Male vs Female Shih Tzu Dog Breed – Identify Easily!

The Shih Tzu dog breed is one of the well-known breeds in the United States. These dogs are also known as ‘Lion dogs’ but have quite the opposite temperament of a lion.  This adorable looking breed is one of the friendliest breeds. They are not fierce but can become jealous at times. 

Identifying a Shih Tzu is difficult for there are around 8 types of Shih Tzu dog breed. Sometimes it also becomes impossible to distinguish between a male and a female Shih Tzu. We consider them to be a less-dominant breed. But, the female Shih Tzu turns out to be a bit stubborn. They believe they are more independent than their male companions.

Before learning about the other features of this breed, let’s learn about its varieties.

Types and Varieties of Shih Tzu:

The Shih Tzu dog breed can be considered as one of the oldest breeds, dating back to 8000 B.C. In reality, it originated in Tibet. Back in the day, the Tibetan monks offered this dog breed as a present to the Chinese King. These dogs have also been represented in paintings and carvings that age as old as 990-994 A.D. Throughout time they have evolved into one of the most adorable breeds that can always keep you occupied. 

Identifying a Shih Tzu is not as easy as it looks. This breed has 8 varieties, all different in colour, size and personality. These varieties are:

  • American Shih Tzu
  • European Shih Tzu
  • Imperial Shih Tzu
  • Teacup Shih Tzu
  • Blue-eyed Shih Tzu
  • Brown Shih Tzu
  • Black Shih Tzu
  • Brindle Shih Tzu

You must be very eager to learn about these varieties and the surprises that lie within. So, let’s take a look!

Suggested: Pros and Cons of Adopting a Shih Tzu – Best 12 Reasons to decide 

1. American Shih Tzu: 

As the name suggests, the American Shih Tzu is a purebred dog that was recognised by the American Kennel Club in 1969. Identifying an American Shih Tzu is easy. According to the official Shih Tzu club, the American Shih Tzu has a small chest and legs that are high and forward-facing. They also have frontal shoulders with a short neck and a square-shaped head that has a small but wide set of eyes.

2. European Shih Tzu:

The European Shih Tzu is a completely different variety. This breed was recognised by the United Kingdom Kennel Club in 1946. This breed has a broad chest. Their front legs have a wider stance with a little bent on the back. The head of this breed is round and they have a long neck. 

3. Imperial Shih Tzu:

Identifying a Shih Tzu of the Imperial variety requires focus. These dogs are neither recognised by any Kennel club nor are purebred. The term ‘Imperial’ is a synonym for a smaller version of Shih Tzu. This variety can only be differentiated from the others by measuring its height and weight. The normal height of an Imperial Shih Tzu is 10-11 inches, and they weigh up to 7 pounds. 

4. Teacup Shih Tzu:

This variety also earned its name from the condition of his physical attributes. As the name suggests, this dog is as small as a teacup. On the minus side, this breed is prone to certain health conditions, all resulting due to their breeding from the two small runt-of-the-litter-dogs. 

5. Blue-eyed Shih Tzu:

This dog is one of the rarest variations. Identifying a Shih Tzu of the ‘blue-eyed’ variety is the easiest since these eyes will be hard to miss. The condition of these eyes is due to a lack of the black colour gene. In case, the dog has a light coloured eye, it can be the result of a genetic factor. 

6. Brown Shih Tzu:

For identifying a Shih Tzu of the ‘Brown’ variety, always look for their liver coloured coat. Along with the liver, the eyes, paw pads and nose are all liver coloured. Sometimes, they can also be light brown or pink. However, the colour of this dog in the puppy state does not remain constant. With time, it turns into dark brown.

7. Black Shih Tzu: 

Another rare variety of the Shih Tzu breed is the Black Shih Tzu. While identifying a Shih Tzu of this variety, look for black fur. Most of them have eye rims, paw pads and lips that are also black. But this colour of the coat may fade with time.

8. Brindle Shih Tzu: 

This dog is considered to be one of the most beautiful varieties. Their coat colour is unique. It has one base colour with the streaks of another colour. This breed was also recognised by the American Kennel Club. Identifying a Shih Tzu of the ‘Brindle’ variety is difficult because it resembles some of the other varieties. Therefore, it is up to the owner to recognise if the pup is a brindle or someone else.  

Characteristics of a Male and a Female Shih Tzu:

The agility and personality of this breed might differ depending on its gender. Those who are keen on adopting this breed are also curious about the difference between a male and a female Shih Tzu. Identifying a Shih Tzu and determining its gender is a difficult process. One has to learn the features of each dog to separate the two. 

