In the ultimate lap-dog showdown, Shih Tzu and Yorkies go wet nose to wet nose in a ruff detailed breed comparison.
Hi, internet strangers! My name is Jennifer.
I’m a dog mom to two dogs – a Yorkie named Lola and a Weimaraner named Ruger. My first dog as an adult was a Yorkie named Selphie and she was my soulmate!
Ruger, the Weimaraner, is 11-years-old now and starting to slow down. My 4-year-old Yorkie, Lola, keeps him young by jumping on his head when she wants to play.
He either obliges her or ignores her until she goes away. A typical big brother, am I right?
What to Consider Before Getting a Dog?
I admit that I didn’t do any research into the different breeds before getting any of my dogs.
I got lucky, especially with Ruger, who doesn’t exhibit too many of the stereotypical Weimaraner traits. (Except for being a complete goof.)
Don’t be like me; it’s a good idea to do your due diligence and research breeds when considering adopting a dog.
It will help you be prepared for how much room they need, how much exercise and how expensive the breeds are to own.
All of these details will be explored in greater detail as we compare Shih Tzus to Yorkies.
Short Comparison: Shih Tzu Vs Yorkie
Shih Tzus and Yorkies are both popular companion dogs. This small size makes them affectionate, loyal family dogs.
I have years of experience of owning two Yorkies, but I’ve never owned (or even pet) a Shih Tzu.
However, the breeds are almost identical in many aspects and my personal experience with Yorkies can generally be applied to Shih Tzus.
Both breeds are very popular to own, which makes their availability quite common.
If you’re looking to adopt, breed-specific rescue organizations are much more likely to have a purebred of either breed than local shelters.
(My first Yorkie was from a breeder and my other two dogs were adopted, just as long as they take care of it all is great!)
Shih Tzu Overview
Shih Tzu dogs originated in Tibet and later became popular with Chinese royalty. Its name roughly translates to “little lion dog,” though the dogs are more genetically close to wolves than to lions.
While it is believed that the bred began in 800 B.C., it wasn’t officially recognized in the American Kennel Club until 1969 as part of the Toy Group.
The dogs were first brought to the U.S. in the late 1950s when World War II veterans brought some Shih Tzus home from Europe, where the breed had been imported in 1930.
Prior to 1930, Shih Tzus were so prized by Chinese leaders that they refused to sell or give any to other countries.
Yorkshire Terriers (Yorkies for short) were bred in Yorkshire, England to humble beginnings as rat hunters in mills and barns.
They quickly moved up a few classes and became companions of aristocrats, including kings and queens.
They were accepted into the American Kennel Club in 1885 and are also in the Toy Group with Shih Tzus.
Yorkies have held a high ranking spot in Most Popular Dog Breed lists since the lists first came out. Their portable size and feisty personality make them a favored breed.
Shih Tzu Vs Yorkie Size: Which is Bigger?
Both breeds are small dogs with very big personalities and a whole lot of fur!
Yorkies weigh in at 7 pounds, while Shih Tzus can max out at 16 pounds.
Shih Tzus and Yorkies are the perfect size and weight to fit in your lap.
Shih Tzu Vs Yorkie Temperament: How Do They Behave?
Friendly, feisty, curious, stubborn are all words that can be used to describe both dog breeds.
They love nothing more than being with their families, but they won’t turn down attention from anyone. And they will get a lot of attention because they are so adorable.
They get along well with medium-to-small dogs, but can be troublemakers around large or hyper dogs because Shih Tzus and Yorkies aren’t aware of their own size.
They think they can run with the big dogs, instead of being a potentially tasty snack.
Small dogs are often referred to as “yappers,” because their barks are high-pitched and relentless.
Shih Tzu Vs Yorkie LifeSpan: What’s Their Life Expectancy?
The average lifespan of Shih Tzus is twelve years, with a high end of 15 years. The life expectancy of Yorkies is just one year later, tapping out at 16.
I had my Yorkie, Selphie, from the time she was 8-week-old until a few months after her 15th birthday.
Losing her hit me hard because she was the first dog of my own. My family had dogs when I was growing up and I loved them, but it’s not the same as it was with Selphie.
Losing dogs is the most difficult part of dog ownership, but you can’t focus on that.
Focus on them bounding across the room when they see you, hogging the bed or pulling strings of grass from their bums. (That last one was Ruger; Weimaraners can be gross.)
Shih Tzu Vs Yorkie Health: Are They Prone to Health Risks?
Small dog breeds are all prone to health issues with their teeth, eyes and potential tracheal collapse.
Food and plaque can build up on your pup’s small teeth, causing teeth to decay to the point that they need to be extracted.
My Yorkie had thirteen of her teeth removed about six months before she passed away.
