Are Shih Tzus Chinese Guard Dogs?

Throughout history, dogs have served various roles, from herding livestock to protecting their owners from potential threats. Among the many breeds that have emerged over the centuries, the Shih Tzu stands out as a distinct and captivating breed. With it’s long, flowing hair and charming demeanor, the Shih Tzu has captivated animal lovers around the world. However, beyond it’s endearing appearance, the Shih Tzu holds a fascinating historical significance. Originating from ancient Chinese dynasties, the Shih Tzu was bred by Tibetan monks who sought to create the perfect companion and guard dog for emperors and their royal courts. The lineage of this breed can be traced back over 2,000 years through ancient artistic representations, showcasing it’s enduring popularity and importance throughout Chinese history.

Will a Shih Tzu Protect Me?

Their alert nature and tendency to bark at unfamiliar sounds or people can make them excellent watchdogs. While they may not physically protect you against an intruder, their incessant barking could deter them from approaching further. Shih Tzus are known for their loyalty and devotion to their owners, so they’ll do their best to alert you of any potential threats.

Some dogs may be more inclined to protect their owners, while others may be more timid or non-confrontational. Regular socialization and training can help develop their protective instincts and make them more confident in guarding their territory and loved ones.

In terms of their history, Shih Tzus were originally bred as lapdogs and companions for Chinese royalty. They weren’t specifically bred for guarding purposes, but rather for providing companionship and entertainment to their owners. Their small size and gentle nature made them ideal lapdogs, and they were highly valued in Chinese palaces.

Despite their historical background, it’s important to remember that domesticated dogs, including Shih Tzus, have been bred and raised for thousands of years to live alongside humans. They’ve become accustomed to relying on humans for protection and often prioritize the safety of their owners over anything else. While they may not possess the physical capabilities of larger guard dogs, their loyalty and dedication to their owners can still make them effective in certain protective roles. However, it’s always recommended to supplement their instincts with proper training and socialization to ensure their effectiveness as watchdogs.

Tips for Socializing and Training a Shih Tzu to Be a Better Watchdog

  • Establish a routine for training and socializing your Shih Tzu
  • Introduce your Shih Tzu to various people, animals, and environments
  • Use positive reinforcement techniques, such as treats and praise, to motivate and reward good behavior
  • Teach basic obedience commands, such as sit, stay, and come
  • Encourage your Shih Tzu to be alert and attentive to their surroundings
  • Expose your Shih Tzu to different sounds and noises to desensitize them
  • Provide mental stimulation with interactive toys and games
  • Enroll your Shih Tzu in obedience classes or work with a professional dog trainer
  • Be patient and consistent in your training efforts
  • Reward your Shih Tzu for displaying protective instincts, but also teach them to differentiate between friendly and threatening situations

Watch this video on YouTube:

The origins of the Shih Tzu can be traced back to Tibet, where it’s thought to have been created by crossing the Pekingese and the Lhasa Apso breeds. This unique blend of ancestry contributes to the Shih Tzu’s distinctive appearance and charming personality.

What Two Breeds Make a Shih Tzu?

The Shih Tzu is a toy dog breed that’s it’s origins in Tibet. It’s believed to be a result of crossbreeding between two other breeds, the Pekingese and the Lhasa Apso. The Pekingese is a small dog breed that’s known for it’s regal appearance and it’s long, flowing coat. It’s a sturdy build and a strong jaw. The Lhasa Apso, on the other hand, is a slightly larger breed with a more playful and independent nature. It’s a thick double coat and a distinctive lion-like appearance.

The combination of these two breeds in the Shih Tzu results in a small, sturdy dog with a luxurious, flowing coat. Shih Tzus are known for their affectionate and friendly nature, making them popular as family pets. They’ve a reputation for being excellent companions and are often described as being highly sociable and outgoing.

Despite their small size, Shih Tzus aren’t known for being aggressive or intimidating guard dogs. They were originally bred to be companion animals for Chinese royalty, and their main role was to provide affection and companionship. However, they’re known to be alert and can make good watchdogs, as they’re quick to alert their owners to any potential threats or intruders.

In terms of appearance, Shih Tzus have a distinctive round face and large, expressive eyes. Their coat is long, dense, and often requires regular grooming to keep it looking it’s best. They come in a variety of colors, including gold, black, white, and shades of brown.

They’re wonderful companions and bring joy to their owners with their playful and affectionate personalities.

Source: Shih Tzu – Wikipedia

Additionally, their gentle and affectionate nature makes them more inclined to be loyal companions rather than fierce hunters. Their small size and non-aggressive temperament also make it unlikely that they were historically used for hunting. Instead, Shih Tzus have long been beloved as delightful family pets, known for their charming personalities and luxurious coats.

Were Shih Tzus Used for Hunting?

Shih Tzus, with their adorable appearance and friendly temperament, may not be the first breed that comes to mind when thinking about hunting companions. In fact, these charming canines weren’t intended for hunting purposes in their breeding history. Shih Tzus originated in China and were specifically bred to be indoor dogs, favored by Chinese royalty and nobility as treasured lap dogs. Their small stature, short legs, and physical characteristics make them better suited for indoor living rather than the ruggedness of the hunting field.

One of the main reasons Shih Tzus aren’t ideal hunting companions is their short legs. As small dogs, their legs simply lack the agility, strength, and speed necessary for the rigors of hunting. While they can navigate everyday activities with ease, they’d find it challenging to keep up with the fast-paced pursuits typically associated with hunting. Their diminutive size may prevent them from being able to effectively traverse certain terrains or successfully chase down prey.

Additionally, Shih Tzus have a tendency to overheat. Due to their compact size and the structure of their respiratory system, they’re more prone to overheating than other breeds. This vulnerability to overheating makes them unsuitable for prolonged physical activities such as hunting, where they may be exposed to extreme temperatures and exert themselves for extended periods.

Another factor to consider is their breathing concerns. Shih Tzus are brachycephalic, meaning they’ve short and flat faces. This distinctive facial structure can lead to respiratory issues and difficulty breathing, especially during intense exercise. Hunting requires dogs to exert themselves physically, and the breathing challenges associated with being brachycephalic could hinder their ability to perform well in such demanding tasks.

Shih Tzus are known for their loving and affectionate nature towards all members of their family. While they form strong bonds with everyone, they often develop a special connection with one person in the family. This bond is typically formed with the person who invests the most time and attention into their care and playful interactions.

Do Shih Tzus Have Favorite People?

Shih Tzus, known for their affectionate nature, can indeed have a favorite person within the family. These adorable little dogs are naturally drawn to those who shower them with attention, engage in playtime regularly, and invest time in their care.

The Shih Tzu breed isn’t only cherished for it’s loving nature towards children but also for it’s adaptability to apartment living and smaller spaces. This makes them an ideal choice for individuals or families who may not have access to a large backyard or ample outdoor space.

What Is the Shih Tzu Breed Known For?

They’re also known for their friendly and outgoing nature, making them excellent family pets. Shih Tzus are very loyal to their owners and love to be the center of attention.

While they may have a stubborn streak at times, they’re generally eager to please their owners and can learn a variety of commands and tricks. Positive reinforcement training methods work best with Shih Tzus, as they respond well to praise and rewards.


The existence of artistic renderings that date back thousands of years further emphasizes the longstanding presence of Shih Tzus in Chinese culture. While it may be tempting to think of them solely as adorable lap dogs today, their roots as guardian companions shouldn’t be forgotten. Shih Tzus, with their regal demeanor and loyal instincts, continue to carry a piece of their Chinese heritage with them, giving us a glimpse into their past as esteemed guardians.

Scroll to Top