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Shih Tzu vs Yorkie: Which Small Dog Breed is Right for You?

Are you considering getting a new furry friend but can’t decide between a Shih Tzu vs Yorkie? These two breeds are popular choices for small dog lovers, but they have distinct differences that may sway your decision.

In this article, we will delve into a detailed comparison of Shih Tzus and Yorkies, exploring their origins, appearance, temperament, grooming needs, exercise requirements, and health considerations. By the end you should be well placed to choose the ideal dog breed for you and your home.

ginger european shih tzu

Shih Tzu vs Yorkie: 6 Factors to Consider

1. History of the Breeds

Originating in China, the Shih Tzu is an ancient breed with a rich history. They were primarily bred as companion dogs for Chinese nobility and had a regal demeanor. Shih Tzus have a distinctive appearance with their long, flowing coats and a friendly, confident disposition.

Also known as the Yorkshire Terrier, Yorkies hail from Yorkshire, England. Originally bred as rat catchers in mines, they are now popular as elegant and energetic companions. Yorkies have a compact body, a glossy, straight coat, and an alert and feisty personality.

Yorkshire Terrier shih tzu vs yorkie
Yorkshire Terrier

2. Appearance

Regarding appearance, there are several key differences between Shih Tzus and Yorkies. Shih Tzus are small, sturdy dogs with slightly longer bodies compared to their height. They have a round head, large dark eyes, and a short muzzle.

Yorkies are tiny dogs with square-shaped bodies and well-proportioned frames. They have a flat skull, medium-sized eyes, and a neat, v-shaped drop-ear.


Shih Tzus are generally larger than Yorkies. While Yorkies typically weigh around seven pounds, Shih Tzus can weigh anywhere from 9-16 pounds. This means that even the smallest Shih Tzu is likely to be larger than a Yorkie. Additionally, Shih Tzus tend to be a couple of inches taller than Yorkies.

white shih tzu with pink flower


Both Shih Tzus and Yorkies have long, flowing coats, but there are some differences in texture and maintenance. Shih Tzu fur is denser than Yorkie fur, and they have a double coat that can be challenging to maintain.

Yorkies, on the other hand, have silky fur that is easier to manage. However, both breeds require regular grooming to keep their coats healthy and tangling-free.


Shih Tzus and Yorkies come in various colors, but there are some differences in the most common shades. Shih Tzus are often seen in gold, white, and brown shades, while Yorkies are typically black and tan. However, both breeds can also come in other colors, including silver, blue, and red.

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3. Temperament

Both breeds are known for their affectionate and playful nature, but there are some differences in their personality, trainability, and energy level.

why do dogs stick their tongue out yorkshire terrier


Shih Tzus are known for their friendly and outgoing personality. They tend to be open to meeting new people and are generally friendly around most newcomers. They are also known to be loyal to their family and quite protective of their loved ones. Shih Tzus tend to be calm and adaptable, making them suitable for various living environments.

On the other hand, Yorkies are known for their spunky and confident personality. They can be quite independent and may take some time to warm up to new people. However, once they bond with their family, they are known to be quite loyal and affectionate.

NB: Yorkies may be reserved with strangers and can display a strong prey drive, so early socialization is crucial.


Both Shih Tzus and Yorkies are intelligent and eager to please their owners. However, Shih Tzus can sometimes be a bit stubborn and may require more patience and consistency during training. Yorkies, on the other hand, are quick learners and can quickly pick up new commands and tricks.

white shih tzu with mouth open

Energy Level

Regarding energy level, Shih Tzus are known for their laid-back and relaxed personality. They enjoy lounging around and may not require as much exercise as other breeds. On the other hand, Yorkies are known for their high energy and can be quite active and playful. They require daily exercise and mental stimulation to keep them happy and healthy.

BreedPersonalityTrainabilityEnergy Level
Shih TzuFriendly and outgoingCan be stubbornLaid-back and relaxed
YorkieSpunky and confidentQuick learnerHigh energy and playful
In summary….

4. Health

Common Health Issues of the Breeds

Shih Tzus are prone to various health issues, including eye problems such as cataracts and corneal ulcers, respiratory problems like brachycephalic syndrome, and skin allergies. They are also at risk for liver shunt, a condition where the liver doesn’t function properly.

Yorkies, on the other hand, are susceptible to dental issues, such as tooth decay, gum disease, and luxating patella, a condition where the kneecap slips out of place.


Exercise Needs

Shih Tzus are relatively low-energy dogs and do well with moderate exercise. Daily walks and some playtime should be sufficient to meet their exercise needs. However, they enjoy spending time with their owners and can benefit from mental stimulation, such as puzzle toys and training sessions.

Despite their small size, Yorkies are quite active dogs. They require daily exercise to expend their energy and prevent behavioral issues. Regular walks, interactive play sessions, and even some agility training can help keep Yorkies physically and mentally stimulated.


The lifespan of a Shih Tzu is typically between 10-18 years, while Yorkies can live for 11-15 years.

white shih tzu on lead outside

5. Grooming Needs

Due to their long, flowing coats, Shih Tzus require regular and meticulous grooming. Daily brushing is essential to prevent matting and tangling. Many Shih Tzu owners opt for professional grooming every 4-6 weeks to maintain their coat’s health and appearance.

Yorkies also have a long coat that requires regular grooming to keep it in good condition. Daily brushing is recommended to prevent matting, and occasional trimming may be needed to maintain a manageable length. Some Yorkie owners choose to keep their dogs’ coats shorter for easier maintenance.

6. Living Conditions

Ideal Home

The Shih Tzu and Yorkie are small breeds, making them suitable for apartment living. They do not require a lot of space to move around, but they still need daily exercise to stay healthy and happy. A small yard or a nearby park can provide them enough space to play and run around.


Both breeds also thrive in homes with a consistent routine. They are sensitive to changes in their environment and may become anxious or stressed if there are too many disruptions. Therefore, it’s important to establish a routine and stick to it as much as possible.

Compatibility with Children

The Shih Tzu and Yorkie are generally good with children but may not be the best choice for families with very young kids. These breeds are delicate and small, and young children may accidentally hurt them while playing.

It’s important to teach children how to interact with dogs properly and supervise their interactions at all times. Both breeds are affectionate and enjoy spending time with their human family, but they may need time adjusting to a new household.

Compatibility with Other Pets

The Shih Tzu and Yorkie can get along well with other pets, depending on their personality and socialization. They may have a high prey drive and chase smaller animals, so it’s essential to introduce them to other pets gradually and under supervision.

Both breeds can be territorial and may become jealous if they feel their space or attention is invaded. Proper training and socialization can help prevent conflicts and ensure that all pets get along well.

white european shih tzu

Yorkie or Shih Tzu – In Conclusion

Both Shih Tzus and Yorkies are delightful small dog breeds with unique characteristics. Shih Tzus are known for their regal appearance and friendly nature, while Yorkies exhibit a feisty personality and bold demeanor. When considering either breed, it is important to consider their grooming needs, exercise requirements, and potential health issues to ensure a suitable match for your lifestyle.

Ultimately, choosing between a Shih Tzu and a Yorkie will depend on your preferences and ability to meet their specific needs. Still, either breed can bring joy and companionship to their devoted owners.

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