Characteristics of a Male Shih Tzu:

  • Identifying a male Shih Tzu is easy if it is more of a lap-dog. They like to sit in your lap for the entire day, if possible.
  • Some of their habits include staring at you, sitting on your lap and eating delicacies.
  • Identifying a Shih Tzu is easy for they’ll never raise their voice in front of you. This breed is more of a loving type and will love you with all their heart.
  • One of the specific characteristics of a male Shih Tzu dog breed is that they depict secondary sexual behaviour. This behaviour can be a result of a lack of nurturing at an early age. Once they are properly nurtured, the habit of ‘humping’ reduces in them due to a deficiency in the testosterone levels. 
  • Another habit that is specific only in male Shih Tzu is that they urinate by lifting their legs. This can be bad as it makes a mark at that particular spot. Therefore, male Shih Tzus should be properly trained so that such a habit can be prevented. 
  • Identifying a Shih Tzu becomes easier when you judge them based on their size. The size of a male Shih Tzu is larger than a female Shih Tzu. The height of a female Shih Tzu is 9-11 inches, while the size of a male Shih Tzu is 10-13 inches.

Characteristics of a Female Shih Tzu:

  • Female Shih Tzu is a more independent dog. 
  • They are also very strong-willed.
  • They have more of a demanding nature, but only in terms of attention. This also makes them over-protective of their owner. 
  • Female Shih Tzus are more difficult to house-train than male Shih Tzus.
  • A distinctive characteristic of Female Shih Tzu is that they are very good at playing tricks. Sometimes, they can even outsmart you. 
  • Unlike the male Shih Tzus, female Shih Tzus will move to their favourite corner of the house after being cuddled. 
  • Identifying a Shih Tzu becomes easy if you follow its attachment with the family members. If the breed its attached to everyone closely, it’s a male Shih Tzu. If it finds comfort in staying close to one particular person, it’s surely a female Shih Tzu.

How can I identify a baby Shih Tzu?

Shih Tzu or the ‘Lion Dog’ is a popular breed, for its toys like appearance and style. This breed is highly active. But, identifying them as puppies is a work of great responsibility. Given below are four steps that will help you in identifying a Shih Tzu puppy.

  1. Follow the body structure. This breed has dogs belonging to the standard size (American and Brindle) and a smaller size (Imperial and Teacup). With the bare eye, it is difficult to understand the difference. But, if the varieties are placed next to each other, you can identify which puppy belongs to which category. In general, Shih Tzu puppies have a curved tail along with wide eyes and a squashed-like nose as a baby.
  2. Check for the puppy cut. These dogs have a particular cut for their coat. The coat of this breed is soft and airy and has double layers. They also have several coat colours. Therefore, identifying a Shih Tzu by its coat colour is not a wise decision.  
  3. Not every dog is very playful. But, the Shih Tzu dog breed is a dog with a wonderful temperament. It seeks entertainment and enjoys its owner’s company. They might be indoor dogs, but it is necessary to bring them out. This way, they can release the excess energy pent up within them. However, they can be stubborn at times.
  4. Comparing a Shih Tzu with similar-looking breeds is the best way to identify their puppies. Breeds like Lhasa Apso, Maltese or Havanese dog breed resembles the Shih Tzu in certain ways. But, there are a lot of differences between them. Given below is the list of dogs that resemble Shih Tzu and the differences between them.
Dogs that resemble Shih TzuCharacteristics of the dogCharacteristics of Shih Tzu
Lhasa ApsoHas coats that are typically black, golden, white/cream and red.Has coats of any colour.
HavaneseAre easy to train and have matted coats.Are stubborn and have flowy coats.
MalteseAre very small (7-9 inches) in size and are only white.Are comparatively larger and can be found in different colours.
PekingeseAre good guard dogs and have lighter coat colours.Are not good guard dogs and have denser coat colours.
YorkieHave ears that stand upright.Have ears that fall on the sides of the head.
PomeranianHave a fluffy coat and require more time to socialize.Have a flowy coat and can socialize easily.

These were the easiest ways for identifying a Shih Tzu puppy. But, in case you don’t feel confident, you can have a DNA test to get the correct results. Sometimes, they can be a mixed breed. As a result, there can be seen considerable differences, when compared to a purebred. If you feel anything unusual about your Shih Tzu dog breed, you can easily contact your breeder. 


Be it male or female, every dog breed requires proper training and socialization to keep its actions in check. Dogs like Shih Tzu have bad habits regarding their elimination and urination. As an owner, you must teach them these things before they go out of hand. As a friendly breed, they will always obey you and stay close to you, no matter what!


Can Shih Tzus have split tongues?

No, Shih Tzus have a long, hanging tongue. If your Shih Tzu has a split tongue, you are recommended to take him to your vet.

Did they belong to China?

Their name might make them Chinese, but they originated in Tibet. 

Do Shih Tzus shed?

Their fur type can make us assume that they shed. But in reality, they shed comparatively less than other breeds.

Are they good with Children?

They are the best family dogs. They enjoy every human’s company, be it, adult or child.   

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