Are Shih Tzus Smart? Unveiling the Intelligence of this Popular Breed

are shih tzus smart

Introduction:Are Shih Tzus Smart?are shih tzus smart

The Shih Tzu, with its luxuriously long coat and adorable pushed-in face, is often chosen as a pet for its charming aesthetics. But is there more to this breed than just good looks? Are Shih Tzus smart?

Origins of Shih Tzus

To understand the Shih Tzu, we need to step back into history. The Shih Tzu breed hails from China, with roots extending back to the Tang Dynasty. Bred for companionship, these dogs were often found warming the feet of royalty.

Shih Tzus: A Brief Overview

Shih Tzus are compact, sturdy dogs, full of life and character. They are known for their friendly nature, love for people, and a distinctly arrogant carriage — head held high and tail curving over the back.

The Intelligence of Shih Tzus

When we ask, “are Shih Tzus smart?”, what do we mean by ‘smart’? The concept of intelligence can be quite subjective, especially when we are talking about dogs.

  • Definition of Dog Intelligence

Dog intelligence can be classified into three types: instinctive intelligence, adaptive intelligence, and working/obedience intelligence.

  • The Different Types of Intelligence in Dogs

Instinctive intelligence refers to skills that the breed was developed for, adaptive intelligence is the dog’s problem-solving capabilities, and working/obedience intelligence pertains to the dog’s ability to learn from humans.

Shih Tzu Intelligence: Compared to Other Breeds

In Stanley Coren’s book “The Intelligence of Dogs”, Shih Tzus rank 70th out of 138 breeds in terms of working/obedience intelligence. But does this make them unintelligent? Absolutely not!

Characteristics That Prove Shih Tzus Are Smart

Shih Tzus have a knack for getting what they want. Their problem-solving abilities, a part of their adaptive intelligence, often involve manipulating their human companions.

  • Social Intelligence

Shih Tzus excel in social intelligence. They are intuitive to their human’s emotions and have a natural ability to connect with people, making them excellent companions.

  • Instinctual Intelligence

Though not bred for jobs like hunting or herding, Shih Tzus have their own instinctual intelligence, marked by their exceptional abilities in the companionship department.

Also Read:

Polish Dog: A Delightful Breed with Rich History and Lovable Personality

Shih Tzus in Training

Shih Tzus may not be the most obedient breed, but their independent thinking can be an asset during training.

  • Training Techniques Effective with Shih Tzus

Positive reinforcement techniques work well with this breed. Remember, a little patience goes a long way with these strong-willed pups.

Pros and Cons of Shih Tzus’ Intelligence

While their intelligence results in a charming and lovable pet, it can also lead to a bit of stubbornness. On the plus side, their intelligent problem-solving can be quite entertaining.

are shih tzus smart

How to Nurture Your Shih Tzu’s Intelligence

Encourage social interaction with different people and animals to enhance their social intelligence.

  • Training and Mental Stimulation

Regular training and mental stimulation, like puzzles and games, can improve their adaptive intelligence.

  • Physical Exercise

Physical exercise helps keep your Shih Tzu mentally sharp.


We’ve heard from numerous Shih Tzu owners who attest to their pet’s clever problem-solving, their instinctive abilities to provide companionship, and their quick learning when motivated.


So, are Shih Tzus smart? In their own unique way, yes! Their intelligence may not always conform to traditional measures, but they certainly have a brainpower worth admiring and nurturing.

Are Shih Tzus easy to train?

 While Shih Tzus may not be the easiest breed to train due to their independent nature, they are certainly capable learners when motivated correctly.

Are Shih Tzus good for first-time dog owners? 

Yes, Shih Tzus make great pets for first-time dog owners due to their adaptable and friendly nature.

What were Shih Tzus bred for? 

Shih Tzus were bred for companionship, particularly for royalty in ancient China.

How can I stimulate my Shih Tzu’s intelligence? 

Providing a mix of social interaction, training, mental stimulation through games and puzzles, and regular physical exercise can help stimulate a Shih Tzu’s intelligence.

Are Shih Tzus good with kids?

 Yes, Shih Tzus are generally good with kids and can be excellent family dogs due to their friendly and tolerant nature.