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Shih Tzu vs Pekingese: 8 Important Factors

When comparing the Pekingese and Shih Tzu breeds, you might wonder which adorable, small dogs would be your perfect companion. Both breeds have a rich history and unique characteristics that set them apart. Understanding their key differences will help you make an informed decision regarding Shih Tzu vs Pekingese. 

The main differences between Pekingese and Shih Tzus involve their body shape, face shape, coat, and temperament. Pekingese typically have a flatter face with more wrinkles, a thicker coat, and a heavier front body than their back. On the other hand, the Shih Tzu breed is known for their long, silky coat and shed very little. The lion dog also has a more balanced body shape than the Pekingese breed, making them appear slightly more proportional.

Both Pekingese and Shih Tzus can be great companions, but their varying temperaments and maintenance requirements might sway your decision on which is the best dog for you.

brown and white pekingese with head tilted

1. Shih Tzu vs Pekingese: History and Origin

Ancient China Roots

Shih Tzus and Pekingese have their roots in ancient China. These dog breeds were kept as loyal companions to emperors and their households. To the untrained eye, they could be easily mistaken for one another, but there are subtle differences between the two breeds.

The Shih Tzu is believed to have descended from a cross between the Pekingese and Lhasa Apso. This toy breed was a favorite of the Chinese royals, and so prized that, for years, the Chinese refused to sell, trade, or give any away.

ginger european shih tzu

They were often called “little lion dogs” due to their impressive mane-style coats. You can trace Shih Tzus’ existence in China back to the Tang Dynasty over a thousand years ago, but their popularity grew significantly during the Ming Dynasty.

The Pekingese’s history dates back over 2,000 years, and they were known as “lion dogs” or “sun dogs” in ancient China. They were bred exclusively for the ruling class and were highly valued for their unique appearance. Pekingese were so cherished that they were often given as gifts to visiting dignitaries from other countries.

Both breeds have a strong connection to Buddhism. In Tibetan monasteries, these dogs were considered good luck charms. They were often depicted as companions to the various Buddhas and are said to embody the qualities of loyalty and devotion.

2. Pekingese vs Shih Tzu: Physical Characteristics

Size and Weight

Regarding size and weight, Shih Tzus and Pekingese have some variations. An adult Shih Tzu typically stands between 9-10.5 inches tall, while a Pekingese measures around 6-9 inches in height. In terms of weight, adult Shih Tzus can weigh up to 16 pounds compared to the Pekingese, which weigh between 7-15 pounds.

white pekingese up close shih tzu vs pekingese

Body Shape and Face

The body shape and face of these two breeds show noticeable contrasts. Pekingese have a heavier front than their back, creating a unique pear-shaped body. On the other hand, Shih Tzus possess a more balanced body shape.

Another significant difference lies in their facial structure. Pekingese have a flatter face with more wrinkles, making their eyes and nose appear closer together. In contrast, Shih Tzus have a rounder face with a slightly longer snout.

long haired european shih tzu

Coat Type and Colors

The coat type and colors of Shih Tzus and Pekingese also differ. Shih Tzus are known for their luxurious, long, and silky coat, which sheds very little. Pekingese have a thicker, double coat that is typically heavier and requires more grooming.

Regarding color variations, Shih Tzus can be found in numerous color combinations, including black, white, brown, gold, or a mix of these colors. Pekingese, conversely, come in shades such as fawn, red, black, or a mix of these tones, often coupled with a black mask.

3. Shih Tzu or Pekingese: Personality and Temperament

Shih Tzu Traits

Regarding Shih Tzu personality, you can expect a friendly and affectionate companion. These dogs are known for their loving nature and ability to get along well with people. They are usually very playful, making them excellent pets for families with children.

Shih Tzus are intelligent dogs, but they can also be quite stubborn. This can make training a bit challenging, but you can overcome these hurdles with patience and positive reinforcement. Remember to consistently train to help your Shih Tzu become well-behaved over time.

white shih tzu with pink flower

One of the most vital traits of Shih Tzus is their loyalty. They often form strong bonds with their owners and can become protective of their territory. Socializing your Shih Tzu from an early age is essential to prevent any aggression or territorial behaviors.

You might enjoy reading my article about the shih tzu pug mix dog.

Pekingese Traits

Pekingese dogs have quite a distinct temperament, which makes them unique and charming pets. They are affectionate and loyal, developing strong bonds with their owners. However, unlike the Shih Tzu, Pekingese can be less tolerant of children and require more attentive supervision when playing with younger family members.

pekingese dog on yellow background

Pekingese personalities tend to be more independent and quite stubborn when it comes to training. You’ll need to establish yourself as a leader and employ consistent training methods with your Pekingese, making the process more demanding than with a Shih Tzu.

