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Can a Shih Tzu Live in An Apartment?

Written by: Arlene Divina
Arlene Divina, one of the content writers at IHD, loves going on adventures with her adorable fur baby. She now creates informative content for pet parents. Read more
| Published on November 12, 2023

Shih Tzus, with their luxurious coats and affectionate demeanor, has been a popular choice for pet lovers around the world. Known for their adaptability and sociable nature, these dogs often come across as the ideal apartment pets. However, living with a Shih Tzu in an apartment setting involves understanding and catering to their specific needs. In this comprehensive article, we will explore various aspects of keeping a Shih Tzu in an apartment, from their temperament and space requirements to grooming and health considerations.

1. Understanding the Shih Tzu Temperament

Shih Tzus are renowned for their friendly and outgoing personality. Originally bred for companionship, they thrive on human interaction and are well-suited for families and individuals alike. Their small size and generally calm demeanor make them excellent candidates for apartment living. Unlike some larger or more active breeds, Shih Tzus do not require a vast amount of space to roam and are usually content with the confines of an apartment.

However, it’s important to note that these dogs can develop separation anxiety if left alone for extended periods. They are best suited for households where someone is often home or can take the dog along on outings. Training and socialization from a young age are crucial to ensure that your Shih Tzu is comfortable and well-behaved in various situations, including encounters with neighbors and other pets in apartment settings.

2. Exercise Needs in Limited Space

While Shih Tzus are not as active as some breeds, they still require regular exercise to maintain their health and happiness. Fortunately, their exercise needs are modest and can be met with short walks and indoor play. A daily routine of two or three brief walks, combined with some playtime at home, is typically sufficient to keep a Shih Tzu healthy and content.

For apartment dwellers, it’s important to provide opportunities for your Shih Tzu to explore and engage in physical activities, even within limited space. Interactive toys and games like fetch or hide-and-seek can be excellent ways to keep your Shih Tzu physically active and mentally stimulated indoors.

3. Grooming Requirements in an Apartment

Grooming is an essential aspect of caring for a Shih Tzu, especially in an apartment where cleanliness is crucial. These dogs have a beautiful but high-maintenance coat that requires regular brushing to prevent tangles and matting. Daily brushing is ideal, but a minimum of a few times a week is necessary to keep their fur in good condition.

Apart from coat care, regular baths are important to keep your Shih Tzu clean and reduce the amount of hair and dander in your apartment. Investing in quality grooming tools and products, or scheduling regular visits to a professional groomer, can help maintain your Shih Tzu’s coat and overall hygiene.

4. Space and Living Arrangements

Despite their small size, Shih Tzus still need their own space in your apartment. This includes a comfortable bed, space for food and water bowls, and an area for toys. It’s also important to create a safe and quiet spot where they can retreat when they need solitude or rest.

In terms of living arrangements, Shih Tzus can adapt well to the limited space of an apartment as long as they receive adequate attention and exercise. They are not known to be excessive barkers, which is a significant advantage in an apartment setting. However, early training to curb any excessive barking or whining is important to avoid disturbances to neighbors.

5. Health Considerations in an Apartment Setting

Shih Tzus are generally a healthy breed, but they are prone to certain health issues that apartment dwellers should be aware of. These include respiratory problems due to their short snout, eye issues, and ear infections. Regular veterinary check-ups are essential to monitor and address these health concerns promptly.

Living in an apartment can sometimes limit a Shih Tzu’s exposure to varied environments and stimuli, which is important for their overall well-being. Ensuring your Shih Tzu gets outside for walks and experiences different sights, sounds, and smells is crucial for their mental and physical health.

6. Socialization and Behavior in a Community Setting

Socialization is key for a Shih Tzu living in an apartment. Exposure to different people, pets, and environments can help prevent behavioral issues and make your dog more adaptable and confident. Regular walks around the neighborhood, visits to pet-friendly cafes, or playdates with other dogs can be beneficial.

It’s also important to train your Shih Tzu to behave well in communal areas of the apartment complex, such as hallways and elevators. Training them to respond to commands, walk calmly on a leash, and interact politely with neighbors and other pets is essential for harmonious apartment living.

