How much does a Shih Tzu cost? In some ways, it’s an easy question to answer: the average price of a Shih Tzu puppy in the US is $2,300.
However, the Shih Tzu price range can vary widely, depending on a whole host of factors. Some are much cheaper, while others will be significantly more expensive. This guide is designed to make you aware of all the facts that affect these prices, as well as the financial responsibility of raising your pup once you have bought it. After all, there’s a good chance that this little charmer will be with you for the next sixteen years or more.
Along the way, we’ll take a good look at this loveable toy dog to see why people are willing to make such a big investment.
How Much Does A Shih Tzu Puppy Cost?
As we saw at the start, you should expect to pay up to $2,300.
This is an average cost, though, and prices will vary greatly depending on certain factors.
Adopting a puppy from a dog rescue or shelter will be much cheaper, probably around $350. And this, in many cases, includes a fee to spay/neuter your dog, as well as vaccinations, deworming, and having a microchip implant.
The lower price is an advantage, but there are other benefits as well. Adopting an older dog cuts out the need for house training. The dog will be calmer and will probably settle into your home much quicker.
However, you should be aware that older dogs could have health or behavioral issues and may need extra care, which often means extra expenses. Overall, though, adopting makes sense financially.
It’s worth keeping in mind that around 670,000 dogs are euthanized annually in the US. If you can find a Shih Tzu in one of these shelters, then you could help to bring this number down and save a life.
However, most people want a puppy. And who can blame them? They’re adorably cute and, although they are hard work at times, the experience can be very rewarding. When you accept a pup into your home, it helps to form and strengthen a special bond that lasts a lifetime.
So, how much does a Shih Tzu cost? We mentioned the average puppy price, but exactly how much you pay will depend on your location as well as supply and demand. For example, if you only have one breeder in your area and demand for a particular breed is high, then prices will be above average.
In general, prices for Shih Tzus are higher in the northern states of America, gradually getting lower the further south you travel. You might pay at least $1,000 for a ‘basic’ puppy (with no pedigree or AKC paperwork) in the north, whereas the same pup in the south will be half as much.
It’s essential to note that the price of a puppy isn’t always a good indicator of quality or health.
Be wary of those that are either priced too high or too low! Unethical breeders or puppy mills will sell bargain pups that could have major health issues. Alternatively, they might try to charge $2,000 or more to trick people into thinking they are getting a good quality dog.
Photo from @unigram0127
The best advice is to check out reviews for any Shih Tzu breeders before buying. Only use established reputable breeders, and always avoid puppy mills if you want a healthy dog for the right price.
Puppy mills are well-known for keeping their breeding dogs in unsuitable and inhumane conditions and feeding them inferior foods. It is also likely that your dog will not be vaccinated or even dewormed.
Some pet stores (though by no means all!) are run unethically and are driven by profit alone. Animals are often kept in cramped, unsanitary conditions. These places are best avoided if you want a healthy dog.
Never be tempted to head for the first ‘puppies for sale!’ sign you see, as this could be a big mistake.
Once you choose a breeder, then the price of a puppy will vary according to its age, coat color, gender, whether it is purebred, a champion bloodline, show-quality, and whether it is American Kennel Club (AKC) registered.
Here’s a quick guide to the average prices:
|Criteria||Average US Price|
|AKC registered female||$2,400|
|AKC registered male||$2,200|
|Private seller, no registration||$500|
|Mature female (1-year-old)||$1,200|
|Imperial Shih Tzu||$1,900|
|Breeder without AKC registration||$1,000|
*not a recognized breed standard; these are smaller than standard size and are often bred to produce Teacup Shih Tzus.
Remember, these are average prices, and the actual cost could be as much as $10,000 or more from a top breeder with top breed lines selling quality puppies. Alternatively, you could find a breeder who is happy to sell you a healthy companion dog and family pet for as little as $700.
It pays to do some research and to shop around! Bear in mind that the further you go, the more you’ll pay for travel or shipping costs.
