Dogster is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Shih Tzu vs Poodle: Notable Differences (With Pictures)

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on July 11, 2024 by Dogster Team

Shih Tzu vs Poodle

Shih Tzu vs Poodle: Notable Differences (With Pictures)

Shih Tzus and Poodles are two breeds of dogs that have become increasingly popular in recent years. Both breeds are known for their intelligence, loyalty, and affectionate nature. They also both require regular grooming to maintain their signature look. So which breed should you choose? Let’s compare the Shih Tzu vs Poodle, including their personality, care needs, and other factors so that you can decide which is best for you.

Dogster divider_v3_NEW_MAY_24_

Visual Differences

Shih Tzu vs Poodle - Visual Differences
Image Credit: Left – Shih Tzu (Goochie Poochie Grooming, Pexels) | Right – Poodle (chili71, Pixabay)

At a Glance

Shih Tzu
  • Average Height: 8–11 inches
  • Average Weight: 9–16 pounds
  • Lifespan: 10–17 years
  • Exercise: Up to 1 hour per day
  • Grooming Needs: High
  • Family-Friendly: Yes
  • Other Pet-Friendly: Yes
  • Trainability: Very trainable but stubborn
  • Average Height (adult:) 18–24 inches
  • Average Weight (adult:) 40–70 pounds
  • Lifespan: 12–15 years
  • Exercise: Up to 1 hour per day
  • Grooming Needs: High
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Yes
  • Trainability: Very trainable

Dogster divider_v2_NEW_MAY_24_

Shih Tzu Overview

shih tzu puppy running on grass
Image Credit: Toberoon, Pixabay

Personality / Characteristics

Shih Tzus are known for their playful, loyal, and affectionate nature. They require a lot of attention from their owners and make wonderful companion dogs. These adorable little dogs are generally very perky and happy and love to cuddle up next to you. They tend to get along with almost anyone and anything, and that includes other pets both large and small.


Shih Tzus are relatively easy to train, as they are very intelligent and eager to please. They will need patience and consistency when it comes to training, as they can be stubborn at times and will try to train you more than you train them. However, being small dogs, Shih Tzus may be harder to potty train because they can easily sneak off and do their business inside the house. But these dogs are great contenders for dog shows due to their intelligent and loyal nature.

shih tzu playing with dog toy on the grass
Image Credit: Castorly Stock, Pexels

Health & Care

Shih Tzus require regular grooming to maintain their signature look. Due to their long hair, they need daily brushing to prevent mats and tangles, or you can have their hair trimmed regularly for less maintenance for you. They also need daily exercise and playtime, as well as annual vet checkups. They are prone to a few medical problems such as eye and ear infections, eye diseases, and heart problems.

Shih Tzus are also a brachycephalic breed. These breeds tend to have smaller muzzles and squished faces. Due to their smaller muzzles, they can be prone to respiratory issues, including problems breathing after too much activity especially on hot days. It is important to monitor a Shih Tzu’s exercise and allow them to rest if they get too worked up.


Shih Tzus are generally healthy dogs, but some have genetic diseases. The most common is degenerative myelopathy, a neurological disorder. It’s important to choose a reputable breeder when looking for a Shih Tzu puppy. And if you aren’t planning on breeding your Shih Tzu, having it spayed or neutered as soon as it is old enough can prevent unwanted pregnancy and be beneficial for long-term health.

shih tzu at the vet
Image Credit: Usoltsev Kirill, Shutterstock

Allergen Potential

Shih Tzus do not shed much, so their allergen potential is relatively low. While there is no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic dog, Shih Tzus are a good choice for people with dog allergies.

Suitable for…

Shih Tzus are best suited for families that can give them the time and attention that they want. They don’t do well being left alone all day, so those with work from home jobs are best suited for this breed. Shih Tzus make great apartment dogs and get along well with kids and other pets.

