Dachshund vs Shih Tzu: Differences and Similarities

You would not think someone who is considering a Dachshund as their family companion would also be considering a Shih Tzu. They are polar opposites in looks, temperament, exercise needs, and grooming requirements.

Being a breeder of both Dachshunds and Shih Tzu since the early 1990s I have come across die-hard fans of the Dachshund and fanatics for the Shih Tzu, rarely have I found a family that loved both breeds equally. One is a stubborn, loyal hound and the other is a happy-go-lucky toy breed. One is easy to house train while the other is much more challenging.

Both the Dachshund and the Shih Tzu make excellent family companions, even with children that are respectful of animals. So, determining which breed is best for you and your family comes down to what your expectations are of the dog, and the amount of care and maintenance you are wanting to commit.

Dachshund vs. Shih Tzu
Dachshund vs. Shih Tzu

Keep reading to find out which breed, the Dachshund or Shih Tzu will be the best choice for your next four-legged friend.

Items Dachshunds Shih Tzu
Breed Group Hound Toy
Origin Country/Year Germany 1500s Tibet 600 A.D.
Height 5-9 inches 8-11 inches
Weight Mini 12 pounds and less
Standard: over 12 pounds
9-16 pounds
Life expectancy 12-15 years 13-16 years
Personalities Stubborn, loyal, smart, playful Happy, fun, playful, lively, steadfast
Intelligence Very intelligent Moderately intelligent
Is Hypo­allergenic No No
Family Friendly? Yes Yes
Kid Friendly Mostly Yes Yes
Pet Friendly Yes Yes
Stranger Friendly No Yes
Exercise Required 1-2 hours per day 1 hour per day
Grooming Needs Minimal Extensive if in the full coat; 4-6 weeks if clipped
Barking Tendencies Sounds alarmed when needed Can be barky
Trainability Very trainable Takes patience but still trainable
Prices $1500-3500 $2000-4000
Best For Companionship, Earthdog trials, conformation dog shows, barn hunts, etc. Companionship, agility, conformation dog shows, etc.

Dachshund vs. Shih Tzu: History

The Dachshund hails from Germany and dates back to the early 1600s. They were bred to be a badger hunter or to hunt other burrow-dwelling vermin. Their tenacious personality serves them well when they are performing tasks. Later, they were used to hunt larger games such as wild boar.

The breed initially had long bodies, medium-length legs, and shorter ears. As the breed began to be standardized to present a certain look, their legs shortened and their ears lengthened. Their low-slung body has become iconic.

It was not until the 1800s that the Miniature Dachshund was being bred, the original Dachshund or standard Dachshund was bred down in size to hunt smaller game animals such as rabbits and prairie dogs. The Dachshund was originally in the smooth or short-haired variety and then the long-haired variety came into existence when a spaniel was introduced into the gene pool to create longer hair.

The wire-haired coat variety was the last coat variety to be cultivated, likely sometime in the early to mid-1800s when a terrier was used to create a stronger, wired coat that repelled water and better protected the dog when they went through the undergrowth and tunneled underground.

The Shih Tzu on the other hand is an Asian breed. While the exact origins of the Shih Tzu are unknown, it is believed that they descended from the lion-like holy dogs of Tibet. Many historians believe that the Shih Tzu descended directly from the Lhasa Apso.

These little fluff balls were given as wedding gifts during the Ming Dynasty and were believed to provide safe passage from Tibet to China as each Shih Tzu possessed the soul of a monk that had fallen from grace. These dogs became royal dogs from 1368 to 1644.

The Dowager Empress Cixi was given Shih Tzu and she developed a breeding program dedicated to producing these dogs to be given to the wealthy. Royal artists have depicted the Shih Tzu on wall hangings that were showcased in palaces of Emperors. The Shih Tzu has evolved into a show-stopping little dog with flowing hair and that iconic snub nose.

Today, the Shih Tzu does vie with the Dachshund for a spot in the American Kennel Club’s 10 most popular dog breeds. The Shih Tzu makes an excellent family companion as they were not bred to be anything but a lap dog or a companion.

Dachshund vs. Shih Tzu: Energy Level

This is always a tough question to answer for any breed since the energy level is really on a per dog basis. You can have a mellow Dachshund who prefers to sleep the day away or you can have a Dachsie who stays a puppy for its entire life. Then there are the middle-of-the-road pups who get up and move but also enjoy spending the evening snuggling on the couch.

The Shih Tzu is the same way, I have Shih Tzu who are very active, playful dogs and then I have some that are very chill and prefer to spend time lounging in a cuddle bed. A Shih Tzu was bred to be a companion; therefore, their only job is to keep their human company and provide companionship.