Intelligence is another key trait of the Pekingese dog. They are quick learners, but their stubborn nature may overshadow this attribute. It’s important to stay patient and persistent during training to bring out the best in your Pekingese.

Regarding playfulness, a Pekingese may be less active than a Shih Tzu. They prefer a more laid-back lifestyle but do enjoy the occasional playtime. It’s essential to be mindful of the Pekingese’s exercise requirements and not overdo it, as their unique body shape may lead to health issues if overexerted.

4. Pekingese or Shih Tzu: Compatibility with Families and Living Environment

Child and Pet Friendly

When it comes to choosing a pet for your family, it’s essential to consider their compatibility with children and other pets. Shih Tzus are friendly and affectionate and love to be around people, especially children. They are playful and enjoy spending time with their family, making them ideal for families with kids.

On the other hand, Pekingese dogs are moderately family-friendly. They can be good with older children, but their stubborn nature may sometimes be challenging for younger kids.

Both breeds can coexist with other pets in a household. However, Shih Tzus are more pet-friendly while Pekingese dogs may show stubbornness or reluctance to socialize with other animals.

white shih tzu with mouth open

Apartment and Lifestyle Suitability

Shih Tzus and Pekingese dogs are both small-sized breeds, which makes them suitable for apartment living. Due to their minimal exercise requirements, Shih Tzus are ideal for apartment dwellers, single people, or families with older children. They prefer having someone at home with them most of the time and are happiest in a loving and caring environment.

With their small stature and 30+ minutes of daily exercise, Pekingese dogs can also adapt well to apartment living. However, their stubbornness and moderate family-friendliness should be considered while considering their suitability for your living situation.

Shih Tzus and Pekingese have relatively high grooming needs, so be prepared to commit time and effort to maintain their coats and general hygiene.

grey and white pekingese birthday dogs

5. Shih Tzu Dog Breed vs Pekingese Dog Breed: Health Problems and Lifespan

Common Health Issues

Shih Tzu

Shih Tzus are known to experience various health issues such as allergies, cataracts, ear infections, and progressive retinal atrophy. They’re also prone to developing bladder stones and can experience some brachycephalic-related issues like brachycephalic syndrome. Additionally, these brachycephalic dogs may develop hip dysplasia, intervertebral disk disease, patellar luxation and mitral valve disease.

white shih tzu on lead outside


Pekingese dogs have their own set of health concerns. They’re also susceptible to cataracts, ear infections, keratitis, and progressive retinal atrophy. Like Shih Tzus, Pekingese are also brachycephalic, which can cause brachycephalic syndrome. 

Furthermore, Pekingese dogs may experience cryptorchidism, distichiasis, dry eye, ectopic cilia, entropion, exposure keratopathy syndrome, hydrocephalus, juvenile renal dysplasia, keratoconjunctivitis sicca, portosystemic liver shunt, and proptosis.

ginger pekingese dog on its side

Life Expectancy

The life expectancy of the Shih Tzu and Pekingese breeds varies, but they generally have a similar lifespan. Shih Tzus have an average lifespan of about 10-16 years. Pekingese dogs can be expected to live for 12-14 years. 

6. Grooming and Maintenance

Coat Care

Regarding coat care, both Shih Tzus and Pekingese require significant attention. The Shih Tzu has a long, silky coat, which needs regular grooming, such as daily brushing to prevent tangles and matting. If you prefer a shorter hairstyle, you can opt for a “puppy cut” to reduce grooming requirements. 

A Pekingese has a double coat, a long, coarse outer layer and a soft, thick undercoat. Their thick coat also needs daily brushing to remove dead hairs and prevent matting, especially during shedding season. Both breeds should be bathed with a gentle shampoo to maintain cleanliness and decrease the risk of skin problems.

white european shih tzu

Exercise and Activity Level

Shih Tzus and Pekingese have relatively low exercise requirements, making them suitable for apartment living or households with limited space. Generally, a daily walk or two and some indoor playtime are enough to keep these breeds happy and healthy. 

Training and Socialization

Training and socialization should begin at an early age for both breeds. Shih Tzus are typically easier to train due to their friendly, outgoing nature and eagerness to please. Remember to remain patient and consistent, using positive reinforcement methods such as treats and praise.

On the other hand, Pekingese can be intelligent but stubborn, making training a bit more challenging. You may need to spend extra time working on obedience and establishing yourself as their leader to gain the respect of this intelligent dog.

cute pekingese dog

7. Roles and Abilities

When comparing the roles and abilities of Shih Tzu and Pekingese dogs, you’ll find that both breeds are well-suited to fill a few key positions in your life. Let’s take a closer look at how these two breeds excel as companion animals.

