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Are Shih Tzus Good with Kids? Everything You Want to Know

Ashley Bates

By Ashley Bates

two children walking their shih tzu puppies on leashes

Shih Tzus are very adorable little dogs with spunky attitudes and so many hairstyle possibilities. If you are in the market for a new family member, this breed might be one that struck your radar. Little dogs can be good for several reasons, and there is no denying how sweet the breed is.

While Shih Tzus are great with kids, there are potential concerns. So, here we discuss how well Shih Tzus and kids match and things you should consider before purchasing.

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Choosing a Shih Tzu for the Family

If you have a growing family, you might want to add in a dog who is great with children. Or you could even have nieces, nephews, or other friends and family with small kids. The last thing you will want is an “ankle biter” that might hurt or injure the child, or be very sensitive to overstimulation that some kids can inflict.

The good news is that when a Shih Tzu is properly socialized, they are often amazing dogs to have alongside kids. They are happy-go-lucky, playful little pups who love to be a part of things. These affectionate canines will gladly welcome new family members, permitting that they have a good experience with kiddos.

But as with anything else, if your dog has a terrible experience with your children early on, it can seriously impact how they view other kids later.

father and son training their shih tzu dog outdoors
Image Credit: chaoss, Shutterstock

Teaching Kids How to Respect Pets

Our pets are part of the family. So, the earlier we can teach our kiddos about respect toward animals, the better. Many accidents happen from the lack of proper instruction regarding negative dog/child reactions.

Even though it’s very important to ensure you are welcoming in a traditionally good breed with kids, it’s also equally important to use proper handling techniques. Children need to learn very early how to interact with family pets.

You should never subject your pet to abuse, even though toddlers and small children do not mean to hurt the animal. Expecting a dog to tolerate poor treatment without reacting is not a fair expectation. Kids should learn to respect their dog’s boundaries early and understand when enough is enough.

Supervision is essential. You should never leave your small child or baby unsupervised with your dog. Even if you think that your dog and toddler would never have an altercation of any kind, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Accidents happen, as do reactions.

If your small child accidentally pulls their hair, yanks their ears, or hurts them in any way, it could cause your Shih Tzu to feel threatened, resulting in biting, growling, or other reactive behavior. It may take some time to smooth rough edges, but all it takes is patience and direct supervision.

Shih Tzus Are Terrific Companions

Shih Tzus are perfect for children due to their demeanor and small size. These dogs only weigh approximately 20 pounds, which is ideal for a child’s first pet. You won’t have to worry about a medium to large size dog jumping on the child, knocking them over, and accidentally hurting them during play.

These dogs do not mind playing fetch and other games in the backyard or snuggling up on the couch for a nap. Their energy level is perfect to match that of a small child without being overbearing. This breed tends to be very relaxed, easygoing, and non-aggressive.

However, all of this is circumstantial. For example, a certain Shih Tzu might show signs of anxiety or neurotic behavior. If they have a certain personality type, they may be naturally incompatible with kids because of the noise level and chaos that comes with that.

But these are rare circumstances. Most of the time, these dogs see the sunny side of life and have very even-keeled temperaments.

mother and daughter on the sofa with their shih tzu dog
Image Credit: Pressmaster, Shutterstock

Puppies vs. Adults

There are some things you want to consider when it comes to age. Most Shih Tzus do best with early introductions, being exposed to children from puppyhood. This way, they learn to grow with the quirks and curiosities of these tiny humans.

When they are raised alongside one another, companionship and familiarity forms between both parties. So, if you have an extended family or friends with small kids, it’s best to take your dog around them as much as possible while they’re young.

The earlier the exposure, the easier it will be for them to adapt to one another. Always buy from a reputable breeder to ensure excellent breed temperament.

Welcoming an adult is a different story. If these dogs have lived only a few years with adults and have never experienced children, it can be quite a change of pace. Some will adapt without issue, while others might be scared, irritated, or even aggressive toward children.

Many adoption or rescue facilities will set up home visits and meet and greets to ensure all members of the household will get along. If it doesn’t work out with one, you may be more compatible with another adult.

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It can be such an exciting experience welcoming a Shih Tzu into your home. If you get a puppy, ensure your children are always supervised and consider the best interest of both parties. Teaching children proper handling and boundaries will improve success.

These pups make amazing first-time pets! Under correct supervision, Shih Tzus make excellent companions for younger members of the family. Plus, with their favorable lifespan of 12 to 16 years, your pup can grow alongside your kiddos until they’re nearly out of the house.

Featured Image Credit: Magicovice516, Shutterstock

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