The Shih Tzu is an Asian toy breed that is incredibly popular around the world and it hails from Tibet. Its fame goes all the way from China to the West which isn’t shocking as this dog is mainly known for its friendly and outgoing disposition.
For all you historical geeks, the Shih Tzu’s name roughly translates to “lion dog” and he was bred to be a lapdog in the palace of the Chinese emperor. Don’t settle by just admiring this pooch. There are 15 similar dog breeds that may have the Shih Tzu’s looks or personality or even both.
1. Lhasa Apso
It takes a set of good eyes and skills to accurately determine which one is a Lhasa Apso and which one is a Shih Tzu. Both dogs come from Tibet but a more significant fact is that they come from the same ancient lineage.
This probably explains why they look so alike in coat texture, length, and body size. In detail, a Lhasa Apso typically exhibits a rougher coat type than the Shih Tzu and has a longer nose.
The breed is more into activities whereas the Shih Tzu finds satisfaction in resting on your lap. Despite the small size, this pooch can’t be undermined when it comes to his smartness. Training can be a challenge, but not totally impossible.
2. Biewer Terrier
Next on the list is the Biewer Terrier, who, just like the Shih Tzu, features a long-haired tri-color coat that may come in blue tan & white, black tan & white, and chocolate tan & white.
When it comes to their height comparison, they won’t make that much of a difference. However, the distinction shows more in their masses as the Shih Tzu breed weighs heavier, generally.
If their coats are left alone to grow longer, they’d look even more similar. In the case of the Biewer Terrier’s personality, he’s usually friendly toward kids of all ages and other household pets.
3. Russian Tsvetnaya Bolonka
The name of this breed is undeniably hard to pronounce so you can call him Russian Colored Lapdog instead of Russian Tsvetnaya Bolonka. His face and temperament do qualify him in this list, so consider going for him as an alternative to the Shih Tzu breed.
A Bolonka’s coat varies a lot as he may have long or wavy fur. This needs to be brushed regularly every week to keep it in top condition. Just like the Shih Tzu breed, the Bolonka dog has a propensity to be stubborn.
His independence can really make training challenging to owners, but their lack of high levels of aggression makes the process bearable.
The national dog of Cuba otherwise known as the Havanese breed comes from the line of a now-extinct Bichon Tenerife and the little white dog of Havana. The appearance of this pooch heavily relies on the taste and preference of its owner.
Some Havanese dogs have their coats trimmed while others sport longer fur. Either way, they look just as close as the Shih Tzu. The face shape, dark brown eyes, and cute button nose also contribute to such similarity.
Although he’s not that big, the Havanese dog is often used to doing a variety of tasks like therapy and assistance. He’s quite agile, trainable, and bright so you can really rely on him in dog sports.
5. Bearded Collie
Dog lovers prefer different sizes when it comes to choosing a life companion. Although Shih Tzus are undeniably adorable in their own way, some of us might lean more toward bigger dogs that showcase the same appearance. Luckily, the variety of dog breeds has led us to the Bearded Collie.
He has an abundant coat wrapping him from head to toe and getting it groomed, especially in the face, will make him appear like a bigger version of the Shih Tzu. What draws many families to this breed is its easy-going and playful nature.
As a herding breed, he would appreciate receiving a few tasks to do every day. The field is perhaps the best place where he’d shine the most. Even to this day, he continues to work as a farmhand in Scotland.
Both the Shih Tzu and the Maltese breeds belong to the toy group and while they may equally show a long, silky fur, the distinction is shown through their colors. Shih Tzus have countless natural colors while Maltese dogs are usually seen with white fur.
Due to the natural state of his coat, a Maltese would sport different looks. He enjoys a fashionable array of hairstyles which include the show cut, standard cut, and puppy clip.
You won’t go wrong with this dog. He’s a true package as his positive qualities soar high. He’s teachable, affectionate, brave, and playful. However, as he can be a delicate breed, owners should monitor his interaction with other kids and dogs.
7. Japanese Chin
Aside from the fact that the Japanese Chin falls under the category of the toy group, he also has a long coat all over his body although the length would vary in certain areas. The breed has strabismus eyes and a much more different overall facial appearance compared to the Shih Tzu.
However, both have their lines met in likeness as the Japanese Spaniel is also an excellent lap dog. Getting him would provide you with a different experience though. He’s better off living in a one-dog household or along with other Chins.
