10 Best Shih Tzu Rescues for Adoption (2024): Our Top 10 Picks!

Best Shih Tzu Rescue for Adoption

If you would ask me, Shih Tzus are exactly the opposite of the “little lion” title they are given. Their cute size, sweet expression and playful nature are actually their main selling point.

Although there are many Shih Tzu breeders where you can purchase a pup from, there is no doubt that adoption is a more practical and considerate option.

Rescue organizations are constantly accepting applications to rehome abandoned Shih Tzus in order to give them a better life.

If this also appeals to you, look no further. This guide will give you a list of carefully chosen Shih Tzu rescues that can take you one step closer to having the dog of your dream.

Most of the Shih Tzu rescues in this list follow the same adoption process. If you want to ace your application, I suggest that you read our ultimate adoption guide which features key tips and techniques starting from choosing the breed to home introduction.

Top 10 Shih Tzu Rescues to Find Shih Tzus for Adoption

Adopting a Shih Tzu is a noble thing to do considering the numerous cases of dog neglect and abuse happening not just in the United States but all over the world.

I’ll walk you through each Shih Tzu rescue mentioned in this section to better understand how their adoption process works. Let’s get into it!

1. Ohio Fuzzy Pawz Shih Tzu Rescue (OFP) – Ohio

Ohio Fuzzy Pawz Shih Tzu Rescue is a non-profit organization dedicated to rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming Shih Tzus that come from unsafe shelters, puppy mills, and owners who are no longer capable of caring for them.

To proceed with the application process, interested applicants should be mindful of some guidelines and requirements:

  • The applicant must be 21 years old and above.
  • Other pets at home are required to be neutered/spayed and have updated vaccines.
  • A co-owner should be listed in the application form.
  • They only consider applicants with a securely fenced yard.
  • They don’t consider those who leave their dogs outside unsupervised.
  • The application must be done under the name of the adopter and not for another person.

If you think that you can meet these strict guidelines, you can proceed with filling out an application form and wait for a response from OFP.

However, due to the number of applications they receive each day, applicants are encouraged to wait until they have been evaluated.

To guarantee that your file will be processed, make sure to provide a set of references, including a veterinary reference with the correct contact information.

Once the initial assessment has been passed, they will conduct a personal or virtual home visit and be evaluated further if the applicant is a good match for their available Shih Tzu or not.

Ohio Fuzzy Pawz Shih Tzu Rescue Information and Details:

2. Shih Tzu Rescue, Inc. – Florida

Shih Tzu Rescue, Inc., also known as Shih Tzu and Lap Dog Rescue, Inc., has been rescuing Shih Tzus and other small breeds since 1995. Most of the dogs under their care are voluntarily handed by previous owners.

All Shih Tzus available for adoption are spayed/neutered, tested for heartworms and parasites and have received regular veterinary check-ups. They are placed in foster homes or the rescue’s kennel until they are adopted.

The adoption process is straightforward and requires completing an application form before being evaluated for a meet-up with the available Shih Tzus.

A home visit is then done by a volunteer to ensure that their home and property are dog-friendly. Afterward, they will be approved if they are found to be a perfect match for the dog.

The future owner will be given the dog’s medical records during the adoption process. Fees may vary and will be discussed during the initial phone call or visit to the rescue.

If they don’t call you back within 4 to 5 days of submitting the application, then you might not have been matched with a potential Shih Tzu.

Shih Tzu Rescue, Inc. Information and Details:

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3. Save a Shelter Shih Tzu (SASS) Rescue – Ohio

Run by a group of dedicated volunteers from Ohio, SASS is another rescue option to save Shih Tzus from the trauma of living in shelters and other ruthless situations.

They have been putting countless dogs in new homes since 2011 and are all living their best lives.

The adoption process is very similar to the previously mentioned rescues. However, they do not have a physical location, and all of their Shih Tzus are in foster care.

Chosen applicants who passed the initial evaluation will be contacted for a phone interview and scheduled for a home assessment.

Even if Shih Tzu rescues like SASS run solely from donations, they will never turn down a rescue dog and will find ways to pay for treatment and provide shelter until they find a loving family that can take care of them.

Save a Shelter Shih Tzu (SASS) Rescue Information and Details:

4. Bluegrass Shih-Tzu Rescue – Kentucky

Operating for over 15 years, Bluegrass Shih Tzu Rescue is committed to finding the perfect owner for their rescued dogs. They offer both young and older Shih Tzus and other small breeds who came from different backgrounds.

Older dogs can range from 7 to 14 years old who are close to their retirement age and would like to live out the rest of their years in a warm and safe company.

Available dogs are regularly updated on the rescue’s website, where interested owners can have an overview of the dog’s temperament and special needs, along with their price.

Their application form requires basic contact information, the number and age of people in the household, and current and previous pets.

They also prefer applicants with the appropriate type of fencing in their yard and those who can provide the contact details of their veterinarian and two references.

Bluegrass Shih-Tzu Rescue Information and Details:

5. New Beginnings Shih Tzu Rescue, Inc. – Wisconsin

New Beginnings Shih Tzu Rescue, Inc. is a charitable organization devoted to saving small breeds of dogs, mainly Shih Tzus, who have been rescued from multiple sources. To adopt a dog from this rescue, several guidelines must be taken into consideration.

Like OPF, they require all other household dogs and cats to be altered, have necessary vaccinations, and be tested annually for heartworms.

They also consider the age and the ability of the future owner to fulfill the needs of the dog with regards to providing enough company, exercise, and daily supervision.

Families with children under eight years old are not preferred but will be considered if they currently have a dog in the house.

All their rescued dogs are neutered, spayed, updated on vaccine shots, microchipped, tested for heartworm and given heartworm medication. They will also receive flea and tick medications and have regular grooming.

Prices depend on the dog’s age and are non-negotiable. Discount is given when dogs are adopted in pairs or if the applicant is a veteran.

New Beginnings Shih Tzu Rescue, Inc. Information and Details:

How Big Do Shih Tzus Get? Puppy Growth Chart and FAQ

6. Shih Tzu Rescue, Adoption and Education Safehouse (STRAES) – Illinois

Established in 1999, STRAES has been able to put Shih Tzus in loving homes through its adoption program that caters to dogs that need medical attention and emotional support.

They believe that rehabilitating and rehoming rescue dogs give them the chance to live normal lives.

Shih Tzus who suffer from injuries and health issues are given high-quality veterinary care, while those who exhibit aggressive behavior are enrolled in remedial classes to help them build their trust again.

Shih Tzus are given regular grooming, parasite checks and needed treatment. Before adoption, they are altered, updated with vaccinations, given medication to prevent flea or tick infection, and microchipped.

Unlike other Shih Tzu rescues, their adoption process is not carried out online. Interested applicants who selected a rescue from the list of available dogs need to send an email request stating why they want to adopt that particular pup.

The rescue volunteer will then respond with an application form if they passed the initial screening.

After adoption, follow-up assistance can be given to the owner during housebreaking. They can provide consultation and training services to bring the best out of your rescued Shih Tzu.

Shih Tzu Rescue, Adoption and Education Safehouse (STRAES) Information and Details:

7. Northstar Shih Tzu Rescue (NSSTR) – Minnesota

NorthStar Shih Tzu Rescue is a rescue organization that offers adoption services to both Shih Tzus and Shih Tzu mixed breeds. Rescued dogs are rehabilitated and given the proper emotional support before finding a suitable owner.

The rescue is committed to providing an easy and convenient adoption process. It follows the usual step-by-step procedure, starting from completing an adoption form to scheduling the home evaluation.

After the home visit, the applicant should wait at least 24 hours to get a confirmation if they got approved or not.

It’s important to note that they automatically refuse applicants who have unaltered pets, use an invisible fence for pet containment, and have people that smoke in the household.

Available dogs can be viewed on the rescue’s website, each with a complete description of their appearance, health status, temperament, and fixed adoption price. The interested applicant will also be informed of any special needs.

Successful Shih Tzu adoptions from 2013 until the present can also be viewed on their website.

Northstar Shih Tzu Rescue (NSSTR) Information and Details:

8. Shih Tzu Rescue of Minnesota (STRMN) – Minnesota

STRMN is another rescue in Minnesota passionate about giving Shih Tzu and Shih Tzu mixed breeds a high quality of life through foster care and proper medical attention since 2007.

Their dedicated volunteers ensure that the rescued dogs are in their best condition before being put up for adoption. They are keen on matching pups with families that can take care of them for a lifetime.

Before considering to apply, interested owners should consider STRMN’s conditions:

  • The adopter should not apply to give the dog as a gift to another person.
  • The adopter should never use an invisible fence to contain their adopted Shih Tzu.
  • The adopter should use a regular leash instead of a retractable leash.
  • The adopter should be within the state of Minnesota or in neighboring states when the rescue allows it.
  • The adopter must be willing to personally pick up their Shih Tzu since the rescue doesn’t ship dogs.

Since the foster parents know the overall behavior and needs of the rescued Shih Tzu, they get to decide if the applicant is approved or not.

Applicants can choose from both puppies and adult dogs. If they cannot take care of their adopted Shih Tzu for any reason, they can return them to STRMN.

