Shih Tzu is a toy dog breed that originates from China. They are named based on their small size as the name Shih Tzu means “little lion.” They are generally recognized due to their small size and long hair.
Shih Tzus are small, sturdy dogs with short snouts. They often have lengthy, flowing hair; however, they can have shorter curlier hair as well with shorter legs.
The Shih Tzu breed is solely bred to be companions and lap dogs; hence their small size is a desirable trait and they are often bred to be smaller. Since ancient times Shih Tzus were bred and kept to provide companionship to all manner of people even including kings and emperors.
Certain Shih Tzus were also specifically raised to be of smaller sizes such as Imperial Shih Tzu, which are also known by other names. They were and still are considered rare or of more value due to their smaller size.
So how big do Shih Tzus really get when they are fully grown and what can you expect in terms of their sizing. In this article, I will cover all that you need to know about the sizing and growth of your Shih Tzu.
How Big Do Shih Tzus Get?
Shih Tzus generally grow up to about 9 to 16 pounds (4kg – 7kg) for both male and female dogs. Both male and female Shih Tzus can grow to an average shoulder height of 8 to 11 inches or about 20 to 28 centimeters.
These are the averages based on normally bred Shih Tzu and can be subject to change based on the condition and health of any specific dog.
However, that’s not all you need to know when it comes to the size of your Shih Tzu. There are other factors such as breeding type, mixed breeding, and others that can influence the size of your Shih Tzu. The sizing for imperial Shih Tzu and mixed breed Shih Tzu can also vary.
Imperial Shih Tzu Sizes
In addition to regular bred Shih Tzu, there are specially bred Shih Tzu such as the imperial Shih Tzu which are also known by several other names such as miniature, munchkin, tiny teacup, imperial tiny, Chinese imperial, and others that are raised to be smaller than the AKC (American Kennel Club) breed standard. The standard set by the AKC is 9 to 16 pounds (4kg – 7kg) for Shih Tzu.
The smaller Shih Tzus do not actually represent a separate designation within the actual Shih Tzu breed; however, they do weigh less than the AKC standard. They are informally referred to as imperial Shih Tzu.
These smaller Shih Tzu dogs, on average, have adult weights of about 4 to 9 pounds (1.8 kg – 4 kg). They also reach an adult height that is 9 inches (22 centimeters) or under.
Mixed breed Shih Tzu Sizes
There are numerous unique breeds of Shih Tzu mixes and any mix is susceptible to having different amounts of growth and varying sizes. This is due to the fact that the genes of the parents play a large role in the growth and size of your puppy.
Although you may need to conduct more research into the specifics of your mixed breed Shih Tzu, I have taken the liberty to provide the sizing and growth information on some of the most common mixed-breed Shih Tzu in the “Size Info for Common Shih Tzu Mixed-Breeds” section of this article below.
Average Height and Weight by Age: What to Expect
Although, the month by month growth of your puppy will be unique to the health, exercise levels, and overall condition of your puppy. There is an average amount of growth that you can expect as your Shih Tzu gets older.
In particular, there are two broad categories of growth and development for Shih Tzu; these are their puppy stage and the adult stage.
During the puppy stage, there are three prominent developmental phases these are; newborn (from birth to 3 weeks old), young puppy (4 weeks to 4 months old), and older puppy (5 months to 11 months old).
In the adult stage, there are two phases which are known as adult phase (1 year to 9 years old) and senior phase (10 years and older).
During these stages, Shih Tzus grow and meet different age milestones. These are not met by all Shih Tzu at the same rate precisely but they are an average based on research.
The following is an outline of Shih Tzu’s growth, what you can expect at certain ages, and the overall development of your Shih Tzu at a certain age.
- Height: N/A
- Weight: 1 – 1.5 pound (0.45 – 0.68 kg)
- What to Expect: The first month of your puppy’s development has the most rapid growth and the most amount of gain. There is weight gain nearly every day and the weight doubles within just the first week. During this time, puppies are small and slowly developing their vision and hearing as well as walking and some playfulness.