The tooth extractions had nothing to do with her passing away; she bounced back from that surgery like a boss.
Like many Yorkies, Shih Tzus and small breeds in general, Selphie also suffered from cataracts later in her life.
At the time she passed away, she was mostly blind in both eyes. As far as I know, there aren’t any cures or preventive treatments for cataracts in dogs. It’s just part of their lives.
Pro tip for new small dog owners: use harnesses when walking your dog instead of collars. Why?
Because small dogs are at a high risk of suffering from tracheal collapse from the constant pressure the collar puts on their trachea.
Due to their nose and face shape, Shih Tzus are also one of the “brachycephalic breeds.”
Those breeds are dogs who are at risk of developing breathing problems, especially in hot weather or close quarters.
Shih Tzu Vs Yorkie Grooming & Shedding: How Much Grooming Is Required?
If you’ve ever seen any dog show competitions, you know that both Shih Tzus and Yorkies have long coats that float along the floor like a wedding dress train.
They’re not born with it and it is definitely NOT Maybelline. It takes A LOT of grooming to get your dog to look that good.
Daily brushing, hours of grooming, more brushing.
I don’t have the patience for that. Both Selphie and now Lola, my two Yorkies, have their fur kept clipped short by the groomer every six to eight weeks.
And even then, you still have to brush them daily to keep their fur from tangling.
Surprisingly, despite all of their hair, both breeds are hypoallergenic and don’t shed very much.
Teeth cleaning is an extremely important part of the overall grooming habits for both breeds.
Most groomers offer teeth cleaning, though you are also supposed to do it yourself between appointments.
Many vets recommend annual teeth cleaning, which often require the dog to be given anesthesia.
FYI for new dog owners, particularly if it’s a small breed female; spaying your female dog will help reduce their risk of developing breast cancer.
Yes, dogs can get breast cancer. My Yorkie had it, though that also isn’t why she passed away.
(She passed away from kidney failure, but the vet said fighting off the breast cancer weakened her immune system. I did spay her later in her life, but it was too late.)
Shih Tzu Vs Yorkie Training: Are They Easily Trained?
Shih Tzus and Yorkies both have similar levels of intelligence and stubbornness.
They are easy to train in the sense that they know what you want them to do. But do they want to do it?
Both breeds are notoriously difficult to house train, so it is important to start the training when they are young or you’ll be relying on puppy pads well outside of the puppy years.
If you are struggling to train your Shih Tzu or Yorkie we have created a great article which reviews Brain Training 4 Dogs an amazing programme that can teach your dog amazing tricks!
If you would like to see our review of this click here!
Shih Tzu Vs Yorkie Diet: What do They Eat?
These dogs are both prone to teeth and gum problems, it’s not recommended to feed them soft food. My vet once likened soft dog food to McDonald’s for dogs; meaning unhealthy.
Many dog food companies make kibble in very small chunks for toy breeds. Food requirements vary so greatly between breeds that it is best to consult with a vet.
Shih Tzu Vs Yorkie Environment: What Type of Home is Best?
Both breeds are well-suited for any size home – apartment, condo, mansion. They don’t care, as long as your lap is vacant.
Their “big dog complex” can be a problem around other large dogs in the home, but that’s not always true.
My Yorkie, Lola, loves and adores my Weimaraner, who is a giant compared to her. (Selphie didn’t really like him but he still let her boss him around. In fact, it’s very common for the small dog to be the boss of, well, everyone.)
Shih Tzus and Yorkies are both friendly with older children.
However, young kids who don’t understand how to be gentle with the smaller dogs can be a hazard, both to the dog and the child, as these breeds are known to be snippy when upset.
Shih Tzu Vs Yorkie: Are They Expensive to Own?
I would say that Yorkies and Shih Tzus are definitely on the upper pricing tier. If you purchase one from a breeder, that’s at least $500 right there, minimum.
Grooming costs also add up quickly and both breeds need regular professional grooming.
The good news is neither breed is big enough to do much damage to your home, glasses, phones or remote controls. (Thanks, Ruger.)
All in all, I would say that small dogs with longer fur and common health problems, such as Shih Tzu and Yorkies, can be more expensive than other dog breeds.
Final Thoughts: Shih Tzu Vs Yorkie
You know how moms say they don’t have a favorite child? Well, as a dog mom, I know that’s a lie and I have a favorite everything.
Until I recently met my first Great Dane, Yorkies were my favorite dog breed since I got Selphie in 1999.
So, of course I’m going to choose Yorkies over any other small dog breed as the better one to own.
Deciding which kind of dog to own is a personal decision that only the owner and their family can make.
I would never say ‘no’ to owning a Shih Tzu; they seem like great dogs.
Happy Puppy Parenting!