Note: Pet Educate is reader supported. If you make a purchase through a link on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission - at no extra cost to you. This includes links to Amazon.

Are Shih Tzus Good With Kids? [Are They Safe Around Children?]

There is no doubting that certain breeds of dogs are recommended for homes with kids, while others are not. But where exactly does a Shih Tzu fit in? How do they typically act around children and is there anything in which you would need to be aware? I spent some time researching this breed to find out exactly how appropriate they are for family living.

So, are Shih Tzu’s good with kids? Shih Tzus are generally great with children; being affectionate, gentle while also being open and willing to play. However, due to being small dogs, they can easily and accidentally be hurt by children being too rough. It is therefore essential that all children are taught how to properly behave around this lively and outgoing breed.

Despite their name meaning “little lion”, Shih Tzus are small furballs that are loyal and friendly.

As followers rather than leaders, Shih Tzus makes the perfect companions for both home and apartment living.

Let us now take a closer look at the suitability of this breed with and around children.

We will also be covering whether they pose any danger, how to train them and how you need your kids to behave around them.

Finally, we will look at those other considerations you need to take into account for a harmonious and advantageous environment if you do decide to get one!

So be sure to keep reading to the very end to get all the information you need!

Are Shih Tzus Kid Friendly?

Shih Tzus are very kid-friendly; loving nothing more than to cuddle, be cuddled, and play with the ones they love.

And they absolutely adore children. Their temperament is usually docile, meaning that they will put up with all the loving your kids can give them.

However, Shih Tzus are very small dogs and they can easily be hurt when children play too roughly with them.

One of the first things you should teach the smaller members of the household is that they need to be cautious and very gentle when they are playing with their pet.

Are Shih Tzus Dangerous For Kids?

Shih Tzus are absolutely not dangerous for kids under normal circumstances. In fact, Shih Tzus are listed as one of the top 10 breeds to get if you have children!

Almost everyone will agree that given the right set of circumstances, any dog at all can become dangerous when that behavior is taught by humans.

Certain breeds are more prone to becoming dangerous, but Shih Tzus are certainly not on that list.

Just remember to treat your dog appropriately and heed their warnings if they growl.

Like most other types of dogs, Shih Tzus will generally growl if they do not like what you are doing.

While it is not acceptable for dogs to growl at members of the family, pay attention to the situation that caused the growling.

Maybe your child accidentally hurt the dog, or perhaps your Shih Tzu doesn’t appreciate having its toys taken away.

Ensure that your child knows what is permitted and what is not to avoid any misunderstandings in the future.

How Do You Train A Shih Tzu For Kids?

There are several different things you can do to properly train your pet for life around kids.

One thing that you must remember is that Shih Tzu puppies are a blank slate that need to be taught what is appropriate and what is not.

Puppies are playful and inquisitive, so they need training both to keep them safe and to ensure that they do not exhibit troubling behavior.

Your biggest obstacle to training will be the innate stubbornness of the breed – Shih Tzus are known to be one of the most stubborn dogs on the planet and they will likely try your patience a time or two!

Socialize From A Young Age

One of the most important things that you will do with your Shih Tzu puppy is getting them properly socialized.

You want to introduce them to new situations, people, and sounds from the moment you bring them home.

This way you will not end up with an adult dog that is timid or that reacts badly in social situations. The more people (and children) that your Shih Tzu is exposed to, the more comfortable they will be with both old and new visitors to your home.

Stop Biting

Your puppy must also learn that it is inappropriate to bite, even if they are just being playful.

Puppy teeth are extremely sharp and pointy, and they are capable of causing real damage to a small child.

There are two ways that you can handle this type of situation. One way is to scold them and immediately redirect their attention to one of their toys. The second is to scold them and put them in their crate for a few minutes whenever they nip. NEVER slap or hit your puppy!

Familiarize Them With Different Sounds

Kids tend to be noisy, so it is essential that your Shih Tzu considers these types of noises to be normal.

Other sounds that they should become familiar with include whistles, bells, the vacuum, the washing machine, and any toys your child has that have sirens, talk out loud, or otherwise make noise.

Teach Commands

Basic commands are also things that your Shih Tzu will need to learn.

