When thinking about adding a new puppy to your home it’s important to know if they will get along with every member of your family. If you have children and are wanting to get a Shih Tzu this article will tell you all about the pros and cons of this breed for kids.
Shih Tzus are one of the best small breed dogs for kids and families. Their playful, friendly, docile, and affectionate attitude makes them a good fit for children of all ages. Shih Tzus are able to match the energy of children, are sturdy, and can get along with your kids without much training.
Shih Tzus can be a good breed for children, but I want to share with you how you can make it a GREAT breed for your family! I’m going to tell you all the goodness you can expect with this fluffy breed as well as some of the things you should watch out for, then you will truly know if getting this breed of dog is right for you and your family.
Please understand that even though most Shih Tzus have a lot of these great qualities and can be amazing for families with young children and babies it is never a guarantee that you will get a dog with these qualities.
A lot goes into making a dog the way it is. Their personality is as much a product of the environment as well as genetics and breed characteristics.
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Finding a Shih Tzu from a reputable breeder and understanding the characteristics and qualities of the parents is the first step to finding a Shih Tzu that will have all the qualities that can make them great for kids.
Qualities that Make Shih Tzus Great for Kids Are:
They love to be cuddled and held, they freely give attention and love to multiple members of the family.
This breed is naturally friendly and generally willing to meet new people and see new things.
- Happy Temperaments
As long as a Shih Tzu is properly care for they have happy temperaments and are easy going.
Shih Tzus are generally able to handle most new situations which can be important for a family with young children.
Shih Tzus will always show their alligence for their family that cares for and loves them and can sometimes be protective of their family members.
Ready to submit and accept your role as the alpha Shih Tzus are gentle and submissive.
- Sturdy (even for their small size)
Of all the small breed dogs Shih Tzus are the least fragile. Children still need to be careful when handling their dogs and taught how to hold them, but genreally Shih Tzus are strong and can put up with minor joceling from children.
Shih Tzus seem to have just the right amount of playfulness without demanding too much. It’s just right for kids to get some play time in but not requireing too much since kids can be easily distracted and get bored quickly.
If you have a new baby, or children who are easily frightened of dogs a Shih Tzus calm nature can help to reasure you that they will be gentle with your children.
No explanation needed, this picture says it all!
- Soft and Fuzzy
Your kids (especially girls) will love to brush and pet and comb all that beautiful soft hair!
- Gets along well with other dogs and animals
Generally speaking as long as they are properly socialized Shih Tzus get along great with other dogs, cats, and most pets of any kind.
Perfect for families or kids with allgeries Shih Tzus geerally don’t shed hair and dander that can cause people who are senitive to become allergic.
Shih Tzus can be very loving and affectionate, although that’s not the case for all Shih Tzu’s the vast majority love to cuddle.
I surveyed over 300 Shih Tzu owners.
Over 69% said that their dogs loved to be cuddled and held.
Do Shih Tzus Like to Cuddle and Be Held? (What Owners Say!) – Paws and Learn
With their loving and loyal temperament, Shih Tzus will easily bond with your child. Shih Tzus were bred to be lap dogs and so they will be happy to sit and chill with your child on the couch during family movie night.
Shih Tzus will have bursts of energy and playfulness throughout the day which can be great to give kids an opportunity to run alongside them and play a fun game of fetch or hide and seek.
Because of their playful nature, Shih Tzus are a great dog to help your kids burn off energy and get more exercise as they play and grow together.
Even though Shih Tzus are a relatively small dog (according to the AKC usually only growing 8-11 inches or 9-16 pounds) they are surprisingly sturdy for their small size.
As with any small pet, it’s very important to teach children how to properly handle and care for a new puppy or dog, but when compared to some of the other more fragile small breed dogs like the Chihuahua or Yorkshire Terrier, Shih Tzus will handle rough play a little bit better.
Shih Tzus are Hypoallergenic which means with few acceptations you won’t have to worry about your child being allergic to your new fur baby. Shih Tzus have hair rather than fur and so they shed much less than other breeds. This really helps if your child has allergies or respiratory problems.
What Are Some Challenges to Having a Shih Tzu with Kids
There are so many great things about having this breed of dog for your family, but there are a few challenges as well. Generally speaking, Shih Tzus want to please their masters but occasionally will have a stubborn streak which can make them a little bit more difficult to potty train.
As a busy parent, you may not have a lot of time to train your new puppy. …….and let’s be real, as a parent of young kids you’ve probably had your feel of potty training little humans that can sometimes be stubborn as well!
This dilemma can be solved by signing your puppy up for obedience and training classes where you will get help and support in teaching your dog, or if you have older kids they can learn to help in the responsibilities of teaching your new puppy.
With a bit of patience, consistency, and persistence your Shih Tzu can be a very well trained dog!
Another Challenge to having a Shih Tzu can be grooming them. Shih Tzus have a double coat of long thick hair. They will need regular brushing and clipping to keep it from getting matted. If you have kids who love to brush their dolls’ hair then this could actually be a positive aspect for you.