How Much Does A Teacup Shih Tzu Cost?
Less means more with the Teacup Shih Tzu – more money, that is! Average prices for Teacup Shih Tzus range from $2,000 to $3,000.
These, as we’ve seen, usually result from the breeding of two Imperial Shih Tzus. Check out the teacup version online, and you’ll be sure to find dozens of photos proving that the name is accurate.
Yes, they’re usually shown sitting inside teacups!
Unfortunately, miniaturizing dogs seems to emphasize any health problems. These tiny furballs can suffer from all the same conditions as the larger version but come with a heftier price tag. Some breeders will use the runts of the litter to produce micro or teacup dogs because they’re fashionable. Other unscrupulous breeders will deliberately malnourish their dogs to keep them small before breeding them to produce smaller offspring. This is, without a doubt, unethical behavior.
If you really have your heart set on a Teacup version, be very selective about who you approach.
Other Costs To Consider
When we ask, ‘How much does a Shih Tzu cost?‘ we have to look at the whole package, from buying a puppy to caring for an adult dog throughout its life.
Let’s take a moment to run through some of these. Even if we mentioned them already, it’s good to have an idea of what to expect:
|Item/service||Approximate annual cost|
|Routine veterinary care||$700–$2,000 if the dog is healthy|
|Pet insurance||$580 for accident & illness, $200 for accident only|
|Crate, bed, blankets||$50–$500|
|Microchip||$45 obviously only required once|
|Vaccinations||$75–$100 although some breeders and shelters have already done this will|
|Training & Socialization classes||$25–$300|
As you can see, the costs can soon add up. Although you won’t need or use all of these things listed here, it illustrates the need to budget wisely and be prepared. Considering that these lovely little pooches have a lifespan of between ten and sixteen years, that’s going to cost a significant amount of money!
Are Shih Tzus Good Pets?
Shih Tzus are the ultimate lapdog and make perfect pets! Unlike many other breeds throughout history that were created for hunting or herding, this loyal little pup was bred specifically as a companion, and this is what it does best.
From the laps of Chinese emperors, where they sat happily for over a thousand years, they have made their way onto our laps and into our hearts today.
They are warm and affectionate, proud without being arrogant, and intelligent but fun-loving. This winning combination has kept them in the top ten favorite breeds worldwide for many years.
Shih Tzu means ‘little lion,’ and is more to do with Tibetan legend than any character traits, but don’t underestimate them! For a small dog, they have big personalities.
For a small dog, they have a lot of energy and will need about an hour of exercise a day. Don’t overdo it or keep them out too long on hot days, though, as they may overheat.
Despite their long coat, which some people prefer to cut short anyway, they don’t need a lot of brushing. A short coat might need brushing two or three times a week, while a long one might have to be brushed daily. But, both types are considered hypoallergenic to some extent.
Even so, it doesn’t take long because they’re so tiny! As long as you brush them regularly and wipe their faces every day, you can limit bathing to about once every three weeks.
When it comes to feeding them, size is on your side once again as they only eat a tiny amount compared to something like a Labrador or Great Dane. These are very small dogs, measuring between 8–11 in (20–25.4 cm) and weighing only 9–16 lbs (4–7.25 kg). Nevertheless, you should still only give them high-quality dog food to ensure they are getting all the nutrition they need to stay healthy.
On average, this will cost around $50 a session. A lot depends on what services you request, as well as the size of the dog. We’re talking about the Shih Tzu here, which is a pretty small dog. And if you have a Teacup Shih Tzu, that’s even smaller!
Grooming is an essential part of caring for your dog. It’s a chance to form a closer bond with them, as well as allowing you to check for any problems that might need attention.
Every once in a while, though, it’s a good idea to use the services of a professional groomer. Some dog owners use them all the time, depending on the size of the dog, as well as their budget. If you can do it yourself, and do a thorough job, then that’s great. But sometimes it needs that little bit extra.