- Height: 2 – 5 inches (5 – 12.7 cm)
- Weight: 2 – 3 pounds (0.90 – 1.36 kg)
- What to Expect: In the second month, the growth is moderately fast with more leveled weight gain. Puppies are more active and start gaining more vocalization. Weening is generally finished and free-feeding is started. Puppies can be startled easily at this stage; however, fears are not yet solidified.
- Height: 3 – 6 inches (7 – 15.24 cm)
- Weight: 3.9 – 7 pounds (1.8 – 3.2 kg)
- What to Expect: At three months, the growth is steady still and there is development almost every week. The puppy should have three scheduled meals during the day and snacks. There should be regular exercise, such as walks, to ensure healthy growth and social development. The puppy is learning its place within the household.
- Height: 4 – 7 inches (10.16 – 17.78 cm)
- Weight: 5.5 – 9.36 pounds (2.5 – 4.25 kg)
- What to Expect: During the fourth month, there is a strong period of learning and further development. Teething begins and house training is almost complete. The puppy will be more aware and have some fears set in. The growth is still pretty strong although it may be slightly slowed down.
Month 5 – 6
- Height: 5 – 8 inches (12.7 – 20.32 cm)
- Weight: 7 – 12.5 pounds (3.2 – 5.7 kg)
- What to Expect: These two months are the start of the adolescent phase of the puppy’s growth. It also marks the start of puberty for both male and female Shih Tzu. Most females will experience their first heat during this time period if they are not spayed. Physical growth starts to slow down.
Month 7 – 9
- Height: 6 – 9 inches (15.24 – 22.86 cm)
- Weight: 7.7 – 15 pounds (3.5 – 7 kg)
- What to Expect: In these next three months, the growth of your puppy will have slowed quite visibly. This generally the most stabilizing growth stage and it can be a good idea of what the adult weight of your Shih Tzu will be.
Month 10 – 12
- Height: 8 – 11 inches (20.32 to 28 cm)
- Weight: 9 – 16 pounds (4 – 7.2 kg)
- What to Expect: These next three months are the slowest in growth for your Shih Tzu. Most puppies will have stopped growing by the 10th and 11th month. By the time they are one year old, the Shih Tzus are considered adults. Their adult height and weight are generally determined around this time period. Exercise and diet are now the major contributing factors in their weight change following this time period.
Factors Affecting Shih Tzu’s Growth and Development
There are many factors that can affect the growth of your puppy and can be the predominant factors in the adult weight and height of your Shih Tzu. This can be exercise and diet but also genetic variation and the size of the parents.
Let’s consider some of these factors in more depth:
Food and Diet
Just like in humans, the amount of food intake and quality of food are both important in man’s best friend. If your Shih Tzu has a balanced and regulated diet that is maintained over time, you can expect a happy and growing puppy.
This means that the puppy needs scheduled meals at least three times a day that are regulated in terms of timing and content.
However, be sure to keep their weight at a manageable level so as to avoid health complications that can occur from overfeeding or overweight. This can be controlled by using diet management such as providing your puppy with a more protein-based diet than carbohydrates and fats.
In addition to a balanced diet, your puppy requires lots of regular exercises and to stay active in order to grow to their potential. Exercise for puppies can include playing around with other pets, playing with their owners, and going out for regular walks.
These not only help your puppy grow but they are very beneficial to the overall health of your Shih Tzu as well.
Size of the Parents and Genetics
Another key factor that can affect the growth of your puppy is the size of its parents. Generally, puppies with smaller parents tend to be of a smaller size and that is just genetics carrying forward.
However, there can be genetic variation and two smaller parents can also present with a puppy that is larger in size. Although it is more likely that two smaller parents will result in smaller puppies.
