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Male vs Female Shih Tzus: What’s the Difference (With Pictures)

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on July 18, 2024 by Dogster Team


Male vs Female Shih Tzus: What’s the Difference (With Pictures)

Shih Tzus are a unique and coveted dog breed. More people, maybe you included, would love to own this cute, adorable pup. And you are probably wondering whether to take a male or female Shih Tzu home.

Are there notable differences between the two?

Well, there have been debates about both sexes. But as it turns out, they share an average height, weight, and lifespan. Additionally, male and female Shih Tzus are affectionate and loyal.

However, males have proved to be more affectionate, attentive, and accepting than females. On the other hand, females are confident, dominant, assertive, and stubborn. But that does not make them less of a charmer.

How can you know which sex is suitable for you? Read on to find out.

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Visual Differences

Male vs female Shih Tzu - side by side
Image By: Left – wernerdetjen, Pixabay | Right – Mishelved, Pixabay

At a Glance

Male Shih Tzus
  • Average height (adult): 9 to 10 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 9 to 16 pounds
Female Shih Tzus
  • Average height (adult): 9 to 10 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 9 to 16 pounds

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Shih Tzus Pet Breed 101

Shih Tzu_carlosleucipo, Pixabay
Image By: carlosleucipo, Pixabay

The Shih Tzu is an ancient dog with evidence pointing out that the breed existed in 8000 BC. Some believe the dog was bred by Chinese royalty, while others speculate the Tibetan monks.

Regardless, the Shih Tzus, also known as lion dogs or chrysanthemum-faced dogs, were treasured companions. The chrysanthemum dog nickname describes how their facial hair grows out in all directions to resemble a flower. This pup served as a lap dog and a house pet during ancient times, qualities that stand to date.

Shih Tzus are happy, friendly, lively, and highly confident pets who get along with people and other pets. They yearn to give and receive attention, a reason why they make excellent therapy dogs. This dog will sit with you on the couch as you watch television, walk with you to the park, wait as you clean your garage, or snuggle up close as you take a nap.

The breed may bark when strangers come calling and then jump in to welcome them. Thanks to their confident personality, they are also friendly with other dogs regardless of their size.

The Shih Tzu can live in apartments or on a country farm. The breed gets along with people of all sizes, including kids. However, it is best to supervise anytime your pet interacts with kids due to its small size. The canine can accidentally get hurt during rough play.

The toy breed has a long, hypoallergenic coat. Its silky double coat comes with black, white, gold, gray, brown, silver, liver, brindle, blue, or multicolored variations. This long-flowing hair requires daily brushing and weekly bathing to prevent matting and skin problems.

This breed does not thrive in severe heat due to its long, double coat, short nose, and flat face. The dog is prone to heatstroke because its lungs do not cool air as efficiently as long-nosed breeds. For this, keep the dog indoors and always run the fan or air conditioning.

Shih Tzus are intelligent and willing to learn new tricks. But they can also be inherently stubborn and assertive during training. Therefore, you have to be consistent and positive during training. Positive reinforcements like affection, treats, praise, and extra playtime will also entice good behavior.

Did you know that Shih Tzus have an undershot bite? They have a slightly narrow upper jaw, which causes the upper teeth to bite inside the lower teeth when it closes its mouth. Other dogs have a wider upper jaw where the teeth bite outside the lower teeth.

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Male Shih Tzus Overview

shih tzu with tongue out
Image By: Michael Mong, Shutterstock


Male Shih Tzus are eager to please, attentive, and live to worship you. They bond quickly with people, kids, and other pets and love to play. In fact, they are more forgiving, accepting, and less moody. Sadly, if treated harshly, males get hurt and sensitive quite easily.

Unneutered males mark their territories by humping and spraying. However, if they are neutered early, they hardly raise a leg when urinating or hump.

Male Shih Tzus will bond better with the woman in the house but will have a lot of love to share with the rest of the family.


There are myths that female Shih Tzus are easy to train. However, this is mostly untrue. Male and female Shih Tzus both have problems with training.

The males are easily distracted during training, which slows their learning progress. But with patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement, many owners have successfully trained them. If you are diligent, you can housebreak and potty train your boy in a few weeks.

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

Health & Care

These pups are generally healthy, with a lifespan of 10 to 18 years. But like other dog breeds, they are prone to health ailments.