A Dachshund was bred for a specific purpose, to hunt badgers and other small vermin. Therefore, the Doxie may have a higher energy level than a Shih Tzu. The Dachshund definitely has a higher prey drive than a Shih Tzu.

Dachshund vs. Shih Tzu: Appearance

When you look at a Dachshund, you immediately know what breed it is because of its iconic long back and short, stubby legs. The long floppy ears and long, Roman noses are also characteristics of the breed that help people identify a Dachsie. There are three coat varieties for Dachshunds: short-haired, long-haired, and wire-haired. There are two sizes: standard and miniature.

3 Types of Dachshund
Types of Dachshund: Short-haired, Long-haired, Wire-haired

The Shih Tzu is best known for its long, silky, flowing coat and topknot or ponytail on the top of its head. Their broad head and snub nose make them more recognizable as a Shih Tzu, although most Oriental breeds do have snub noses and broad heads. The breed standard for the Shih Tzu calls for them to be between 9 and 16 pounds.

Most people who own a Shih Tzu keep them clipped into a puppy cut instead of the long, flowing show coat. In the summer, some owners opt to have their Shih Tzu fully shaved for easier maintenance and to keep the dog cleaner.

Shih Tzu
Shih Tzu

There has been a recent push to downsize the Shih Tzu with many breeders opting to keep undersized puppies and breed those to create micro-Shih Tzu, Teacup Shih Tzu, or Imperial Shih Tzu; all gimmicks to sell these undersized Shih Tzu.

Dachshund vs. Shih Tzu: Temperament

The temperament of a well-bred Dachshund is somewhat stubborn and extremely smart, but also pretty laid-back and loyal to a fault. A Dachshund will love all members of its family but they will pick one special person to be “their person” and the one they love the most. A well-bred Dachshund will not be nutty or overly needed, they will also not be snappy or aggressive but will be wary of strangers.

A Shih Tzu is a happy-go-lucky dog who loves everyone they meet. While they love their family, they are perfectly content with pretty much anyone who gives them love and attention. A well-bred Shih Tzu will not know a stranger and will be willing to try new things.

Dachshund vs. Shih Tzu: Exercise Need

Shih Tzu Exercise

Being a hunter by nature, the Dachshund does require more strenuous exercise than the fluffy, toy Shih Tzu. My Dachshunds are very active and love racing around the yard or digging holes searching for moles and other vermin whereas my Shih Tzu loves to romp and play but prefers to play a bit and then cuddle with their person or nap in their cuddle bed.

So, while both breeds need plenty of exercise to stay in optimum health and condition, the Dachshund’s exercise is generally harder to play with lots of running and tumbling around with each other. Shih Tzu’s exercise is not as harsh or hard, they do not play as rough as a Dachshund. Figure 15 minutes four times a day of exercise that gets their cardio pumping.

Dachshund vs. Shih Tzu: Potential Health Risks

One of the biggest health risks for Dachshunds is of course degenerative disc disease. With the elongated back, back injuries are also another big concern for Dachshund owners. PRA is another potential health problem in Dachsie, but genetic testing will help you know if your dog is affected by PRA. Obesity and heart issues go hand-in-hand in both breeds, so it is best to keep the excess fat off your companion.

Shih Tzu is a relatively healthy breed, when you find a well-bred Shih Tzu these hearty pups can live 15-18 years with few emergency trips to the veterinarian. Poorly bred Shih Tzu or Shih Tzu mixes can develop a number of health issues so it is best to invest in a well-bred pup.

Dachshund vs. Shih Tzu: Grooming Needs

A short-haired Dachshund obviously does not have many grooming needs aside from keeping nails trimmed, whiskers trimmed, and ears cleaned, there is not much else. A bath four to six times a year is ideal for a short-haired Doxie. A long-haired and wire-haired Dachsie will require more grooming including brushing for the longhair and plucking on the wire-haired, they will also need a bath at least six times a year.

A Shih Tzu requires a lot more grooming than a Dachshund. These longhair beauties when kept in full coat take about an hour to two hours each day to groom and condition their coat. It may seem a bit excessive, but to have that luxurious coat that is what is required. They will also need a bath once a week when in full coat. This is why many pet parents opt to keep their Shih Tzu in a clipped coat that only needs brushed and then re-clipped every four to six weeks. They also get a bath when they get clipped.

