A Complete Price Guide for The Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu is the Chinese word for little lion. This is as these dogs were bred to resemble the king of the jungle. Who would have thought that these delightful little pups would have such a fierce name? However, don’t let their name fool you. They are not at all ferocious. So, are you planning to get one? This article aims at informing you everything you need to know about owning a Shih Tzu and keeping it, but before then, let’s look at some general information concerning the dog.

What Is a Shih Tzu?

Shih Tzu is an Asian toy dog breed that originated from Tibet. Historical documents and paintings prove that the Shih Tzu has been in existence since the year 624 in the 7th century. They were given as gifts to the Chinese emperors who took care and bred them until the arrival of the British, and the dogs made their way to England and, eventually, the United States. The Shih Tzus have been bred solely to be companion dogs ever since. Therefore, if you are looking for a guard dog for your home, this is definitely not the breed for you. According to Pet Budget, these dogs are a loyal breed with a huge personality, playful and affectionate, and desire a lot of one’s attention. The Shih Tzus weigh around nine to sixteen pounds with a height of eight to eleven inches. They are generally slightly longer than tall with a strong, solid body. Additionally, they have a bracephalic head, large eyes, and floppy ears. When you come across these little pups for the first time, you won’t help but notice their double coat with adorably long and straight hair. They come in various colors but should have a dark pigment around the eyes and the nose. Like most toy dogs, the Shih Tzus quickly mature and reach adult size by 10 months. Additionally, they are feisty little dogs as they live for 12 to 14 years if well cared for.

Pet Potential

Shih Tzus make great family pets. They are docile, affectionate, and friendly dogs that will be more of a little best friend to you and your loved ones. Additionally, they have gained a reputation for being lapdogs. They are fun, outgoing companion dogs that will follow their favorite person from room to room and shower you with lots of love. This happy and charming personality is what makes them very sought after. Generally, Shih Tzus are pretty easy to maintain; however, they are at great risk of getting obese if given too many treats. They are very active dogs who are great with both children and adults; however, they should be socialized early with children.

Training Your Shih Tzu

As adorable as they may look, Shih Tzus can be pretty demanding if not well trained. You, therefore, need to teach your dog basic training commands like come, sit, lay down, stay, etc. If your pup develops behavior problems like biting, nuisance barking, jumping, and chewing then, it’s time to consider a little advanced training. Additionally, Shih Tzus do not like surprises, and therefore you must have a consistent training routine. Given their active nature, these dogs get easily distracted, especially when training outdoors. Therefore, you should consider training them on a leash. Now let’s look at the amount of money you will have to spend on a Shih Tzu. To start with, it is important to note that various factors will affect the cost of a Shih Tzu. They include:

  • The age; you should expect to part with more money for a puppy than an old dog.
  • The training and socialization that the pet has undergone; Breeders who have trained and socialized their puppies will sell them at a higher price. However, buying such a pet will save you money in the long run since you will not have to invest in training and socialization.
  • The breed’s popularity in different locations; some breeds are more in demand in some locations than others. If the Shih Tzu is more in demand in your area, then expect to part with more money.
  • Medical expenses and health screening; breeders who take their puppies to the vet regularly for medical screening will sell their puppies at a high price.
  • The bloodline of the pet and the breeder’s reputation; the price will be high for pure breed show quality Shih Tzus.
  • Pedigree/registration papers; pet registration can lead to an increased selling price.
  • Coat markings and color; some coat colors and markings are more popular than others. Though this may be temporary, it leads to a price increase.
  • Whether the pet is purebred or mixed, a purebred Shih Tzu will be more expensive than a mixed breed.

What Is the Cost of a Shih Tzu: One-Time Costs?

You can get yourself a Shih Tzu from a breeder, a humane center, through adoption or, in rare cases, for free. Either way, you need to do your due diligence and research on where you’re getting your dog as they determine the general quality and health of the pup. Most of your one-time costs are going to be upfront, most of which will consist of the purchase of your new pup.

Getting a Shih Tzu for Free

Now and then, you might find someone trying to look for a home for a Shih Tzu on an ad listing, a humane center, or any other platform. Unfortunately, these pups tend to be overlooked by people due to their unknown origin or probably because they are looking for a pure-bred puppy. However, this is a rare opportunity to get yourself these happy and adorable little dogs, and you should therefore not let the opportunity go.


You can also opt to go for adoption. However, as discussed above, doing your own research on the agency will go a long way. Most agencies disguise themselves as reputable breeders while running puppy mills in the real sense. Puppy mills are factories whose main aim is breeding puppies negligently on a large scale and maintaining them under unfavorable and inhumane conditions. One of these pups may hypnotize you but may develop serious health issues later. These breeders do not follow the basic breeding ethics and produce low-quality puppies. Nonetheless, getting a pup through adoption will cost you roughly $150 to $300. This fee covers the puppy’s price while waiting for a new home.


