Shih Tzus, pronounced “sheet-zu”, are darling little lion dogs from Tibet. They’re one of the most popular toy breeds both in America and across the pond in the United Kingdom. They’re cute, friendly, get on well with kids, and don’t need a whole lot of exercise.
There are many reasons why you might be looking for dogs that look like Shih Tzus. Perhaps you don’t have a local breeder? Maybe you want a more active pup? Or one a little bigger?
This list is full of charming dogs for you to choose from. Some are bigger and more active (there’s even a herding pup on the list) and many are just as small and cute as the Shih Tzu. Which will you end up choosing as your family breed?
Overview of The Shih Tzu
Shih Tzus are regal dogs that were first bred in the palaces of Tibet. They’re the epitome of a lap dog that loves to be cuddled.
Shih Tzus can either have a long, elegant coat or they can be trimmed into an adorable puppy cut. Both are very cute, but as you might imagine, a long coat requires more grooming. Daily, actually. There are 14 standard Shih Tzu colors as recognized by the American Kennel Club. They vary from black to silver, so there’s a huge variety to choose from.
In terms of personality, you can’t get much more charming than a Shih Tzu. They’re fun, cheery, curious, and are sure to steal the hearts of anyone.
Even though your Shih Tzu is a royal dog at heart, they won’t mind being in a small apartment. They need a brief walk to keep their brains engaged, but apart from that they’ll be happy on the couch or chasing after their favorite toy.
15 Dogs That Look Like Shih Tzus
These are, in our opinion, the dogs which most look like this beautiful breed. For some of them, you really do need to do a double-take!
Lhasa Apso. Or is it a Shih Tzu? These pups are very similar. Whichever way they have their coat (long or puppy cut) you can see that a Shih Tzu must come from the Lhasa Apso.
These wonderful dogs, with their big dark eyes, were first bred in the monasteries in Tibet. Although small, they make great protectors of property and their humans. They’re friendly but they’re not quite as affectionate with kids and other dogs as Shih Tzus are.
Lhasa Apsos are playful dogs and enjoy exercising themselves, meaning they’re happy to run around the apartment or the backyard. They’re more active than the Shih Tzu and will benefit from mental stimulation too.
Just like the Shih Tzu, the Maltese is a beautiful teddy bear-looking breed. As with the other two breeds we’ve mentioned, the Maltese can have a long coat or a puppy cut. Both are stunning, but you can expect regular grooming if you decide to keep their coat long. It’s also important with all long-haired breeds to keep the hair out of their eyes. You can style it with a fashionable top knot!
The Maltese is an ancient breed, like the Lhasa Apso, but they don’t have their origins in Asia. As their name suggests, they’re from the island of Malta in the Mediterranean. They were a favorite pup for Roman emperors. They’re a little smaller than the Shih Tzu but are still friendly and adaptable.
The Havanese is another dog that looks a lot like the Shih Tzu. When it comes to friendly and charming dog breeds, the Havanese might just come out on top! These small dogs are the only native breed to Cuba and have a gorgeous silky coat. Like the Shih Tzu, it can be in many different colors but it’s not as long as the Shih Tzu’s.
Some owners even decide to cord their Havanese’s coat, a little like a Puli, a wonderful breed with dreads. These lap dogs are the perfect city companion. They have moderate exercise needs and will enjoy walks in the park but don’t mind relaxing at home either. They’re happy to curl up with you and watch your favorite show or entertain themselves too.
Yorkshire Terriers are really popular pups around the world. They’re a great choice for families and are perfect dogs for the elderly too. Just like the others, they can have a very impressive long coat or you can trim it to keep it short too. The accepted colors are always double, with a particularly beautiful one being blue and gold.
Yorkies are smaller than Shih Tzus but don’t be fooled by their size. They can really live up to their Terrier name. They were first bred as ratters, so have strong and feisty personalities.
Yorkshire Terriers are a popular choice for many pup parents living in cities around the world. Although cute and affectionate, they’re full of personality which can be amusing!
Papillons, the beautiful butterfly breed, are iconic thanks to their adorably fluffy, wing-like ears. These pups have silky fur that always has a base coat of white, however, the ears can be other colors and they may have some spots over their bodies. These dogs are usually a little smaller than a Shih Tzu and weigh a lot less.
Due to their size, they’re another popular breed for city dwellers. They’re active dogs that have a playful nature, so even though they don’t need hours and hours of outdoor exercise, they do need to be entertained.
They have some Spaniel blood in them, so they love to run around the yard and chase after smaller animals. It’s important to keep them stimulated and entertained so they don’t get up to no good!
Russian Tsvetnaya Bolonka
According to the Russian Tsvetnaya Bolonka Club of America, these pups didn’t (legally) make it to America until the year 2000! They were bred in Leningrad to be the ultimate lap dog that would be happy living in an apartment and that would get on with other pups and kids alike. This toy breed is alert, sociable, and highly intelligent.
These pups can have a number of different coat colors and markings. Their coats are usually kept long and, if you want to enter a show with your dog, no trimming apart from on their feet is allowed. They require regular grooming and you might need to wash the hair around the face more often than other breeds.
We know that’s the point of this blog, but these dogs really look like Shih Tzus. They’re actually, however, descendants of the Yorkshire Terrier. Mr. and Mrs. Biewer (pronounced beaver) were specialized Yorkie breeders and they started to get a couple of puppies that had black, tan, and white coats as a result of the recessive piebald gene. They weren’t sure whether to separate the two dog breeds, but eventually did!
