What Does a Shih Tzu Need?
This little dog’s needs aren’t complicated and can be summarized with one word: You! Okay, that’s not very specific, so this section details your responsibilities to your little one.
A dog bred for companionship must be allowed to do his job, and his job is to be with you. You have to be available and present for him to feel like he has a purpose. When you aren’t home, your Shih Tzu waits for you. If you leave him alone most of the day, he spends most of his time waiting for you. Shih Tzu don’t like to be alone all the time, and being alone is no life for a companion dog.
Shih Tzu are social animals. They love to play and be with people, other dogs, and even cats. If you work all day, your Shih Tzu will be much happier with another pet friend, a visit on your lunch hour, or even spending the day at a nice doggy daycare facility. Spending time around other people and other dogs teach the Shih Tzu about the world, and this kind of experience makes your Shih Tzu a more well-adjusted and friendly pet.
A good Shih Tzu Companion
If you work at home, you can probably manage a schedule of work and play and potty breaks for your dog, but if you work away from your home, you need to make arrangements for someone to give your Shih Tzu a potty break. At the end of the day, be prepared for her to want to play and snuggle and just be with you.
Shelter . . . and a little luxury
A Shih Tzu needs warm, safe shelter. Just remember the following if you want a Shih Tzu:
Can a Shih Tzu Live Outside?
Shih Tzu can’t live outside. Their short noses and heavy coats make hot humid weather dangerous, and a Shih Tzu stuck outside in the sun all day (or even in the shade when the humidity soars) is in serious danger of heatstroke (see how to keep shih tzu safe from heatstroke).
Shih Tzu aren’t suited for cold weather. Shih Tzu may be descended from Tibetan temple dogs that lived in frigid, snowy climates, but those dogs were larger and heartier than today’s shih tzu, so forget about giving a Shih Tzu a doghouse and leaving him at the mercy of the elements. Sure, your Shih Tzu may enjoy a short romp in the snow, but be sure to dry him when he comes in (and maybe snuggle by the fire for a while, too).
So you know your Shih Tzu needs a warm safe place indoors, but you can’t just let your Shih Tzu lie on the cold, hard floor, can you? I suppose you could, but here’s a head’s up: Shih Tzu is a royal dog. They expect a little luxury in their life. Is that really so much to ask? For example, your Shih Tzu loves to lounge on soft furniture, and she’ll probably prefer to sleep with you. Whether you let your little shih tzu into the bed or not, you also need other comfortable spots for your Shih Tzu to lounge when it’s not bed time. Try out a soft dog bed, a safe crate or kennel, and access to other furniture.
Healthy food for your Shih Tzu
Everybody functions better on healthy food than on junk food, of course, but a nutrient-dense diet is vitally important for a small dog because every bite counts. Your Shih Tzu, especially as a puppy, can’t hold much in that little stomach, so food must be full of good nutrition. Shih Tzu puppies also need to eat at least three small meals to keep that small-dog metabolism fueled. A young shih tzu puppy that doesn’t get sufficient nutrition could die.
Additionally Shih Tzu have potentially sensitive skin, and a healthy diet keeps both his skin and coat in good condition. Some pet food companies make food designed specifically for small-breed puppies. Or, you may decide to make a homemade diet for your Shih Tzu. (For more about feeding your Shih Tzu properly.)
About Shih Tzu Exercise
Move it or lose it! Despite shih tzu’s small size, they needs exercise to keep their muscles strong and her heart healthy. Too many Shih Tzu become overweight from an excess of treats and too little exercise, and it doesn’t take many extra calories each day to make an eight pound dog tip the scales in the direction of too-hefty. Extra weight puts added stress on the Shih Tzu’s joints and internal organs, compromising her natural good health.
Never exercise your Shih Tzu in hot weather! Her short nose and heavy coat aren’t built for the heat, and she can suffer serious health consequences. (See Shih Tzu heatstroke for more info).
Shih Tzu Training
He may be cute and charming. He may have great personal charisma. But that doesn’t mean Shih Tzu knows that your new carpet isn’t his personal toilet, or that children’s fingers aren’t for nipping, or that dashing out the front door isn’t safe. All dogs need training, even the cutest and most naturally polite. Don’t forget that your Shih Tzu is a dog and doesn’t run the household. He needs to know the rules, and you need to enforce the rules. Find More about Shih Tzu Training
A veterinarian who understands small dogs is one of your most important allies in caring for your Shih Tzu. These pups need regular check-ups and vaccinations (necessary parts of your commitment to your Shih Tzu), but a vet can also help you with pest control, skin allergies, behavioral issues, and any questions you may have about caring for your little dog. For more on Shih Tzu healthcare, refer to Shih Tzu Health.
Grooming, grooming, and grooming!
I’ve saved the best for last . . . the best, or the most time-consuming, depending on your perspective. Most Shih Tzus have long, thick coats, which means they need grooming . . . a lot of it.
How often a shih Tzu require Grooming?
Most pet owners have their Shih Tzu professionally groomed every four to six weeks. This timeline is a fine, but be prepared to pay for the service.
Even with professional grooming, you still need to brush and comb your Shih Tzu every day. Brushing shih tzu at least a few times a week, keep mats and tangles from forming as the coat grows.
If you keep your Shih Tzu in a short haircut, you can minimize the work, but a Shih Tzu in full coat really should be thoroughly tended every day. Add to your brushing other routines, such as regular nail clipping, teeth cleaning, eye care, ear care, and all-over massage and you have quite the high-maintenance little pooch. You can’t wait for a professional groomer to do these tasks (unless you want to take your Shih Tzu in weekly, which can get pretty expensive). Find More About Shih Tzu Grooming.