Dachshund vs. Shih Tzu: Trainability

When you are looking for a dog that is easy to train, the Dachshund and the Shih Tzu are probably not it; however, both are trainable with the Dachshund being a little more trainable than the lovable Shih Tzu. That being said, do not expect it to be an easy road when training your Dachshund. Remember, this is a German breed with a stubborn streak that is a mile wide.

A Dachshund’s downfall is its stomach. All Dachshunds that I have had the pleasure of training, either for conformation or simple, basic manners and obedience are ruled by their tummy. Yes, that is right, a Dachshund will work for food. When training a Doxie I use a special treat that they do not get any other time. Usually, it is baked liver or baked chicken but you can find a treat your Dachshund loves.

The Shih Tzu, while still trainable, has only had to be a companion and not many people put high demands on these fluffy little toy dogs. In general, the Shih Tzu is a smart dog, with some being brighter than others. They do require a lot of repetition when training and while some love treats, I usually find a special toy that they get to play with after they have completed their training session.

Many times, I have had a Shih Tzu throw the biggest temper tantrum because I wanted them to do something they were not too keen to do. Therefore, expect tantrums and cold shoulders when you start training a Shih Tzu.

Dachshund vs. Shih Tzu: Friendliness

A well-bred Dachshund will ease into a family seamlessly. As a general rule, we do not place Dachshund puppies with families that have small children. This is not because the puppy cannot handle being in a family with young children, it is because young children under the age of five years are a bit clumsy and can easily trip and fall on a puppy causing injury. We have the same rule for Shih Tzu puppies as well.

Dachshunds and Shih Tzu both do phenomenal with children that are respectful of their space and boundaries. Children that rowdy can cause anxiety in both Dachshunds and Shih Tzu. We have placed many puppies, Dachshunds, and Shih Tzu in homes with children.

Asking whether a puppy is cat friendly is a double-edged sword sometimes. Generally, puppies are not exposed to cats until they are older so when they go to homes with an established cat they learn to respect that kitty. Dachshunds that have higher prey drives can chase cats if they have not learned to respect cats.

Shih Tzu generally gets along great with cats. You just have to be careful if your cat still has its claws. With the Shih Tzu having large, round eyes that protrude slightly, eye injuries from cat scratches are very common.

Both breeds usually get along well with other dogs, they do need to be properly introduced to other dogs and never left unattended until the dogs are comfortable together. Shih Tzu and Dachshunds should be closely monitored when interacting with dogs larger and heavier. Injuries can occur, especially with the Doxies’ backs.

Dachshund vs. Shih Tzu: Prices

Prices for both a Dachshund and a Shih Tzu are all over the place from the cheap puppy mill-bred puppy or backyard breeder to a more expensive pup that is well-bred from a reputable breeder. Puppy mills, commercial breeders, and backyard breeders are making puppy to make money, that is the bottom line.

Reputable breeders are producing pups that preserve the breed and have been reared in a loving environment where the pup is well-socialized, healthy, and able to adjust to their new home without excessive stress. These breeders have performed genetic testing and health testing on their adult dogs to ensure they are producing healthy, genetically sound puppies.

So, the cost of a well-bred Dachshund is between $1500 to $3500 depending on gender, color, size, and coat type. The cost of a well-bred Shih Tzu will cost between $2000-$4000 also depending on gender, color, coat type, and size.

Shih Tzu Puppies
Shih Tzu Breeder: P&J Shih Tzus CT

Reputable Shih Tzu Breeders in The USA

Final Thoughts

Being a breeder of both Dachshunds and Shih Tzu can be interesting at times as they are very different breeds. I cannot honestly say that I like one breed over the other as they both have qualities that the other does not.

People who enjoy the Dachshund, they may not find the Shih Tzu an enjoyable companion and the same can be said for those who love the Shih Tzu. It is rare to find someone who wants both breeds in their home. Usually, hound lovers will only want hounds and toy breed lovers will only want toy breed dogs, especially the Oriental breeds.

If you are trying to decide between the Dachshund and the Shih Tzu, first look at your lifestyle and what you expect from your dog. If you are just wanting a fluffy companion, the Shih Tzu is perfect. If you are wanting a loyal, somewhat stubborn, companion, the Dachshund is perfect. Then you need to determine how much grooming you want to deal with, that is a big factor when choosing a canine companion.

No matter which breed you choose, be sure to research and find a responsible breeder that offers well-bred, healthy puppies to make certain you are getting a well-adjusted, well-socialized puppy. The early investment will pay off in the long run when you do not have hefty vet bills from a puppy that has genetic problems.

READ MORE: Schweenie = Dachshund Shih Tzu Mix

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