  • Immune mediated thrombocytopaenia
  • Ear infections
  • Bladder stones
  • Hernia

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.

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

The breeder should also be familiar with the CFSG/DBRG Code of Practice for Dog Breeding

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

Breed Health Information