The Shih Tzu is a sturdy little dog with a short muzzle and large dark brown eyes. They have a soft and long double coat. Although sometimes long, a Shih Tzu will not always have extremely lengthy hair . Some of them have more short, curly hair. This is purely a choice made by the owners. A Shih Tzu should stand no more than 26.7 cm at the withers and with an ideal weight of 4.5 to 7.3 kg. Floppy ears are covered with long fur, and the heavily furred tail is carried curled over the back. The coat may be of any color, though white and with blazes of grey are frequently seen. A very noticeable feature is the underbite, which is required in the breed standard.
The traditional long silky coat, which tends to reach the floor, requires daily brushing to avoid tangles. Because of their long coat and fast-growing hair, regular grooming is necessary, which may be expensive and should be taken into account when considering adopting one of this breed. Often, the coat is clipped short to simplify care, but the coat still requires daily brushing. For conformation showing, the coat must be left in its natural state, though trimming for neatness around the feet and anus is allowed. The shorter cut is typically called a "puppy cut" or a "teddy bear cut" when the puppy cut is accompanied by a fuller, rounder face, resembling a cute and cuddley stuffed animal.
Although an individual Shih Tzus temperament varies from dog to dog, the breed has a personality and temperament that is loyal, affectionate, outgoing, and alert. They tend to be possessive around other dogs. Training and proper socializing must start at a young age for the Shih Tzu to obey basic commands, for the Shih Tzu is prone to stubbornness when it comes to training. While the Shih Tzu is an excellent watchdog because of its alert and active nature, it was not specifically bred for this purpose. Unlike the Lhasa Apso, which was bred to be a sentinel dog that enjoys high perches and is wary of strangers, the Shih Tzu prefers to be close to its companions and will often offer strangers its affection. Because of its friendly nature, the Shih Tzu tends to interact well with other dogs and with children and adults. They do well with singles, couples, and families with older children. They may be a little temperamental with hyper or larger breeds, but generally, the Shih Tzu gets along well with other pets. They are generally well behaved and suitable for families.