Professional groomers can help keep your dog’s fur and skin healthy by de-tangling, trimming, thinning the undercoat, brushing, clipping toenails, cleaning ears, and brushing teeth. This is really helpful in cases where you are unable to do these tasks or don’t feel confident doing so.
Speaking of their coat, according to the breed standards of the AKC, all coat colors are permissible. This includes black, white, black & white, liver & white, liver, blue, gold, brindle, light brown, and dark brown.
Shih Tzu Health Problems
Sadly, all dog breeds face health issues of some kind. Purebred dogs are more prone to certain hereditary conditions because of breeding practices that narrow the gene pool.
The following conditions are some of the more common ones found in the Shih Tzu dog:
• Eye problems – including progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), retinal detachment, dry eye, and cataracts. All of these conditions affect the sight, and some will lead to permanent blindness in time. Treatment costs vary depending on the severity, but, as an example, surgery for retinal detachment costs approximately $1,600 for both eyes.
• Renal dysplasia – a deformity of the kidney that causes it to fail, usually at an early age. There is no cure for this, and only selective breeding will ensure it isn’t inherited. It is difficult to put a price on treatment, as opinions vary as to the right approach. In severe cases, most veterinarians will advise that the dog be euthanized. As a guide, you might expect to pay around $200 to $700 for diagnosis, and a further $100 to $500 a month for something like fluid therapy.
• Dental problems – caused by the mouth being overcrowded with teeth because of the shortened skull. Shih Tzus are brachycephalic, which means that they have a shortened snout and flat face. This can lead to several health problems throughout their life. Dental treatment (specifically, tooth pulling) costs around $500 to $800.
• BOAS – brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome is a group of health problems resulting from the breed’s short snout and flat face. Although the skull is shorter and smaller, the amount of soft tissue is not reduced in proportion to this, which means that the airways are restricted. Many brachycephalic dogs (such as the English Bulldog, Lhasa Apso, Pug, etc.) suffer from acute breathing difficulties. Surgery to ease this condition costs between $200 to $1,500.
• Spinal problems – affecting the discs of the vertebrae. This usually happens in old age but can affect younger dogs, causing lameness. Surgery is required in severe cases, costing between $1,500 and $4,000.
• Cushing’s disease – an incurable disease that is likely to be fatal. Less than 10% of dogs with CD will live further than two years after diagnosis, and treatment is expensive, between $50 and $200 per month.
• Hip dysplasia – a common problem for many dog breeds. This is caused by the ball and socket joint of one or both hips not forming properly in puppies. The two bones then grind together painfully and become inflamed, often leading to arthritis. Total hip replacement surgery is the preferred treatment, costing between $1,700 to $4,500, including consultation, diagnosis, surgery, medication, aftercare, and checkups.
Hopefully, your dog will have a long and healthy life, free from any of these conditions. Even so, you should be prepared for the possibility, as the medical expenses will be considerable, as you can see. It’s no good saying, ‘This will probably never happen to my dog’ and hoping for the best. If you aren’t prepared for unexpected events, then you might find yourself in financial difficulty, and your beloved companion may not get the help she deserves.
You can’t ask, ‘How much does a Shih Tzu cost?’ without taking all this into account.
Although some treatments aren’t included, dog owners would be wise to get their new pup insured as soon as possible to help cover the costs, just in case.
One more information at the end: it is believed that mixed dog breeds are healthier than the purebred dogs. Since you are reading this text you are for sure a fan of Shih Tzu, so we recommend you take a look at our list of Shih Tzu mixes!
Have We Answered The Question?
We originally asked, ‘How much does a Shih Tzu cost?’
And we learned pretty early on that it’s not as simple as it might sound. Do you simply want an extra family member who’s a friendly, affectionate companion that’s easy to care for and is sometimes a little mischievous? Then set aside between $300 and $1,500, and you should be fine.
If you’re after a pedigree and perhaps want a show-quality dog, then you’re looking at $2,500 upwards, even as far as $10,000.
Whatever you pay for yours, ask other Shih Tzu owners, and they’ll tell you that it’s totally worth every cent!
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