Are Shih Tzu Good Apartment Dogs? How Much Space Do They Really Need?

APRIL 3, 2019 | WRITTEN BY MOLLY

Black and white Shih Tzu looking into the camera while relaxing in his apartment home

More and more apartments are becoming dog friendly.  This is great news for all us dog lovers.

But that doesn’t mean that just any dog is going to be a good fit for apartment living.  

You've decided that you want to get a Shih Tzu when you suddenly stop and say to yourself…are Shih Tzu good apartment dogs?

Because of their size and temperament, a Shih Tzu makes an excellent choice as an apartment dog.  They are fairly calm and quiet and are a very polite neighbor.

Shih Tzu are small enough where they don’t require a lot of space for comfort and don’t mind where they live, as long as they can be with you.

Although if you're thinking that getting a pair of Shih Tzu would be better, you want to be sure that your apartment is going to be big enough for more than one dog.

How Much Space Does a Shih Tzu Need

Some apartments, especially in a big city, can be on the small side. 

Because the Shih Tzu is small, and not a high energy dog, they don't need a lot of space for running around.

In fact, because they don't need anywhere near the amount of exercise some breeds do, your Shih Tzu won't be bouncing off the walls if they're stuck indoors all day.

A Shih Tzus temperament is that of a loving and affectionate little dog.  Who would rather curl up on your lap and be your little snuggle-bug.  Or happily play with his toys, rather than chasing a ball around.

However, he will still need a little space to call his own.

A dog needs a place they can go when they need some alone time.  And a Shih Tzu is no different.  

But because they are a small dog, less than 20 pounds and low to the ground, they don't need a lot of it.

A place they can hide out, when they are feeling overwhelmed.  Like from the commotion when family and friends come over for the Thanksgiving dinner you decided to host this year. 

Or when your friends large, rambunctious dog is visiting and won't leave him alone.

A crate provides a safe space for him to be during those times of high stress. 

If you find that space is very limited in your apartment, there is furniture that serves a dual purpose...a crate within an end table, Brilliant!   

But even if it's a little area under a bed, or even a closet, your Shih Tzu will be grateful.

Do Shih Tzu Need a Yard

You don't need to have a yard if you have a Shih Tzu.  They aren't meant to be tied up or fenced in while you're at work.  They are very much an indoor breed.

They do however need to go outdoors for some exercise, and for socialization.

Living in an apartment is not really any different from living in a house. 

They adapt well to nearly any living arrangement and are comfortable whether in a small city apartment or a large home.   

What About The Neighbors?

The neighbors are awfully close by when you live in an apartment.  And the walls can be thin too. 

If you have a yappy dog, your neighbors will probably hate you.  You'll be known as that inconsiderate neighbor, who allows their dog to bark at all hours of the night.

That could make your life pretty miserable.

This is another reason why Shih Tzu make great apartment dogs.  Not only are they low energy and fairly calm in doors, they aren't a yappy breed. 

Yes they bark, most dogs usually do. 

But as far as the constant, high pitched barking that you may find with other breeds (You know which ones I'm talking about), the Shih Tzu is fairly quiet.  And will be quite polite toward the neighbors. 

Which means Frank from the apartment across the hall, won't be pounding on your door at midnight because Fluffy won't stop barking.

In fact your Shih Tzu may be so friendly and adorable that your neighbors may find themselves unable to resist their charm.   And this can be a great opportunity finally meet your neighbors.  

Read the Apartment Pet Policy, or Face the Consequences

If you are lucky enough to live an apartment that accepts pets, congratulations!

More and more landlords are realizing that people love their pets. 

But before you bring home a dog, you must read the pet policies and follow them.

Most pet agreements include a list of acceptable breeds or restrictions. 

It also includes language for any dwelling damages caused from a pet.  As well as, any annoyance or discomfort to others, in connection with your dog.

Many dogs find themselves having to be brought back to the breeder, or ending up in a shelter, because of violations that were agreed to in the pet agreement. 

The last thing you want is to have to make the decision to either give up your apartment or your dog. 

That is a difficult decision to have to make.  And it isn’t fair that your dog will have to be moved out, because his human signed the pet agreement without actually knowing what the rules were.

Here are some of the rules that you will usually find in a pet agreement

  • Pet Restrictions – Landlords will usually have certain breeds that they will not accept listed in their pet policy.  These restrictions are usually for breeds that are deemed a high risk for aggressive behavior.

    It's doubtful that a Shih Tzu would ever be a breed listed on the restriction list.  However always be doubly sure that the policy doesn't list them for some oddball reason. 
  • Number of pets you can have.  Not only will the policy state which breeds are forbidden, but there may also be a restriction on the number of pets you can have in your apartment.  Or a combined weight limit, or something along those lines. 

    So, if you are thinking about getting more than one Shih Tzu, be absolutely sure you will not be breaking their policy.  Always ask if you are unsure.
  • Pet Fees – Some apartment complexes will have some on-site luxury amenities for pets like an indoor potty area, a pet spa, a play room and even pet day care services. 

    If your apartment complex offers any of these amenities be prepared to pay for that luxury with a high pet fee.

    But even if there are no specific pet amenities, you may still be expected to monthly pet fee.  However, some may not charge a pet fee at all, but instead charge a higher rent whether you have a dog or not.
  • Renters pet insurance – Lets face it, no pet is a perfect angel, and accidents do happen.  Most landlords will require you to carry pet insurance in case your dog causes any damages to the apartment, or in the event your dog may (gasp) bite someone.
  • Noise Disturbances – No one likes to be woken up in the middle of the night because the dog in the next apartment won't stop barking.  If they complain to the landlord, this could cause big problems for you and your dog.  So if your dog is barking continuously you should check to see what's up.

Final Thoughts

Not only do you have to make sure your apartment is ready for you Shih Tzu, but your Shih Tzu must be properly housetrained, and socialized. 

And, any behavior issues must be resolved before it gets worse.

Also be forewarned.  Although Shih Tzu make the perfect apartment dog, you have to be diligent in caring for him. 

That means feeding him nutritious food, grooming him often, keeping him healthy, a little exercise each day, playtime, and cuddling....lots of cuddling. 

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