Dog Breed Travel Profile: Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu is the quintessential lap dog. Lively and affectionate without being too hyper, this breed can be a great travel companion depending on the type of trips you like to take. Its short stature and long coat of fur make it tailored more for city dwellers and indoor refinements than, say, safaris or other backcountry adventures. Great with people including children, the Shih Tzu is fine with most crowds and modes of transportation.

The Shih Tzu coat comes in many different colors and variations. Most every dog is adorable, so it’s helpful to avoid falling in love until you actually own the dog. It may be hard if not impossible to find another one exactly the same.


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Size and Travel Options

Weighing between 9-16 pounds and standing 8-11 inches tall, most Shih Tzus are small enough to travel in the cabin on a commercial flight. Taller examples of this breed may struggle to comfortably sit and stand in their crate, so be sure to get a soft-sided carrier with the maximum dimensions allowed by your favorite airline. Like other short-faced breeds, it’s best to avoid putting your Shih Tzu on a cargo travel itinerary in case of stress-induced respiratory distress.

When it comes to getting a new Shih Tzu puppy flown to your local airport, know that most airlines require dogs be at least 10 weeks old along with having their first rabies shot.

Personality as a Travel Companion

If you’re looking for a dog that’s lively and outgoing without needing a ton of exercise, the Shih Tzu is likely a wonderful choice. The breed’s long, beautiful coat is a huge part of its adorableness and overall charm, but it does carry with it certain grooming needs. Many owners find the dog’s daily brushing routine to be their own relaxation and meditation practice, but you can find a groomer easily enough if that helps with your travel plans. Also, the Shih Tzu is sure to be a source of comfort and/or an excuse to step away for a minute when traveling for family functions. It also helps that the breed is hypoallergenic.

Because Shih Tzus are such people-oriented dogs, training methods based on praise and rewards work best. This also makes the training more fun. Trainable and eager to please, the Shih Tzu nevertheless has a habit of trying to charm its way out of learning the necessary skills. So stay diligent, especially when the Shih Tzu is a puppy. In return, you’ll have an amazing and reliable travel companion for many years to come.

Health and Longevity

The Shih Tzu is one of the healthier and longer-living dog breeds out there. Most animals live to be between 10-18 years old. They do have some health issues common to most dog breeds including hip dysplasia and patellar luxation, but fewer than most breeds. Like other dogs with a long coat of fur, the Shih Tzu can be vulnerable to overheating. It’s a good idea to open the air vent above your seat on a plane and to ask the flight attendant for some extra ice that you can feed into the travel carrier’s water bowl. More generally, their short-face profile means their eyes are more vulnerable to irritation and infection.

Shih Tzu Breeders and Adoption Centers

Given the wide range of life expectancies and the fact that the tallest Shih Tzus may struggle with airline-approved carriers, many people opt to work with a professional breeder to find the perfect animal for them. With a little searching, you can also find a Shih Tzu from an adoption center. These dogs often cost about $300-$600 to help pay for the shelter and animal supplies. For a healthy Shih Tzu puppy from a reputable breeder, we’ve seen online sources quote a price range from $1,000-$2,500+. It’s hard to quote prices since there are large regional differences in dog breeding costs, as well as top-end prices for show dog breeding lines.

The Pekingese can be a popular mix with the Shih Tzu, especially for travel-minded owners. The Pekingese is an even smaller breed increasing the likelihood that your puppy will stay small enough to comfortably travel with you in the cabin of the plane.