article by aishwarya srivastava

Are Shih Tzus Smart - Canine Intelligence & Training for Shih Tzus

Are Shih Tzus Smart - Canine Intelligence & Training for Shih Tzus

The Shih Tzu origin dates way back as this Tibetan dog breed has been around for nearly 1000 years before coming in front of the public eye in the 1930s. Historically, Shih Tzus have helped farmers and merchants because of their intelligence. You can teach them tricks, like jumping through rings or playing fetch, or you can even enter them into agility or obedience events. Shih Tzus have been popularly called "little lion dogs" by the Chinese for hundreds of years. This is because they were used to protect chicks and ducks from lions and other big cats. This accounts for their lack of inhibitions and incredible courage.

But are Shih Tzus smart? Here, we'll talk about whether or not Shih Tzus are smart and about the different factors that can affect their smartness quotient. Also, get to know about canine intelligence and some training tips.

What Do You Mean By Canine Intelligence?

It's crucial to understand how the intelligence of dogs is measured before discussing how bright the Shih Tzu actually is.

The  American Psychological Association (APA) describes intelligence as the "capacity to acquire and apply knowledge; the ability to think abstractly and creatively; the capacity to plan, solve problems, make quick and accurate decisions, and learn from experience."

Canines have the IQ of a typical two-year-old human. All in all, it becomes very difficult to judge a dog's intelligence. People tend to think that dogs aren’t as smart as people. But that doesn't make canines dimwits either.

Intelligence in canines can be measured in the following ways: 

  • Instinctive intelligence is a dog's ability to do the things it was made to do, like tracking or hunting.
  • Adaptive intelligence is a dog's overall ability to solve tasks and adjust to new settings on its own.
  • Working and submission define the capacity of a dog to learn from people and obey orders.

What Does the Coren’s Dog Intelligence Criteria Say About Dogs? 

Coren's guidelines for figuring out how smart a dog is were given to the trial judges, and they looked at and ranked as many dog breeds as they could. Here is an account of how the decision was made:

  • How many times does a certain breed of dog need to hear a new order before it learns it? On the ability scale, the dogs that could learn their tricks with less work got higher marks.
  • The chance that a certain breed of dog will follow a known command the first time it is asked to do so. You might have guessed rightly that the most popular dog types were those that were smarter.

There were certain dog breeds that were left off of the final list. The American Kennel Club or the Canadian Kennel Club had to accept the dog's breed before it could take part in the IQ tests.

The Shih Tzu was accepted into both of the dog clubs. That’s some great news right there!

Also, a dog breed had to get at least 100 responses in order to be considered for the final ranks of dog intelligence. But the final list didn't include the breeds that were less popular. 

Does It Make Sense to Assess the Smartness of Shih Tzus?

Does It Make Sense to Assess the Smartness of Shih Tzus?

Anyone who has ever owned a Shih Tzu and enjoyed the unbreakable bond that comes with being the proud owner of such a fantastic dog breed has probably wondered how they stack up intellectually.

When they found out how their breed was ranked, a good number of Shih Tzu owners were not happy. In fact, one of the most popular ways to rank animals puts this breed almost dead last... "How can that be?" and "My Shih Tzu IS smart!" are amongst the most common questions that people ask. Also, there are other reasons why this normal way of grading shouldn't be the only way to rate a Shih Tzu.

What are the Characteristics of a Shih Tzu?

  • Due to their smaller stature (8–11 inches tall and 9–16 lbs), most countries classify Shih Tzu as toy dogs.
  • Shih Tzus mature quickly and achieve full size by the time they are 10 months old.
  • Shih Tzus are known for their cheerfulness.
  • Owing to their short muzzles, these dogs rarely chew on anything, but they do like to dig, and some of them can be rather noisy when they get excited. 
  • The Shih Tzu has a robust physique and a large head for its small stature. The muzzle is short and has an undercut jawline. 
  • The Shih Tzu has a pretty remarkably lengthy and quick stride despite its shorter size.

 Are Shih Tzus Smarter Than Other Dogs?

Shih Tzus are known to be notoriously resistant to training and are often sluggish when it comes to learning new commands. That said, the Shih Tzu still made it to the the top 80 of the Coren’s Intelligence List due to its popularity. In fact, they currently sit at number 70 as of 2023.

These dogs are actually smarter than you think if you consider their adaptive intelligence. They can convey what they want. They can also solve puzzles, and understand human emotions when they put their minds to it. 

While they may not be as quick to follow commands as a Border Collie, they are just as devoted to their families. 

How to Start Shih Tzu Training?

The bond that exists between you and your dog is strengthened with appropriate training, and the ultimate result is a canine companion that is both happy and healthy.

Once they reach the age of 12 weeks, Shih Tzu puppies are mature enough to start their training. They are also less likely to exhibit problems with aggression or shyness. 

Younger Shih Tzu puppies have a stronger ability for learning and curiosity when compared to older Shih Tzus when they reach adulthood. Because of this, you should begin socialization and fundamental training with your puppy long before you begin a regimented training session with it around the age of 12 weeks.

Bring your pup outside to urinate or defecate every hour to two hours. 

You should take it for a regular walk :

  • as soon as it wakes up from a nap.
  • 20 minutes after having your meal.
  • 10 minutes prior to dozing off.

Be sure to praise your Shih Tzu with a toy or gift if it shows progress during training. You should also reward your Shih Tzu whenever it displays watchdog behaviors, like circling and sniffing.

Is Shih Tzu a Good Family Dog to Adopt?

Is Shih Tzu a Good Family Dog to Adopt?

You may have carefully thought as to which dog breed can be the best addition to your family. Factors such as family size and geographic region should be taken into account while deciding on a dog's breed. Otherwise, Shih Tzus are excellent family dogs,

Learning about animal shelters and local breeders and selecting one that employs ethical practices in breeding is crucial for anybody considering adopting a Shih Tzu.


Shih Tzus possess their own unique brand of intelligence. They are highly desirable as pets because of their intelligence, flexibility, and sensitivity to their owners' feelings. They are quick learners when motivated and respond well to positive reinforcement training methods. Further, Shih Tzus have remarkable emotional intelligence, and they are able to forge deep connections with their human families and demonstrate empathy and understanding in a wide range of contexts.

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