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Yorkie vs. Shih Tzu: Which Dog is Right for You? (With Pictures)

Kristin Hitchcock

By Kristin Hitchcock

Yorkie vs Shih Tzu

Both the Yorkie and Shih Tzu are small, popular dogs. They are perfect for those who don’t want a larger dog and are merely looking for a canine to be their companion. However, that’s where these dogs’ similarities end.

Otherwise, these dogs are incredibly different. One is much more active than the other. In this article, we’ll look at the differences between these breeds, which should help you determine which is best for you.

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Visual Differences

Yorkshire Terrier vs Shih Tzu side by side
Image Credit | Left: metha1819, Shutterstock; Right: Tatiana Gasich, Shutterstock

At a Glance

  • Average height (adult): 7–8 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 7 pounds
  • Lifespan: 11–15 pounds
  • Exercise: 1+ hour a day
  • Grooming needs: Professional required
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Yes
  • Trainability: Difficult
Shih Tzu
  • Average height (adult): 9–10.5 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 9–16 pounds
  • Lifespan: 10–18 pounds
  • Exercise: 1+ hour a day
  • Grooming needs: Daily brushing
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Yes
  • Trainability: Doable

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Yorkie Overview


yorkshire terrier lying outdoor
Image Credit: Frauke Riether, Pixabay

Yorkies are tiny. They only weigh about 7 pounds at most. They are a compact terrier, to put it simply. Their silky coat often reaches the floor with a mix of a steel grey and an amber orange.

Males and females are about the same size, with no considerable difference.


The Yorkie’s coat is quite similar to human hair. It needs to be groomed accordingly, which often means owners will need to spend a lot of time grooming their dog’s hair. If the coat is kept long, it must be brushed daily to prevent tangles and keep it clean.

Even if the rest of the Yorkshire Terrier is kept long, the face and area around the eyes should be trimmed short. Alternatively, you can pull it into a topknot to keep the dog’s eyes clear. Otherwise, they can get eye infections due to their dirty hair being kept near their face.

The Yorkie will need a bath every week or so. They don’t keep their coat clean by themselves, so baths are necessary. Their ears should also be checked regularly for signs of infections. The long hair in their ears can keep debris and bacteria in the ear canal, which can cause infections.


Despite their small size, Yorkies do need regular exercise. They benefit from moderate exercise, including short walks and playing. Playing ball in the backyard is a great way to wear these dogs out, as are dog sports. Yorkies can participate in sports like agility and obedience, which allows them to stay healthy and have fun.

If you want to get your dog worn out quickly, two short walks a day is the best option.

yorkshire terrier on the grass
Image Credit: Kokaleinen, Pixabay


Yorkies are not easy to train in the least. They are brilliant but are not bred to listen to their people. For this reason, they often do whatever they want, even if they know what you’re asking them. They require early and regular training to keep them in tip-top shape.

Socialization is also required. These dogs are friendly but can be a bit feisty with other dogs and people. For this reason, they need to be introduced to various people, places, and things. Start at an early age to ensure they are well-socialized before they become an adult.

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Shih Tzu Overview


Shih Tzu sitting on the patio
Image Credit: Rachel Nelson, Pixabay

Shih Tzus are from China, where they were bred as lap dogs. They usually weigh 9 to 16 pounds and can stand between 8 to 11 inches. They are significantly bigger than the Yorkie. Males are not notably bigger than females. The size seems to vary regardless of the gender.

Their coat comes in a large variety of colors and patterns. It can look stunning if the time is put into it, but it requires a bit of grooming.


Because of their long coat, Shih Tzus must be brushed daily. Of course, if you trim your dog, you will not need to brush them quite as often. You will need a high-quality brush with flexible pins to groom them well. Investing in a good brush can be the difference between a fun session and a frustrating one.

They do not need baths often, but we do recommend them at least every month. This will help keep their coat clean since their coats are not self-cleaning by any means. Their face should be cleaned daily to avoid eye infections.

If their hair is longer on their face, it should be kept as a topknot. Otherwise, trim it so it does not hang down into their eyes. Shih Tzus are often given a “puppy trim,” which is an adorable haircut that requires much less care.


Because the Shih Tzu was bred as a house companion, it doesn’t require much exercise. A short daily walk is typically all they need. They have relatively short legs, so they don’t require much exercise compared to other dogs. A short distance is a pretty long distance for them.

Shih Tzu walking outdoor
Image Credit: carlosleucipo, Pixabay


While Shih Tzus aren’t the brightest, they are trainable. They are very people-oriented dogs, which often means that they listen to what their owners ask. It may take a bit to teach them the new commands, but they will often do it when you ask after they figure it out.