Pros and Cons of Shih Tzus

  • Loyal
  • Affectionate
  • Loves to cuddle
  • Great for apartments
  • High grooming needs
  • Need a lot of attention
  • Prone to respiratory issues

Dogster divider_v2_NEW_MAY_24_

Poodle Overview

blue poodle in the grass
Image Credit: Sarhara Frost, Shutterstock

Personality / Characteristics

Poodles are known for their being one of the most intelligent dog breeds, in addition to their loyalty and affectionate nature. They are also very fun-loving dogs. Due to their intelligence, they require a lot of attention from their owners and need a lot of mental stimulation, exercise, and playtime. If they don’t get the attention they need or are left alone for too long, they can be prone to behaviors such as excessive barking. However, overall, Poodles make wonderful, loyal companion dogs that are great for most households.


Poodles are very easy to train due to their intelligence and eagerness to please their owners. They tend to pick up on things quickly, including potty training, and will love any activity that allows them to be active and use their mind. Poodles are great candidates for agility competitions and dog shows since they can be taught a ton of tricks and love to perform.

toy poodle dog training for performance at the exhibition
Image Credit: zoyas2222, Shutterstock

Health & Care

One of the most recognizable characteristics of Poodles is their coat, and you probably know that they need regular grooming to maintain their coat. They need daily brushing if you choose to keep the coat intact, otherwise, they will surely get mats in their curly fur. Many Poodle owners choose to have their dog’s hair cut regularly which not only helps to maintain the coat but also gives the Poodle its unique appearance that people often associated with this breed.

Poodles also need daily exercise and playtime, as well as annual vet checkups. Common health conditions in this breed are hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, bloat, and epilepsy, among others. Taking your Poodle for regular checkups to get ahead of any health conditions and feeding a proper diet can help keep your Poodle as healthy as possible.


Poodles are generally healthy dogs, but some have genetic diseases such as cancer, Addison’s disease, and thyroid issues among other health conditions listed above. It’s important to choose a reputable breeder when looking for a Poodle puppy. Many responsible breeders will breed out these conditions and can provide health guarantees. If you’re planning on breeding your Poodle, have a vet check them out thoroughly beforehand and make sure to have them spayed or neutered if you aren’t planning on breeding them.

two Beautiful little toy apricot poodle
Image Credit: Savicic, Shutterstock

Allergen Potential

Like Shih Tzus, Poodles are considered to have low allergen potential, as they don’t shed much and tend to produce less dander. They are considered one of the most hypoallergenic breeds, even though no dog breed is truly hypoallergenic. Poodles are one of the best choices for people with dog allergies.

Suitable for:

Poodles are perfect for active families that love to get outside and play. Owners of Poodles also need to have time to devote to grooming and exercising your Poodle. They need to be mentally stimulated to avoid negative behaviors. But Poodles get along great with kids and other pets.

Pros and Cons of Poodles

  • Intelligent
  • Trainable
  • As close to being hypoallergenic as you can get
  • High grooming needs
  • Prone to many health issues
  • Need a lot of stimulation and exercise

Dogster divider_v2_NEW_MAY_24_

Which Breed Is Best for You?

Which breed you choose really comes down to personal preference and your ability to provide for their needs. Both breeds are intelligent, loyal, and affectionate companions that will bring a lot of joy into your life. Before choosing, you’ll need to take into account several factors.

Consider Your Lifestyle

If you’re more active, consider a Poodle. If you’re looking for a more laid-back companion, consider a Shih Tzu.

Consider Your Home Environment

Do you live in an apartment or have limited space? A Shih Tzu may be your best bet if so. If you have a larger home with plenty of outdoor space, a Poodle may be more suitable.

toy poodle lying on sofa at home
Image Credit: NDAB Creativity, Shutterstock

Consider Grooming Needs

Both the Shih Tzu and Poodle have high grooming requirements but in different ways. With either breed, be prepared to invest time into regular brushing and money into professional grooming.

Consider Health Issues

Both Shih Tzu and Poodles are known to have genetic health issues, so make sure to research the breeder before purchasing a puppy. It’s also important to schedule regular vet visits and keep up with vaccines and other necessary treatments.

Consider Your Budget

Owning a pet can be expensive, so make sure you have the financial means to cover vet bills, grooming costs, and food expenses. If money is an issue, smaller breeds are generally less expensive to care for. In terms of the price of each breed, Shih Tzu and Poodle puppies are generally similar in cost.

