How Closely Are Pugs and Shih Tzu's Related?

By Everything Shih Tzu November 13, 2022

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Black and white Shih Tzu and Pug dog standing next to each other

Anyone who has seen a Shih Tzu and a Pug side by side may notice some physical similarities, the most obvious of which are their short muzzles and large eyes.

Given the similarities between the two breeds, it is easy to see why many people think the Shih Tzu and the Pug are related, even though they aren't.

Shih Tzu and Pugs are not related, but they do share the same country of origin, China and both were popular with Chinese royalty, who bred Pugs with Pekingese, but not with Shih Tzu. 

So, while not related, Shih Tzu and Pugs still possess many similarities that make them more like honorary cousins.

The similarities between Shih Tzu and Pugs far outweigh the differences. 

How are Pugs and Shih Tzu the Same?

Both of these dog breeds make excellent companion animals and are good family pets. However, they are not interchangeable.

It's definitely easier to answer how Shih Tzu and Pugs are different because there are a vast number of similarities between the two breeds.

In fact, they are alike in almost every aspect, which makes choosing one over the other more about a personal connection with the individual dog rather than a matter of which dog is the better breed.

Besides both dogs originating in China as popular companions for royalty, here is a list of how Pugs and Shih Tzu are the same:

  • Shih Tzu and Pugs are brachycephalic dog breeds 

Being brachycephalic means they have broad, short skulls which gives them a short snout. This makes both dogs susceptible to breathing troubles and both animals tend to snort and snore, so if you keep your furry pal in bed with you at night, you might want some ear plugs.

  • Shih Tzu and Pugs are very friendly

Because of their friendly and playful personalities this makes them excellent pets for families. They are good with kids and love nothing more than to be around their owners.

  • Shih Tzu and Pugs like to get a lot of attention

Being attention seekers they are best suited for families that have the time to provide the appropriate amount of love and care.

If these dogs do not get enough attention, this can cause behavior issues, so make sure you provide adequate stimulation during the times that you are away from home.

  • Shih Tzu and Pugs tend to have a stubborn streak

This can present a challenge when it comes to obedience training and potty training.

Both breeds are very intelligent though, so with proper stimulation and dedication they have the ability to learn quite a lot of new words and tricks, but this could be a difficult task for the average dog owner

  • Shih Tzu and Pugs are good with other pets

Shih Tzu and Pugs are happy to extend their friendly nature to other family dogs, as long as they still get the attention that their breeds demand.

Care should be taken, however, in families with large dogs, as the smaller Shih Tzu and Pugs could get injured in rough play with larger animals.

  • Shih Tzu and Pug require minimal exercise

Mostly because of their small stature and easy going temperament, they don't need to burn off a lot of energy.

A daily walk and inside playtime are all these pups need.

They should not be exercised in excessive heat as their short snouts make breathing difficult and these breeds can get overheated quite easily.

Both animals bark infrequently, and this along with their low exercise needs make these pups a good choice for apartment living.

  • Shih Tzu and Pugs have a similar lifespan

These two breed have lifespans that ranges from 12-16 years.

  • Shih Tzu and Pugs both require daily brushing

Daily grooming is required for these two breeds, although the reasons for this and how they need to be groomed is very different (more on this below).

  • Shih Tzu and Pugs both have large, protruding eyes

Having large and protruding eyes leaves both breeds susceptible to various eye issues.

The eyes should be kept clean, and the Shih Tzu’s long hair should be kept trimmed back to avoid causing eye infections.

Don’t let anyone (especially children) play rough with these two breeds as this may just cause the eyes to come out of their sockets.

Shih Tzu and pug laying down together

How are Pugs and Shih Tzu Different?

As mentioned before, the similarities between Shih Tzu and Pugs far outweigh the differences, so there are not many things that separate the two breeds.

The main characteristics that vary between the two pups are their size, coats and grooming methods, and cost.

  • Shih Tzu and Pugs vary slightly in their size. Pugs are generally larger and can weigh up to 20 pounds, compared to 16 pounds for a Shih Tzu. Pugs can grow to be approximately 14 inches tall, compared to 11 inches for a Shih Tzu.

  • Shih Tzu and Pugs both require grooming, although the Shih Tzu’s long, silky coat calls for much more extensive brushing and care.

    Pugs have short-haired coats which keep brushing needs to a minimum, although daily brushing is still recommended to get rid of the dead hair since Pugs shed a LOT.

    Shih Tzu do not shed as much, but they still require daily brushing to avoid painful tangles and their long coats will also need regular trimmings.

  • Shih Tzu and Pugs come at a different price. From a breeder, Shih Tzu puppies, on average, start at about $750, while a Pug puppy will cost you about $900.

    Keep in mind, however, if you are going to use a professional groomer for your dog, you will pay a lot more in grooming for a long-haired Shih Tzu than the short-haired Pug.

If you have your heart set on one or the other, then only that breed might do.  Either breed is an excellent breed choice which may make choosing just one more difficult.

But, if choosing between one or the other proves difficult there is always the Pug Tzu.

What is a Pug Tzu?

Tan and black Shih Tzu and Pug mix

If you can't make up your mind between a Shih Tzu or a Pug, then there is a possible solution.

You may want to consider a Pug Tzu, the mixed breed resulting from crossing a Shih Tzu with a Pug.

Pug Tzu display many of the same characteristics as both Shih Tzu and Pugs and can inherit any combination of either breeds’ colors.

Pug Tzu have a short muzzle and big eyes, just like their Shih Tzu and Pug parents, and they can reach about 14 inches in height and weigh up to 20 to 22 pounds.

Just like its Shih Tzu and Pug parents, the Pug Tzu has an affectionate and playful personality that make it an excellent choice for a family pet.

It loves to be around people and won’t snub its nose at a stranger.

Keep that bit of information in mind if you’re looking for a watchdog because this little guy probably isn’t your best bet for a guard.

When it comes to grooming a Pug Tzu, it will require daily brushing just like its parents, but the extent of the necessary grooming will depend on the qualities of its coat.

If a Pug Tzu has inherited more of the long-haired Shih Tzu coat, for example, then it will require more involved grooming.

By now you can definitely see that Shih Tzu and Pugs are alike in many ways.

If you’re considering either one of these dogs as your next pet companion, there are very few differences that you will need to think about when you make your decision.

When you consider all of the similarities between these two breeds, you’ll quickly see that although Shih Tzu and Pugs are not related, they are most certainly kindred spirits.

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