Male vs. Female Shih Tzu: Which Is Better?

Male and female Shih Tzu sitting on a colorful bench

Deciding whether to get a male or a female Shih Tzu can be very tough because both genders have something great to offer. If you need some guidance in choosing, you have landed on the right page!

Male Shih Tzus are generally friendlier, more watchful, and more welcoming than females. They are also very eager to please and affectionate. Meanwhile, female Shih Tzus tend to be more confident, easy-going, and stubborn. They don’t bond well with kids, and they have unpredictable moods.

Note that no gender is better than the other. Choosing between genders should depend on whether the traits shown by a male or a female Shih Tzu are fit for your lifestyle. Keep reading this guide to learn more!

Physical Differences

Male and female Shih Tzu playing outdoors

Male Shih Tzu

A male Shih Tzu will generally weigh between 9 and 16 pounds and is approximately 8 to 11 inches tall at the shoulder. This is the standard size for the Shih Tzu breed.

Males have denser bodies and muscular build. However, it is hard to distinguish Shih Tzus just by their body structure since their bodies are covered with long and fluffy fur. Male Shih Tzus even share the same haircuts with their female counterparts.

Males may also be significantly more muscular and leaner than females due to higher testosterone levels.

Female Shih Tzu

Just like male Shih Tzus, females should stand from 8 to 11 inches tall and weigh between 9 and 16 pounds.

It is generally known that female dogs have smaller and thinner body frames compared to males because males have more muscle density. However, this is not the case with Shih Tzus. 

The female Shih Tzu will look exactly like its male counterpart. Without looking at their reproductive organs, you cannot easily deduce if the Shih Tzu in front of you is a male or a female. 

Nevertheless, the female Shih Tzu exhibits the staple long flowy coat, round button-like eyes, short snout, and round head of the breed. Female pups also have medium-length furry tails and small floppy ears.

You can also easily identify a female Shih Tzu when it is pregnant or nursing because it will have loopy breasts.

Temperamental Differences

Male Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu males are eager to please, watchful, and live for entertainment. These furballs love to play and form strong bonds with their humans, including children and other animals.

Shih Tzu males are also highly affectionate and charming. They could choose to stay on your lap the entire day and only leave for restroom breaks.

Male Shih Tzus are less temperamental, more tolerant, and more forgiving than females. However, they can also become quite sensitive sometimes. 

Although generally friendly, male Shih Tzus may also exhibit biting tendencies like other dogs, especially during puppyhood.

They can also have occasional “zoomies” where a burst of playful energy suddenly erupts. Luckily, there are a lot of ways to deal with hyperactivity and help your Shih Tzu to calm down.

Additionally, male Shih Tzus are perceptive to their owners’ behavior, mood, and how they react to them.

They will also develop a stronger attachment with females in their homes, albeit being affectionate with the rest of the family.

Female Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu females have a strong sense of independence. These pups have a reputation for being stubborn, especially if they did not receive proper training.

Female Shih Tzus will typically find a bond with a male owner rather than a female. They then tend to be more clingy than males only towards this specific person and could be exceedingly needy and attention-seeking.

This gender will also always demand its way and may even act out if she doesn’t get the attention she wants. Expect it to be around you all the time.

Take note, however, that as a female Shih Tzu is moodier than a male, they may suddenly be detached and find space for herself to enjoy. This is quite normal and something you should not worry about.

Shih Tzu females may also be possessive and exhibit domineering behaviors. Due to this, female Shih Tzus are more likely to fight than male Shih Tzus. Early socialization can stop certain behaviors like these from developing.

Behavior and Training

Cute male Shih Tzu puppy during training

Male Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu males have a strong desire to please, unlike females, who can be quite stubborn. Males respond well to positive reinforcement and will go out of their way in order to get a grin and a pat on the back.

However, male Shih Tzus learn slower than females because they are easily sidetracked. Nonetheless, many owners have trained them effectively with persistence, patience, and positive reinforcement.

Both males and females, however, will be difficult to train as this breed is known to be hard to housebreak. 

Male Shih Tzus, like other dogs, mark their territory by leaving their scent through urine. If they are neutered at a young age, they would likely never hump or lift a leg to urinate.

Female Shih Tzu

Many owners say that female Shih Tzus are easier to teach and train as these pups are more focused than males. Female Shih Tzus have the potential to develop a cunning trait and a desire to accomplish a lot of things. 

When housebreaking, challenging behaviors are most likely to arise from a female. To housetrain these pups, you’ll need to learn a couple of techniques and have a lot of patience.

Female Shih Tzus may also develop strong attachments to only one family member. Unlike a male Shih Tzu that would happily charm everyone in the family, a female one will more likely have a favorite person.

In my case, I used my female Shih Tzu’s attachment to me as an advantage for me to train it for obedience and different tricks. Her willingness to please me, along with my use of positive reinforcement techniques, made it quite easy for me to make her follow my commands.

