Shih Tzu love to play, even when they are fully grown.
The Shih Tzu's affectionate nature and playful disposition make them irresistible. The fact that these pups remain fairly small, coupled with their constant desire to play, can make them appear forever young.
However, Shih Tzu don't remain puppies forever, which brings us to the question…When are Shih Tzu fully grown?
Shih Tzu are considered adults at one year old, and they reach their full height of 8 to 11 inches at about 6 to 8 months. Shih Tzu then continue to gain weight until roughly two years old, and at this point, should cease to grow larger (provided a healthy diet is followed).
An adult Shih Tzu is 8 to 11 inches in height and can range from 9 to 16 pounds.
However, before they reach adulthood, Shih Tzu pups experience a variety of milestones and tend to mature at a slow rate.
Is this the reason why even older Shih Tzu continue to be so playful?
Shih Tzu puppies pass through some very specific stages before they are fully grown. Each phase features new milestones that help to ease the young pups into adulthood.
The following stages occur throughout the first year of a Shih Tzu’s life.
When Shih Tzu are born, they are deaf and blind, their eyes and ears are completely closed. It takes approximately 10 days before the pup can open its eyes for the first time.
Once the puppy has opened its eyes, it will take another two weeks for its vision to become clear.
After another week, roughly three weeks after birth, the young Shih Tzu finally gains its full sight. It is at this time that the puppy opens its ears for the first time and begins to hear.
Now, the little bundle of fur is able to start exploring its surroundings a bit more.
Between 3 and 6 weeks after birth, Shih Tzu begin to recognize their littermates, mother and also their human family.
This is the time when the pups first start to play with their puppy siblings.
Shih Tzu experience a lot of growth during this period, so they tend to rest frequently.
Once the Shih Tzu reaches 6 weeks old, they are ready to be weaned.
Although, since Shih Tzu tend to mature at a slower rate, it is recommended that they remain with their mothers for a longer period of time.
Now is the time to puppy-proof!
Shih Tzu start to get adventurous and curious during this stage, and their more developed senses encourage them to explore their surroundings.
Your pup is like an inquisitive toddler at this stage.
He will start to make his way around your home during this time, and he will find anything and everything that there is to find! So make sure you create a safe environment for your Shih Tzu puppy to investigate.
You will also notice that your pup will start to develop the characteristic Shih Tzu fluff during this stage as he starts to closer resemble the "lion dog."
During this stage is a good time to begin some basic puppy training, especially since this is also when teething begins.
When it comes to training, the earlier the better, since these lovable dogs can also come with a stubborn streak.
It is important to provide plenty of stimulation and chew toys to your puppy during these very productive months.
Your pup will grow very fast between two and eight months, and if possible, it is preferable to let pups stay with their mothers until 12 weeks.
By now, you should also have your pup on an appropriate, healthy diet that provides adequate nourishment for his rapid growth.
As your pup approaches adulthood, he will start to slow down in terms of growth rate.
Make sure to adjust your pup’s diet accordingly to account for this decreased growth.
Your Shih Tzu will grow more slow and steady during this phase, and at one year will be considered an adult dog.
If you consider that a full-grown Shih Tzu is between 8 and 11 inches, and between 9 and 16 pounds, then it is not a surprise that you might be confused by some Shih Tzu that are larger and some that are considerably smaller.
These dogs that are larger or smaller than the average Shih Tzu size are most likely not purebred Shih Tzu.
To be more accurate, they are particular dogs that have been bred in a way to purposely change their size, usually to make the dogs much smaller than the breed standard.
These small Shih Tzu are often given the fancy label of Teacup, Imperial or some other variation of a miniature Shih Tzu.
This name is simply to make the pups appear more exclusive and expensive when in truth, they are more likely to have a host of health issues that will cost owners even more money in the future.
Some of these dogs might be just slightly under normal weight. This could be the result of breeding two purebred pups that were both runts of their litters.
However, major problems can arise when breeders purposely aim for a full-grown Shih Tzu that is no more than five pounds.
Sometimes this result is achieved by intentionally introducing a specific gene that causes dwarfism so that the Shih Tzu's bones cannot grow to their full size.
These precious pups simply aren't meant to be this small, and their tiny stature leads to severe health conditions and also makes the pups weaker.
Heart disease, brittle bones, calcium deficiencies, and major breathing difficulties are just a few of the problems miniature Shih Tzu can experience.
Despite this increase in the likelihood of poor health, people are still drawn to the tiny, cute animals, paying anywhere from $2,000 to $3,000 for one.
The American Kennel Club do not recognize Teacup, miniature or Imperial Shih Tzu as dog breeds.
Instead, they claim that these pups' smaller sizes are simply a result of incorrect breeding or possible pre-existing health issues.
If the Shih Tzu is on the larger size, this could indicate that there was a larger breed in its ancestry, and therefore it is not considered a purebred.
This does not mean that it cannot be a wonderful pet, but it is something to be aware of if you have your heart set on a purebred Shih Tzu.
Shih Tzu puppies are undoubtedly cute and full of energy, but the breed does tend to mature slowly.
Therefore, if you choose an adult Shih Tzu as your new companion, you may still feel as if you have a playful puppy.
This can be a win-win, especially if the adult Shih Tzu has already mastered some basic training.
Even your adult Shih Tzu will still need plenty of opportunities for play if you want to avoid any potential behavior issues.
Whether you choose a Shih Tzu pup or a Shih Tzu that is fully grown, you are sure to have an incredible friend and playmate for many years.