The Average Size of a Shih Tzu

By Shelly Volsche

The Shih Tzu dates back to A.D. 624 and was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1969. A member of the toy group, Shih Tzus are small dogs. Despite their size, they are known for their charming, outgoing and playful personalities.

Average Height

Most Shih Tzus grow to be between 8 and 11 inches at the shoulder. The American Kennel Club breed standard does not specify different heights for males or females. In general, males tend to be slightly larger than females.

Average Weight

One thing that makes Shih Tzus a popular member of the toy group is their light weight. The breed standard calls for weights between 9 and 16 pounds. As with height, the breed standard does not call for a difference between males and females, although males tend to grow larger.

Estimate Adult Size

Many things contribute to the adult size of a Shih Tzu including health, activity and nutrition. As such, it is difficult to guarantee how big a puppy will become as an adult. However, it is possible to obtain an estimate by comparing the sizes of the mother, father and any available adult siblings.

If it is not possible to observe any genetic relatives, some breeders have created a formula to estimate the adult weight of a properly bred Shih Tzu. For males and females, multiply the puppy's weight at 6 weeks of age by 4.

For puppies obtained after 8 weeks of age, it is best to obtain records from the breeder. However, if early records are not available, a more general calculation has been created and can be found online.

Teacup-Sized Shih Tzus

The American Shih Tzu Club warns that dogs labeled "teacup" or "imperial" Shih Tzus do not conform to breed standards. This market was created as a means for unethical breeders to sell poor quality, sometimes unhealthy dogs for a premium price. There is no evidence for an "imperial gene" within the Shih Tzu line. These dogs are obtained by breeding small Shih Tzus to other small Shih Tzus, with uncertain results.

The Shih Tzu breed standard was first written by the Peking Kennel Club in 1938. Like the majority of kennel club's worldwide, the American Kennel Club adopted standards similar to these original expectations. As such, in addition to a minimum size, Shih Tzus are expected to be solid and sturdy for their size, rather than fragile as often found in "teacup" dogs.