In fact, she turned out to be my second-in-command in the kennel, tending to the pups, even of other breeds, on my behalf. She is also the peacemaker, breaking the fights of other dogs within the pack. Hence, the intelligence of a female Shih Tzu should not be underestimated.

To keep them from being overly possessive, they must be socialized with the rest of the family.

Early training and socialization are a must for all dogs, regardless of their gender and breed. Early training prevents unwanted behaviors such as the ones mentioned above from arising.

Health Differences

Male Shih Tzu

Shih Tzus have an average lifetime ranging from 10 to 18 years, especially if they are kept healthy. However, they are as susceptible to various health problems as other dog breeds.

Urinary stones are more common among male Shih Tzus. This disease can be fatal and happens when a stone becomes stuck in the small urethra. 

Stones could be developed due to metabolic abnormalities, nutrient deficiency in the diet, or infection. This could also be due to a genetic condition inherited from its parents.

Other medical disorders that target males include luxating patella, hernia, dry eye, glaucoma, juvenile renal dysplasia, retinal dysplasia, and respiratory issues.

Neutering your Shih Tzu brings a lot of health benefits. Neutering is a medical procedure where a vet removes the pup’s testes to take off its ability to father unwanted puppies.

This procedure could lessen the risk of testicular cancer for your male Shih Tzu. It could also spark a lesser desire to roam and fight with other male dogs.

Neutering is also said to offer long-term health advantages and prevent behavioral characteristics like aggressiveness and marking.

Vets typically advise having your Shih Tzu neutered between six and nine months. It is argued that the timing of neutering can affect your Shih Tzu’s behavior. Hence, make sure to have your dog neutered by vets only.

Female Shih Tzu

A female Shih Tzu may have a long and fulfilling life if given proper care. Unfortunately, this gender also suffers from common health issues, much like its male counterpart.

These illnesses include cancer, liver disease, kidney disease, ear infections, respiratory distress syndrome, cataracts, corneal injuries, and skin allergies.

If you own a female Shih Tzu, you should be on the lookout for signs such as vulvar discharge that is red or pink, excessive urination, exhaustion, restlessness, and mood changes.

These signs and symptoms typically manifest between 6 and 15 months when the female Shih Tzu is on the heat for the first time. 

If you do not plan on breeding, it is also recommended to spay your female Shih Tzu.

Spaying is a medical process that involves cutting a small incision in the abdomen and removing ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus to make a female dog infertile.

Spaying a female could reduce the discomfort your dog could experience when it is in heat. It could also minimize the risk of some cancers, such as uterine, ovarian, and breast cancer.

On the other hand, to ensure that you are getting a healthy puppy, look for one from a reputable Shih Tzu breeder who can provide health guarantees.

With Other Dogs and Pets

Female Shih Tzu sitting beside another breed

Male Shih Tzu

Both male and female Shih Tzus are known for being upbeat, friendly, and joyful. They often get along well with people of all ages, other dogs, and animals of many types. 

However, a male Shih Tzu is more affectionate and attentive to others’ behaviors and moods than females. Additionally, they are more dependable and welcoming of children and other animals.

If you have more pets at home, a male Shih Tzu may be a better choice as it would be easier for them to live with other pets.

Male Shih Tzus would still instinctually chase smaller pets. Nonetheless, they are less likely to chase them if they are socialized and introduced to other pets during their younger years.

Female Shih Tzu

Although female Shih Tzus are less affectionate and sociable than their male counterparts, these pups are tolerant towards other pets.

A female Shih Tzu may take a little longer to accept new pets but can still co-exist happily with other animals in the house.

Having other dogs around your female Shih Tzus can also be beneficial since they easily get bored, unlike males. They should always be occupied with activities such as playing, training, and walking.

However, you should consider the age gap of your dogs because a highly energetic young Shih Tzu may quickly tire out a female senior Shih Tzu.

With Children

Male Shih Tzu

Shih Tzus are fun-loving dogs that make wonderful family companions. These dogs’ small sizes, cheerful attitudes, and huggable physiques make them great with children.

A household with kids is compatible with a male Shih Tzu. A male Shih Tzu’ ’s playfulness matches well with a kid’s energy. Males are also less likely to become weary while playing than females.

However, a male Shih Tzu is harder to train. An untrained male Shih Tzu could pose a great risk to handsy children. One wrong touch could trigger a male Shih Tzu and lead it to bite the child.

This, however, happens very rarely as Shih Tzus are generally good with kids.

Female Shih Tzu

A female Shih Tzu will likely have its own way of having fun and may not jibe with your child as much as a male would. This does not mean, though, that they will not be affectionate and loving to your child.

A female Shih Tzu will also undoubtedly attempt to assert its authority and get its way as much as possible, unlike a male. This means that it may not play as much as your child expects.