Still, early socialization and puppy training is recommended. Shih Tzus are usually friendly with everyone, including other dogs. However, early socialization is required to ensure they are not fearful of new experiences.



Yorkie vs. Shih Tzu


These dogs have very different temperaments. For instance, the Yorkshire Terrier is much more active and barks much more than a Shih Tzu. They are more energetic and more likely to bark at people as they walk by.

On the other hand, Shih Tzus are much more easygoing. They bark, but not nearly as much as other dogs. They were developed to be the perfect companion animal and often have little reason to bark. They are friendly and curious instead. They are usually very interested in people instead of being interested in what else is going on.

Yorkshire Terriers were not bred to be companion dogs. Instead, they were bred as ratting dogs. They were developed to eliminate rats. For this reason, they are much more alert and yappy than the Shih Tzu. They also have a strong prey drive and aren’t the best roommates for rodent pets like rats and mice.

Yorkies can even excel as watchdogs, as they are very interested in what is happening around them. They will happily notify you of any stranger in or around your home. Shih Tzus cannot function as watchdogs since they are not likely to bark.

yorkie dogs
Image Credit: Susana Segovia Barbero, Unsplash


Both of these dogs have high grooming standards. Each has a longer coat that must be maintained or clipped by a professional regularly. Daily brushing and regular baths are required for both breeds.

They also need care to keep the hair out of their eyes, which can cause eye infections. Their ears must also be trimmed and cleaned regularly to prevent infections, as debris and bacteria can hang out on the fur inside the ears.

Overall, these breeds have very similar grooming needs.


The Shih Tzu is significantly larger than the Yorkie. Most Yorkies weigh around 7 pounds. They can be slightly bigger or smaller, but they are almost always near this number. On the other hand, Shih Tzus are anywhere from 9 to 16 pounds. Even the smallest Shih Tzu is going to be larger than a Yorkie.


Yorkies are more expensive than Shih Tzus because they have more difficulty giving birth because of their smaller size. You can expect a Yorkie to cost a few hundred dollars more than a Shih Tzu. However, they are both inexpensive for dogs since they are smaller.

Smaller dogs require less food and room when breeding. Therefore, less money has to go into each puppy. These savings usually carry over to the dog’s price, so smaller dogs are much cheaper than larger dogs.

Shih Tzu
Image Credit: Edson Torres, Unsplash

Ideal Family

Neither of these dogs is ideal for homes with small children. Children easily harm small dogs. They are too fragile to play or be handled by small children. Instead, larger dogs are often better in these circumstances.

However, they are both okay for families with older children. They will not be hiking or jogging, so they are best for less active families. They are particularly suitable for older people who have plenty of time and want to groom and care for a small companion dog.


Both dogs are relatively healthy as long as they are cared for correctly and provided with proper nutrition. The main issue with both breeds is that they need their eyes and ears taken care of to avoid infections. The hair should stay free from their eyes to avoid infection or irritation.

Yorkies are particularly prone to low blood sugar due to their small size. They should be given small meals frequently to avoid this. They are also prone to suffering a collapsed trachea and heart conditions. Furthermore, they may be vulnerable to the dislocation of the elbow and kneecap, though they share this with many smaller breeds. Epilepsy is also more common than other dog breeds.

Shih Tzus are particularly prone to joint issues and arthritis, more so than Yorkies, likely because they are larger dogs. Their larger size puts more wear and tear on their joints, leading to problems when they age. They also have proportionally shorter legs, which puts undue pressure on their back.

Shih Tzus may also be more prone to eye problems since their eyes stick out more than the Yorkie’s.

Behavior Problems

When it comes to these two dogs, the Yorkie has more behavioral problems than the Shih Tzu. Overall, the Shih Tzu is designed to be a companion dog and is extremely friendly. They often love people and are not territorial in the least.

Yorkies are often more aggressive and territorial. They were bred to be ratters, not necessarily to get along with other people or animals. They have a strong prey drive and will chase things as well. If they are not socialized, they can become territorial and aggressive.

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Which Breed is Right for You?

Which breed you choose depends mainly on what you’re looking for in a dog. Shih Tzus are lap dogs, while Yorkies are more active. If you’re looking for a playful little dog, get a Yorkie. If you’re looking for a lap dog, the Shih Tzu is a better choice.

Otherwise, both of these dogs are very similar. They have similar grooming requirements and are both very healthy. The Yorkie needs more exercise because they are more energetic than the Shih Tzu. The Yorkie will also bark more since they were bred as ratting dogs.

See also: 

Featured Image Credit: (L) Ramiro Pianarosa, Unsplash | (R) Dieny Portinanni, Unsplash

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