Are Shih Tzus Smart?

Are Shih Tzus Smart?

What do you see when you look at Shih Tzu? A wise dog with an extravagantly long beard and regal appearance? We will come to the ‘wise’ part later in this article. The regal appearance, though, is fairly true to their nature; no amount of attention and affection is enough to please these fluff balls.

The Shih Tzu dog breed loves the pillow princess treatment, contrary to the mandarin phrase ‘Lion Dog.’ It has been delighting its owners for centuries, tracing back to the Ming Dynasty. Let’s be honest; who wouldn’t swoon over such charming creatures?

If you’re considering adopting/buying Tzus? You must have questions like: How smart is this toy breed? It is easy to train them? Do they make good pets?

Dig right in!

Are Shih Tzus Smart Dogs?

Genetic lottery isn’t only limited to humans. Dogs also get lucky and benefit from their intelligent parent breeds. But the question is, what exactly makes a dog smart? Problem-solving skills, ability to understand human emotions, or learn tricks quickly? The definition can vary.

Ask any of the Shih Tzu owners or any other breed; they will spend an hour telling how smart their furbaby is (not a very reliable source, in most cases)!

The Shih Tzu breed is considered to be fairly intelligent. They possess the ability to grasp the meaning of words, so you most certainly can’t bitch about them, or else you will be responsible for the consequences. Shih Tzus do have a long history of being lap warmers. But that doesn’t mean they are dumb in any way.

Sure, Shih Tzus aren’t the best when it comes to obedience training. And that’s not because they can’t learn tricks. In fact, Shih Tzus pick up on tricks rather quickly. They just tend to be a little (very much actually) stubborn at times and have an independent personality.

Besides, factors like genetics, the way you train them, and how they were socialized from a young age also determine and influence Shih Tzu’s intelligence and problem-solving ability. Thus, there’s no concrete answer to that.

How Smart Are Shih Tzus Compared To Other Dogs?

Obviously, Shih Tzus aren’t as bright as dog breeds like Border collies, Poodles, German shepherds, etc. However, no dog is dumb; we cannot be convinced otherwise! Shih Tzu, for instance, has high emotional intelligence and is capable of picking up on cool tricks and cues quickly.

According to Ph.D. Stanly Coner, Tzus have the lowest levels of working intelligence and obedience and ranked 128th smartest dogs out of 138 dogs.

 Characteristics of A Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu is an ancient breed; one can tell by taking a glance at their face. Their origin traces back 1,000 years in China, where they were bred to serve as companion dogs to Royalty.

Appearance-wise, Shih Tzu is a small dog breed, standing between 8 & 11 inches and weighing something around 9 to 16 pounds. Chrysanthemum (a flower) is one of the many affectionate nicknames Shih Tzu has because of the arbitrary fur growth on their face.

The silky, luxurious, long fur of Shih Tzus makes them the real show stoppers. Most Shih Tzu owners experiment and play around with different fur styles. Tzu-Tzu’s comical gait makes them unique; the way it bounces when they walk on their tiny legs brings a smile to any passerby.

Shih Tzu personality

Tzus are super affectionate, especially with children. One of the best things about them is that they get along with every family member. They aren’t essentially picky about hanging around or playing with a certain person. And are known for being highly sociable and friendly.

Shih Tzu has a curious and playful personality. They enjoy exploring the indoors with their owners. They love bonding with their human friend by examining their surroundings.

These furry munchkins can be described as a moderately active breed. Tzus enjoy short walks and indoor sports. They most certainly love attention but will also spend time alone or with other dogs. Using a humane dog tracker on this beloved breed to keep a check on their whereabouts is recommended.

Despite their small size, they are courageous, vigilant, and alert dogs. These loyal creatures can readily adapt to any surrounding conditions, be it a small flat or a large apartment. As long as you’re with them, they have no problem adjusting.

Shih Tzu expresses mood, feelings, and emotions through its face. Being adorable and finding their way to your lap is also one of Tzu’s prominent personality traits. In a society where appearance is everything, Shih Tzus take advantage of their cutest faces.

What is the IQ of a Shih Tzu?

There is no such thing as a concrete IQ figure for dogs, including Shih Tzus. But if their popular image as lap dogs is making you wonder if they’re dumb, then the answer is no.

