The Shih Tzu is a popular pet. After all, it is a happy dog with an infectious attitude. With that said, people have plenty of other options if they want a dog similar to a Shih Tzu without getting a Shih Tzu. Some of these options are close relatives. Others came into existence for the same purpose of providing companionship.
1. Bearded Collie
If people want a shaggy dog, they could do much worse than a Bearded Collie. These dogs descend from both Scottish and Polish sheepdogs, though how that happened is unclear. One story says that some Polish sheepdogs washed up on Scottish shores. The less exciting version is that a Polish merchant sold some Polish sheepdogs to Scottish shepherds while buying sheep in Scotland. Whatever the case, Bearded Collies are long-haired dogs with much to adore about them.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Bearded Collies are very energetic animals. Dogster and other sources outright describe them as having a so-called Beardie Bounce. Some of that is metaphoric. However, it is funny to note that the Beardie Bounce can also be quite literal. Besides this, people should also prepare to brush Bearded Collies every week to prevent matting. That is necessary because of their long-haired coats. As a result, some people choose puppy cuts for Bearded Collies, which reduces the need for brushing but won’t remove it.
With this said, people should know there is something of a split in modern Bearded Collies. Originally, they were working animals. Now, some of them are pets, while others remain as working animals. The issue is that people have been breeding some Bearded Collies for appearance rather than working ability, thus causing much upset from certain quarters. Working ability won’t matter to everyone, but this is nonetheless something they should know.
2. Coton de Tulear
Coton de Tulear is a French name. Amazingly, Coton means “cotton.” As a result, the name Coton de Tulear means “Cotton of Tulear,” referring to the city of Toliara in Madagascar. These dogs came into existence in that island country. Some of their ancestors came from Madagascar. The rest came from the Canary Islands, which once served as a springboard for the naval expeditions of Spain and other European powers.
Everything about the Coton de Tulear is adorable-looking. For example, its fur resembles fluffy cotton. Similarly, it has big, soulful eyes plus a big, black nose. As a result, chances are good that people can guess these dogs are companion animals through and through. In particular, the Coton de Tulear is associated with the Merina people, the single largest ethnic group in Madagascar. Once upon a time, the latter were highlanders living in the island’s interior. Then, they expanded their power outwards until they had managed to conquer Madagascar by the early 19th century, which lasted until the French took over later in the same century. Even now, the Merina people make up a huge proportion of the Malagasy elite.
Speaking of which, the Coton de Tulear looks like the Havanese. The resemblance could be pure coincidence. However, it wouldn’t be surprising if the two dog breeds are relatives. After all, Spain held Cuba as a colony for four centuries. During that time, the Tenerife Dog made its way to Cuba, where it became the ancestor of the Havanese. Similarly, there is a claim that the Tenerife Dog became the ancestor of the Coton de Tulear.
In any case, the Havanese is just as adorable-looking as the Coton de Tulear. Fortunately, people can distinguish one from the other because they don’t look 100 percent alike. For instance, these dogs tend to have silkier, wavier hair than their counterparts, though this isn’t a sure thing because they can have some variation in this regard. Furthermore, the AKC says these dogs can have any color and pattern. That is a stark contrast to the Coton de Tulear, which is limited to either white, black and white, or tri-color.
Regardless, people choose the Havanese because they want a faithful companion. These dogs are lively. Even so, they don’t have the sheer excess of energy that some dog breeds do, meaning they are satisfied with a moderate amount of daily exercise. Similarly, these dogs are eager to show affection and receive affection, which can be a problem for people who have to leave their dogs alone from time to time. Still, the Pet Health Network says they can work through these issues with some assistance from their owners.
4. Japanese Chin
The Japanese Chin resembles the Pekingese in some respects. For instance, they share the same short face paired with a broad muzzle. In other respects, the Japanese Chin is quite different, as shown by how its straighter legs lead to a different stance.
These similarities and differences make sense. Generally speaking, people believe the Japanese Chin originated in China, meaning chances are good it shares ancestors with the Pekingese. The exact time of introduction is unclear, but every single suggested date means it has had centuries in which to diverge from its relative. Shared ancestry explains the similarities. Time passed since their shared ancestry explains the differences.
Amusingly, some people say the Japanese Chin is cat-like. Yes, it is a surprisingly independent creature with a fondness for high-up surfaces and concealed spaces. Still, the Japanese Chin has some notable differences from the stereotypical cat. To name an example, Wag! mentions its ability to entertain its owner by performing tricks, which is often seen as being too undignified for the stereotypical cat. Of course, plenty of cats can learn tricks anyway because stereotypes don’t apply to every single cat out there.
5. Lhasa Apso
The Lhasa Apso is a Tibetan dog breed recognizable by its long-haired coat. It looks just as likable as the other dogs on this list, particularly since it often comes with what looks like a long, flowing mustache. However, the Tibetans didn’t intend the Lhasa Apso to be a pet. Instead, they intended it to be an interior guardian.
