• Sun. May 26th, 2024

Pekingese vs Shih Tzu: Which Should I Choose?


Mar 10, 2023
Pekingese vs Shih Tzu


Pekingese vs Shih Tzu

Both the Pekingese and Shih Tzu are small companion dogs with origins that date back to ancient China. They’re similar in size and share some common personality traits. Both dogs are loyal to their families and would love nothing more than to spend all day with their favorite people.

However, Pekingese and Shih Tzus have distinct differences that make them suitable for different types of dog owners. In general, Pekingese are bold and can be excellent watchdogs, but they’re often more challenging to train. Shih Tzus are more people-oriented and don’t do well being alone for long hours.

Knowing the distinctions between both breeds can help you determine which dog best suits your lifestyle. This guide is here to help you get to know each dog breed and help you choose which one is better for you.


Visual Differences

Pekingese vs Shih Tzu side by side
Image Credit: (L) T.Den_Team, Shutterstock | (R) Jumpstory

At a Glance


  • Average height (adult): 6–9 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 7–15 pounds
  • Lifespan: 10–15 years
  • Exercise: 30+ minutes a day
  • Grooming needs: Moderate
  • Family-friendly: Good with families with older children
  • Other pet-friendly: Not often
  • Trainability: Intelligent but stubborn

Shih Tzu

  • Average height (adult): 9–10 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 9–16 pounds
  • Lifespan: 10–15 years
  • Exercise: 30+ minutes a day
  • Grooming needs: Moderate
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Often
  • Trainability: Intelligent but stubborn

divider-dog paw

Pekingese Overview 

Personality / Character

The Pekingese is a dignified and intelligent dog with strong loyalty tendencies. Despite its small size, it often makes a good and reliable watchdog. Pekingese usually bond with one person and prefer being around their families. They can be wary of strangers and also have a relatively loud bark.

These dogs tend to have bold personalities and aren’t known to hold back from defending themselves. So, they can be aggressive with other dogs and may not be very patient with young children. Early socialization is essential for Pekingeses, especially if you plan to have multiple pets in your home.

Image Credit: No-longer-here, Pixabay


The Pekingese has a stocky build and may become less interested in exercising as it grows older. So, it’s important to implement exercise opportunities in its daily routine. Pekingese are brachycephalic dogs, meaning they have shorter faces and noses. Their skull structure can affect their breathing. So, Pekingese owners must know their dogs’ limits to ensure they aren’t overexerting themselves.

Pekingese often do well with daily walks at a leisurely pace. Just make sure to be extra careful in hot weather as they can overheat easily and have trouble breathing.


There’s no doubt that Pekingeses are intelligent. However, they can have a stubborn streak and be difficult to train. Beginner dog owners will benefit greatly from attending obedience training classes and working with a professional dog trainer.

The Pekingese requires firm and fair training, and they don’t respond well to harsh tones. Training sessions that are short and fun will keep them interested. Make sure also to provide plenty of praise and rewards. Since Pekingeses are very loyal, they’ll eventually become eager to please as they bond with their owners.

Due to their small size, the Pekingese can be difficult to potty train. Crate training can help immensely and speed up the potty-training process.

Health & Care

Pekingeses can have breathing issues due to being brachycephalic dogs. They’re also predisposed to patellar luxation and certain eye issues, including progressive retinal atrophy and cataracts. Because they’re relatively low-energy dogs, they’re prone to becoming overweight. So, it’s important to monitor their diet and exercise and check their weight regularly.

Pekingese owners must also make a habit of checking their dogs’ skin and coat for fold dermatitis. Since Pekingeses have loose skin, moisture can easily get trapped between the folds. This can cause painful skin infections.

pekingese walking
Image Credit: everydoghasastory, Shutterstock


Suitable for:

Pekingeses are relatively low-energy dogs that would love nothing more than lounging near their favorite people or being a lapdog. They can be good apartment dogs, but just be mindful of their bark. Since Pekingeses tend to be wary of strangers, they won’t be the best dogs for people who love hosting and having a lot of people visit their homes. They’re also better for older children that will respect their space and treat them gently.


Shih Tzu Overview

Personality / Character

Shih Tzus are friendly dogs with bold personalities. Similar to the Pekingese, these dogs have big personalities and are often known to hold their ground and even boss around larger dogs. Shih Tzus tend to be more widely affectionate than Pekingeses. They can have an easier time living with other pets, and they’re often quite friendly with strangers.

Due to their affectionate personalities and trainability, Shih Tzus are often good dogs for first-time dog owners. They’re also fairly patient with young children, but young children should still be taught how to interact with dogs respectfully.

dog breeds shih tzu
Image Credit: Liliya Kulianionak


Shih Tzus tend to be much more playful than Pekingeses. They’ll enjoy playing with toys and may like visiting the dog park. While they may not be intimidated by bigger dogs, it’s best to keep them in the small dog section in dog parks to avoid getting stepped on or colliding with large dogs.

Shih Tzus will also enjoy daily leisurely walks. Similar to Pekingeses, they’re brachycephalic dogs, so their breathing must be monitored regularly during exercise. It’s important not to let them overexert themselves, especially in hot weather.


Shih Tzus can be a little stubborn, but they tend to be more eager to please than Pekingeses. It’s helpful to play into their fun-loving personalities and make training sessions short and fun. Since they’re so affectionate, they’ll appreciate and respond very well to praise and rewards.

Shih Tzus are also difficult to potty train because they have smaller bladders and need to relieve themselves more frequently. They can benefit from crate training and may be more successful with potty training with the help of a crate.

Health & Care

Shih Tzus are pretty healthy, but the breed is predisposed to a couple of health issues. Older Shih Tzus may start to develop eye issues, like keratitis and progressive retinal atrophy. They can also have tooth and gum issues because their baby teeth may not fall out on their own.

Shih Tzus can have allergies that result in skin and coat issues. They’re also prone to getting ear infections, so it’s important for dog owners to regularly clean their ears with an ear cleanser and make sure that their ears are consistently kept dry.

white and brown shih tzu dog sitting on the floor with heart plush toy
Image Credit: Luciann Photography, Pexels

Suitable for:

Shih Tzus are a popular choice for first-time dog owners. They’re small and adaptable and can live comfortably in an apartment. They’re also affectionate family dogs and can have an easier time living with other dogs than Pekingeses.

As companion dogs, Shih Tzus don’t do well being home alone for long hours. So, they do best in homes where someone is usually around and they can always be a part of the action.


Which Breed Is Right for You?

Overall, Shih Tzus are the better choice for first-time dog owners. They’re affectionate with all kinds of people and are easier to train than Pekingeses. They’re also more patient with children and tend to be more playful and easygoing.

Pekingeses are loyal dogs and will do best in quiet homes with little foot traffic. They’re also better suited for families with older children, but they’ll also be content with living in smaller families or with just one person.

At the end of the day, both dogs are companion dogs and cannot be left home alone for too long. They love being around their favorite people, and their families are lucky to be on the receiving end of their love and loyalty.

Featured Image Credit: Jumpstory

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *