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Male vs Female Shih Tzu: (The KEY Differences)

The Shih Tzu is a popular breed known for its adorable appearance and friendly temperament.

But when it comes to choosing between a male or female Shih Tzu, what are the key differences you need to know?

Let’s dive in together and explore this topic!

male vs female shih tzu

Personality Differences 🧠

While the differences listed between male and female Shih Tzus can provide some general insights, it’s vital to recognize that these traits can vary widely among individual dogs.

Just like humans, each Shih Tzu has its unique personality, molded by genetics, upbringing, and life experiences


  • Friendliness: Males often tend to be more social and outgoing.
  • Territorial Instincts: They can be more territorial, marking their space more often.
  • Training: Sometimes considered easier to train, but opinions vary.
  • Attachment: Often more affectionate with their entire family.


  • Independence: Females might be a bit more independent and aloof at times.
  • Moodiness: They can sometimes be more moody or sensitive.
  • Training: Some claim that females learn quickly but can be more stubborn.
  • Attachment: Usually more attached to one person within the family.

You might find a female Shih Tzu that’s exceptionally affectionate or a male that’s incredibly independent. Engaging with breeders, shelters, or owners to learn about specific dogs or spending quality time with the individual pup can reveal more about its unique temperament and quirks.

The joy of owning a Shih Tzu comes from embracing and appreciating these individualities, making the gender a secondary consideration in many cases.

Size and Appearance 🐾

While the size differences between male and female Shih Tzus are generally minimal, the nuances in appearance can affect the choice for potential pet owners. Male Shih Tzus may have a slightly more robust build, while females might present a more delicate appearance.

Both males and females share the breed’s distinctive appearance, but there are some differences to note:

  • Males: Generally slightly larger, weighing between 9-16 pounds.
  • Females: Usually slightly smaller, ranging from 8-15 pounds.

Let’s expand on the Behavioral Differences and Training Differences between male and female Shih Tzus.

Behavioral Differences 🐶

Male and female Shih Tzus might exhibit distinct behavioral patterns. Males often lean towards being more playful and sociable, while females might be more independent and sensitive.


  • Social Interaction: Males might be more playful and social with other dogs and people.
  • Territorial Behavior: They may mark their territory more frequently.
  • Aggressiveness: Unneutered males might show more aggression, although this varies.


  • Independence: Females may show more independence and can be selective in their social interactions.
  • Sensitivity: They might be more sensitive to changes in the environment or routine.
  • Maternal Instincts: Some female Shih Tzus may display nurturing behaviors.

Though these are general trends, it’s essential to recognize that individual behaviors can vary widely, and factors like upbringing, environment, and socialization can significantly influence a Shih Tzu’s behavior, regardless of gender.

Training Differences 🎓

Training a Shih Tzu can be a different experience depending on whether you have a male or female. Males might show more eagerness in training sessions but require consistent reinforcement, while females may learn quickly but display a more stubborn streak.


  • Training Engagement: Males might be more eager to engage in training sessions but may require consistency to master commands.
  • Behavioral Challenges: Unneutered males might be more challenging to train in some aspects, such as housebreaking.


  • Quick Learners: Females may pick up new commands more quickly but might also be more stubborn or selective in following them.
  • Training Sensitivity: A softer approach might be more effective with females, as they may be more sensitive to harsh training methods.

It’s important to approach training with an understanding of these tendencies, adapting methods to suit the unique personality and needs of your Shih Tzu, whether male or female. Tailoring your training approach can lead to a more rewarding and successful experience for both you and your pet.

Health Considerations 💉

Shih Tzus, regardless of gender, share many common health considerations. However, there are some differences between males and females that can impact their overall health.


  • Females: Some studies suggest that females might live slightly longer than males, with an average lifespan ranging from 10-16 years.
  • Males: Males might have a slightly shorter lifespan, although good care and genetics can influence this greatly.

Common Health Problems:

  • Both: Shih Tzus of both genders are prone to specific health issues like hip dysplasia, kidney problems, and eye disorders. These can be monitored through regular veterinary care.
  • Weight Management: Both males and females can face obesity-related problems. A proper diet is crucial in maintaining optimal weight and health.

Dental Care:

  • Both: Dental issues can be common in Shih Tzus. Regular dental care is equally important for both genders to prevent gum diseases and tooth loss.

Breeding-Related Health Issues:

  • Females: Unspayed females may face specific reproductive system-related health problems. Managing heat cycles requires attention and can have associated health risks.
  • Males: Unneutered males may have prostate issues or certain hormone-driven conditions that require monitoring.

Spaying and Neutering

  • Females: Spaying helps reduce the risk of mammary tumors and uterine infections. Understanding the best time to spay is essential for optimal health.
  • Males: Neutering reduces the risk of testicular cancer and may mitigate certain behavioral issues. However, the timing of neutering can vary based on individual health considerations.

Controversies 🚩

It’s crucial to note that these differences might not apply to every individual dog. Shih Tzus are a diverse breed, and their personalities can be greatly influenced by upbringing, training, and genetics.

The Nature vs. Nurture Debate: Some argue that training and upbringing can completely overshadow any inherent differences between male and female Shih Tzus.

Male or Female Shih Tzu: Which Is Better For You?

Choosing between a male or female Shih Tzu can be a highly personal decision, reflecting your lifestyle, preferences, and the environment you can provide. It’s essential to look beyond general tendencies and focus on what you desire in a pet.

If you’re drawn to a more playful, engaging companion, a male might be a good fit. If you prefer a more independent and sensitive pet, a female could be the choice for you.

But remember, individual personalities may vary significantly from these generalizations.

Spend time with the Shih Tzu, consult with breeders or shelters, and think about your daily routine and living situation.

Choosing the right gender should align with your lifestyle, the time you can dedicate to training and care, and your preferences in a companion. It’s not merely a male vs. female question but finding the right match for a loving and lasting relationship. 🐶❤️🏡

Last Thoughts 🎉

The differences between male and female Shih Tzus can be subtle and varied. In the end, both genders offer loads of love and companionship. It’s all about finding the right fit for your family!

👉 Your Action Step: If you’re thinking of adding a Shih Tzu to your family, take the time to do research, consult with experts, and meet the dogs. Embrace the process and enjoy the journey to finding your new furry friend! 🐕

Remember, dogs are individuals, just like us. Sometimes, the gender may matter less than the specific personality and temperament of the dog. So keep an open mind and happy dog hunting! 🏠💖


Before making any decisions that could affect the health and/or safety of your dog, you should always consult a trained veterinarian in your local area. Even though this content may have been written/reviewed by a trained veterinarian, our advice to you is to always consult your own local veterinarian in person. Please read our full dislcaimer if you have any questions.