Shih tzus are companion dogs, meaning that they make good pets because they crave human companionship. Because Shih tzus do not hunt or guard, they are typically friendly to most humans and dogs they encounter. Shih tzus love to play with kids, but the play should be monitored so the dog doesn't get hurt by an overanxious child.
Because shih tzus are only about a foot tall when standing on all four legs and weigh on average between 10 and 15 pounds, they are able to easily adapt to living in tighter quarters than larger dogs. Shih tzus are often owned by apartment dwellers and those who live in smaller homes. Regardless of where a shih tzu lives, it is important that it is able to stay cool — either through natural means or thanks to an air conditioner. These dogs are especially susceptible to heat strokes if they get too hot and their long coats do nothing to help cool them off.
Shih tzus are one of the oldest known dog breeds. It has been documented that they were around during the Ming Dynasty, and shih tzu bones dating back as far as 8000 BC have been found. Despite their warm dispositions, shih tzus were called "little lion dogs."