Are Shih Tzu Good With Other Dogs?

MAY 8, 2019 | WRITTEN BY MOLLY

a Shih Tzu dog and another small dog breed meeting face to face

My Shih Tzu dogs are so awesome, but I may be a little biased.  My boys get along so well with each other and the neighborhood dogs, that I hadn't thought about how they would get along with dogs they didn't already know.

That is until someone asked me, "Are Shih Tzus good with other dogs?"

This got me wondering so I did a little research and here's what I found.

Shih Tzu are an outgoing and friendly dog breed which get along quite well with most dog breeds, large and small.  However, if the other dog is not socialized well it could have a negative effect on a Shih Tzus behavior.

Generally the Shih Tzu breed are calm and very playful, and enjoy a variety of canine friends. 

But keep in mind each dog has their own unique personality and circumstances.  

To say they will all behave exactly the same isn't very realistic.

So I decided to find out how my boys interacted with dogs they weren't already familiar with.

Shih Tzu and Other Dogs,  Big and Small Dogs

We visited a new dog park to see how they got along with other dogs, big and small and all different breeds.

As expected, they were comfortable and outgoing with each dog they met. 

It didn't matter what breed, or how big or small, they got along as if they had been friends forever.

They approached most of the dogs without hesitation, and carried on as if they didn't have a care in the world.  

It appears the Shih Tzus outgoing and friendly personality lets them easily adapt to virtually any well behaved dog.

But even though they played with both big and small dogs, they did have a preference with dogs closer to their own size.

Shih Tzu are definitely more playful, and energetic around other dogs.  

They may love spending time with their person, but when they have a furry friend to play with too, they shine.

I’ve talked with several Shih Tzu parents and the majority have all had similar experiences. 

In fact, several said it's unlikely you will find a Shih Tzu that doesn’t get along with another dog, no matter the breed.

That’s not to say that every single Shih Tzu will be well behaved, but it will be very far and few between.

But generally, a Shih Tzu is very good with other dogs unless they have had an unpleasant experience.

Not too long ago I met a woman who said she and her Shih Tzu had a bad experience at a dog park with a large dog.  

This encounter didn't go very well and appears to have created a fear of large dogs for her beloved pet.

According to this woman, this large dog had approached her Shih Tzu with a lot of energy, but not in an aggressive manner.  

Her Shih Tzu was uncomfortable with this approach and tried to move away. 

The bigger dog stopped him by pinning him to the ground, and with its teeth grabbed her Shih Tzu by the scruff of his neck.

It didn't hurt her dog, it may have just been playing, but it scared the heck out of her.

Seeing your furbaby in the mouth of a large dog would be a scary sight for any small dog parent to witness.

The larger dog may have been in his puppy stage and was still learning, or was never shown how to greet another dog.

Unfortunately it resulted in a fear of large dogs for both the Shih Tzu and this woman.   

The woman now finds herself getting anxious when a big dog is nearby. 

She will usually try to avoid them or pick her Shih Tzu up when the bigger dog gets closer.

But by picking him up, she is only reinforcing to her dog that she is not in control of the situation.  The Shih Tzu reacts with barking or even lunging toward the other dog.

The situation above can happen with any breed.  All dogs can develop a fear due to a bad experience and react with aggression.

Dogs that are very large, may be intimidating to a little dog when they first meet. 

Caution and care around larger more aggressive breeds is imperative. 

This little dog, although very sturdy and strong, is no match for a larger dog that is intent on quarreling.

It is also important to supervise dog play and greetings. 

If you see your Shih Tzu is uncomfortable with an encounter, you need to let him know that you are aware of it by taking control of the situation.

It is possible for your Shih Tzu to pick up some bad habits from other dogs, so be sure he learns how to be a good dog too.

Shih Tzu Socializing with Other Dogs

Two separate dog breeds interacting with each other.

Shih Tzu are generally not aggressive dogs. 

They enjoy being around people and are highly tolerant of other dogs.  In fact, they seem to thrive in a multi-dog home, or playing at the dog park.

However, much of their behavior towards people, dogs, cats and other pets, is learned by way of socialization.

Socializing is the act of introducing your dog to an assortment of new situations.   This includes interaction with people and other animals.

This usually begins when they are very young.

The more exposure they have with people and other dogs, the better they adapt to new situations.

A Shih Tzu have certain innate qualities…playful, happy, loving, trusting.

It isn’t very often you find an aggressive Shih Tzu.  If by chance you do, you will find the aggression is in the form of barking, and not in a violent attack.

But still, barking at another dog is not acceptable socialization. 

When dogs greet each other, it should not cause fear.

The Shih Tzu that was not shown how to greet another dog, can develop behavioral issues.  This is especially true if he has had a bad experience when meeting another dog in the past.

Let's say a Shih Tzus initial introduction to a larger dog was quite unsettling.  And the larger dog caused harm to the Shih Tzu, whether deliberate or not.

This would be the first impression this Shih Tzu has of a big dog and he may develop a fear towards larger dogs.

Dogs need to greet each other they way dogs do.  Yet, as in any new encounter, the dogs person should be ready to take control if thing go wrong.

When socializing dogs with each other, it is very important that it have a positive impact on your dog.

Tips to Socializing Your Shih Tzu With Other Dogs

A proper greeting should never be aggressive, or overwhelming.   

You need to ensure that initial contacts between a big or small dog is a positive one.

How is this done?

  • Have a play date.  A friend with a well-behaved dog would be a great way to expose your Shih Tzu to safely mingling with other dogs.  The more good experiences he has, the better he will be with meeting other dogs. 
  • Enroll in a dog socialization class.  These types of classes are all about showing your Shih Tzu a safe, and welcoming interaction with other dogs in a fun, non-threatening way.
  • Hire a private trainer.  A trainer will usually bring a well-behaved dog with them to help socialize your dog.  They will also teach you how to respond to bad situations and be in control at all times. 

Dog parks are a great place to bring your Shih Tzu for socializing with other dogs. 

But it shouldn't be the first place you bring your Shih Tzu when showing them how to socialize.

Most if not all the dogs at this park will be off leash. 

These off leash dogs will be curious about the “new guy” and there will be several dogs that come over to check him out. 

This could overwhelm your Shih Tzu and cause fear, which is exactly what you don’t want. 

Instead use the dog park only after your Shih Tzu has had a few positive interactions with other dogs.  

Also, visit the park by yourself at first and watch to see how the other dogs interact with each other.    

Only when you feel comfortable with what you see and hear should you bring your Shih Tzu there.

Shih Tzu dogs have a naturally pleasant disposition. 

But without proper socialization they may not always adapt well to new situations.

Final Thoughts

For the most part, Shih Tzu get along well with most other dogs. 

Keep in mind every circumstance is different and there may be a particular dog they just don’t get along with.

It's unrealistic to say that any dog breed will be perfect all the time, no matter their temperament.

Sometimes they may have a bad day.

So always be alert whether there is one, or many dogs around.

But other dogs are not the only interactions your Shih Tzu will have in his lifetime.  He will likely come in contact with other pets and children too.

Are Shih Tzu good with cats? 

Shih Tzu and cats are about the same size which may help.  Although a cat is a different animal, it’s very likely your Shih Tzu will look at your cat as another friend to play with.

Although your cat may not be all too happy about that.

Are Shih Tzu good with toddlers? 

Little girl holding her Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu may be a toy breed, but they are not a toy for children to play with. 

Shih Tzu are generally good with children.  However children have to learn to be respectful towards the Shih Tzu, as well as any other dog breed. 

Toddlers can be kind of rough with a dog. 

They may try to sit on them, poke them in the eye, or pull on their ears or tail. 

Of course, children are curious, but this kind of treatment isn’t at all fun for the Shih Tzu.

If a child continues to “torment” the dog, this sweet natured Shih Tzu could very well lash out with their teeth. 

It’s not the dog’s fault.

Children need to learn to handle dogs with care and not a toy. 

And parents need to teach their children how to interact with a Shih Tzu and other pets for that matter, with care.

All interactions between a very young child and a dog must be supervised to ensure safety of both.

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