Shih Tzu Temperament
Shih Tzus are a sweet and cuddly toy breed whose breed name means “little lion”, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Cute and fluffy, they are perfect lap dogs and the little ponytails that keep their long, flowing fur from obstructing their vision only add to their appeal as a “fur baby”. They are a small, yet sturdy and strong breed with a love for family and a true zest for life.
American composer James Mumsford stated that Shih Tzus are, “... a dash of lion, several teaspoons of rabbit, a couple of ounces of domestic cat, one part court jester, a dash of ballerina, a pinch of old man, a bit of beggar, a tablespoon of monkey, one part baby seal, (and) a dash of teddy bear.” Many Shih Tzu owners agree with this quote wholeheartedly!
Their temperaments, as with most breeds will vary, however, the core temperament and personality traits of Shih Tzus are generally that they are affectionate and friendly, with a genuine outgoing nature, a love for humans, and a strong desire to be close to their human family members.
They tend to be watchful and alert, relatively territorial, and are quite vocal; at the ring of a doorbell or the sight of a person approaching their home, they will sound their barking alarms! Shih Tzus can be momentarily wary of strangers and newcomers, and if they are ineffectively trained and/or socialized, they can become temperamental and snappy.
Shih Tzus can live in homes of all sizes, including apartments, get along well with other pets, are fantastic with children, and equally great with single adults - making them especially great companions for the elderly. They tend to be very well behaved with little difficulty in training.
Their unique underbite makes them all the cuter even if they have a bit of a “diva-esque” personality. They are loyal to their families and make excellent pets for people who live alone, to whom they can give unlimited love and affection.
With their vocality and hesitancy toward strangers, Shih Tzus are excellent watch dogs, although they were not bred as such. They are not suspicious or yappy, but, unfortunately, without proper training, their barking can get out of hand.
Training a Shih Tzu must include lessons on obeying commands to cease barking. This said, they are not nearly the yappiest of the small breeds and truly love making new friends. They genuinely think visitors are there to see them, and will, to your delight, entertain your guests to the full extent of their ability. Let them give him a treat or rub his belly, or give them a squeaky toy for him to show off with.
They Just Want Love
The tiny Shih Tzu comes with a mighty personality, who craves your attention and needs lots of love and care. Before bringing a Shih Tzu into your home, ensure that you have lots of time and love to give to these sweet, gentle creatures, as they will return the affection with their loving nature and hilarious hi-jinks. Shih Tzus were bred to be companion dogs, and they excel in this area. When you come home, he will be wagging his tail with gusto and excited to see you. When you settle down to relax, he will also happily lay on your lap.
They Also Like to Play
The Shih Tzu loves to play and his energetic and comical nature will keep you entertained. They love to splash in a paddling pool or roll in the grass on warm summer afternoons, and they take delight in playing a game of hide-and-seek indoors. Without being taken for lots of walks, these little devils will chase their tails all day long!
The Shih Tzu has also been known to beat obstacle courses with his fine-tuned agility. Any game you play will be a blast for your Shih Tzu. However, this little guy doesn’t need a ton of exercise and can just as easily live a life without a yard to frolic in. A quick walk around the block or a few minutes at the park will suffice. They much prefer to romp around indoors with you.
Training Is No Easy Task
Training a Shih Tzu requires consistency and patience as they don’t catch on the most quickly as compared to other breeds. Basic commands are slow to grasp for the Shih Tzu, but “sit”, “stay”, and “lie down” will come to them eventually, so stay patient, because your dog will get it eventually, despite its strong independent streak. They don’t fare high in training time; in a study of several breeds, the Shih Tzu required 80 to 100 repetitions of a command before obeying it just 25 percent of the time! This isn’t a sign of a lack of intelligence, however, the Shih Tzu is simply a very independent breed.
The Shih Tzu is a great dog to adopt, as he won’t spend his days missing a former owner. As soon as you show him love, he will return it fully and lovingly and be completely loyal to you. Another perk to adopting is that the dogs are usually already housebroken! Shih Tzus are actually known to be very clean.
Don’t expect your Shih Tzu to hunt, guard or retrieve; that’s not what they are bred for. Their affection is their dominant trait, and they will show thatin every way possible. A Shih Tzu is happiest with its family, receiving attention, snuggles, and love. However, he is not a couch potato; he loves to be active and play. These little dogs were bred in palaces, but you will be the true king or queen of his world!