Like the Yorkie, these pups are great family dogs. They’re good at ratting too. They’re athletic and enjoy the mental stimulation of going for a walk to discover new things. They have a very playful nature and will often be found with a toy in their mouth.
These are some more dogs that look like Shih Tzus, especially Shih Tzus that have a puppy cut. Cairn Terriers were bred in the Scottish highlands to chase out foxes and other smaller creatures.
They’re feisty, robust, and have an endearing happy-go-lucky personality. They’re not quite as sociable or as affectionate as the Shih Tzu, their heritage really lies in hard work rather than lounging around palaces, but they’re still great family pets.
Cairn Terriers can have many different colored coats. If you adopt this breed, you’ll be getting a fluffy dog that only requires weekly brushing. They have a relatively low-maintenance coat (especially compared to a long-coated Shih Tzu).
Unlike other pups on this list, the Bolognese can only have one coat color – white. These cool, calm, and collected dogs originated in Italy and they’re part of the Bichon family. They can be shy and a bit reserved around new people and dogs, but they soon get over that when they have fun!
They’re devoted to their owners and can suffer from separation anxiety. It’s best to leave these dogs for short periods of time from puppyhood so they get used to it.
Bolognese were very popular amongst nobility throughout history but they almost went extinct in the last century. They’re a good choice for senior citizens or those living in a city as they don’t require a lot of time outdoors. Hide and seek is a great game to play with them, as is fetch.
Coton de Tulear
These charming little dogs are roughly the same size as Shih Tzus but, like the Bolognese, they’re only recognized with a white coat as standard. They are boisterous little dogs who love to be the center of attention.
They’re witty, intelligent, sweet-natured, and love to have lots of fun. Coton de Tulears get on well with other dogs and love having a canine companion to play with.
They form very strong bonds with their family and are a very loyal toy breed. They require a moderate amount of exercise and will love external stimulation. Walks, time in the park, and playing in the yard are all great ways to keep them happy. A bored Coton de Tulear can become destructive (they like to dig), so make sure you’re taking the time to entertain them.
There’s a theme with the dogs from Tibet, and it’s that most of them look like Shih Tzus (maybe not the ultimate lion dog, the enormous Tibetan Mastiff). The Tibetan Spaniel certainly does. Despite the name, these dogs have no Spaniel – as we understand it – in their blood. They’re descendants of the Pekingese, Lhasa Apso, and Pug.
They have a beautiful fluffy coat with floppy ears and an iconic ‘lions mane’. They don’t need that much grooming, although the extra fur behind their ears can become matted. Weekly brushing and the occasional bath will keep them looking show-worthy. They’re adaptable canines and are happy relaxing indoors and going for walks.
Everyone loves a Poodle. Their amazing coats make them easily recognizable as one of the cutest breeds. They’re also highly intelligent and easy to train. They love to please their owners and benefit from going to many different dog classes.
Unlike the Shih Tzu, Poodles of all sizes (standard, toy, miniature) are very active dogs and need daily exercise. They’ll enjoy fetching balls and frisbees as well as playing with other dogs in the park. It might take them a bit to warm up to other pups, but they will!
Many Poodle owners decide to keep their coats trimmed to make grooming easier. If you don’t, you’ll need to learn how to groom their specific coats or take them often to a groomer to prevent the hair from becoming matted.
There’s no doubt that these graceful dogs are regal canines. Like others on this list, they’re small, dignified, and very charming. They have short muzzles, cute eyes, a distinctive top-knot tail, and can have many different coat colors. The AKC also accepts red markings.
These dogs have silky coats which might look high-maintenance, but they’re surprisingly easy. Japanese Chins need brushing once a week to remove dirt and mats. It’s also important to check their ears for signs of infection.
They’re affectionate dogs that love to spend time with their humans. They also get on well with other dogs but might be reserved around boisterous kids.
When it comes to the cutest dog, surely the Affenpinscher has to be a contestant? These loveable little dogs often have jet-black coats, curious eyes, a short muzzle, and a shaggy yet neat coat. They get called the Monkey Terrier thanks to their distinct looks. Affens are funny little dogs that naturally tend to be the center of attention.
They can be feisty, in fact, that’s how many owners would describe them. It’s important they’re trained well from the start so that they don’t become too dominant or cheeky. They respond well to positive reinforcement and love and are usually eager to learn. They need a moderate amount of exercise, so a good walk a day should be enough.
The Bearded Collie is a little different from the rest on the list. Partially because they grow to be more than double the height of a Shih Tzu!
They’re also athletic and energetic dogs that are more suited to the fields of Scotland than the rooms of palaces. Their long, protective coats are distinctly Shih Tzu-like, as is the extra hair on their faces. They require daily brushing to keep their coats knot-free and clean.
These dogs tend to bore easily. They need lots of time running around outdoors (in any weather) and plenty of training. You should keep sessions short and energetic to keep your Bearded Collie’s attention. Early socialization is also really important. With it, they’ll get on well with kids and other dogs.
So, Which Pup Is The One For You?
When adopting a dog, it’s really important you think about more than just looks. Many of these pooches are happy to live in an apartment, but some require much more exercise.
As is the case with the Shih Tzu, many of the breeds on this list need lots of brushing and grooming, so it’s important you take that into consideration. Which of these dogs that look like Shih Tzus do you think most represents the breed? Let us know!
I’m Charlotte, a content and copywriter from the North of England and currently living in Berlin. Animals have always been a huge part of my life, so writing about dogs is a total pleasure! I love all kinds of dogs and their cheeky personalities, but I’d have to say Weimaraners are my favourite!