At What Age Do Shih Tzus Stop Growing?
Shih Tzus are said to reach adulthood when they are one year old. Generally, this is around the time that most Shih Tzus stop growing and have reached their adult height and weight. However, some Shih Tzus can also have some continued growth into their 15th month.
This can again depend on the puppy’s genetics, exercise, and overall health. This can especially apply to the weight of a puppy as that is subject to change with changes to the puppy’s diet, exercise, levels of activity, and health.
Overall, the height and breadth of your Shih Tzu are less likely to change much past the age of one year old. However, based on their genetics, they can also have a slower growth period well into their second year. This is especially true for puppies that may be had parents that were of larger sizes.
Shih Tzus that are older are more susceptible to changes in their weight. This means that the older they get, they may gain weight easier. This can be due to several factors such as reduced exercise and activity due to older age as well as long term diets and feeding habits.
This applies to Shih Tzus who are ten years or more in age as they are now generally considered seniors. They may also have developed health conditions that can affect their growth in terms of weight.
Will My Shih Tzu Still Grow After Being Neutered/Spayed?
Preventative measures are just as important for your pet Shih Tzu as they are for humans. So it is in your Shih Tzu and your best interest to take measures to have your Shih Tzu spayed or neutered properly and on time. This is one of the most important decisions you will make in regards to your Shih Tzu.
Neutering or spaying your Shih Tzu is a procedure by which you can inactivate or remove parts or all of the organs involved in their reproduction. This can include the testicles in males and the uterus and ovaries in females.
Primarily, the biggest concern for most people is that spaying or neutering your Shih Tzu might cause issues in their growth. However, it does not affect their health, growth, or weight gain. So it is recommended to get them spayed and neutered.
Most Shih Tzus reach their pubescent start around the six-month mark and females start to experience their first estrous cycle or feel in heat around the same time. This is considered an optimal time to get your Shih Tzu spayed or neutered.
Not only does this prevent unwanted side effects and behaviors that are associated with adolescent and reproductive dogs but it is also beneficial to their health.
Getting your dogs spayed or neutered on time can prevent them from contracting diseases such as breast cancer later on in life. Ideally, female Shih Tzus should be spayed before their or around their first estrous cycle to reduce the chances of breast cancer. However, it is not as effective if the Shih Tzu is spayed after the second estrous cycle.
Why Is My Shih Tzu Puppy Not Growing?
It can definitely be concerning if it seems as though your puppy is just not growing. However, it is important to note that not all puppies will grow in the same way. Sometimes Shih Tzu puppies might not gain weight fast enough or they may experience a stall in their growth.
The curve of your Shih Tzu’s growth is not linear and all puppies will grow at different rates. Shih Tzu puppies continue to grow in size until they are ten to twelve months old; however, the level of growth is not leveled or equal over that time period.
During the first eight weeks or so, there is strong and rapid growth; however, the growth can have many ups and downs after that. Most adult Shih Tzus have an average adult weight of 9 – 16 pounds (4.08 – 7.26 kg) but not all puppies will get there at the same time or in the same manner.
Some puppies seem to have balanced and regular growth and then have a slower period in the last few months. However, most Shih Tzus will experience some phases of rapid growth, then some periods of slower growth and even some stalled growth periods.
It is important to keep track of your Shih Tzu’s growth and after eight weeks, it is recommended to track your Shih Tzu’s weight every two weeks. There should be some gain after two weeks no matter how big or small. The gain will also vary every two weeks as well.
In the period between two months and four months, there should not be a stall of more than two weeks or any weight loss. If you notice any weight loss, it is crucial to see a vet right away.
These are some of the reasons why your Shih Tzu puppy won’t gain weight:
- Appetite does not match the growth: One of the reasons your Shih Tzu might not be gaining weight is that their appetite cannot keep up with their growth. Gaining weight and growth require fuel and food intake. However, some puppies that struggle to gain weight might not have the appetite required to provide the body with the number of calories that it requires to grow. This means that the Shih Tzu is undernourished. If your puppy does not have the appetite to eat multiple times a day and fill his stomach, then he might require some extra help.