Since female Shih Tzus are a little more aggressive than males, you should be more mindful of how your child interacts with them. A slight misstep on a tail could lead to an unfortunate incident.

Pros and Cons of Male and Female Shih Tzus 

Male and female Shih Tzu puppies on a bench

Male Shih Tzu

Male Shih Tzus are sociable and affectionate dogs that could fit into families with children of any age and pets. These small dogs are known for their charming personalities and are always ready to please their owners.

As sociable creatures, male Shih Tzus are more likely to form bonds with anyone they encounter. They win them over with their playful and energetic nature.

These canines will also develop attachments to all of their family members and will trust and rely on them wholeheartedly. They would want to be around them all the time.

This, however, could raise attachment issues if not properly handled. Male Shih Tzus could develop separation anxiety in extreme cases.

Being more playful than females, males are also easily distracted, which makes them harder to train. They are also not good guard dogs as they would likely play with a stranger than be wary of them. 

If not neutered early or weren’t given behavior training, your male Shih Tzu could also show aggressive humping and territorial marking behaviors. These issues can be avoided with proper housebreaking.

Bonds easier with kids and other petsHarder to train because they are easily distracted
Playful and affectionateTends to show territorial behavior when not trained and neutered
Eager to pleaseNot good guard dogs
Trustful, reliant, and loyalAttachment issues

Female Shih Tzu

On the other hand, female Shih Tzus are more independent and dominant than males. They are also easier to train because they are more focused than males. They don’t get easily distracted as they are less playful. 

Although they are also affectionate, female Shih Tzus are said to be moodier and less lively. This does not make them less adorable, though!

They also form bonds with kids and other pets slower than males because they tend to pick favorites among the family. Aside from that, they may also have their own fun ways and are less likely to obey you. 

Female Shih Tzus have unpredictable moods and insist on having their own ways, including their way of having fun, making them less sociable than males. 

Although seen as more dominant, female Shih Tzus are also not good guard dogs. They will either ignore the stranger or find a way to play with them, just like the males.

IndependentUnpredictable mood
Less energeticDominant and stubborn
Easier to train due to better attentionForms bonds slowly with kids and other pets
Can form a special bond and attachment to one personNot good guard dogs

Should You Get a Male or Female Shih Tzu? 

Before you purchase or adopt a Shih Tzu, there are a few essential aspects to consider in deciding on the appropriate gender for you.

Male Shih Tzus are the ideal picks if you want playful and cuddly dogs. These dogs can make good family companions because they are affectionate with children and other pets.

They are also friendlier with humans and other dogs compared to females. They have more energy and will always be eager to please anyone it comes in contact with.

Meanwhile, owners who do not have children in their homes should take home a female Shih Tzu, especially if they are just in search of a furry companion they can bond with at home.

Since female Shih Tzus are more likely to pick a favorite person, they can make good companions for aspiring dog owners who live alone. 

Female Shih Tzus may also be the perfect choice if you want an affectionate pup with less energy and playfulness. Females Shih Tzus are known to be laid-back in terms of movement and rowdiness than males. 

There are no specific observations that tell us which Shih Tzu gender sheds more since a male and female Shih Tzu’s physical traits are almost identical, especially with coat type. Its shedding rate is the same for both genders.

Frequently Asked Questions

Male and female Shih Tzu resting on the stairs

Are Male or Female Shih Tzus Calmer?

Female Shih Tzus are generally less energetic and calmer than males. Males are often more playful and energetic towards their owners, strangers, and other pets.

Male Shih Tzus will also follow you around and stick by your side throughout the day. Although some females may do this with their favorite person, this behavior is mostly seen in males.

Are Male or Female Shih Tzus More Affectionate?

Although female Shih Tzus are loving dogs, they are considered to be less affectionate than males. They are moody, and they remain affectionate only to their favorite person.

Male Shih Tzus are affectionate towards anyone, including other pets. They are less likely to be reserved and would show love to everyone they encounter.

Are Male or Female Shih Tzus Easier to Train?

Female Shih Tzus are easier to train as they are more attentive than males. They are also more focused than the opposite sex. Nonetheless, both genders could be quite challenging to housebreak.

Final Thoughts

Shih Tzus, whether male or female, are wonderful family pets since they are friendly and gregarious, and they get along well with children. They are playful animals who genuinely want to please their owners.

You should, however, take note of the differences as they could help you pick the dog for you. Choosing a Shih Tzu while considering its gender could match you to a pup that best fits your own personality and lifestyle as its owner. 

Although every possible difference between male and female Shih Tzu has been listed, the environment in which they are fostered ultimately determines how they grow.

Every Shih Tzu dog is unique and has a distinct personality, as any owner would confirm.

Do you have experience raising a male and female Shih Tzu? Which gender would you want to own? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!

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