Shih Tzu Rescue of Minnesota (STRMN) Information and Details:

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9. Shih Tzus & Furbabies Rescue – Georgia

Shih Tzus & Furbabies started in 1997 when they rescued their first Shih Tzu named Annie.

From then on, they partnered with different veterinarians and shelters to help senior dogs with special needs, those who are abused by owners to the point of aggression, and puppies needing extreme medical care. Over time, they were able to rescue other small breeds as well.

They don’t only provide basic medical care like alteration and vaccination to the rescued dogs but also give heartworm treatments, orthopedic surgeries, and ophthalmic care if needed.

Due to the surge of daily applicants, the rescue’s adoption process can begin 2 to 3 weeks after submitting the application form.

If the applicant is informed that the dog they are interested in is unavailable, the Shih Tzu might already be matched to another owner. The applicant is then introduced to a different dog that also fits their preferences.

Shih Tzus & Furbabies Rescue Information and Details:

10. Southeast Shih-Tzu and Small Dog Rescue (SESTR) – North Carolina

SESTR got their non-profit organization status in 2019 and have already begun saving Shih Tzus and other small breeds from different shelters in North Carolina. They mainly rescue senior dogs, surrendered pups, or those who were close to being euthanized.

Like all of the mentioned Shih Tzu rescues, SESTR matches applicants with a Shih Tzu companion that suits their lifestyle, personality, and household situation.

Because most of the listed dogs have varied and unique needs, they can only approve applicants who will help them have a smooth transition period and attend to their physical and emotional needs.

Because of this, they carefully filter each application to find a perfect match for the available dog. The lucky adopter will be given a dog who is vetted, treated, and fostered by a loving family.

They also provide grooming, microchipping, and emergency services for the rescued dogs.

Southeast Shih-Tzu and Small Dog Rescue (SESTR) Information and Details:

Another thing that can help you significantly with your dog hunt is reading our ultimate dog adoption guide. This alongside the Shih Tzu rescue options from our directory will increase your chances of bringing home the dog you desire.

The Ultimate Guide to Dog Adoption: Process, What to Ask and Tips to Get Approved

Other Sources for Shih Tzu Rescues or Shelters for Adoption

Two Shih Tzu dogs for adoption

Finding a Shih Tzu rescue is an arduous task. The list of rescues provided in this article might not guarantee that you can be paired with an available Shih Tzus, so it’s important to have alternative options to speed up your adoption.

These websites will help you find rescued Shih Tzus anywhere across the country:

  • Adopt-a-Pet – This is a platform that helps thousands of shelters and rescues place homeless pets in families anywhere in the country. Rescued Shih Tzus can be adopted by registering on their website and sending inquiries to the rescue or shelter that will handle the adoption.
  • Pawmetto Lifeline – This community was founded in 2009 in South Carolina to give homeless pets a better future. They were able to rescue over 15,000 animals that were already scheduled to be euthanized. With the number of rescue animals they accommodate, there’s a high chance that there are Shih Tzus available for adoption.
  • Petango – This is another platform where you can search for rescued Shih Tzus. Partnered with over 1,800 organizations, they are also the first website to offer real-time updates on the availability of dogs across all states.

Why Do People Put Shih Tzus up for Adoption or in a Rescue?

Adorable as they are, many Shih Tzus are still put up for adoption in rescues and other shelters.

There are a couple of reasons why this continues to happen:

  • The owner cannot meet the needs of the Shih Tzu due to old age or other responsibilities.
  • The owner can no longer afford the expenses for maintaining the dog’s well-being.
  • The owner needs to move to a different location or country and cannot attend to their Shih Tzu.
  • The owner needs to attend to his or her personal problems.
  • The Shih Tzu is suffering from an illness that the owner can’t afford to treat.
  • The dog suddenly showed signs of aggressive behavior.
  • There are young children in the household.

Although the reasons may sound discouraging, note that the owners’ preparation and commitment will dictate their relationship with their Shih Tzus.

How Big Do Shih Tzus Get? Puppy Growth Chart and FAQ

How Much Should It Cost to Adopt a Shih Tzu?

The typical price for a new Shih Tzu is around $500 to $1,500 and can even go as high as $2,000 for superior bloodlines.

Compared to purchasing from a breeder, the price for adopting a Shih Tzu from a rescue ranges from $350 to $550, depending on their age and some other factors.

The rescues require an adoption fee to cover several expenses to ensure the health of the rescued Shih Tzus.