- Poor nutrition or diet: It can be hard to find the right food for your Shih Tzu because there are so many brands and offers available. However, for the best results, it is important to avoid food that is high in fillers and foods with additives. It is best to avoid foods that contain oats, peanuts, rice, soybeans, and other fillers as they provide no nutritional value to your pet.
- Health problems: Finally, one of the reasons your Shih Tzu might not be gaining weight is due to an underlying health issue or problem. There are many health issues that can cause your Shih Tzu not to gain weight properly. So it is important to get you to vet to have a thorough check-up if any problems are suspected. Some health problems can include parasites, worms, and gastrointestinal problems.
Is My Shih Tzu Too Fat or Too Thin?
It is always recommended to get the opinion of a vet if you are concerned regarding the weight of your puppy. However, you can also examine them to get a general idea of whether your Shih Tzu puppy is a little on the chunky side or underweight.
You can monitor their activity levels and how they interact, or instance, low energy level and panting in a puppy who seems a little plump can be an indication of nearing obesity.
Similarly, low energy on a scrawnier puppy can also mean malnourishment. It is important to consult a vet or specialist if you are concerned about your puppy’s weight.
How to Measure My Shih Tzu’s Height?
In order to measure your Shih Tzu’s height, you need to measure from the floor to your dog’s withers. The withers are essentially the highest point on the dog’s shoulder blades.
The following are steps to take to measure the height of your Shih Tzu:
- Step 1: Stand your puppy or dog against a wall or some sort of frame. This allows for the most accurate results as you will have something solid to measure against. Make sure the dog is standing upright on all four legs and they should be evenly spaced out.
- Step 2: Feel for your Shih Tzu’s withers with your hands, near the base of your dog’s neck and at the highest point of their shoulder blades. This is usually easier to locate with shorter hair and can be a bit tricky for Shih Tzus with long flowing hair.
- Step 3: Hold a level across your Shih Tzu’s withers in line with the wall. You can use any long, straight, and flat object like a ruler although it is best to use a level such as a carpenter’s level for best results. Mark the spot on the wall using a pencil or even just hold it with your finger.
- Step 4: Let your dog move out of the way once you have marked the spot. Now measure from the floor to the spot you marked on the wall. You can use a ruler or a tape measure. That is the height of your Shih Tzu.
Size Info for Common Shih Tzu Mixed-Breeds
Following is the size and growth information about some common mixed Shih Tzu breeds.
Shih Mo (Shih Tzu / American Eskimo)
Shih Mo is a Shih Tzu and American Eskimo mixed breed. Although their size heavily dependent on the parents’ size and gender, they roughly average to be 25 pounds (11 kg) in weight and 18 inches (46 cm) in height.
Pin-Tzu (Shih Tzu / Miniature Pinscher)
These are a mixed breed of Mini Pinscher and Shih Tzu. These small pups only reach an average adult weight of 15 pounds (6.8 kg) and a height of 11 inches or 28 centimeters.
Shiranian (Shih Tzu / Pomeranian)
Shiranians are born to Pomeranian and Shih Tzu parents. These mixed breeds have a wide range and can weigh anywhere between 4 pounds to 16 pounds (1.8 kg to 7.25 kg) and have a height of 7 to 12 inches (17.78 cm to 30.48 cm).
Shih-Poo (Shih Tzu / Poodle)
The Shih-Poo is a mixed-breed between a Poodle and a Shih Tzu. The size of the Shih-Poo will vary depending on whether the parent Poodle is a teacup, miniature, or standard Poodle. They usually weigh around 7 to 20 pounds (3 to 9 kg) and have a height of 8 to 15 inches (20 to 38 cm) at the shoulder.