Dogster divider_v3_NEW_MAY_24_

Tips for Choosing a Responsible Breeder

The stakes are higher than you might think when it comes to choosing a breeder. Irresponsible breeders create puppies with health problems that cause unnecessary suffering. They also drive up demand for puppies that may have medical conditions or be unsocialized. Do your research and find a responsible breeder who is knowledgeable.

Here are some tips for choosing a responsible breeder:
  • Ask the breeder questions about the breed and their puppies.
  • Make sure to meet any puppy parents that may be present at the breeder’s location.
  • Ask to see the breeding facilities and make sure they are clean and in good condition.
  • Make sure the breeders are following all necessary health protocols.
  • Be wary of any breeder that is not willing to answer your questions or provide you with references.
  • Take your time and do your research to make sure the breeder is reputable and trustworthy.
three poodles white black brown
Image Credit: Anna Bondarenko, Shutterstock

Tips for Adopting Shih Tzus and Poodles

Adopting a pet can be incredibly rewarding, and it is also a great way to support animal rescue organizations in your area. Many times, you can find these breeds at a nearby shelter or from a rescue.

Here are some tips for adopting a Shih Tzu or Poodle instead of buying from a breeder:
  • Visit the animal shelters in your area and spend some time getting to know the dogs.
  • Ask the shelter or rescue group questions about the breed, the dog’s history, and any special needs they may have.
  • Make sure to find out as much as possible about the dog’s past before making a commitment.
  • Be prepared to provide plenty of love, attention, and patience while your pet adjusts to its new home.
  • Create a plan to help your pet get used to their new surroundings and adjust to their new family.
  • Find out if the animal shelter offers any resources or support groups for adopted pets.
  • Be aware of any potential medical expenses associated with the adoption and make sure you have a plan in place to cover these costs.

By doing your research, you can be sure that you are making an informed decision when it comes to adopting a Poodle or Shih Tzu. Both breeds offer incredible companionship and love.

Dogster divider_v2_NEW_MAY_24_

Fascinating Facts About the Shih Tzu

  • The Shih Tzu is one of the oldest breeds in the world, first appearing in royal Chinese paintings.
  • The breed has been referred to as the “Lion Dog” due to its resemblance to Chinese guardian lions.
  • Shih Tzus were bred to be companion dogs and are very affectionate towards their owners.
  • They come in a variety of colors, including black, white, red, and gold.
  • Their signature long coats require daily brushing and occasional professional grooming.
  • Shih Tzus are very intelligent dogs and can be easily trained with patience and consistency.
  • Shih Tzus love attention and can be prone to separation anxiety if left alone for too long.
Holding her Shih Tzu dog at home
Image Credit: Drazen Zigic, Shutterstock

Fascinating Facts About the Poodle

  • The Poodle is a very old breed, originally bred in Germany as a water retriever.
  • The breed comes in three sizes: toy, miniature, and standard.
  • Poodles are known for their intelligence, making them easy to train with patience and consistency.
  • They come in a variety of colors, including black, white, cream, apricot, and gray.
  • They need plenty of exercise and mental stimulation to stay happy and healthy.
  • Poodles are highly affectionate dogs and can be prone to separation anxiety if left alone for too long.
  • They are very social dogs and do best in homes with other pets or with a lot of human interaction.

Still Undecided?

Here are a few more things you can do:

  • Talk to friends who have the breed.
  • Spend time visiting with each breed whenever possible.
  • Talk to your household about which breed they think is right.
  • Follow the social media accounts of animals from both breeds and pay attention to which ones you like best and why.

Dogster divider_v2_NEW_MAY_24_


When it comes to choosing between the Shih Tzu and Poodle, the decision ultimately comes down to personal preference. Both breeds are affectionate, loyal, and intelligent companions. They both require regular grooming and attention but are suitable for families with children and other pets. Be sure to do your research and choose a reputable breeder when selecting either breed.

See also:

Featured Image Credit: Top – Shih Tzu (Murat Yelkenli, Shutterstock) | Bottom – Poodle (Alexas_Fotos, Pixabay)

Get Dogster in your inbox!

Stay informed! Get tips and exclusive deals.
Dogster Editors Choice Badge
Shopping Cart


© Pangolia Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved.