Before adopting a shih tzu, a would-be dog owner should consider whether this breed suits his lifestyle and the living conditions he can offer it. As the search narrows to a specific dog, the prospective owner needs to find out as much as possible about the dog's history and health.
The shih tzu is a toy dog of Tibetan origin. It is an affectionate, intelligent companion dog that requires a large amount of interaction and attention. It adapts readily to most indoor settings and does well in obedience and agility competitions. It requires regular grooming and can have issues with excessive barking. It can also be a difficult breed to housebreak.
The shih tzu tends to be heat sensitive, making it unsuitable for outdoor living. It is prone to having missing or misaligned teeth and needs regular veterinary dental care. It is vulnerable to eye injuries and inherited eye diseases and prone to respiratory problems. The shih tzu also frequently suffers from easily displaced kneecaps and hereditary kidney disorders. Proper diet is important to keep a shih tzu at a healthy weight.
While searching for the right dog, adopters should beware of shelters or rescues that are actually fronts for puppy mills or other unethical or illegal businesses. Ethical breeders, shelters and rescues usually require a contract that spells out their expectations, what they are willing to do to assist the new dog owner and what their return policies are if the adoption doesn't work out. They are also usually happy to tell the adopter what they know about the dog's background.