The Shih Tzu Personality – The Good, Bad and Ugly

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Shih Tzus are such sweet little dogs, but they come with oversized personalities. So, what can you expect from your little bundle of joy? Read on to discover the good, bad, and ugly of the Shih Tzu personality.

Shih Tzu Personality – What to Expect

I’ve had Shih Tzus for decades and while they have brought me many hours of joy and happiness, at times, they can make you want to pull your hair out in frustration.

So, let’s take a look at what you can expect from your Shih Tzu.

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Shih Tzu Behavior – Good

There is a lot to love about your Shih Tzu, so let’s start with all the positives that you can expect. 

1. They Love You – A Lot

If you’ve ever owned a Shih Tzu then you know that they love you and love you a lot.

They are one of the most popular breeds around and this is one reason for that.

A Shih Tzu is happiest when they are with their owner. 

Chances are, you will find that they will follow you pretty much everywhere.

From the kitchen to the bathroom, you will always have a companion.

Most Shih Tzus are good with kids as well, so they make great family dogs.

Shih Tzus tend to be a one-person dog.

And while they pretty much get along with everyone, there is one person in their life that stands head and shoulders above the rest.

I can see that in action with my Truman.

He likes most everyone, but he only loves me.

2. They Love to Cuddle

If you don’t want a dog by your side or on your lap at all times, then a Shih Tzu is not for you.

They love to cuddle and to be right next to you on the sofa or in bed.

Some will want to sit on your lap a good deal of time.

And while they need regular exercise, cuddle time is their favorite time.

If you don’t have a high activity level or have mobility issues, then a Shih Tzu can be your perfect companion.

They need minimal exercise, a quick walk, or a game of tag in the house is enough daily exercise, and then they are content to lounge with you on the sofa.

Their energy levels are kind of right in the middle – not too high and not too low.

Some folks will say that Shih Tzus are too clingy, but that is part of their charm.

So, if you want a dog that likes its own space, a Shih Tzu isn’t for you.

3. Shih Tzus are Super Loyal

This goes hand in hand with attaching themselves to one person.

They will be loyal to the very end to that person.

Sometimes, Shih Tzus think they are bigger than they actually are, and have no problem rushing in to protect their loved ones.

They may be a toy breed, but they have the heart of a lion.

4. They Make Great Companion Dogs

If you’re looking for companionship, then a Shih Tzu makes a wonderful canine companion.

It is actually what they were bred for.

Originally, Shih Tzus were bred to be companions for Chinese emperors.

They would sit in the long, wide end of the emperor’s sleeves.

It’s why Shih Tzus love humans so much and want to be near their owners.

Just like cattle dogs were bred to corral cattle and West Highland Terriers were bred to kill rats and hunt foxes, Shih Tzus were bred to make you happy and to be your companion.

If you ask me, Shih Tzus got the better end of that deal.

If you’re looking for unconditional love and a great friend, then you’ve found your dog.

5. Friendly and Good Natured

For the most part, most Shih Tzus are good-natured and friendly.

They like people and enjoy playing with them and spending time with them.

Shih Tzus will enjoy running and fetching toys and being chased around the house.

While they may bark at a stranger at the door, it doesn’t take long for them to become fast friends with whoever they meet.

Their human family is an important part of their lives and what makes them happiest.

Just keep in mind, that Shih Tzus do need a good deal of mental stimulation especially when home alone or they can become bored and destructive.

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Shih Tzu Behavior – The Bad 

Of course, no dog is perfect and that’s true of Shih Tzus as well.

Here are some of their less-than-perfect personality traits.

1. They Can Be Stubborn

Shih Tzus have a stubborn streak a mile wide and then some.

They want to do what they want to do when they want to do it and they don’t want any backtalk from you.

It’s kind of funny, really.

You can see their little brains working, trying to determine just how far they can push you.

If they weren’t so cute, you might get angry, but they know they have the upper hand.

Who could get mad at that cute little face?

However, this stubbornness does contribute to the difficulty level of training them.

From housebreaking to learning commands, be forewarned that you will have to work long and hard to get them to do what you want them to do.

2. Some Shih Tzus are Barkers

Shih Tzus get a bad rap when it comes to barking. 

People assume they bark a lot, and some do.

However, most don’t.

A recent survey showed that only 12 percent of Shih Tzu owners were dealing with barking issues.

While others did say their pup would bark when someone came to the door, most didn’t have a problem.

I know that with my Truman, he would always bark when someone came to the door, but that was it.

Otherwise, he never really barked.

Now that he is a very senior dog, 17 years old, he doesn’t bark at all at anyone for anything and hasn’t the last couple of years.

3. They are Prone to Separation Anxiety

Because Shih Tzus love their owners so much and want to be with them all the time, they can suffer from separation anxiety when left home alone.

This seems to be a common issue.

Again, I have been lucky with Truman as he never seemed to mind being home alone.

But for others, this can lead to destructive behavior and damage to your home.

Also, your Shih Tzu will suffer mentally as well.

If you have this type of issue, consider a doggie daycare or having a dog walker come in the middle of the day.

It can help.

If things get too bad, you might have to consider a crate or pen.

This will protect your home and even make your Shih Tzu feel a little safer during the day.

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Shih Tzu Behaviors – The Ugly

All the good that comes with having a Shih Tzu in your life more than outweighs the bad, but there are a couple of things you should be aware of.

1. Some Shih Tzus can Become Aggressive

Because your Shih Tzu loves you so much, they can become possessive.

They won’t want anyone or anything else to get near you, and if someone or something does, they can become aggressive.

This means barking, growling, and even nipping.

This is one behavioral issue you need to deal with right away.

Try to have your Shih Tzu spend time with other people without you being there.

This could be a walk or playtime.

Have this person give your dog a treat and lots of positive reinforcement.

Also, if your Shih Tzu becomes aggressive, remove them from the situation immediately and don’t give them access to you.

This negative reinforcement will help them learn that their negative behavior takes away the one thing that is most important to them – you.

The best way to avoid this issue in the first place is through socialization training.

Shih Tzu puppies should be well socialized and spend time with children, other pets, and people while they are still young.

Pet stores that allow you to bring your pet are a great place for your Shih Tzu to get some socialization. 

Everyone there will want to pet your pup.

This socialization training should keep your Shih Tzu from ever being aggressive.

You might also enjoy:

Shih Tzu Behavior Problems – Top 10

Are Shih Tzus Easy to Train?

2. Housebreaking Can Be a Challenge

You will learn frustration when you attempt to housebreak a Shih Tzu.

It’s not so much that they can’t figure out that they should go the bathroom outside, it’s just more that they don’t care.

Crate training as a puppy can help get you started.

And plan on buying a whole lot of puppy pads.

You may also enjoy:

Shih Tzu Energy Level – Couch Potato or Super Active?

Shih Tzu Barking – What Can You Do About It?

To Sum it All Up:

If you’re looking for a dog with moderate energy levels, is loyal and fun, and will love you with all of its might, then a Shih Tzu is for you. Just know that they can be a little stubborn and difficult to house train. But besides that, you will have a friend for life that will give you all the unconditional love you could ever need. And for apartment dwellers, a Shih Tzu is a perfect size.


Please Note:

This article is informational only and does not substitute for veterinary advice. Always check with your veterinarian if you are concerned about your Shih Tzu. This article should not be considered in any way as a veterinarian or advice.

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