The cognitive abilities dogs possess can vary with individual dogs, with each dog excelling at different things. Therefore, it’s not right to limit them to one box.

If we’re to generalize, nonetheless, then you can expect it to be something between 70-79.

How To Train A Shih Tzu?

The house/potty training is one of the challenging obstacles you’ll face at the start. As Shih Tzus relatively have small bladders and are also anxiety prone. Begin training the moment you bring them in.

Two to three hours after every meal, play session, or nap, take them out for potential pee/poo. Teach them to associate going out with the bathroom. Praise them every time they go out for business.

When it comes to training a Shih Tzu, reward-based methods work the best. They are sensitive and perfectly able to read your face. So, punishing, scolding, and yelling will do more harm than good, and they’ll likely get frightened. Using positive reinforcements like treats or praising phrases can bring results faster.

Remember, as a Shih Tzu owner, you need to be patient and consistent with training sessions. Whether it’s obedience training or you’re trying to teach them basic cues like “sit” and “down,” make the sessions shorter but frequent. This way, your Shih Tzu won’t get overwhelmed.

Start training and socializing your Tzu-Tzu from a young age. We recommend using a distraction-free environment for your 10-15 training sessions; it’s more effective this way. Start with basics and then move on to advanced training.

Also, don’t forget to be kind and gentle to the munchkin dogs!

Shih Tzu Intelligence: Influencing Factors

Just like other dog breeds, various factors influence Shih Tzu’s intelligence. We have listed out a few for you.

  • Genetics and breeding
    Genetics undeniably, plays a vital role in a dog breed’s intelligence, as certain cognitive abilities are directly inherited from parent breeds.
    Irresponsible breeding can impair, while selective healthy breeding can increase the chances of producing super-intelligent dogs.
  • Environment and socialization
    Early age socialization and exposure to different types of environments greatly influence your dog’s cognitive and social abilities. It has long-term benefits and makes them good citizens.
  • Training and mental stimulation
    It shouldn’t come as a surprise how much exercise/ physical stimulation plays role in the development of the brain. Puzzles, agility training, dog games, etc, enhance your dog’s ability to think critically and improve their ability to solve problems.

Reasons Why Shih Tzus Are Actually Smart

Shih Tzus are known for their social intelligence, which is no less than other types of intelligence. It helps them interact, navigate complex social situations, and, most importantly, understand human emotions. Making them the best emotional support dogs!

Shih Tzu’s ability to adapt can’t be overlooked. It’s their adaptability that makes them receptive to new experiences, whether it’s the change in their surrounding or a switch in the training methods. Not every breed responds that well to change.

Shih Tzus might not necessarily be among the most intelligent dog breeds. But they certainly possess commendable problem-solving skills. The solutions they come up with are creative and unique and don’t always comply with conventional intelligence measuring standards.

Plus, they are quick-learner, which automatically increases their trainability stonks. If you’re worried about their stubbornness, it can be tackled with the right training. Consider consulting professionals.

Do Shih Tzus Make Good Pets

Whether Shih Tzus will make good pets or not largely depends on what qualities you want in your dog and to what extent you can commit to their needs.

Shih Tzus are a loving, caring, and loyal dog breed. They are moderately active, don’t have rigorous exercise needs, and are thus suitable for people/families with small apartments. This loveable family companion feels content with just chilling in your lap and watching Netflix.

Tzus are kid-friendly. They are also friendly towards strangers and other pets/dogs. They sure will alert you by barking when a stranger or potential danger barges in, but won’t necessarily be aggressive toward them.

Their grooming needs are also average. If you’re looking for a chill, playful, emotional support, teddy bear-looking dog to curb your loneliness, this small breed is for you then!


Einstein’s IQ isn’t what you look for in a dog before making it your pet. Of course, it’s good to have an intelligent breed as it helps with training, but they don’t have maths homework to get done.

Shih Tzu, in that case, is fairly intelligent with a unique set of capabilities and charms. They are quick learners, socially smart, and very adaptive. It’s important to note that even a Shih Tzu’s personality can vary from dog to dog.

Can Shih Tzus eat fruits and vegetables

Can Shih Tzu eat fruits and vegetables?

Shih Tzu makes hilarious face while being groomed

Shih Tzu makes hilarious face while being groomed