He’s mostly cat-like and would love to have his space provided. If you have cats, he’ll likely get along with them.
8. Yorkshire Terrier
Yorkshire Terriers are remarkably known for their long and silky coats. They have a patch of contrasting color on their backs known as the saddle and the same is present with Australian Terriers. Toy breeds, in general, make good lap dogs.
Everything about him resembles the Shih Tzu except for his upright triangular ears. It’s a good physical trait though as this makes him somewhat unique. Fun fact, if you get to touch a Yorkie, you’d notice that his fur feels like human hair.
Being a Terrier, expect the Yorkie pooch to act feisty even around other kids. He can be bossy, but he’s loving and affectionate at heart. Keep him preoccupied so he would have a lesser desire to misbehave.
9. Coton de Tulear
The Coton de Tulear and the Shih Tzu generally have the same height, weight, and even lifespan. The Shih Tzu though has a higher maintenance needs than the other. This Royal Dog of Madagascar is notable for his long hair as well.
Just like what he’s named after, this dog’s coat feels cotton-ish, but this isn’t just all he could offer. He’s got a great balance of playfully energetic and laid-back nature which are a few traits present in the Shih Tzu as well.
Although this dog can well replace the mentioned Asian breed both appearance and temperament-wise, looking for a breeder wouldn’t be easy. The Coton de Tulear is a rare breed even to this day.
10. Cairn Terrier
Cairn Terriers look a lot more like a trimmed Shih Tzu except for his erect ears. His body is naturally compact and his legs are supposed to be shorter. The coat is shaggy in description and it’s nicely water-resistant.
Unsurprisingly, this Terrier is active and would often end up becoming a disagreeable one, especially if he’s around other dogs. He’s intelligent though, loyal, and can adapt to any type of environment.
You might have known this breed first after watching the Wizard of Oz. Dorothy’s dog named Toto was a Cairn Terrier.
No, we aren’t talking about spaghetti. The Bolognese dog is another companion pooch that features the same rounded face, inquisitive brown eyes, and a tiny button nose that comes in black.
You’d see an obvious difference in his coat when compared to the Shih Tzu as the Bolognese has it slightly curly and rugged. He only comes in white and no markings should be present around his body. If there is at least one color patch, something might be wrong with him.
Just like the Shih Tzu breed, he loves to be around people, play with toys, and exude a laid-back vibe. He’s not hard to love nor that difficult to bond with.
12. Chinese Imperial
Controversy surrounds this small, beautiful pooch. The Chinese Imperial dog is believed to be just a smaller version of the Shih Tzu as claimed both by the American Kennel Club and the American Shih Tzu Club.
Some suggest, however, that the Chinese Imperial dog has something unique in his blood making him a separate breed which has been the case in China for several hundreds of years. When it comes to his looks, there’s no denying that he’s a spitting image of the famed Asian breed, the Shih Tzu.
Make no mistake as his size equates to a big dog personality. He needs firm handling and the owner has to be strict in training him. With this, he’ll grow up sweet and loving.
Lowchen dogs carry the same fluffy, droopy ears, circle eyes, and adorable muzzles in a 15-pound body. Just like Shih Tzus, this breed comes in several coat colors like fawn, red, chocolate, and gold with white markings, tan points, or parti belton.
He’s a clown, an entertainer that would effortlessly make his family laugh at his silly quirks and mischievousness. It doesn’t matter if you’re busy with your work-from-home schedule. He’s smart enough to remind you that he’s there to help you de-stress through his cuteness.
As this buddy has a fluffy coat, you have to commit to regularly brushing him all over. Aside from that, he’s not a high-maintenance pet in other areas.
14. Tibetan Terrier
Lastly, we have the Tibetan Terrier whose coat can grow down to his knees. He weighs heavier than the Shih Tzu and typically has the edge too when it comes to mass. Nonetheless, both breeds have lots of natural colors for you to choose from.
In the past, the Tibetan Terrier was bred more to become a companion dog. His existence was rampant in Tibetan monasteries or on farms with herdsmen. The energy level of this dog ranges from moderate to high and frequent daily walks are necessary for his well-being.
Since his coat can grow so long, he has to be bathed and brushed consistently according to the desired schedule to prevent matting. What he offers back to his owners is his priceless friendship and even assistance to those who need one.