Shih Tzu as a Good Watch Dog or a Guard Dog

A common question pondering all Shih Tzu owners, which is Shih Tzu as a Good Watch Dog or a Guard Dog? Contrary to popular belief, many little, non-threatening-looking dog breeds can make fine watchdogs. Most dog owners perceive Shi Tzu as a lap dog alone, but most of them are also good barkers and watchdogs if trained well.

In fact, this sweet cuddly species was raised originally to serve as watchdogs for palaces for more than 600 years, thus it is in their nature to notify their masters of the arrival of strangers.

According to a survey performed, this lovable breed doesn’t have any attributes of a guard dog but makes up for good watchdogs. Although there are some exceptions, we will get into the details on that later but before that, let us delve a little further into the character traits of this species as this will help train them better.

General temperament of Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu breed is one of the most lovable dogs thanks to their joyful and loving attitude. All they want is your undivided attention and love. Shih Tzu size also makes them great lapdogs and they can be the ideal companion keeping you entertained at all times. As far as Shih Tzu’s temperament with other dogs is concerned, they get along with most of the other kinds, so you may keep them with other breeds (just note that the other breed should be a threat to Shih Tzu).

It is worth mentioning that these dogs are known as “little lions”. The main reason behind that is despite their happy-go-like disposition, they are proud and courageous. In other words, they have a brave personality that they employ to make up for their diminutive stature. That being said, some individuals Shih Tzus may have an arrogant side but most of them are very sweet and easy to deal with.

Is Shih Tzu better as a Watchdog or a Guard Dog? – Difference between Watchdog and Guard Dog

It may sound confusing but there is a big difference between a watch dog and a guard dog.

The fundamental role of watchdogs is to alert their masters to anything strange. As a result, they will bark when triggered by some stimuli (like strangers) until they are satisfied that everything is in order. That’s pretty much all there is to watchdogs.

The guard dogs, on the other hand, apart from barking also get to action to protect their master, depending on the severity of the situation. They are naturally tuned to attack or exercise restraint. To be more specific, they will most likely bark at first to ward off the threat or to alert their master. If they believe the threat is too dangerous, they will attack. Contrary to the watchdogs, they are given special training to aid them to differentiate between a friend and an enemy.

Now, coming back to Shih Tzu, most of them can be very good watchdogs if trained well since they are already good barkers by nature. But as mentioned before, they are no guard dogs. Why? Well, let’s discuss that in our next segment.


Shih Tzu make a better watch dog than a guard dog – How to make Shih Tzu as a Good Watch Dog

If you are searching for a yappy, ankle-biting dog, the Shih Tzu is not the breed for you. No matter how much stubborn this breed is, it is highly unlikely that a Shih Tzu will bite anyone.

Shih Tzus are good barkers by nature and naturally, they will bark to alert their master if they are triggered by something unusual (like a stranger approaching, or ringing of a doorbell, or any other potentially dangerous stimuli). This nature can be used to the owner’s advantage by proper training to transform them into a watchdog.

But Shih Tzus will seldom bite or attack someone as a guard dog would do otherwise.

According to an online survey conducted in 2017, 78% of the Shih Tzus are good barkers but mostly retreat back to their original friendly state around the stranger once they have alerted the owner.

Hence, they do not fit as guard dogs even with training. There is however an exception, 19% of the exceptional Shih Tzus do not bark at all even on. They can be home-trained to act as watchdogs to alert their owners. As for the other 3% of the Shih Tzus, they bar non-stop with or without a triggering stimulus. This behavior can also be modified well by home training to make them good watchdogs and bark only when necessary.

So, from all the Shih Tzu information we gathered, it is safe to conclude that they can be good watchdogs with proper training but are not good at offering you protection. Irrespective of whether Shih Tzu falls under the 79% or the 19% category, they can be made into a watchdog by proper training. But they will still retreat to their friendly avatars (even around the strangers) once they have alerted you.

Ways to train Shih Tzu to be a good watchdog

These are the several ways on how you can easily train Shih Tzu to be a good watchdog:-

  • The main job of a watchdog is to inform their master of the presence of an intruder. But, if your dog barks at cats or random pedestrians, the purpose will not be served.
  • The primary difficulty with Shih Tzu is that they frequently bark when people approach, even if they are not strangers. However, with good training, you can limit their barking to only unknown faces and transform them into excellent watchdogs. 
  • If you want to make a good watchdog out of your Shih Tzu, you should start by making a list of things you want your dog to bark at. To ensure that your dog is barking appropriately, adopt the punishment-reward technique.
  • Every time your Shih Tzu bark at wrong items, re-discipline it while at the same time, reward handsomely for a job well done. This way your dog will understand what’s expected of him/her.
  • With excellent hearing capacity, as well as intelligence and aptitude to observe, Shih Tzu have all the potential to become great watchdogs. It may take a few days to a few years of combined effort, but given Shi Tzu’s adaptive nature, teaching them to adopt some watchdog traits may not be difficult.


Shih Tzus dogs also rank well in the list of best watchdogs for women. To sum up, a Shih Tzu, besides being a lap dog by nature, can be trained well to be a good watchdog to alert their masters of unusual occurrences or strangers. While this breed is not a good guard dog by nature, their natural barking tendency can be used to its advantage to make them good watchdogs by proper home training.


Q. What do I need to know before getting a Shih Tzu?

Shih Tzus are very sensitive to hot climates and excessive heat. They should only be exposed to moderate exercise regimens. Their upbringing should be done within moderately cool temperatures as they are susceptible to heat strokes.

Q. How much does a Shih Tzu puppy cost?

Shi Tzu puppy prices in India can vary from Rs. 20,000 to Rs. 65,000 depending on the type, physical characteristics, age, gender, availability, pure/mix breed, and breeder reputation.

What are the best guard dogs in India?

There are several guard dogs. But the following are the best in the business.
Doberman Pinscher
German Shephard
Great Dane

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