Simple ones like sit, stay, and come are vital for your pup to know.

These commands are also a good way to redirect your dog’s attention when they are getting into trouble, or when they want to play but your child does not. Incorporating leash training will also ensure that your children are able to take the dog for walks when they are old enough to do so.

Teach Them Who Is Boss

The last thing that your Shih Tzu needs to recognize is that they are not the boss!

It is critical that your pet sees even the smallest humans as their alpha – not as a littermate. Get your kids involved with training if it is possible to do so.

This will make your pup know right from the beginning that they are required to listen to commands that are issued by your kids. This will also help to keep them safe if they escape the yard or get off their leash.

How Should Kids Behave Around Shih Tzus?

Kids should always behave in an appropriate manner around your Shih Tzu and realize that although they are small, they are not toys!

Dogs deserve to be happy and safe so children need to know from a very young age how to treat an animal properly.

One thing to make very clear is that your pup has feelings and that it needs to be protected and cared for.

Kids need to learn how to properly approach a Shih Tzu. When moving around the dog, your child should be gentle and slow – never run right up to the dog.

Teach them to approach the dog from the side instead of head on, and stress that they should crouch down to the dog instead of towering over them.

When it comes to petting your dog, one of the easiest ways to show your child to be gentle is to have them use just two fingers instead of their whole hand.

This way they (and you) can be assured that their touch is appropriately gentle. It is also good to let them know that instead of patting the dog, they should gently stroke them.

If you plan on allowing your child to pick up the puppy, make sure they know how to do it properly.

The proper way to pick up a small dog like a Shih Tzu is to keep them upright and fully supported in your arms.

They should not be held the same way as one would cuddle a doll and the pup should not be hanging from your child’s arms. They will also need guidance on how tightly they can wrap their arms around the dog.

Finally, kids need to learn the warning signs that dogs exhibit.

Hiding under furniture, snapping, baring teeth, cowering, growling, tail tucking, and walking away are all signs that your Shih Tzu is being aggressive, nervous, scared, or wants to be left alone.

Make sure that your kids know to leave the dog alone if it shows any of these warning signs.

Things To Consider When Owning A Shih Tzu And Having Kids

Just like with any other breed of dog, there are a couple of things that you will want to consider when owning a Shih Tzu and having kids too.

One of the most important things to consider is how attached Shih Tzus get to their owners. They absolutely hate to be left alone and would prefer to spend all of their waking hours with you.

This means that having a Shih Tzu is a lot like having another small child! They need plenty of time and attention to keep them happy and healthy.

Before getting a Shih Tzu, make sure that you have the time to give to your new pet.

Does your child play rough or are they gentle with animals in general?

If your child shows nothing but gentle behavior around a pet, a Shih Tzu might make the perfect addition to your home.

However, if your child tends to play on the rough side, a small dog like a Shih Tzu likely just isn’t for you. You may do better with a medium or large breed instead.


Shih Tzus are generally great dogs to own if you have children; whether your kids are on the younger side or even slightly older.

Generally speaking, as long as common-sense rules and you teach both your child and your pup how to behave around each other, your Shih Tzu will be a wonderful addition to the family.

Whether you are considering a Shih Tzu puppy or adopting one from a local shelter, either you you

In fact, do not be surprised if your children and dog hit it off from the get go; where your little Shih Tzu follows them around the home.

Ultimately, affection is the dominant personality trait of this breed; they love a space in their owners lap. It comes as no surprise to learn that they are happiest when they are in the company of their family. If they are giving or getting attention, even better yet.

Related Questions

Are Shih Tzus Good With Cats?

Shih Tzus are generally great around cats and other animals/pets. They are sociable by nature, gentle, and unlikely to chase. However, it is important to note that all dogs have their own personalities. Whether or not they can safely live alongside one another, is ultimately down to the individual temperament of the dog and how they are raised, cared for, and trained.

Are Shih Tzus Easy To Train?

Shih Tzus are not the easiest of breeds to train or housebreak. Unfortunately, they do have an independent and stubborn streak that does need to be trained out. Persistence and consistency are key to ensuring a Shih Tzu develops and retains the behaviors you and your family desire.

Wondering what other dog breeds are good with kids? Check out my guides below: