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Poodle vs Shih Tzu: 5 Most Important Factors

When choosing a dog breed as a companion, two popular options are Shih Tzus and Poodles. Both of these small dogs have unique characteristics, making them highly sought after by dog lovers worldwide. But how do you decide to get a poodle vs shih tzu dog? 

This article will delve into the similarities and differences between Shih Tzus and Poodles, shedding light on their temperament, appearance, grooming needs, and overall suitability as pets.


Poodle vs Shih Tzu: 6 Factors to Consider

1. Physical Characteristics

When choosing between a Poodle and a Shih Tzu, one of the most important factors is their physical characteristics. Shih Tzus have distinctive faces with large, expressive eyes, flat, pushed-in noses and compact, sturdy bodies.

Poodles, on the other hand, have a more refined and elegant appearance. They have a distinctive curly or corded coat often clipped in various stylish patterns.

In this section, we will look closer at these two breeds’ sizes, coats, and colors.


Poodles come in three sizes: standard poodle, miniature poodle, and toy poodle. The standard Poodle can weigh between 40 to 70 pounds and stand 18 to 24 inches tall at the shoulder. Miniature Poodles stand between 11 to 15 inches tall and weigh between 10 to 15 pounds. Toy Poodles are the smallest of the three, standing at only 10 inches tall and weighing between 4 to 6 pounds.

white shih tzu with pink flower shih tzu vs poodle

On the other hand, the Shih Tzu is a small dog, weighing between 9 to 16 pounds and standing 8 to 11 inches tall. These lap dogs are more compact than Poodles, and their small size makes them ideal for apartment living.


Both Poodles and Shih Tzus are known for their unique coats, but there are some differences. Poodles have a thick, curly coat that requires regular grooming to prevent matting. They are also known to be hypoallergenic, making them a great choice for people with allergies.

Shih Tzus, on the other hand, have long, silky hair that requires daily brushing to prevent tangles and matting. These purebred dogs are not hypoallergenic, so they may not be the best choice for people with allergies.


Poodles come in various colors: black, white, brown, gray, and apricot. Some Poodles may also have markings or partial-coloring, which adds to their unique look.

Shih Tzu dogs also come in various colors: black, white, brown, and gold. This small breed may also have markings on their face or body, such as a white blaze on their forehead or a white chest.

golden toy poodle with tongue out poodle vs shih tzu

2. Shih Tzu vs Poodle: Temperament and Personality

Regarding temperament and personality, both Poodles and Shih Tzus are known for being friendly and affectionate dogs. However, there are some differences in their energy level, trainability, and socialization needs.

Energy Level

Poodles are generally more energetic than Shih Tzus, requiring more exercise and playtime. These energetic dogs are known for being active and playful and love running and playing. On the other hand, the Shih Tzu breed is more relaxed and laid-back, and doesn’t require as much exercise or activity (and the breed standard is for short legs).


Poodles and Shih Tzus are intelligent dogs, but Poodles are generally easier to train than Shih Tzus. Poodles are known for being quick learners and are highly trainable, making them an excellent choice for first-time dog owners. Shih Tzus can be more difficult to train, as they can be stubborn and independent.

white shih tzu with mouth open


Poodles and Shih Tzus are affectionate dog breeds that love being around their owners. Poodles are known for being loyal and devoted to their families, while Shih Tzus are known for being friendly and outgoing. They both thrive on attention and affection from their owners and love to cuddle and snuggle.


Poodles and Shih Tzus are social dogs that love being around people and other animals. However, Shih Tzus can be more outgoing and friendly with strangers, while Poodles can be more reserved and aloof. 

3. Grooming and Care

Both the Shih Tzu and Poodle have high grooming requirements but in different ways. 

golden toy poodle face


Shih Tzus have a long coat that requires daily brushing to prevent mats and tangles. Regular trimming is also necessary to keep their long hair from getting too long and causing discomfort. Conversely, poodles have curly hair that needs to be clipped every six to eight weeks to maintain their shape. They also need daily brushing to prevent mats and tangles. Additionally, Poodles require ear cleaning, teeth brushing, and nail trimming regularly.

Both of these small breeds need regular bathing to keep their coats clean and healthy. It is essential to use a mild shampoo specifically formulated for dogs to avoid irritating their skin.

Exercise and Activity

Shih Tzus are a low-energy breed and do not require a lot of exercise. A short daily walk and indoor playtime are usually enough to keep this little lion dog happy and healthy. Having said that, they still benefit from mental stimulation and short play sessions.

Poodles, on the other hand, are a high-energy breed and require more exercise. They enjoy long walks, runs, and playing games like fetch. They are highly trainable and excel in obedience training and dog sports such as agility and rally.

white shih tzu on lead outside

4. Health Issues

Both Shih Tzus and Poodles are prone to specific health conditions. Shih Tzus are prone to eye problems, such as cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy and corneal ulcers patellar luxation, as well as dental problems. Poodles are prone to hip dysplasia, bloat, genetic diseases and skin allergies.

In terms of lifespan, Shih Tzus typically live between 10 to 16 years, while Poodles have a slightly longer life expectancy of 12 to 15 years or more, depending on the size variant.

Do make sure you only get your puppy from a reputable breeder. This article from the American Kennel Club will let you know the questions to ask. 

You might enjoy reading my posts on the Shih Tzu Chihuahua MixImperial Shih TzuShih Tzu MiniShih Tzu PomeranianShih Tzu mixed with YorkieHow long do shih tzus liveMaltese Mix Shih Tzu PoodleMaltese Mix Shih Tzu and Shih Tzu Mixes. 

5. Lifestyle Compatibility

When choosing between a Poodle and a Shih Tzu, lifestyle compatibility is an essential factor to consider. These breeds have different needs and temperaments that may or may not fit your lifestyle. This section will explore the living environment, family members and small children, and other pets’ compatibility with Poodles and Shih Tzus.

grey and white toy poodles

Living Environment

Poodles and Shih Tzus have different living environment needs. Poodles are more active and require more exercise than Shih Tzus. They enjoy going for walks, playing in the backyard, and participating in activities such as agility training. On the other hand, Shih Tzus are content with short walks and indoor playtime. These companion dogs are well-suited for apartment living and do not require a large outdoor space. However, they can suffer from separation anxiety if left on their own for long periods of time. 

Family and Children

Both of these small dog breeds can make great family pets. However, it is essential to note that Shih Tzus may be the best breed for families with older children. They are small and delicate, and young children may accidentally injure them.

Poodles, on the other hand, are more robust and can handle rough play. Both breeds are friendly and affectionate with their families, but Shih Tzus may be more reserved with strangers.

white european shih tzu

Other Pets

If you have other pets in your home, it is important to consider their compatibility with a new dog. Poodles and Shih Tzus can get along well with other pets but have different temperaments. Shih Tzus are more sociable and get along better with other pets in the home. Poodles can be aloof towards strangers and other animals and may require more socialization to get along with them.

Toy Poodle vs Shih Tzu: Which breed is the best dog for you?

In conclusion, the Poodle and Shih Tzu are great breeds that make wonderful pets. They are both small and adorable, with many similarities and differences.

When it comes to grooming, both breeds require regular grooming and maintenance. However, the Poodle is slightly easier to groom between the two. They also have different coat types, with the Poodle having a curly, hypoallergenic coat and the Shih Tzu having a long, silky coat.

white toy poodle with tongue out

Regarding personality, both breeds are great for children and make excellent family pets. However, the Poodle is known for its high intelligence and obedience, while the Shih Tzu is known for its playful and affectionate personality.

Ultimately, the best way to decide between a Poodle and Shih Tzu will come from personal preference and lifestyle. The Poodle may be the better choice if you have allergies or prefer a hypoallergenic breed. If you live in a small apartment or prefer a more laid-back dog, the Shih Tzu may be a better fit.

Regardless of your breed, the Poodle and Shih Tzu will provide you with years of love and companionship.

You might enjoy reading my posts on:

The Irish Doodle

Havanese vs Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu vs Pekingese

American Shih Tzu vs European Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu vs Yorkie

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