Shih Tzu Temperament - What Is So Special About These Dogs?

Shih Tzu Temperament - What Is So Special About These Dogs?

Author WDF Staff | Last updated: May 03 2023


The Shih Tzu is one of the world’s most popular companion dog breeds and is beloved worldwide for their sweet-natured and loving temperament. This is one of the oldest dog breeds out there and recent archeological discoveries determined that this breed existed 8.000 years ago!

The Shih Tzu comes from Tibet, where they have been specifically developed to keep company to the monks of Tibetan monasteries. These lovable little dogs were often gifted as presents to royalty, and it was notoriously hard to get ahold of a Shih Tzu. You couldn’t just buy one, especially if you weren’t from Tibet, someone had to give this dog to you as a token of appreciation or gratitude.

So what exactly makes this breed so popular? How different are they from the rest of the small companion breeds? What is so special about a Shih Tzu’s temperament?

Shih Tzu temperament - beginning

To answer these questions properly we need to go a bit further and see how this breed came to life. It is widely believed that the Shih Tzu was created by crossbreeding the Lhasa Apso and the Pekingese. Both of these two breeds are small and affectionate so it is no wonder that they have similar traits as well. That is a good start for this breed.

By carefully breeding dogs that have the best temperaments, dog breeders managed to breed dogs that were exhibiting specific character traits that would make them excellent lap dogs. Shih Tzus that were playful, outgoing, polite, friendly, lovable, affectionate, and caring were bred, and those that were displaying different behavior weren’t allowed to breed.

shih tzu temperament

Temperament traits

By promoting this sort of behavior, most of Shih Tzu puppies inherited that sort of temperament. They were bred to be proud and have a decent amount of dignity. A downside to that is that they can be stubborn at times. If you are looking to get one of these lovely dogs, be prepared to invest enough time and patience, especially at the beginning of a puppy's life and training. Some owners thought that housebreaking these dogs will be a piece of cake because of their small size and agreeable temperament, but the truth is that they are prone to stubbornness.

Shih Tzus can have a temperament that is defined by their interest in a specific action or training. They are extremely easy to motivate with food and that only shows that they will want to have a clear benefit from obeying your command.

Intelligence and temperament

To help you motivate your new Shih Tzu, try using these smart doggy treats. They are delicious and will not make your dog gain weight. Plus, Purina made these fish-based treats so your puppy will get plenty of omega fatty acids that are great for their health. Check the latest price here.

Shih Tzus temperament is connected to their intelligence. They are very intelligent and can process situations around them faster than other small companion breeds. When these dogs understand a situation, they feel comfortable in it, and that results in a very friendly dog towards strangers.

Don’t get a Shih Tzu if you are looking for a dog with a one-owner temperament and that will cling only to you. They, of course, have a clear owner that they are most fond of, but they are very social and love to hang out with other people and dogs. They can be reserved at first, but they can estimate people in the first couple of seconds after meeting them, and most often, they become very friendly.

Shih Tzu temperament at home

Shih Tzus are very friendly towards everyone but what they absolutely love is spending time with their owner and sitting or laying on their laps. They are extremely affectionate and will shower you with love most of the time. They can have a clear favorite (and they mostly do), but they are usually very affectionate with the whole family. They will enjoy playing, walking to the park, or just laying in front of the TV and curl up next to you. They are also great watchdogs that will alert you about someone approaching your home but they won’t do more than that as they are never aggressive.

shih tzu temperament

Shih Tzu temperament over time

Dogs' temperament changes over time, not just their physical appearance. A Shih Tzu puppy is usually very enthusiastic and wants to meet everybody and play with everyone. They don’t care if you want attention or not, they will shower you with it anyway.

As it grows older, they start to take time to assess the situation, and then they want to play with those that want to play with them. They remain friendly and outgoing and can be baffled by the lack of reciprocation of the same level of energy they put out.

Older Shih Tzus' temperament slows down and they become “wiser” and calmer. The biggest change you can notice about them is their lower enthusiasm. They will remain very affectionate with their close family members but will try and be a bit more reserved towards strangers and dogs.

Shih Tzus temperament is one of their best traits and it is pretty clear why they are very popular family pets and companions. Want to give your older Shih Tzu something special in their older days? Why not secure them the coziest, open bed where they can see their family, but have a soft spot to lay in? Check out the Frisco Round Bolster Dog Bed. They love everyone and we are sure you will make the best possible choice if you decide to get one.

World Dog Finder team