Shih Tzu pups do not always lose their baby teeth when the permanent teeth come in. When this happens, you must visit the vet for tooth extraction.

Also, due to the undershot jaw, your pup may have misaligned or missing teeth. Be on the lookout for snuffles, snoring, snorts, and reverse sneezing.

Males are particularly susceptible to urinary stones. This occurs when a stone is lodged in the narrow urethra and can be life-threatening.

Other health conditions include cataracts, dry eye, glaucoma, retinal dysplasia, juvenile renal dysplasia, luxating patella, hernia, and respiratory problems.

a shih tzu dog being checked by two vets
Image By: KongNoi, Shutterstock


Male Shih Tzus are ready to breed at 8 or 9 months. However, it is advisable to wait until the pup is older to ensure a potent sperm. The male can smell a female Shih Tzu in heat up to 3 miles away and may become aggressive when trying to get to her.

  • Eager to please
  • Accommodating and forgiving
  • Happy to play for extended periods
  • More attentive and outgoing
  • Eagerness to please nature makes them less independent
  • Easily distracted during training

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Female Shih Tzus Overview

shihs tzu with the long ear puppy cut
Image By: Parilov, Shutterstock


Female Shih Tzus are sweet but have a stubborn streak. They will try to outsmart and even own you. Therefore, they will follow you and demand attention. But when she is done, they will go their separate way, as if to show you that they do not need continuous adulation.

Female Shih Tzus control their affection and are more independent than males. The girls prefer to bond with an individual, preferably a male, rather than the whole family.

They will always try to get their way with you. They love to play but get bored more quickly than males.

Female Shih Tzus can possess dominant traits and are territorial. This is why it is more likely for two females to get into fights than two male Shih Tzus. You can prevent these habits with early socialization.


It may take you the same amount of time training a female Shih Tzu as you did a male. With adequate diligence, consistency, and attention, you can housetrain, potty train, and socialize the pup.

Their independent and strong-willed nature may get in the way, but take comfort in their intelligence and the power of positive reinforcement. They are also more spunky and willing to learn new tricks.

black and white shih tzu outdoor
Image By: JumpStory

Health & Care

With proper care, a female Shih Tzu will live a long, happy life. But like its male counterpart, this sex faces common health problems.

They include skin allergies, liver disorders, cataracts, corneal injuries, ear infections, dental disease, respiratory distress syndrome, kidney disease, and cancer.

Daily care and regular vet checkups can help your pup enjoy many healthy years to come.


A female Shih Tzu may have her first estrous cycle, or heat, from 6 to 15 months. The cycle often lasts 2 to 4 weeks, every 7 months. Look out for fatigue, increased urination, restlessness, mood changes, and a red/pink discharge from the vulva.

AKC recommends that the breeding female be 8 months or older. However, a 2-year-old Shih Tzu is preferable as she is physically mature and has youthful flexibility.

You can breed your pet every heat cycle or allow her to rest after two cycles. The gestation period is 56 to 63 days, with an average litter size of four puppies. After delivery, request the vet to evaluate your pet to confirm whether she can handle another pregnancy. If she has undergone a cesarean section, it is advisable to stop breeding.

Once the female dog is 7 years old and without health issues, retire her from breeding for the sake of her health. Most vets recommend spaying the dog to prevent the additional stress from her estrous cycles.

  • Independent and strong-willed
  • Affectionate
  • Not aggressive
  • Cunning and full of spunk
  • Can be demanding
  • Stubborn
A very cute Shih Tzu puppy posing on a warm summer day
Image By: Duncan Woodhouse, Shutterstock

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Which Breed Is Right for You?

Both male and female Shi Tzus are affectionate and loyal pets. For over a thousand years, these dogs have perfected their role as lapdogs and house pets. They are happy, playful, and friendly with people of all ages.

But which sex is right for you? Well, it comes down to your preference. Males are indeed more affectionate and eager to please. On the other hand, females are independent, strong-willed, and stubborn.

It would be best if you checked the pup’s personality and health issues before worrying about sex. These will prove more essential than sex.

See Also:

Featured Image Credit: Above: Male Shih Tzu (Angel Sallade, Shutterstock), Below: Female Shih Tzu (Ihar Halavach, Shutterstock)

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