7. Managing Noise and Disturbances

While Shih Tzus are not typically known as noisy dogs, managing any barking or whining is important to maintain a peaceful environment for your neighbors. Consistent training from an early age can help minimize unnecessary barking. Providing adequate exercise, mental stimulation, and companionship can also reduce anxiety-related vocalizations.

In an apartment setting, it’s also important to be considerate of your neighbors when playing with your Shih Tzu. Opt for quieter toys and avoid activities that may create excessive noise, especially during late hours.

8. Dealing with Waste and Hygiene

Effective waste management is crucial when keeping a Shih Tzu in an apartment. Establishing a routine for bathroom breaks and being diligent about cleaning up after your dog is key. For younger or older dogs who may struggle with holding their bladder, training pads placed in a designated area can be a practical solution.

Regular cleaning of your apartment to manage pet hair, dander, and any accidental messes will also help maintain a hygienic living space. Investing in a good vacuum cleaner and using pet-friendly cleaning products can significantly ease the cleaning process.


In conclusion, Shih Tzus can indeed live happily and healthily in an apartment setting with the right care and consideration. Their adaptable nature, modest exercise needs, and affectionate temperament make them well-suited to apartment life. However, it is essential for potential and current Shih Tzu owners in apartments to commit to regular grooming, appropriate exercise, effective training, and health care to ensure their furry companion thrives in this environment. With these considerations in mind, a Shih Tzu can be a delightful and loving addition to any apartment home.


Frequently Asked Questions An Apartment Owner Might Ask Before Getting A Shih Tzu

1. Is a Shih Tzu suitable for apartment living?

Shih Tzus are well-suited for apartment living due to their small size and relatively low exercise requirements. They are adaptable, enjoy being close to their owners, and can be content in smaller living spaces. However, they do need daily walks and mental stimulation to stay happy and healthy.

2. How much exercise does a Shih Tzu need?

Despite their small size, Shih Tzus require regular exercise to maintain their health. Daily walks, play sessions, and indoor activities are sufficient. Typically, around 30 minutes of exercise per day, split into two sessions, is adequate for this breed.

3. Are Shih Tzus easy to train?

Shih Tzus can be moderately easy to train but may sometimes exhibit a stubborn streak. Consistency, patience, and positive reinforcement techniques are key. Early socialization and obedience training are essential to ensure they become well-mannered apartment pets.

4. Do Shih Tzus bark a lot, and will this disturb neighbors?

Shih Tzus are not known as excessive barkers, but they may bark to alert their owners of strangers or unusual noises. Proper training and socialization can minimize unnecessary barking. Providing enough attention and mental stimulation can also reduce anxiety-related barking.

5. What are the grooming needs of a Shih Tzu?

Shih Tzus requires regular grooming due to their long, luxurious coats. Daily brushing is ideal to prevent mats and tangles, and they need regular baths to keep their coat clean. Professional grooming every 6 to 8 weeks is also recommended to maintain their coat’s health and appearance.

6. Can Shih Tzus be left alone in an apartment?

Shih Tzus can be left alone for short periods, but they thrive on companionship and can develop separation anxiety if left alone for too long. If you have a busy schedule, providing toys, a comfortable space, and possibly a pet sitter or doggy daycare can help alleviate your anxiety.

7. Are Shih Tzus good with children and other pets?

Shih Tzus generally do well with children and other pets, especially if they have been raised together. They are known for their friendly and affectionate nature. However, interactions with young children should always be supervised to ensure the safety of both the child and the dog.

8. What health issues should I be aware of in Shih Tzus?

Shih Tzus are prone to certain health issues such as respiratory problems, eye issues, and hip dysplasia. Regular veterinary check-ups, a healthy diet, and maintaining a proper weight can help mitigate these risks. Awareness and early detection of any health issues are crucial.

9. How much space does a Shih Tzu require in an apartment?

Shih Tzus don’t require a lot of space due to their small size. A comfortable bed, space for their food and water bowls, and some room to play are sufficient. They adapt well to apartment living as long as they have their own designated space.

10. What kind of diet is best for a Shih Tzu in an apartment setting?

A balanced diet tailored to their specific needs is best for a Shih Tzu. High-quality commercial dog food appropriate for their age, size, and activity level is recommended. Overfeeding should be avoided as they can easily gain weight, especially with limited space for exercise.

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