Companion Animals

As companion animals, both the Shih Tzu and the Pekingese are known for their affectionate nature and their capacity to form strong bonds with their humans. These breeds are both adaptable and thrive in home environments. This section will explore their roles as companions, lap dogs, and watch dogs.

Lap Dogs

Shih Tzus and Pekingese dogs make excellent lap dogs. Their small size and docile temperament make them the perfect cuddle companions. While both breeds love spending time with their human families, the Shih Tzu is considered more child-friendly than the Pekingese, which might be a deciding factor if you have young children. They also have a greater tendency towards separation anxiety so suit a home where family members are often home. 

Watch Dogs

When it comes to watch dogs, both the Shih Tzu and the Pekingese can be quite alert and attentive, often barking to alert their owners to any potential dangers or unusual activity. While their small size may not make them ideal guard dogs, they serve as effective alarm systems in your home.

two brown european shih tzus

8. Distinct Differences between Shih Tzu and Pekingese Dogs


You’ll notice some significant differences when it comes to the appearance of Shih Tzus and Pekingese. A primary distinction lies in their face shape. Pekingese have a flatter face with more wrinkles, while Shih Tzus have a more rounded look. They both may have flat faces, but you can readily recognize the differences while observing them.

Another noticeable difference is their coat. Pekingese have a thicker, heavier coat compared to the Shih Tzu. They may require more grooming to maintain their unique look. On the other hand, Shih Tzus are known for their long, silky coat that sheds very little, making them a low-shedding breed.


As pet owners, you’ll soon discover that Shih Tzus and Pekingese have quite different behavior patterns. Although both breeds are intelligent, Pekingese tend to be more independent. This independence means they might be less interested in pleasing their Pekingese owners and require more patience during training.

chocolate brown pekingese outside

Shih Tzus, on the other hand, have a more outgoing and sociable demeanor, often loving to be around people. They usually enjoy barking less than Pekingese, making them less prone to vocalize in various situations.

These friendly traits and their love for human companionship make Shih Tzus a popular choice for those seeking a social companion. Whereas, if you prefer a more independent and confident pet, a Pekingese might be better suited to your preferences.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the differences in temperament between Shih Tzus and Pekingese?

Shih Tzus are known for being friendly, affectionate, and outgoing. They enjoy being around people and make great family pets. Pekingese, conversely, can be more independent and possessive of their owners. They may be less tolerant of children and somewhat aloof with strangers. However, both breeds are loyal and loving to their family members.

How does the size and appearance of Shih Tzus compare to Pekingese?

Shih Tzus and Pekingese are both small breeds but have some notable differences in their appearance. Shih Tzus typically weigh 9-16 pounds and have a longer, flowing coat. Their faces are slightly rounded with a short, square muzzle. Pekingese tend to be smaller, weighing 7-14 pounds, and have a flat face with a blunt snout. They also have a distinctive mane-like coat that gives them a lion-like appearance.

What is the lifespan of Shih Tzu and Pekingese breeds?

The average lifespan of a Shih Tzu is about 10-16 years, while Pekingese generally live for 12-15 years. 

Are Shih Tzu and Pekingese breeds good with other pets?

Shih Tzus are usually friendly with other pets, including dogs and cats. They are social animals that can often get along well with other animals as long as they are properly introduced and socialized. Pekingese may be less adaptable to living with other pets, particularly if they feel their territory is being invaded. However, with proper introductions and gradual acclimation, it’s possible for Pekingese to coexist peacefully with other animals.

Which breed sheds less: Shih Tzu or Pekingese?

Shih Tzus are considered a low-shedding breed, as their hair grows continuously and falls out less frequently than most other breeds. This makes them a good choice for people with allergies. Pekingese, on the other hand, have a double coat that sheds seasonally and requires regular grooming to manage dead hair. While Pekingese do shed more than Shih Tzus, their overall shedding is still considered moderate.

What is the average price of a Shih Tzu Pekingese mix puppy?

On average, you can expect to pay around $500 to $1,200 for a Shinese puppy. Ensure you only source your puppy from reputable breeders. Check out this great article from the American Kennel Club to help you make sure you are dealing with a proper breeder. 

furry shih tzu on grass.

In summary, the decision between a Shih Tzu and a Pekingese dog largely depends on your lifestyle, household, and what you’re looking for in a pet. The Shih Tzu, with its friendly and sociable nature, can be a great addition to a family home, while the more independent and dignified Pekingese might suit a quieter household or a home where someone is often present.

You might also enjoy reading:

Shih Tzu vs Yorkie

Poodle vs Shih Tzu

European vs American Shih Tzu

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