Thanks to that, the Lhasa Apso has a strong personality. As a result, they aren’t as easily trained as the more biddable dogs out there, though that is more because of their independent nature than because of their lack of intelligence. Still, the Lhasa Apso gets along great with its family members, though it can be bossy towards other dogs and other animals. In contrast, the Lhasa Apso tends to be suspicious of strangers, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing depending on what people are looking for.
Sometimes called the Little Lion Dog, the Löwchen came into existence in continental Europe. Specifically, it is a creation of dog breeders in what is now Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany during the late 19th century. Before that, the picture becomes much murkier. There are stories about the Little Lion Dog descending from Tibetan dogs brought back by travelers. Simultaneously, there are visual depictions of similar-looking dogs going back to the 16th century. For that matter, these origins aren’t mutually exclusive, so it could be that both are true to some extent.
Regardless, the Little Lion Dog has managed to make it into modern times. Something that was far from being guaranteed. These dogs were down to a few dozen members at one point. Even now, they are still one of the rarer dog breeds in existence.
Personality-wise, these dogs are active, affectionate animals. Unfortunately, the price is that they are very high-maintenance. People need to provide them with plenty of stimulation. Likewise, people need to keep them company because they are prone to separation anxiety when they are by themselves. On the plus side, Little Lion Dogs are on the smaller side of things. Otherwise, it would be even harder to take care of them.
The Pekingese traces its roots to China. Its name refers to Peking, which is an old English pronunciation for the Chinese capital of Beijing. The Pekingese’s name is no coincidence. Beijing is far from being the only Chinese capital to exist. Nonetheless, it stands out because it is the current Chinese capital plus the capital for the last two ruling dynasties of Imperial China. That is relevant because the general claim is that the Pekingese was a companion animal meant for Imperial Chinese nobility, thus their choice of name.
As a rule, these dogs are smart, lively, and affectionate. Despite that, they aren’t biddable dogs. Instead, these dogs are proud and imperious, which often prompts people to bring up their claimed origins. Be warned the Pekingese’s independence doesn’t prevent it from craving human company, so much so that it is yet another dog prone to suffering from separation anxiety.
8. Shetland Sheepdog
People might recognize the Shetland Sheepdog as the Sheltie. Other than that, the dog breed was once called the Shetland Collie in the United Kingdom. Unfortunately, that provoked a negative response in said country’s Rough Collie breeders, thus prompting a name change to Shetland Sheepdog.
The name Shetland Sheepdog refers to the Shetland Islands. They are not a lush region bursting with life in bloom. Instead, the Shetland Islands have a reputation for being harsh, which is perhaps unsurprising considering they are the northernmost part of the United Kingdom. As a result, the various domesticated animals associated with the region tend to be small but tough. The Shetland Sheepdog is no exception to this rule.
Anyways, Hill’s says the Shetland Sheepdog tends to be a people-pleaser. That is good for people who want a friendly dog they can train with minimal fuss and hassle. Meanwhile, the Shetland Sheepdog is prone to barking when they sense strangers, thus making them capable watch-dogs. Most of these dogs aren’t aggressive. Still, some are known to nip when agitated, while others can be downright shy.
9. Tibetan Terrier
Tibetan Terriers aren’t true terriers. Instead, outsiders named them thus because these dogs looked like the terriers they knew. Certainly, Tibetan Terriers didn’t do the same kind of tasks as true terriers. The Spruce Pets claims they were guard dogs in their homeland.
Whatever the original role of the Tibetan Terrier, these dogs now make great pets for families. Essentially, they get along with humans, other dogs, and other non-dog animals, though they come with standard caveats. For example, people must carefully introduce them to cats and other non-dog animals for the best results. Similarly, people must supervise them while interacting with small children in case one party doesn’t know how to interact with the other. By default, Tibetan Terriers are calm but vocal animals. Fortunately, if people want a dog that will play with them, these dogs will happily oblige.
10. Yorkshire Terrier
Yorkshire Terriers are true terriers. Due to this, the earliest members of the dog breed were ratters. Later, Yorkshire Terriers became so popular that people started breeding them for their appearance more than other considerations. Nowadays, some of these dogs are still working animals. In contrast, most are pets for much the same reasons as most other dog breeds.
Chances are good people can guess this heritage as working animals means Yorkshire Terriers need activity. Long runs and walks are good for providing them with their daily exercise. Simultaneously, various games are good for providing them with their daily mental stimulation. Without these things, Yorkshire Terriers become either yappy or even worse. They might not be big dogs, but they can still be huge nuisances when bored and otherwise frustrated. In exchange for satisfying these needs, people can expect clever, adoring, and generally easygoing companions. Better still, these dogs are surprisingly adaptable, thus making them good fits for an even wider range of households. Be warned that individual dogs can be either better or worse in these things.