How much does a Shih Tzu cost?


How much does a Shih Tzu cost?

Did you decide to get a Shih Tzu puppy? These lap dogs are docile and friendly companions. They are easy to train and do not require large amounts of exercise – making them perfect for beginner dog owners or city dwellers!

But one question remains: How much will a Shih Tzu puppy cost? What should you budget for acquiring him? 

The price could be as low as $250 if you get your puppy of off Craigslist – or around $1,200 if you get him from a registered breeder. Dogs with exceptional pedigrees may run as high as $3,000.

Rescues charge about $350 for Shih Tzu puppies. 

Today we want to look at the price breakdown, as well as future costs that are associated with owning a Shih Tzus.

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How much does a Shih Tzu cost?

How much exactly you end up paying for a Shih Tzu will depend on the puppy’s pedigree as well as how much effort was put into selecting the parents and caring for the puppies. Of course, if you select an especially rare kind of Shih Tzu such as the Teacup Shih Tzu, you should be prepared to spend quite a bit!

When buying a puppy from a registered breeder, you can expect to pay a multiple of the price that a classified ad might ask for. Breeders often spend months on planning pairings and titling the parents in conformation show. Rescues will let you have a puppy for a lower price which mostly covers the cost of veterinary care for the puppies.

Let’s look in detail at which price you can expect from which seller.

shih tzu

Shih Tzu puppies in classifieds

The cheapest way to get a Shih Tzu puppy is often to look in your local classified ads (such as Craigslist). Facebook used to offer selling puppies on their marketplace as well, but put a stop on selling of live animals a few years ago.

When looking for a puppy on Craigslist you could come across young dogs for as little as $250. Unfortunately this comes with a catch: Those puppies usually receive little to no veterinary care and come from non-health-tested parents.

Shih Tzus are not a healthy dog breed in general. They are prone to a variety of conditions such as: 

  • Eye problems
  • Breathing problems
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Back problems
  • Luxating patellas

All of these have a genetic component. If parents of a litter are tested before a breeding, the likelihood that the offspring will display these health conditions sinks.

Back to the classified ads now. While the low price for Shih Tzu puppies might be tempting and seem like a steal, the $250 might buy you a very sick puppy.

Many sellers on classified ads also do not take puppies to necessary health checks. All puppies should be dewormed and vaccinated before going to their forever home.

brown puppy dog

Rescue Shih Tzu puppy prices

If you are searching for a Shih Tzu through a rescue, you will be able to get a vet-checked puppy for a medium price.

A Shih Tzu puppy from a rescue will run about $350. While this might seem steeper than the Craigslist price, remember that it already includes health care!

Nearly all rescues only let puppies go to their adopter’s forever homes if they have been vaccinated, microchipped and dewormed. Some rescues spay or neuter the dogs before adoption, others give the future owners a free voucher for doing so.

Rescues often can only give their best guess at a dog’s breed and are unable to accurately say of it is a purebred or not. If you are happy with potentially acquiring a mixed breed such as a Shichon or Shorkie, a rescue Shih Tzu puppy is a great choice.

Cost of a Shih Tzu from a breeder

Getting a Shih Tzu from a reputable AKC breeder will be the most expensive option on our list. Prices of around $1,200 are typical for breeders who pair titles parents. Keep in mind that a puppy from a registered breeding program will always come from health-tested parents. 

The breeder will also be aware of the parents’ (and grandparents’) temperament and characteristics. This is especially important if you are planning on adding a Shih Tzu to a family with other dogs or children. Your breeder will tell you in detail about the puppy’s disposition.

Breeders usually send puppies to their forever homes with shots, dewormings and a microchipped. They are typically intact and the future owners have to pay for a spay or neuter surgery themselves.

Shih Tzus from highly decorated champion lines or those that have especially rare colors and patterns may be a multiple of the price of a pet dog. Expect to pay $3,000 (or even more) for an especially well-bred Shih Tzu from a prestigious pedigree.

Why are Shih Tzus so expensive?

As small dogs, Shih Tzus do not have puppies per litter. Typical litters contain about 3 pups. A reputable breeder does not get rich from breeding Shih Tzus – the price of the puppies reflects the amount of health tests, veterinary care and time spent with the puppies.

Health tests of the parents can easily run up to $3,000 – so splitting this evenly between the pups you already have prices of $1,000. And this is before factoring in the vet care of the puppies, food, toys etc.

Most breeders barely break even when breeding dogs, especially small dogs!

Yearly costs of owning a Shih Tzu

As small dogs that are typically friendly and non-destructible, you do not need to budget for a lot of expenses when it comes to food, training and chew toys.

However – Shih Tzus’ coat is difficult to manage and it needs to be brushed and shampooed regularly. Many owners choose to have their Shih Tzus seen by a professional groomer who gives them an adorable haircut. As a small dog, they are specially prone to having overgrown nails. Make sure to clip or grind your pup’s nails every 7-10 days.

Because Shih Tzus have many breed-specific health conditions, medical costs can pile up quickly. You should expect to shell out quite a bit at the vet, especially as your Shih Tzu gets older.

flared bottom haircut

The Bottom Line

When considering adding a Shih Tzu to your family, you have several options. I recommend to stay away from purchasing puppies off of Craiglist or big-block stores.

The most affordable option that also guarantees that the puppy will be in good health is to get a Shih Tzu from a rescue. You may not end up with a purebred Shih Tzu – but you can be certain your puppy is dewormed and vaccinated.

If you want to own a purebred Shih Tzu from a reputable breeder, the cost will be higher. Expect to pay at least $1,200. This price will rise if you are looking for a specific color, gender or want to have a show quality puppy.

While this seems expensive, you should also consider the annual cost of owning a dog! This breed is not the healthiest and may require high vet expenses. Unless you cut your Shih Tzu’s hair at home with clippers, factor in the cost of a professional groomer as well.

Only if you can budget for these you should decide on a Shih Tzu!