It could also be a great way for children who are a little bit older to learn consistency and responsibility in caring for another living thing.
Along with grooming, small breed dogs like the Shih Tzu are prone to dental disease. They will need their teeth brushed regularly to keep their gums healthy and clean. It’s also a good idea to have their teeth cleaned regularly with a vet. Your dog will need to be trained and conditioned to allow that to happen.
How to Teach Your Kids to Handle Your Shih Tzu
It’s important that your children know how to safely handle your puppy before you even bring it home.
Establish a clear set of rules and expectations for your children and grandchildren’s behavior around your dog!
Having rules already in place will help your children know what is expected of them. This is not an exhaustive list, but a good place to start. Examples of some good rules are:
- Don’t scream or yell around the puppy
Even though Shih Tzus are generally very amiable loud noices and screaming could frighten your dog, especially if it’s a puppy.
- Don’t pick up or hold the puppy without help from an adult
Children need to be taught how to pick up and hold a dog properly. Makeing sure to supervise them at all times until you are sure that they can hold and carry your dog properly is important to avoid injury.
- Play calmly around the puppy
This can be especialy important when your dog is in the early stages of it’s training (2-6 months old). Puppies will feed off the energy of those around them and extremly hyper or roudy play around your dog can encourage high strung behaviors and excessive puppy biting!
- Leave the puppy alone when they are eating or sleeping
Eating and sleeping is important for your dogs developmental growth and your puppy needs to have their own space. For children who often crowd and obsessive with being around your dog at all times this can be a good rule to help build in some natural breaks and rest for your puppy.
- Don’t feed the dog any people food without permission
Children don’t always have a good understanding of what kind of foods are ok and not ok to give to dogs. They also may not know when is the proper time to treat them (like never feeding them scraps from the dinner table). It’s important that they get permission from and adult first.
- Don’t allow them to treat the puppy like a toy
Children need to be taught a clear distinction between a stuffed animal and a real live dog. Real dogs whether a sturdy Shih Tzu or any other dog breed can be hurt if handled imporperly by a child. This has the potential to make your Shih Tzu nervous or skitish around your chilren.
Having your child practice with stuffed animals and researching or learning together about proper care can help your child feel involved and important in the process of getting a new puppy.
Giving them a chance to learn and practice with other kids who are going through the same thing is also a great way to help them realize the importance of handling your new puppy or dog very gently. In my online dog care class, I go over all the points above and more.
Even if you feel like you’ve done a great job teaching your children how to carefully handle your dog you will always want to supervise their interactions.
If you notice your dog giving cues that he’s feeling stressed out or bothered by your child it’s a good idea to step in and allow them to have a break from each other. Early intervention when problems arise can oftentimes save injury and heartache.
If you have young kids this article I wrote about teaching your toddler to handle your dog with care is for you!
My Toddler Won’t Leave the Dog Alone. (What to Do!)
How to Train Your Shih Tzu to be Good With Your Kids
Just as your children need to understand and learn how to interact with your new puppy, your new puppy will need some training to teach them how to behave properly around your kids.
This is not only true for a Shih Tzu, but for any dog or puppy that you get.
Start with obedience training and establish yourself as the alpha. You can also get your children involved in training and teaching your puppy so that the dog will understand that children are not just playmates. Work with your dog and your children to make their interactions with each other a positive experience. You will want to reward both your Shih Tzu and your children when they are successful with this.
It will be very important to socialize your Shi Tzu from a young age. When your Shi Tzu is a puppy they will be more accepting and curious about new experiences.
Socializing your puppy means letting them experience and get used to new sights, sounds, smells, people, animals, and environments while making it a positive and fun experience for them. Socializing them in a safe and positive way to be around your children as well as other children will help them learn how to be great with kids.
You will want to practice handling your puppy as your kids might handle him. You may have a rule that they are not allowed to pull the puppy’s tail or ears, but that doesn’t mean they will never try it. If your puppy gets slowly used to you handling him a little rough and receives positive reinforcement for it, it’s more likely he will tolerate it well coming from a child. Just remember that we never want to be so rough with our dogs as to make them yelp or want to nip at us.
Should I Get a Puppy or an Adult Shih Tzu for my Kids
You may wonder if getting an adult Shih Tzu for your family could be a good idea. After all, it would be nice to skip the house training and puppy biting phases. You may be surprised, but It’s actually more likely that you will get a dog that handles being around kids better if you get a puppy and train them up and socialize them properly as they grow.
Not knowing the history of an adult Shih Tzu could be problematic. If that dog has had bad experiences being around kids or no experience at all it will be a long road and a lot of work to properly train him to handle being around kids. It’s feasible as well that because of the dog’s personality it may not be possible to teach him to like children.
If you do decide to get an adult Shih Tzu for your family, you will want to make sure he’s been properly trained and socialized to be around children.
Either way you decide getting a puppy or dog for your child can be a lot of work, but has countless benefits and can be a wonderful addition to your family. Here are some more articles that can be super helpful for you in the process of getting a new puppy!