Shih Tzu Temperament: What Makes Them the Perfect Companions

Last Updated: 11 months ago

Shih Tzus are affectionate, outgoing and happy little dogs that love nothing more than to love and be loved.

In fact, they were bred solely to be companions.

The name “Shih Tzu” actually means “lion” however there is nothing fierce about these cute buggers and in fact, they are simply lovers and not hunters.

Owners have however started taking their dogs out into dog sports, training them for obedience, agility competitions, and rally.

So while they do make great family pets, get along with other animals and love children, they can actually be trained for agility competitions.

So the question remains what type of temperament does the Shih Tzu have and do they make great family pets?

Well, the short answer is if you’re looking for a best little buddy that can adapt to his or her environment very quickly, jumps on the couch for cuddles and gives you unconditional love, then this breed is just right for you.

In the following article, we’ll take a look at the Shih Tzus temperament and what makes them good family dogs.

Shih Tzu’s temperament

Shih Tzu By Fireplace

Something you need to know about the temperament of the Shih Tzu is that it changes over time.

The breed is generally always very trusting irrespective of their age or how many bad experiences they’ve had. They still love to trust others.

This means that they jump up on the lap of strangers and even leap headfirst into a friendly bout with another member of their species irrespective of whether that dog wants attention or not.

Ultimately it all comes back to their personality because they are extremely confident and they have no problem showing affection and expressing themselves.

Something else that remains constant about the Shih Tzu is that they are happy dogs. Their general demeanor is happy and carefree.

They have an air of indestructible happiness that follows them around like a shadow.

They also have a contentious desire for love and to return that love in the same fashion. So ultimately this makes the Shih Tzu levelheaded and loving.

However, they are not as excitable as they are enthusiastic.

Generally, they are never snobby or aggressive towards other people, other dogs or their owners and they tend to mimic the traits of bigger dogs.

Ultimately they do not have a natural propensity for anger and are not easily provoked however they can be a bit confused when people don’t share their same enthusiasm for life.

Changes over time

There are some things about your Shih Tzu’s temperament that will change over time.

In their puppy years, they throw themselves headfirst at just about everything.

They are very energetic at that age and can tend to be a handful as well.

The leap on any and every stranger, introduce themselves on their own accord to other dogs and jump huge distances such as from the floor to the couch.

Unfortunately, this often results in them injuring themselves because they are quite fragile especially at that age.

As they age, the overzealous excitement starts to fade a bit and they start becoming, loving and calm.

These dogs have actually kept at the sides of the old Chinese Royals. And therefore, they do have an air of discipline in them.

At this stage of their life, you might need to become a beautiful motivator for them.

If you don’t, they’ll just find a cozy spot on the couch and decide that’s where they are going to hang out for hours on end.

What are the negatives?

There are not many negatives about Shih Tzu’s natural temperament however if we have to point out one, it’s that they can tend to become very clingy because they are people-orientated.

While this toy dog can fit in tiny apartments, their desire to love and be loved can turn to extreme anxiety when they are separated from their owners.

So bare in mind that if you don’t have the adequate time to care for your dog each and every day, then a Shih Tzu may not be a good fit for you.

So while you may love the idea of owning a Shih Tzu, know that they can become extremely unhappy dogs when they are separated from their owners for long periods of time.

In fact, they can often become self-destructive as well.

This negative trait, however, extends from a place of wanting to love so they are definitely a breed that suffers from separation anxiety.

However overall speaking the Shih Tzu is different from other toy breeds and they are excitable, level headed, unapologetically trusting and happy.

Are they good around the children?

Shih Tzu With A Toy
Are They Good Around The Children?

If you have kids and are thinking about getting a Shih Tzu as a pet or vice versa, you need to know whether children and Shih Tzus are a good fit.

It’s true that certain dog breeds are great with kids and others are not recommended if you have children at home.

However, we can’t assume that every dog breed will be suitable for children.

So the question remains are Shih Tzus good for kids?

Since Shih Tzus are already affectionate in nature and have a docile temperament, they do make wonderful family pets.

Overall speaking, they are regarded as a good fit for homes with children.

However, it’s always important to make sure that young children understand how to correctly and appropriately treat these little companions.

Shih Tzus are generally good dogs for kids however it still not a clear-cut case.

As with anything, there are different things we to think about before making a final decision to adopt a Shih, Tzu.

Although they love people, children, and even other animals, it’s important to start working with the children from a young age to know how to correctly treat and care for animals.

It’s important even if your family doesn’t have pets at that point in time.

This will help your kids learn how to better treat animals moving forward and ultimately it will be best for both your child and the animal.

So what are some things that children need to know before interacting with Shih Tzus?

  • Children need to understand that a Shih Tzus is not a toy
  • They need to know how to behave around not just their pet but other animals they don’t know
  • They need to know how to approach Shih Tzus
  • Children need to know how to appropriately pet an animal
  • They need to know how to properly pick up a dog
  • Most importantly, children need to understand the dog’s warning signs. So they need to be able to recognize low growls, bare teeth and snapping as well as tell tucking as these are all signs that the dog is either nervous, scared, aggressive or simply wants to be left alone. Let the dog sleep in his own dog bed.

Are they good around other pets?

Shih Tzu And Beagle Playing
Are They Good Around Other Pets?

Thanks to the docile, loving and outgoing nature of the Shih Tzu, they are good with other dogs.

However, something you need to be aware of if you do have an existing Shih Tzu and you are considering bringing the second Shih Tzu into your home, there will be a matter of hierarchy.

In the canine world, much emphasis is placed on hierarchy and ultimately all these means is that there must be an Alpha or the leader in the pack.

Ultimately, inside a home environment, there’s a hierarchy when it comes to humans and pets.

Ultimately the Alpha is the person who gives out the instructions and the betas will be those that follow the instructions.

However, when a new dog comes into a home with an existing dog, then the hierarchy will need to be established and who is going to be the Alpha is the ultimate decision.

So until this matter settles between the two dogs, there will likely be unrest.

And while you may want your pets to consider themselves equals, unfortunately, this goes against canine instinct.

Aside from that, Shih Tzus are approachable and fun-loving dogs that will gladly introduce themselves to other dogs when going for walks in the park.

Is Shih Tzus good family pets?

Yes, they do make wonderful family pets as they are loving, affectionate and enjoy the attention.

Does Shih Tzus suffer from separation anxiety?

Unfortunately, yes they do. Shih Tzus are great family pets however if you do not have an adequate amount of time to care for them, it may result in them suffering from separation anxiety and even becoming self-destructive.

Are Shih Tzus good for children?

Yes, they have a docile nature and love the attention of adults, children and even other animals.
However, children should be taught how to correctly pet and hold Shih Tzus as their small size makes them fragile.


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