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Are Shih Tzus More Aggressive Than Other Dogs? Breed Facts & FAQ

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on July 5, 2024 by Dogster Team

shih tzu with cone paws

Are Shih Tzus More Aggressive Than Other Dogs? Breed Facts & FAQ

The Shih Tzu is a popular breed because this companion dog is lively, fun, and loving. It is not considered an aggressive breed and it is rare to find an aggressive Shih Tzu. However, every dog is different, and a dog’s level of aggression is ultimately determined by its past experiences as well as how it is treated and what is happening to the dog at the time.

As such, there may be examples of Shih Tzus showing signs of aggression. Ensure good, consistent training, as well as early socialization, to ensure this won’t be a problem for you and your dog. Below we look at Shih Tzu aggression, and what you can do about it, and we take a look at some of the friendliest dog breeds available.

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About Shih Tzus

Shih Tzu means “little lion” and is so called because it was bred to have the same physical characteristics as a lion. Hailing from Tibet, this dog was bred as a companion dog so it is not a hunting or working dog. It is also alleged that the breed was once kept as a companion for lions and would help calm the wild animals.

This toy breed will typically grow to around 10 inches tall and weigh just 16 pounds. It enjoys spending as much time as possible with its owner and will get along with strangers as well as family members, friends, and visitors.

It is an adaptable breed which, when combined with its size, makes it ideal for life in an apartment, although it will live equally happily in a large home with a lot of outdoor space. The breed does not require vigorous exercise but should be given a couple of walks a day, totaling around 60 minutes.

Shih Tzu sitting on the patio
Image By: Frauke Riether, Pixabay

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Are Shih Tzus Aggressive?

Having been a companion dog from the start, one of the most important attributes that were originally bred into the Shih Tzu was to get along with its humans. And because it isn’t a working dog or a hunting breed, it shouldn’t have any predatory instincts.

Generally, this means that the Shih Tzu is not an aggressive dog, and most owners would agree that their Shih Tzus are highly unlikely to ever be aggressive.

How To Avoid Aggression

While the breed is not usually aggressive, there can be exceptions. Dogs that have been mistreated in the past may become aggressive. And if a Shih Tzu feels threatened and has no other option, it may nip, although the breed is more likely to bark than bite.

Do ensure that you start training your dog from a young age. Ideally, this should begin when your dog is a puppy. It is easier to build good habits than to repair bad habits.

Socialization is another key element in the development of a friendly, sociable, and well-adjusted dog. Socialization means introducing a dog to a wide range of different scenarios and circumstances, as well as to different groups of people. Again, this should start when the puppy is young. It will teach your dog that new situations are not to be feared and there’s no need to worry.

Exercise can provide physical stimulation, while training also helps with mental stimulation. If your dog does not get enough exercise or mental stimulation, it may develop antisocial and some unwanted behavior patterns. This can include vocalization, destructive behavior, inappropriate urination and toileting, and may lead to aggressive tendencies.

Happy Shih tzu dog sitting on green grass.
Image By: Orawan Pattarawimonchai, Shutterstock

What To Do If Your Shih Tzu Nips

It may be possible, with training and behavioral therapy, for a dog that has shown signs of aggression to be rehabilitated. However, you do need to consider whether it is the right dog for you. For example, if you have very young children in the house, even if the aggression can be remedied, it may still be a good idea to find a new home with a family that can continue with its training and where there is less risk.

It is also a good idea to enlist the help of a professional trainer or canine behaviorist if your dog has bitten or been aggressive.

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Top 5 Breeds Least Likely to Be Aggressive

There is no guarantee that any breed of dog will be completely free of aggression. Circumstances and experience can cause even the friendliest companion breed to show aggressive tendencies. However, some breeds are known to be friendlier, more accepting, and forgiving, and therefore less likely to be aggressive than other breeds.

1. French Bulldog

french bulldog on the grass
Image By; CraneBird Studios, Shutterstock

The French Bulldog is another small breed and one that is beloved by owners around the world. It will usually get along with everybody it meets, and, like the Shih Tzu, it doesn’t need too much of a walk each day so it can be considered low maintenance.

2. Retrievers

golden retriever happily lying on the grass
Image By: Angel Luciano, Unsplash

Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers are two of the most popular dog breeds around the world. They make great family dogs, are intelligent, and they tend to sympathize and empathize with their owners. Regularly used as guide dogs, hearing dogs, therapy dogs, and service dogs, these dogs are rarely aggressive.

3. Boxer

boxer dog lying on carpeted floor at home
Image By: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

The Boxer can be a real joker. It can also have mad moments of charging around and getting into mischief, but it loves its family. Boxers do need a lot of exercise, which not only helps the dog develop but can also give the owners a little respite when their dog is worn out.

4. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

cavalier king charles spaniel dog sitting on the floor
Image By: Svetlanistaya, Shutterstock

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a spaniel breed which means that it is a great companion for active owners that like to walk, but it is highly adaptable so if its owners don’t like going on long walks, the Cav will adapt to this routine.

Very good with families and children, the King Charles Spaniel is another breed that is rarely aggressive.

5. Bernese Mountain Dog

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Image By: PublicDomainPictures, Pixabay

Bernese Mountain Dogs are giants. And they’re incredibly strong. But they have an inherent sense of their size, and they make allowances for it. They have been used to pull heavy weights and one of the roles they were bred for was to be a companion dog, so you will get a friend for life.

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Final Thoughts

Shih Tzus make great family pets. They are small, easy to care for, and don’t have too many difficult requirements or demands. The breed is one of the most popular toy-sized breeds because it does get along with family, visitors, and strangers, regardless of age, size, or even their species.

However, under certain circumstances, any breed has the potential to be aggressive, and this is true of the Shih Tzu, which is otherwise considered to be less aggressive than the average dog. Ensure good training and socialization, as well as regular exercise and boundaries when the dog is young and this should help avoid any unwanted behavior from the dog when it matures.

Featured Image Credit: Ihar Halavach, Shutterstock

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