Getting yourself a pup from a reputable breeder is much more expensive, and you will have to part with around $750 to $3000, the average price being $850. This price, however, largely depends on various factors, for instance, the breeder. There are mainly two classes of breeders; breeders certified by the American Kennel Club, which is very prestigious and has extremely stringent standards for their breeders and breeders certified by the Continental Kennel Club, which requires two witnesses to sign a document testifying that the puppy is purebred. The other factor is the population of breeders in an area. Typically, a Shih Tzu is less expensive in the southern United States as more Shih Tzu breeders are there than other parts of the country.

Initial Setup and Supplies

The initial costs of a puppy are certainly the most expensive. You will have to spend money on necessary one-time supplies like spaying\neutering, food and water bowls, ID tags, collar, toys, bed, brushes, and carriers. However, the price varies with pet parents as some will want to microchip their puppies for safety and other costs like X-Ray and ultrasound. This will cost you an average of $150 to $420. The cost of the individual supplies is as follows:

  • Spaying or neutering – $175
  • Bed – $30
  • ID tag and collar – $20
  • Brush – $8
  • Toys – $30
  • Carrier – $40
  • Food and water bowls – $10
  • Nail clipper – $7
  • Litter box – $25
  • Microchip – $55
  • X-Ray cost – $150 to $250
  • Ultrasound cost – $400 to $500
  • Teeth cleaning – $200 to $300

How Much Do You Have to Part with Per Month?

Monthly, you will part with approximately $165 to $365. However, this price may vary depending on the well-being of your pup. Unexpected health issues, for instance, may raise costs. Therefore, getting your Shih Tzu puppy from a reputable breeder is recommended as such breeders are more competent and will take it upon themselves to produce healthy puppies.

Health Care Costs

Shih Tzus are a relatively healthy breed. However, they may develop various health issues like hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, eye disease, and some may develop renal dysplasia. Health care will cost you around $200 per month, medication and vet visits included. Initial vaccination costs will amount to about $80. Most dog owners opt for pet insurance, which normally ranges from $30 to $45 a month and covers accidental injuries, emergencies, allergies, cancer, and infections.

Diet Costs

At a minimum, your dog’s food should be complete, balanced, and contain quality ingredients that will meet his nutritional needs. The diet costs will depend on the amount of food your dog consumes. The Shih Tzus are small dogs, and therefore they don’t eat a lot. The puppies will consume about ½ to ¾ cups per day. However, this will increase as they grow up. Quality food that is nutritionally packed will cost you around $20 to $40 per month. However, be keen on the amount of food and treats you give your pup as the Shih Tzus are normally at great risk of getting obese.

Grooming Costs

As much as it is a joy being a dog owner, it comes with great responsibility. When it comes to grooming, a Shih Tzu is especially a high-maintenance pet. This is as proper and frequent grooming affects his hard-earned reputation. Additionally, it helps keep their coats clean and free of parasite infestations like fleas and ticks, skin lesions, and diseases. Nonetheless, it helps prevent matting. Therefore, grooming is essential, whether you groom your cat personally or decide to hire the services of a professional groomer. Either way, the grooming costs for your Shih Tzu pup will cost you $0 to $50 per month. If you want your Shih Tzu to look like the ones in shows, you will definitely have to part with a few more dollars and a lot more of your time. However, it is advisable to consider a manageable cut like the teddy bear haircut if you are not showing your cat. This way, you will be able to keep your pup’s coat tidy and trimmed.

Environment Maintenance Costs

Hygiene maintenance for your Shih Tzu is relatively low. These adorable pets are very easy to train. Therefore, you can opt to litter box train your Shih Tzu, which is inexpensive. This way, you will only need to wipe the box once a day using litter box liners. If you plan on spending the day outdoors, some dog poop bags will work just fine. This will cost you about $0 to $30 a month.

Toy Cost

For entertainment purposes, toys are a necessary expense. Shih Tzus love their playtime, and you will see them running around and playing with their toys. Additionally, toys will help keep your pup occupied and fit. Your toy expenses will accrue from approximately $20 to $80.

Additional Costs to Put into Consideration

If you are a busy pet parent who will not be around for most of the day or plan to go on a business trip or vacation, you need to factor in the cost of a pet sitter. Typically, a pet sitter can even be a teenager in the neighborhood looking to make some cash. This will cost you no more than $30 per day. You also need to consider the potential damage that your dog can cause, for instance, damages to your furniture. However, this is very rare as these pups are Livingroom princesses. Additionally, you need to factor in the behavioral and obedience training costs. On average, you need to set aside about $80 to cater for any additional costs that might come up along the way.

Owning A Shih Tzu on A Budget

If you plan to get yourself these hearty little dogs, but on a budget, you should consider getting one through adoption. Adopting a dog is generally lower than getting a purebred one from a well-known breeder. Nonetheless, you will save yourself from a lot of regular costs if you purchase your pup from a reputable breeder. A reputable breeder will put in a lot of research in genetics to ensure that the bloodline of your puppy is strengthened. This way, your puppy will have fewer inherited disorders in the future. Additionally, providing a well-balanced diet for your pup does not have to be expensive. However, given that Shih Tzus are prone to digestion problems, ensure that you provide a healthy and organic diet.

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