The table below summarizes the breakdown of these costs:

ExpensesAverage Cost
Vet Check-ups$50 – $100
Spaying/Neutering$150 – $300
Heartworm Test$45 – $50
Flea/Tick Treatment$20 – $150
Vaccinations and Deworming$150
Collar and ID Tag$5 – $10
Total$465 – $805

Based on the total average cost, Shih Tzu rescues often ask for less than what they spend. In some cases, they even cover the expenses for surgeries or other special treatments needed by the Shih Tzu.

Is It Difficult to Adopt a Shih Tzu From a Rescue?

Woman with an adopted Shih Tzu in a park

Rescues often have strict conditions and guidelines regarding their application process. If you are prepared and determined enough to follow them, adopting a Shih Tzu shouldn’t be such a difficult experience.

Regardless of the chosen rescue organization, there are several procedures and evaluations that an applicant needs to undergo.

Some of these include phone interviews, shelter meet-ups, and home visits. All of them are done to ensure that the applicant will be a great fit for the Shih Tzu.

In some cases, your application might be rejected due to something they saw during home evaluation or because another applicant was found to be a better fit for the dog.

In any case, this is not a reason to be discouraged because the rescue can offer you another rescued dog that will be a perfect match for your lifestyle and personality.

It might take a couple of tries for some people, but once they take the Shih Tzu home, all of the time and effort will pay off.

6 Tips for Getting Approved by a Rescue to Adopt a Shih Tzu

Getting approval from a rescue is the ultimate goal of any aspiring Shih Tzu owner. However, there’s no secret formula to instantly convince the rescue that you are the perfect owner.

What you can do is follow these tips to help you throughout the adoption process:

  • Read more about Shih Tzus. If you already have experience taking care of a Shih Tzu, then you can skip this part. However, first-time Shih Tzu owners should learn about the breed to be aware of its temperament and understand how they can help the dog in its transition period.
  • Provide all the needed information in the application form. Give the full details of your current house situation and be honest in writing the reason why you want to adopt a Shih Tzu. This can convince the volunteer that you are very interested in adopting one.
  • Choose references that can easily be contacted. Most rescues require two to three references in their application, and they really make an effort to call each one of them. Your chosen references should be ready to pick up the phone when the rescue contacts them.
  • Follow the Shih Tzu rescue’s requirements for approval. Several Shih Tzu rescues mentioned in this article prefer applicants with a properly fenced yard and those who won’t use a retractable leash for their dog. They may also require that other pets in the house are spayed or neutered. Following these requirements can help you pass the evaluation easily.
  • Ask the volunteer a lot of questions during the home visit. When the volunteer comes for a home inspection, show your interest by asking about the Shih Tzu in the facility or foster home. Ask about the dog’s temperament and if they are progressing well in their health or behavioral issues.
  • Visit the Shih Tzu in the rescue facility. If the rescue has its own facility, they can set a play date with you and the Shih Tzu, or you can request permission to visit. This is a chance to show that you made an effort to meet your desired pup to be adopted.

These tips can definitely help, but in the end, it is crucial to know the chosen rescue’s policy and requirements for adoption. Bear in mind that each rescue is different and have their own way of evaluating their applicants.

Final Thoughts

Rescued Shih Tzus have suffered a lot throughout their lives. Adopting them is a virtuous act that can give them a chance to live a happy and normal dog life. Aside from that, it is a very practical choice considering that it’s cheaper than buying from a local breeder.

Choosing the right Shih Tzu rescue is a process of trial and error. Most of them also have a long application process that will require a lot of patience and effort from the applicant. Proper mental and emotional preparation is needed to get through each step of the procedure.

Once you are matched with the perfect Shih Tzu, you can begin the challenging but fulfilling responsibility of being a dog parent.

With the help of the rescue, both you and the dog can easily adjust and have a strong bond that will last for a long time.


Sharon DeKalb February 10, 2022 - 7:37 pm

It was very informative. I learned lot.

Marianne Jones April 26, 2022 - 7:17 pm

I am looking to adopt a young female Shih Tzu. I have had them in the past and now I have a Doxie I rescued 11 years ago. He needs a friend. Can you help me? I am in VT and can’t travel too far.

Deborah Lariscy June 24, 2022 - 10:02 am

Hi. This guide and rescue listing is very helpful and clear. I would suggest IF a rescue does or doesn’t allow OUT OF STATE adoptions it be mentioned here in their info. But, I understand that this site doesn’t want a lot of changes IF a rescue changes their policy. While I could drive and pick up a dog, I hope the rescue site mentions it on their site. Thanks for the care you put into helping pets. Had dogs my whole life and ALL were long lived and loved. Had a 21 and 17 year old toy Fox Terriers who were a joy! Good lives right up until their passing.


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