- Up to 1 hour per day
- Size of home
- Flat/ Apartment
- Every day
- Coat length
- Over 10 years
- Vulnerable native breed
- Town or country
- Size of garden
- Small/ medium garden
It is popularly accepted that the Shih Tzu originated in China with an ancestry of Tibetan breeds. Indeed, in its early days it was known as the Lhasa Lion dog. The Pekingese may also have played a part in the development of the breed. The first Shih Tzus were shown in England in 1933 and they were shown alongside Lhasa Apsos. Comparison of head type and other features soon established them as separate breeds. In 1934 the Shih Tzu Club of England was founded and the breed was officially recognised in the 1940s.
Images for this breed
The Utility breed group
This group consists of miscellaneous breeds of dog mainly of a non-sporting origin, including the Bulldog, Dalmatian, Akita and Poodle. The name ‘Utility’ essentially means fitness for a purpose and this group consists of an extremely mixed and varied bunch, most breeds having been selectively bred to perform a specific function not included in the sporting and working categories. Some of the breeds listed in the group are the oldest documented breeds of dog in the world.
Breed standard colours
Breed standard colour means that the colour is accepted within the breed standard and is a traditional and well-known colour in this breed.
Breed standard colours in this breed include:
- Black & White
- Brindle & White
- Gold & White
- Gold Brindle
- Gold Brindle & White
- Gold With Black Mask
- Grey & White
- Solid Black
- Solid Gold
- Liver & White
- Blue (NBS)
- Cream (NBS)
- Lilac (NBS)
- Lilac & White (NBS)
- White (NBS)
- Particolour (NBS)
Non-breed-standard colour means that the colour is not accepted within the breed standard and whilst some dogs within the breed may be this colour, it is advised to only select a dog that fits within the breed standards for all points.
Colour is only one consideration when picking a breed or individual dog. Health and temperament should always be a priority over colour.
'Other' means you consider your puppy to be a colour not currently known within the breed and one that does not appear on either the breed standard or non-breed-standard list. In this instance you would be directed through our registration process to contact a breed club and/or council to support you on identifying and correctly listing the new colour.
Whether you’re thinking of buying a puppy, or breeding from your dog, it’s essential that you know what health issues may be found in your breed. To tackle these issues we advise that breeders use DNA tests, screening schemes and inbreeding coefficient calculators to help breed the healthiest dogs possible.
More about health
Important health schemes and tests
We strongly recommend that all breeders, both assured breeders (ABs) and non ABs, use the following (or equivalent) schemes, tests and advice.
Currently there are no additional health screening schemes or DNA tests for this breed. You may want to speak to your breeder, vet or local breed club about any health issues in the breed.
Find out about a particular dog's results
Please visit our Health Test Results Finder to discover the DNA or screening scheme test results for any dog on The Kennel Club's Breed Register.
You can also view the inbreeding coefficient calculation for a puppy's parents, or for a dog you're thinking of breeding from.
Health issues in flat-faced dogs
Dogs with a flat, wide shaped head, are said to be brachycephalic (brachy, meaning short and cephalic, meaning head). This particular skull shape will often give these dogs a characteristic flattened face and a short muzzle. Although the shape of these dogs’ heads can make them look very cute, dogs with a very flat face and short muzzle have a higher risk of developing certain health issues associated with their features, such as:
The soft tissue in the nose and throat of some brachycephalic dogs may be excessive for the airways, making it difficult for them to breathe normally (causing heavy panting or noisy breathing). Some dogs may also have narrow nostrils making it even more difficult to breathe.
More information can be found on:
- our film about breathing problems in flat-faced dogs
- from the University of Cambridge website
- in our article on breathing problems in flat-faced dogs
Some brachycephalic dogs may have an excess of skin, which creates folds, especially around the front of the face. These folds can make a warm, moist environment which is perfect for bacteria and yeast to grow, possibly leading to infection and severe itching.
More information can be found in our article on skin problems in flat-faced dogs.
Dogs with a shortened skull will often have a shortened jaw, but the number and size of teeth will stay the same. This can mean that the teeth become overcrowded and can cause dental and gum problems.
More information can be found on our advice page on how to take care of your dogs teeth.
Some brachycephalic dogs may have shallow eye sockets, causing their eyes to become more prominent and at a higher risk of trauma, ulcers and increasing the chance of them becoming dry and painful (due to not being able to blink properly).
More information can be found in our article on eye problems in flat-faced dogs.
Want to buy a puppy responsibly?
Not all flat-faced dogs will have the health issues described, but it is important that if you are thinking of buying a puppy, that you take extra precautions.
Have any questions about health in your breed?
If you have any concerns about a particular health condition in your breed then you may wish to speak to your vet or you could contact your breed health co-ordinator.
Breed health co-ordinators are individuals working on behalf of breed clubs and councils who are advocates for the health and welfare of their chosen breed. They acts as a spokesperson on matters of health and will collaborate with The Kennel Club on any health concerns the breed may have.
To contact your breed health co-ordinator please email
Currently no points of concern specific to this breed have been identified for special attention by judges, other than those covered routinely by The Kennel Club breed standard.
There are a number of The Kennel Club's rules and regulations that may prevent a litter from being registered, find out about our general and breed specific breeding restrictions below.
More about breeding
There are not currently any additional breed specific restrictions in place for this breed.
Sign up to The Kennel Club
Create an online account and enjoy the many benefits, including your own online dashboard, as well as access to our newsletters and learning centre.
Visit us at Discover Dogs
Unsure of which pedigree dog to choose? Visit Discover Dogs where you can meet hundreds of pedigree dogs and speak with experienced owners/breeders.
Use our Find a Puppy service
The Kennel Club's Find a Puppy service provides contact details for breeders who have puppies available. Let's help you find your new best friend.